Former Professor of International Business, at the Baikal School of BRICS, Irkutsk National Research Technical University (teach mainly Chinese students, with a particular emphasis on the high-tech sector). Previously, Visiting Professor, School of Asian Studies within the Higher School of Economics National Research University, Moscow, where I taught the entire Master’s Degree module: “Russia’s Asian Foreign Policy” (covering Russian relations with East Asia, South Asia and S.E. Asia).
Vladimir Putin cannot hope to win the war – or his “special military operation” – in Ukraine alone. Apart from keeping the general population onside, or at least not hostile to his aims, Putin needs to ensure that the majority of his “lieutenants” – responsible for the armed forces, internal security, the economy and social order – are supporting him or at least not actively opposing him.
How can he do this?
This article is based on Chapter 5, “Why Lieutenants Serve”, of my book “Dictatorial CEOs and their Lieutenants: Inside the Executive Suites of Mao, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Ataturk”. See: www.jeffschubert.com
Why do such figures as Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Sberbank head German Gref, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, Armed forces chief General Valery Gerasimov, Dmitry Medvedev, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, FSB head Alexander Bortnikov, and other central government officials back Putin? Then there is also Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin and a host of regional and city leaders.
Why do all still work, in some way at least, to help Putin achieve his aims?
Each of these “lieutenants” will have a combination of reasons for supporting Putin, some of which are stronger than others, and which may change over time. There are four basic sets of factors that bind these people to Putin.
The ﬁrst set of factors is essentially about a relationship. Putin is admired and respected and the lieutenants have a sense of being personally needed and important. Or, Putin has shown loyalty which must be reciprocated. There is also the double negative aspect that the lieutenant is a nobody (ie not a somebody of note) if he is not a lieutenant to Putin – the most notable example now being Dmitry Medvedev.
The second set of factors concerns the individual psychological life of the lieutenant. It is exciting to be near the apex of power and to have power to boss others lower down the organizational chart; there are opportunities for achievement and satisfying one’s personal ambitions; and there are money, prestige and recognition. We can surmise that most of the non-security technocrats listed above will be in this category because they achieved their positions before the February 2022 “special military operation”. This does not mean that these people do not want to see Russia win or are in someway not “loyal” Russians. In fact, they may initially dig-in their support for Putin but their support is dependent on success and is ultimately fragile.
The third set of factors involves those people who feel that “loyalty” to Russia transcends all other factors. Nikolai Patrushev and many armed forces and security people will be in this category, although Sergey Shoigu may not.
In general, Putin’s Russia will be no different to the experience of other dictatorships. However, specifics do matter. At one extreme, people like Napoleon and Mussolini were basically driven by their own needs and put their countries second. While Ataturk was certainly personally ambitious, he put a much higher priority on the needs of his country than either of these two. Mao and Hitler were the most driven by some sort of ideology, although with Hitler there was a sort of personal resentment driven need to see a different Germany. Stalin no doubt had some ideological ideas, but he was almost as focused on himself as Napoleon and Mussolini.
So, where does Putin fit in here? There is no ideology, so we are almost left with a non-ideological version of Hitler.
The more difficult questions are:
What drives the individual lieutenants listed above – and any others?
Are there Putin-lieutenant examples that can be added to the historical examples listed below?
LIEUTENANT’S RESPECT, ADMIRATION AND ATTRIBUTION
Dictators who manage to last decades in power such as Putin and the likes of Mao, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Ataturk are very talented people, and the lieutenants do have considerable reason to admire them.
According to Hjalmar Schacht, Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank in the 1930’s: “Hitler often did ﬁnd astonishingly simple solutions for problems which had seemed to others insoluble. His solutions were often brutal, but almost always effective”.
Hitler’s talents and successes also impressed many of his generals. At the beginning of the war, Field Marshal Manstein wrote in his diary that Hitler had a “staggering knowledge about military and technological innovations in every country”, and commented that he was a “genius”. General Jodl recalled Hitler’s “astounding technical and tactical vision (which) led him also to become the creator of modern weaponry for the army”. In October 1941, just before the German invasion of Russia got bogged down, General Wagner noted that “the last great collapse stands immediately before us”, adding: “I am constantly astounded at the Fuhrer’s military judgement. He intervenes in the course of operations, one could say decisively, and up until now he has always acted correctly.” No wonder, Hitler’s self-belief was bolstered and his earlier losses of nerve virtually forgotten! In August, 1940 Rommel noted in his diary: “Where on earth would we be without Hitler? I don’t know if there could ever be a German who has such a brilliant mastery of military and political leadership.”
Rommel’s hero worship thereafter waxed and waned around a steady descent to reality; while the other generals become increasingly critical and disenchanted.
Even after the war had been lost, and Manstein was disillusioned with Hitler’s military leadership, he spoke of Hitler’s “tremendously high intelligence”. It should also be noted that Manstein, while describing Hitler as a ‘genius’ was not oblivious to some of his defects, such as lack of “operational training”. The same can be said for many of the other generals; admiration and respect does not mean – except for the young novice lieutenant – total blindness to the dictator’s faults and weaknesses.
When Nikita Khrushchev was no longer a novice lieutenant and almost totally disillusioned, he recalled his “absolute faith” in Stalin: “We blamed ourselves for being blind to the presence of enemies all around us. We thought we lacked Stalin’s deep understanding of the political struggle and were therefore unable to discern enemies in our midst the way Stalin could.”
After the Soviet Ambassador to Berlin, Dekanozov, warned Stalin in May, 1941 that Hitler was preparing to invade, Stalin said to him: “So, disinformation has now reached ambassador level.” Dekanozov disagreed, and was later reproached by Marshal Voroshilov, who had had a very long association with Stalin: “How can you allow yourself to argue with Comrade Stalin. He knows more and can see further than the rest of us.”
Stalin’s Transport Commissioner, Kovalev, later recalled that “one felt oppressed by Stalin’s power, but also by his phenomenal memory and the fact that he knew so much”. Marshal Zhukov noted Stalin’s “ability to formulate an idea concisely, a naturally analytical mind, great erudition and a rare memory”. Sergo Beria, son of Lavrenti, wrote that at the end of the war the Soviet military leaders “all had a high opinion of Stalin’s capacities, because he knew how to select and utilise men”. Khrushchev later wrote that Stalin “really was a man of outstanding skill and intelligence. He truly did tower over everyone around him.” His ability to “express himself clearly and concisely” was “admired” by “everyone”, and “because of it we were proud to work for him”.
In the 1970’s an aged Vyacheslav Molotov still admired his former boss, saying: “Despite Stalin’s mistakes, I see in him a great, an indispensable man! In his time there was no equal!”
As with Hitler and Stalin, Napoleon’s ability was a major attraction for his lieutenants. Fain, Napoleon’s third secretary, who lacked the sometimes cynical insight of Bourreinne (Napoleon’s first secretary), recalled that in meetings of the Administrative Councils, “the Emperor, surrounded by skillful, superior men, seemed to me to exert an even greater intellectual superiority. In all discussions, he was eminently the man of good judgement; it seemed to me that he was always right.”
When General Caulaincourt tried to dissuade Napoleon from his plans to invade Russia in 1812, he was told by General Duroc, who was Napoleon’s closest conﬁdant and ‘friend’ until killed by a cannon-ball: “He has his point of view; he is aiming at some objective of which we know nothing. You can be certain that his policy is more far-seeing than ours.”
Not too distant from the attitude of Duroc, was that of General Jodl. In his diary in 1938, Jodl noted the “Fuhrer’s genius” and described him as “the greatest statesman since Bismark”. But, while later awaiting trial at Nuremberg, Jodl wrote: “I ask myself: ‘Do I then know this person at all, at whose side for so many years I led so thorny an existence’ … Even today I do not know what he thought, knew and wanted to do, but only what I thought and suspected about it.” Jodl was a highly competent military ofﬁcer who had basically surrendered himself to Hitler because he ‘thought and suspected’ that they were on the same wave-length.
From one point of view, Putin has been very successful in relation to Ukraine. Russia is in solid control of Crimea and now has control of a land which gives a land-bridge to it. At this stage, there are quite a few reasons for Putin’s lieutenants to support him.
So, where do Putin and his lieutenants stand on this score? I would welcome any views and examples. Please email me!
DICTATOR MAKES LIEUTENANTS FEEL PERSONALLY NEEDED
The dictator will often take advantage of the need of people to feel personally needed, and to want to think that they have been speciﬁcally chosen by him to be a lieutenant. It is very personal, and is about being special in the eyes of the person in power.
Napoleon succinctly described the way to make an actual or potential lieutenant feel needed; according to Caulaincourt, it “explains better than any other phrase could have done the price he was prepared to pay for success”. Napoleon said: “When I need anyone, I don’t make too ﬁne a point about it; I would kiss his arse.”
Hitler was masterful at making his lieutenants feel special and needed. In mid-1940, Italian Foreign Minister Ciano described Hitler kissing arse with “a thousand little courtesies: to this one, according to his custom, a glass of mineral water, to that one cigarettes. Always equal, calm.”
In 1936, on Josef Goebbel’s thirty ninth birthday, Hitler visited him at the Propaganda Ministry. Goebbels afterwards wrote: “We go into my room alone. And then he speaks to me very kindly and intimately. About old times, and how we belong together, how fond he is of me personally. He is so touching to me. Gives me his picture with a glorious dedication. And a painting of the Dutch school. That was a wonderful hour alone with him. He pours out his heart to me. The problems he has, how he trusts me, what great assignments he still has in store for me.” In early 1944, Hitler rejected a bid by Goebbels to broaden his powers to include that of managing the war economy, yet still managed to make him feel important and needed; indeed, possibly even more important than if he had got the job he wanted. Goebbels noted in his diary: “He would like me to take on the role of the moving force behind the whole thing.”
Hitler was also good at making his generals feel personally needed and valued. When Field-Marshal Keitel took up his post as “Chief of the Wehrmacht Supreme Command” in 1938, Hitler continued his seduction, telling him: “You are my conﬁdant and my sole adviser on Wehrmacht matters” – this, at the same time as he was telling close associates that Keitel had “the brain of a cinema doorman”.
At the beginning of the war Rommel – not yet a Field- Marshall – was commanding Hitler’s headquarters, and wrote to his wife that he was “spending a lot of time” with Hitler. “The trust he has in me gives me the greatest delight. Yesterday, I was allowed to sit next to him.” In early 1943 Hitler wanted the independent minded General Guderian – who had earlier been removed from his command on the Russian front for not strictly following orders – to return, and kissed arse: “Since 1941 our ways have parted: there were numerous misunderstandings at that time which I much regret. I need you.”
Like Goebbels, Albert Speer (when Armaments Minister) was more than once subjected to Hitler’s intimate conversation treatment. Speer knew that he had put the Gauleiters (regional Nazi party leaders) off-side by his efforts to mobilise all resources for the war economy and he had been told that Martin Bormann (Hitler’s secretary for the Nazi Party as well as his general gate-keeper) was encouraging this attitude. Speer mentioned this to Hitler, who knew how to reassure his lieutenant: “He again conferred a distinction upon on me by a little gesture, inviting me for the ﬁrst time up to his wood-panelled study on the second ﬂoor of the Berghof, where he generally only held extremely personal and intimate discussions. In his private tone, almost like an intimate friend, he advised me to avoid doing anything that would arouse the Gauleiters against me. I should never underestimate their power, he said, for that would complicate things for me in the future. He was well aware of their shortcomings, he said; many were simple-hearted swashbucklers, rather rough, but loyal. I had to take them as they were. Hitler’s whole tone suggested to me that he was not going to let Bormann inﬂuence his attitude toward me.”
Stalin was no slouch either. Sergo Beria wrote: “Stalin was able to charm people, as I can testify from experience. He managed to give the people he was with the impression that Jupiter had come down from his Olympus for them, deigned to speak with them in a familiar tongue, and was taking an interest in their problems.” Stalin, he wrote, “left each person he spoke to anxious to see him again, with a sense that there was now a bond that linked them forever”; “that was his strength”.
Marshal Zhukov initially refused promotion to Deputy Supreme Commander of Soviet forces: “My character wouldn’t let us work together.” Stalin replied: “Disaster threatens the country. We must save the Motherland by every possible means, no matter the sacriﬁce. What of our characters? Let’s subordinate then to the interests of the Motherland.” After Zhukov agreed, and said that he had to get to work, Stalin continued the charm offensive: “Well that’s ﬁne. But aren’t you hungry? It wouldn’t hurt to have a little refreshment (of tea and cakes).”
When Ismet Inonu resisted the job of Turkey’s chief delegate to the Lausanne peace conference in 1922, Kemal Ataturk appealed to Ismet’s vanity and patriotism by telling the Grand National Assembly that Ismet was “the best, the most perfect among us all – the surest counsellor, the most faithful supporter, the best of comrades, the most ardent of patriots, revered not only by all Turks but by all Muslim peoples, as the defender of their honour, virtue and probity.”
Ataturk was not at all religious – indeed he did not want religion to be part of the Turkish state – but he knew that Ismet was. Like Zhukov and Guderian, Ismet took the bait and the job. A decade later, when he was Prime Minister, Ismet had an argument with Ataturk and later sent a hand-written note expressing his devotion.
Ataturk replied, also with a hand-written note: “Ismet you are a great man; you feel and you inspire emotion. It seems you cry when you read my words. Would you believe it if I said that I sob when I read yours? I am expressing these feelings in writing, not in company at the dinner table, but after retiring to my bedroom with my intimate companion. I am certain that you love me very much. I love you too.”
So, where does Putin stand on this score? I would welcome any views and examples. Please email me!
DICTATOR SHOWS LOYALTY TO LIEUTENANT
One of the most effective ways for the dictator to make the lieutenant feel needed and special is to show him loyalty, particularly when he is having difﬁculties with other lieutenants. The lieutenant will feel both needed and desire to return that loyalty.
Khrushchev reminisced about how, on his appointment as party boss of Moscow in 1949, Stalin helped him in his disputes with Stalin’s other lieutenants: “I was constantly running up against Beria and Georgi Malenkov.” “Stalin certainly treated me well. He seemed to trust and value me. Even though he frequently criticised me, he gave me support when I needed it, and I appreciated that very much.”
Li Zhisui, Mao Zedong’s personal doctor, did not get on well with Mao’s wife, the politically ambitious Jiang Qing, and one day in 1961 walked out on her, slamming the door after an argument over her sleeping pills. From experience, Dr Li knew that Mao showed loyalty to those who clearly showed loyalty to him – and one way of showing loyalty to him was to tell him everything, and be ﬁrst to do it! Dr Li later wrote: “I realised that I must see Mao immediately. He would side with the ﬁrst person who spoke to him.” After he was told what the argument was about, Mao said: “Jiang Qing is unreasonable. You have told me everything. It’s all right. I’ll talk to Jiang Qing. In the meantime, though, why don’t you stay away from here for a few days? We still have to do something to save her face.” Mao was not only returning Dr Li’s loyalty, but showing some to Jiang Qing – who was to become an important lieutenant.
The appointment of Albert Speer as Armaments Minister in early 1942 following the death of Dr Fritz Todt brought challenges for the 36 year-old architect with no military experience – not the least of which was establishing his authority. Herman Goering, an authentic war hero, who was in charge of the Four-Year Plan for the German economy, wanted Todt’s job as well. When Hitler appointed Speer, Goering tried to bully Speer into accepting an agreement – which he claimed to have had with Todt – that “in my procurement for the army I could not infringe on areas covered by the Four-Year Plan”; something Speer thought would have left “my hands completely tied”.
Overlapping and poorly delineated authorities were a feature of Hitler’s divide and rule approach, but he now decided to show loyalty and back Speer to the hilt if he had any problems at a pending armaments industry conference: “If any steps are taken against you, or if you have difﬁculties, interrupt the conference and invite the participants to the Cabinet Room. Then I’ll tell those gentlemen whatever is necessary.” The conference did not begin well for Speer, so he told them that Hitler wanted to speak to them in the Cabinet Room.
According to Speer, Hitler “was astonishingly candid on the subject of Goering: ‘This man cannot look after armaments within the framework of the Four-Year Plan.’ It was essential, Hitler continued, to separate this task from the Four-Year Plan and turn it over to me. He expected not only cooperation on their part but also fair treatment. ‘Behave toward him like gentlemen!’ he said, employing the English word, which he rarely used.” Speer wrote: “Heretofore Hitler had never introduced a minister in this way. Even in a less authoritarian system such a debut would have been of assistance. In our state the consequences were astonishing, even to me. For a considerable time I found myself moving in a kind of vacuum that offered no resistance whatever. Within the widest limits I could practically do as I pleased.”
By early 1943, however, things were different and Goebbels and Bormann had joined forces to rein in Speer’s power. Again, Hitler showed loyalty. Speer wrote that both he and Goebbels were to make speeches at the Sportpalast on armaments: “When we coordinated out texts, the Propaganda Minister advised me to shorten my speech, since his would take an hour. ‘If you don’t stay considerably under half an hour, the audience will lose interest.’ As usual, we sent both speeches to Hitler in manuscript, with a note to the effect that mine was going to be condensed by a third. While I was sitting by, he read the drafts Bormann handed to him. With what seemed to me eagerness, he ruthlessly cut Goebbels speech by half within a few minutes. ‘Here, Bormann, inform the Doctor (Goebbels) and tell him that I think Speer’s speech excellent.” Speer concluded: “In the presence of the arch-intriguer Bormann, Hitler had thus helped me to increase my prestige vis-à-vis Goebbels. It was a way of letting both men know that I still stood high. I could count on Hitler supporting me, if need be, against his closest associates.”
So, where do Putin and his lieutenants stand on this score? I would welcome any views and examples. Please email me!
LIEUTENANT IS NOTHING WITHOUT DICTATOR
The longer the dictatorial CEO has power, and the more intense that power, the more likely it is that his lieutenants will be people who are essentially dependent him; not only has he removed the more independent minded, but those who remain get used to the idea of being told what to do. Without their ‘relationship’ with the dictator, these lieutenants know they would have much less – whether it be status, money, power to boss others, or the opportunity to inﬂuence signiﬁcant events. This does not mean that such lieutenants are incompetent; they may, in fact, be very competent and talented in a variety of ﬁelds – but there will rarely be a legitimate ﬁeld marshal’s baton in their knapsack. These lieutenants will be very loyal to the dictator.
Yugoslavia’s Milovan Djilas, who visited Moscow, wrote that Molotov “was indispensable to Stalin in many ways”. Yet he also put the view that Molotov, despite his role as Stalin’s “practical executive”, was essentially “impotent without Stalin’s leadership”.
Napoleon’s chief-of-staff at every major battle prior to Waterloo was Louis-Alexander Berthier. Berthier owed his fame and fortune to his relationship with the dictator; he was loyal and competent as long as he did not attempt to lead. “I have heard it said,” wrote Meneval, Napoleon’s second secretary, that Berthier “was a model of chief- of-staff”. “Nature had intended him for this part; he never raised himself above it. He was considered to be weak of mind and wavering in character. Napoleon had entrusted him with various missions in which he had acquitted himself well under his direction and Napoleon, who held him in true affection, loaded him with gifts and honours.” Later, Napoleon claimed that Berthier was a “true gosling whom I had made into a kind of eagle”: “there was not in the world a better chief-of-staff; that is where his true talent lay, for he was not capable of commanding 500 men”.
Berthier paid a price for latching onto the coat-tails of a dictator. According to Meneval, while in Russia in 1812, Napoleon would often criticise Berthier “for his carelessness”, saying, “not only are you no good, but you are actually in my way” – although Napoleon would later offer one of his indirect apologies to his “habitual” dinner-companion. Meneval recalled ﬁnding Berthier in a bedroom of a house “with his head in his hands, and his elbows on the table. When I asked him what was grieving him he broke into bitter complaint on the wretchedness of his position. ‘What is the good’, he said, ‘of having given me an income of 60,000 a year, a magniﬁcent mansion in Paris, a splendid estate, in order to inﬂict the tortures of Tantalus upon me. I shall die here with all this work. The simplest private is happier than I am.”
Dr Li wrote of the position of Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, in China’s internal power struggle in 1965: “At this turning point in his career, Mao needed Jiang Qing. Even her political ambitions were of use. She was, as she claimed, the most loyal lieutenant he had, because without Mao, Jiang Qing was no- one.” Dr Li, too, was ‘no-one’ without Mao. In mid-1968, during the Cultural Revolution when students were seeking and persecuting people in authority, Dr Li had a mild falling out with Mao – which left him exposed to the wrath of Jiang Qing who had sided with the students. Dr Li thus found himself hiding from her in the Beijing Textile Factory. “I was not fully back in Mao’s favour. He did not actively intervene on my behalf, and Wang Dongxiang (chief of security for Mao and China’s leaders) was certain Jiang Qing would persist in trying to get rid of me.” “Mao did not always know what Jiang Qing was doing then, and she could easily direct others to abduct me and later deny responsibility, claiming not to know.” Mao, however, eventually become concerned that the Cultural Revolution’s Red Guards were getting out of control, and so ordered the workers in the factory to take over a university. This led to conﬂict with the students, and Dr Li got lost in the commotion. He later wrote about getting rescued and his very positive reaction to Mao:
“Suddenly, I realised that my name was being called. It was Mao’s driver. ‘Hurry, he’s looking for you Dr Li.’ Mao was waiting for me. He stood up as soon as he saw me and came forward to greet me. I rushed toward him. He took both my hands in his and looked at me closely before speaking. I sensed that he really did like me, despite the strains in our relationship and Jiang Qing’s repeated accusations against me. ‘What a sorry situation you’re in’, he said. ‘Why don’t you change your clothes and get some rest now?’ he suggested.”
Dr Li recalled that “many members of Mao’s inner circle, those closest and most loyal to him, had once been saved” by him. “Loyalty” to Mao, wrote Dr Li with the additional beneﬁt of personal experience, “was based less on trust than on dependence”.
Although previously a successful business salesman, Joachim Ribbentrop was next to nothing in the ﬁeld of politics without his boss. German Foreign Ministry official, Studnitz wrote that Ribbentrop’s “decisions, like his hesitations, are accompanied by a constant fear of how the Fuhrer will react.” “The Foreign Minister has put all he possesses on one card – Hitler. A single frown from Fuhrer Headquarters, and his whole world tumbles about his ears. His greatest agony occurs when he has been unable for some time to obtain an audience with Hitler. Over him, as over all the other paladins, hangs the Damoclean sword of disfavour; but his skin in thinner than the others.”
Despite his own illusions, and the belief of many others, Heinrich Himmler was nothing without Hitler. He was, according to Speer, not without “remarkable qualities: the quality of patience to listen; the quality of long reﬂection before coming to decisions; a talent for selecting his staff, who on the whole turned out to be highly effective people”. Yet, despite have some of the qualities of a good HR manager, he was a failure when in dispute with powerful personalities. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the Gestapo, who reported to Himmler, later described him as a “stingy, small person”; Walter Schellenberg, an inﬂuential subordinate, described him as “a coward, not a brave man”; and General Guderian recalled Himmler’s “lack of self-assurance and courage in Hitler’s presence.”
Himmler even behaved like a wimp when directly taken-on by Guderian, an admittedly powerful personality. In early 1945, Hitler had insisted that Himmler take charge of Army Group Vistula which was facing the advancing Russians. Himmler was initially enthusiastic, but performed badly. Guderian did not hide his contempt for Himmler, looking directly at him while telling Hitler: “The man can’t do it. How could he do it?” Himmler polished his glasses, and said nothing. Weeks later Guderian ﬁnally persuaded Himmler to give up the position of Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Vistula on the grounds that he was overworked with this and the jobs of Reichsfuhrer of the SS, chief of all German police (including the Gestapo), Minister of the Interior, and Commander- in Chief of the Replacement Army. Himmler asked Guderian: “But how can I go and say that to the Fuhrer? He wouldn’t like it if I came up with such a suggestion.” Guderian:Would you authorise me to say it for you?” Himmler nodded.
Few people would want to initially become a lieutenant of a dictator because they fear him; but, once in this position, fear may make it very difﬁcult to leave. If the lieutenant seems to have any sort of independent power base, an attempt to resign may trigger a paranoid reaction by the dictator, putting the lieutenant in danger. It would have appeared very suspicious to Josef Stalin if Lavrenti Beria, his secret police chief, had tried to resign for any reason. Stalin would probably have had him arrested before he could carry out whatever plot that Stalin imagined he was up to. Joseph Fouche would have been in less danger if he had resigned as French Minister of Police, but Napoleon Bonaparte would have been concerned that he was moving to put a priority on ‘the interests of the Revolution’ instead of Napoleon himself.
So, where do Putin and his lieutenants stand on this score? I would welcome any views and examples. Please email me!
EXCITEMENT, AMBITION, MONEY, PRESTIGE, POWER TO BOSSS OTHERS
For the very ambitious, being near the dictator is the place to be: it is here that there is money, prestige, and power to boss others. These factors may have little to do with a relationship with the particular dictator, and little to do with concern for the welfare of the country; so to the extent that these are the main motivations for becoming a lieutenant, the lieutenant will be very alert for any sign that the dictator is losing his power. This type of lieutenant will readily swear allegiance to someone new. As Napoleon said of Tallyrand: “With him, as with many people, one would need to be always successful.”
Being near the dictator is interesting; a place where the future of the country is decided. Talleyrand himself wrote of the excitement: “Carried away by the rapidity of events, by ambition, by the interest of each day, placed in that atmosphere of war and political change which brooded over the whole of Europe, people found it impossible to pay due regard to their private affairs; public life occupied so great a part of their minds that private life was never given a single thought. One came to one’s house like a visitor owing to the necessity of resting somewhere, but nobody was prepared to stay permanently at home.”
“Ambition! That had a lot to do with it”, noted Hans Frank when asked about his motives for supporting Hitler who appointed him Bavarian Minister of Justice and later, Governor-General of Poland. “Just imagine – I was a Minister of State at thirty; rode around in a limousine, had servants …”
Speer, who was born in 1905, wrote of how ambition bound him to Hitler in the early- mid 1930s: “My position as Hitler’s architect had soon become indispensable to me. Not yet thirty, I saw before me the most exciting prospects an architect can dream of.” After visiting Paris in 1940 following the French defeat, Hitler said to Speer: “Draw up a decree in my name ordering full-scale resumption of work on the Berlin buildings. Wasn’t Paris beautiful? But Berlin must be made far more beautiful. In the past, I have often considered whether we would not have to destroy Paris. But when we are ﬁnished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow. So why should we destroy it?” Speer later wrote of the effect of this on his pride and ambition: “I was once again seduced by Hitler’s brilliant victories and by the prospect of soon resuming work on my building projects. Now it was up to me to surpass Paris.”
Goering thought that ambition was also the driving force for Goebbels, telling the prison psychiatrist at the Nuremberg trials after the war that Goebbels “saw his big chance to become powerful by using the press for anti-Semitic reasons. Personally, I think Goebbels was using anti-Semitism merely as a means of achieving personal power. Whether he had any deep-seated hatred against the Jews is questionable. I think he was too much of a thief and dishonest opportunist to have any deep-seated feelings for or against anything.”
Sometimes, of course, a lieutenant’s ambition is seen as the result of a little prodding. When French Ambassador Poncet asked German Defence Minister Blomberg whether the 1934 appointment of Ribbentrop as Special Commissioner of the Reich Government for Disarmament Questions meant a new phrase in German policy, Blomberg replied: “The reality is far simpler. Ribbentrop wanted a title, an ofﬁce, a position; or rather his wife, a vain, ambitious women, pressed him to demand something.” This may have, at least in part, been the source of what Paul Schmidt, the German Foreign Ministry interpreter, described as Ribbentrop’s “own vanity” and his “abnormal desire for rank and position”.
Once the lieutenant has risen as far as he can, his ambition can result in a slightly more cautious approach: why risk what you have if you can avoid doing so? In response to Marshal Graziani’s reluctance to launch an offensive in Africa in 1940 because it might fail, Mussolini told Ciano: “One should not give jobs to people who aren’t looking for at least one promotion. Graziani has too many to lose.”
Napoleon made a similar point in 1814. “He found fault with himself for having made so much use of the marshals in these later days”, recorded Caulaincourt, “since they had become too rich, to much the grand seigneurs and had grown war weary. Things, according to him, would have been much better if he had placed good generals of division, with their batons yet to win, in command.”
The successful dictator knows the value of money to each member of his executive team; and often, as did Napoleon, ﬁnds a number of different ways to provide it. For a start, Napoleon had his “extraordinary domain” which consisted of the “the total resources supplied by conquest”. Napoleon had sole power to use these assets and their revenues as he wished – on the army, or for the encouragement and reward of civil or military services; and, of course, ensuring loyalty to himself. According to Meneval, one of Napoleon’s secretaries, in 1807 Napoleon distributed “sums of from two hundred thousand to one million francs to each of nine marshals, sums of one hundred thousand francs to each of thirty nine generals”.
Theophile Berlier, who initially thought Napoleon “the man sent by providence to consolidate our republican institutions”, opposed Napoleon’s rise to First Consul for Life and his later rise to hereditary Emperor, but he remained a lieutenant: “I was prevailed upon to consider it a duty dictated by liberalism not to abandon positions from which patriots could still render service to the state and to liberty.” However, he also noted that the salary was important because he was “without patrimonial fortune”, and “was a very advanced age (forty-ﬁve) for resuming pleading as a barrister, yet perhaps not sufficient to secure a comfortable existence in the simple work of a practice, which is ordinarily fruitful only for older legal consultants.”
Berlier’s motives are a good example of the way the mix of factors binding the lieutenant to the dictator can change over time: from believing in Napoleon’s republican motivations, he moved on to money and prestige. “In 1802 I had combated the establishment of the Legion of Honour; and when it became law I was called to become part of it with the rank of commander. (Then in 1808) I found myself enrolled in a new nobility by virtue of the functions that I exercised (in the Council of State).” “Caught up in the general movement, I yielded to it.”
But Berlier could only pass on his title to his eldest son if he could also guarantee, via a majorat or entail, sufﬁcient wealth to enable that son to maintain the dignity of the title. Berlier, like some others, did not have such wealth, so Napoleon stepped in “by personally providing to (certain) title holders the capital necessary to establish their majorats from the immense reservoir of his domaine extraordinaire”.
Napoleon could also use various concessions to bind his lieutenants to him, such as that flowing from gaming tables. Bourreinne, Napoleon’s first secretary, wrote that when Napoleon told Fouche that he intended to abolish the ofﬁce of Minister of Police, Fouche recommended a delay of two years. Fouch, “as avaricious for money as Bonaparte of glory, consoled himself by thinking that for these two years the administration of the gaming tables would still be for him a Pactolus ﬂowing with gold”. “For Fouche, already the possessor of an immense fortune, always dreamed of increasing it, though he himself did not know how to enjoy it.”
By 1812, General Savary was in charge of the police and Napoleon – who claimed Savary would ‘murder his wife and children” if so ordered – commented on one source of his loyalty: “Savary clings to his ministry and the salary. He is afraid of losing his post, although, so far as that goes, he no longer needs it, as I have given him plenty of money. Whether as aide- de-camp or as a cabinet minister, he was always asking for money, and this displeased me. Not that he was alone in this, for never did (Marshal) Ney or (Marshal) Oudinot or many another open or ﬁnish a campaign without coming to me for cash.”
Sometimes Napoleon’s lieutenants just took what they wanted, and Napoleon turned a blind-eye. When Napoleon was told that one of his marshals had walked into an Italian pawnshop and stuffed his pockets with jewels, he retorted: “Don’t talk to me about generals who love money. It was only that which enabled me to win the battle of Eylau. Ney wanted to reach Elbing to procure more funds.”
Like Napoleon, Mao knew that many of his lieutenants liked money, and was not particularly concerned how they got it. Dr Li wrote that “the honesty of his staff was not a major concern. If an underling was useful, no matter what his other failings, Mao would protect and keep him safe.”
Mussolini, who was little interested in money or luxury for himself, similarly turned a blind eye to the ‘financial doings” of his lieutenants. In 1941, Ciano wrote of the dismissal of Achille Starace as head of the fascist black shirt militia. Mussolini had complained that “Starace sends a militiaman to walk his four dogs!” However: “The Duce’s most serious complaint is that Starace wears a distinguished service medal without authorisation. The criticism regarding ﬁnancial doings ﬁnds fewer echoes in Mussolini’s mind.”
Hitler also knew the value of money to his lieutenants. According to Hans Lammers, Hitler’s Chancellery Chief-of-Staff, “bonuses were granted in land and property, chieﬂy however in cash to ‘deserving men’”; with recipients including Ribbentrop, Keitel, Guderian, and Lammers himself. He noted: “Category of bonus eligibles whom the Fuhrer personally designated: Minister, State Secretaries, General of the Army, Generals, Reichleiters (regional representatives of the central government), Gauleiters (regional Nazi party leaders), etc. Usual amount of the bonus in these cases: between one hundred thousand Reichsmark and a million Reichsmark. Occasion for granting the bonus: birthdays (ﬁftieth, ﬁfty-ﬁfth and sixtieth), special anniversaries, retirement from work etc.”
Goering was like a pig in mud with the possibilities of his position. The fanfare accompanying his 1935 marriage led the British Ambassador to comment: “A visitor to Berlin might well have thought that the monarchy had been restored and that he had stumbled upon the preparations for a royal wedding.” In late 1942 Goering journeyed to Italy with Field-Marshal Rommel, ostensibly to help co-ordinate operations in North Africa where the German and Italian forces were under pressure. However, Goering showed little interest in the task at hand. Instead he went shopping for art works, ﬂaunted his diamond ring – “one of the most valuable stones in the world” – and bragged to the Rommels: “They call me the Maecenas of the Third Reich.”
In the lieutenant’s mind there will be little prestige in being the lieutenant to a hated thug – he wants to feel pride.
Bourreinne, Napoleon’s ﬁrst secretary, later wrote: “I was so closely employed that I scarcely ever went out but my zeal carried me through every difﬁculty, and I cannot express how happy I was in enjoying the unreserved conﬁdence of the man on whom the eyes of all Europe were ﬁled.”
On the evening of Goebbels’ thirty ninth birthday, Hitler held a rally at the Sportpalast stadium in his honour, lavishing him with praise and calling on the crowd to join in shouting “Heil” to him. Hitler was, for a moment at least, allowing Goebbels to feel like the leader. Goebbels wrote in his diary: “This I didn’t expect. How grateful I am to him.” Speer later wrote of being Armaments Minister in the ﬁrst part of 1944: “Even though I was only shining in the reﬂected light of Hitler’s power – and I don’t think I ever deceived myself on that score – I still found it worth striving for. I wanted, as part of his following, to gather some of his popularity, his glory, his greatness, around myself.”
Following the defeat of France, Hitler dished out a round of promotions, with Goering promoted from Field-Marshal to Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich (a six-star general). The American journalist, William Shirer, noted that Goering “acted like a happy child playing with his toys on Christmas morning”. Napoleon could have explained why Goering was so happy! “Men well deserve the contempt I feel for them”, he told Bourreinne: “I have only to put some gold lace on the coats of my virtuous republicans and they immediately become just what I wish them.”
To critics of the Legion of Honour, introduced in 1802, Napoleon argued: “I defy you to show me a republic, modern or ancient, that did without distinctions. You call them ‘baubles’, but let me assure you it is with baubles that men are led!” And, in 1808 Napoleon established the titles of Duke, Count, Baron, and Chevalier of the Empire. Cambaceres, Napoleon’s Arch-Chancellor, indicated that “such titles will henceforth serve only to mark for public recognition those already noted for their services, for their devotion to the prince (Napoleon) and the fatherland”. Cambaceres himself was a prime beneﬁciary. A contemporary wrote: “Never did titles, crosses, and ribands give anyone more pleasure than they did him. His whole delight lay in displaying them.” Like Goering, Cambaceres had a more than ample frame, and hence plenty uniform material, to hang these ‘baubles’ on. And, both liked fancy titles. Cambaceres told his aides that in public they should address him as “Your Most Serene Highness” rather than the ofﬁcial “Your Grandeur”.
In September 1928, Marshal Badoglio wrote to Mussolini: “Because Your Excellency’s generosity in rewarding all your faithful collaborators is well known, I take the liberty of applying to Your Excellency to suggest to the King that he should grant me an hereditary title. As I told you verbally yesterday, Your Excellency can count on my complete and absolute devotion now and always.” Badoglio eventually got a title, but then fell out with Mussolini because of his opposition to the alliance with Germany.
Although it is not often directly admitted, the power of a lieutenant over others is an obvious attraction of the job. Speer was most honest about it. By early 1944, “I had been bribed and intoxicated by the desire to wield pure power, to assign people to this and that, to say the ﬁnal word on important questions, to deal with expenditures in the billions. I thought I was prepared to resign, but I would have sorely missed the heady stimulus that comes with leadership.”
While, as we have seen, Ciano emphasised that he stayed on as Foreign Minister after the 10 June, 1940 Italian attack on France in order to ‘risk something to bring it to an end’, a friend and fellow diplomat had a slightly different but not mutually exclusive view: “That day Ciano, for his own good, for his personal satisfaction, for his future ambitions, should have resigned. Why didn’t he do it? He just could not face the idea of not having bells to push, secretaries to bully, people coming to him to ask for services he invariably rendered in his own grand and generous style; he liked the glamour that went with his charge … So he stayed on.”
So, where do Putin and his lieutenants stand on this score? I would welcome any views and examples. Please email me!
LOVE OF COUNTRY
Loyalty to a country may result in considerable loyalty to the dictatorial boss, notwithstanding the lieutenant’s view of his personal qualities and abilities and the lack of any personal relationship.
At its simplest form, it is a matter of blind loyalty to whoever is in charge. When Hitler came to power in January 1933, Erich von Manstein was only a battalion commander and had no contact with him; but Manstein was with Hitler in spirit. He wanted Germany restored to “its former greatness” with an end to the Weimar Republic’s “external impotence and internal turmoil”. For Manstein, “the only way out was a temporary dictatorship by the leader of the strongest party.” Once in contact with Hitler, Manstein initially regarded him as a ‘genius’; but by 1943 one of Hitler’s decisions moved him to exclaim in frustration: “My God, the man’s an idiot.” But then another aspect of Manstein’s loyalty to his country became evident. He was now a Field Marshal, and when approached to join a conspiracy against Hitler, it was – he claimed – his loyalty to the Prussian heritage of the German army that kept him out of the plot. Manstein simply said: “Prussian Field Marshals do not mutiny.”
Like Manstein, Italian Foreign Minister Ciano (who was married to Mussolini’s daughter) found himself saying – with at least some credibility – he must stick with a dictator out of loyalty to his country. While Germany’s initial war successes were pushing the wavering Mussolini toward supporting Hitler, Ciano was becoming increasingly worried and antagonistic toward Germany. At this time Ciano was making little secret of his views, and in April 1940 – after a week in bed with bad ﬂu – he noted: “My illness gave rise to much gossip. They talked about ‘diplomatic illness’ and Rome is ﬁlled with rumours about my resignation. Naturally, German successes have caused many desertions in the ranks of my so-called friends.”
A few days later, Mussolini insisted that Ciano read a French magazine article entitled, “Roehm, the man who aspired to the succession to Hitler”. Nazi Chief-of-Staff Roehm was shot on Hitler’s orders in 1934. Ciano understood that he was being warned against becoming too ambitious in his opposition to Mussolini’s German policy, and soon commented: “Perhaps he intends to liquidate me. Should I go now? Risk opposition? Son-in-law against father-in-law? And what can I do the day I am no longer minister? Simply be the son- in-law? No. It’s necessary to try to remain in the government and continue to do as I am, as long as possible.” In November 1942 Ciano was still Foreign Minister, and Germany’s Rommel was on the run in North Africa leaving many Italian soldiers prisoner of Field-Marshal Montgomery’s forces. When a friend suggested that he resign, or even ﬂee Italy, Ciano replied: “I should have done it (resign) on 10 June, 1940 (when Italy entered the war by attacking France). When one is in my situation, one can only remain at one’s post until the moment that times are right for acting. I didn’t want the war, I didn’t accept it. I must risk something to bring it to an end.”
Lazare Carnot, Napoleon’s ﬁrst War Minister who later fell out with him, wrote to the restored Bourbon king in 1814: “What is it that made Napoleon’s tyranny bearable for so long? It is the fact that he excited national pride. With what devotion did even those who detested him the most serve him!”
Charles-Maurice Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, recalled that he “served Bonaparte as Emperor with devotion so long as I felt he himself was solely devoted to the interests of France”. In Berlin in 1806, Napoleon dictated very harsh peace terms to Prussia, declared trade and correspondence with Britain off limits, and told Talleyrand about his plans for war in Spain. Talleyrand did not believe all this was in the interests of his country: “I then swore to myself that I would cease to be his Minister as soon as we returned to France.”
Alexander Barmin, an early Stalin colleague, later wrote that in the early 1930s “loyalty to Stalin was based principally on the conviction that there was no one to take his place, that any change of leadership would be extremely dangerous, and that the country must continue on its present course, since to stop now or attempt a retreat would mean the loss of everything.” And, even though Stalin later reacted to Hitler’s June 1941 invasion with shock and self-doubt, the other Soviet leaders did not move against him in large part because, as Politburo member Anastas Mikoyan said: “The very name of Stalin was a great force for rousing the morale of the people.”
Often, of course, the lieutenant’s belief in the dictator needed by the country will coincide with a sense of a personal relationship. When the 1923 negotiations at Lausanne – which eventually to lead to an independent Turkey – were proving difﬁcult, Ataturk responded positively to Ismet Inonu’s appeal for full authority to act on behalf of the Government. In response, Ismet wrote: “You always come to the rescue at these tumultuous times. You’re a man who has done great things and get great things done. My loyalty to you has increased twicefold. I kiss your eyes my dearly beloved brother. My dear leader” signed Ismet.
So, where do Putin and his lieutenants stand on this score? I would welcome any views and examples. Please email me!