This is what a hero looks like – or maybe not. At any rate I think it’s safe to claim that his name is Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (1907–1944), instrumental in the 20 July 1944 plot against Adolf Hitler, one day prior to his inevitable demise, immortalised in Bryan Singer’s 2008 film, Valkyrie, starring U.S. actor Tom Cruise as the heroic count.
The highly decorated war hero eventually sprang to mind, now that we have put the attempted coup on Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 15 July this summer behind us, as western leaders humbly race to be the first to kiss Erdoğan’s feet – in united condemnation of the plotters.
Of course there’s every reason to question the legitimacy of a coup against a democratically elected head of state, such as Adolf Hitler. Granted der Führer did everything in his power to stay in power, by hook or by crook and all sorts of crookery, just like Turkey’s current president, forcing us to question whether or not Stauffenberg indeed was a hero.
After all, had he been a Turkish officer, living in Erdoğan’s Turkey today, chances are western leaders would condemn his actions, as they have been lining up to denounce this summer’s democratic plotters.
Agreed, as a rule I find military coups deplorable, but Stauffenberg, just like his Turkish modern-day successors, invoke praise every bit as much as their president calls for denunciation. Yet our leaders queue up to sing Erdoğan’s praise, while dissidents, judges, journalists or any individual failing to comply are dismissed, incarcerated, gagged, censored or ostracised, just as we know good old Hitler would.
In short: By today’s standards Stauffenberg would be considered a traitor, at least by NATO and the European Union – and, if I’m not mistaken, Russia, too.
Think about it.
Consider then, the leaders we have.
Whereas Stauffenberg and his cohorts …
Top photograph: The 21-year-old Claus von Stauffenberg in 1926, at the time officer in the 17th cavalry regiment. Photo from Deutsches Bundesarchiv/Wikipedia.