Three men in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party remain the most contested and spoken about more than six decades since their separate violent deaths; Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Luitpold Himmler.
It is said they were the closest to Hitler and had ‘absolute loyalty’ to the man recorded to have butchered six million Jews. Like their master, none of them died by the swords they wielded rather they chose the most psychotic shortcut – suicide.
Goering was found guilty by an Allied court and sentenced to death by hanging but committed suicide the night before his execution and Goebbels, the man reported to have witnessed Hitler’s death took the life of his six children, his wife as well his.
Himmler was an interesting character. As chief of the German Police and later minister of Interior, he headed the most feared intelligence organisation at the time, the Gestapo aka Secret State Police.
As Allied forces closed in on the Nazi and Hitler, Himmler developed cold feet and tried to get an easy way out to save his neck. While staying closer to Hitler, he secretly started negotiations with Western Allies, promising them he could turn the German army to the British and American.
He also promised he could release all the Jews in concentration camps. Himmler’s wider scheme of things was that he could play his cards against Hitler, get his boss captured or killed then he would succeed Hitler and probably survive the Allied onslaught.
It didn’t turn out according to his plan. He was arrested by British forces then as most Nazi officials did, he committed suicide days before he appeared before a jury for questioning.
Over the centuries - from the times of the Roman Empire to-date - many leaders whose crimes have been absolved by history were judged harshly by their contemporaries who held them directly responsible for atrocities, deaths and other inhuman acts against their own people. But there are also some whom history has not let off the hook, which is where the likes of Hitler, Idi Amin and Sadam Hussein, among others, fall unless later history brings forth evidence of their innocence.
Many leaders, especially in the African context, have been shielded from blame by an extension of their culpability to those who surrounded them during their tenure. Such talk like being under the influence of an iron First Lady is common– a case of the recently disposed Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo - that the guy was ready to cede power but Ms Simone Gbagbo held him by his collar shirt and told him she would finish him off by herself. Some are betrayed by a lover; it is said, Sani Abacha was in the company of two beauties when he died. Idi Amin had people like Gen. Isaac Maliyamungu, the man claimed to have single-handedly masterminded the hundreds of deaths of innocent Ugandans under Amin’s regime.
In modern times, such auxiliary affiliates pay a hefty price of their masters’ crimes by being led to The Hague. Six Kenyan high caliber officials are currently facing questioning at the International Criminal Court for the atrocities in Kenya after the elections in 2008. Maybe one day history will find out that they acted as shields for some big man quietly seated somewhere in Kenya.
So, when ASP Gilbert Bwana Arinaitwe took to the streets to affront demonstrators who were protesting against rising food and fuel prices, he must have been under orders [and Internal Affairs State Minister Matia Kasaija has confirmed this] to keep law and order. In the intensity of the moment and the excitement of temporary heroism, however, he took the law into his own hands and did what some now view as very good material for The Hague.
If The Hague came knocking today, how much of Arinaitwe’s excesses will be attributed to him and not his bosses? He could be found reasonably responsible but he is a State agent and some of what he did, like Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Luitpold Himmler argued in the fall of 1945, that he too was serving a State.