Thursday 23 February 2017

Deep State. Big Trouble.

Dark Days: The unmistakeable, if unacknowledged, shifting of pieces on the American political chessboard: strategic leaking of intercepted electronic communications; mass media revelations of politically compromising information; all points to the intervention of the same Deep State that brought down Richard Nixon.
THE NUMBER OF REFERENCES to “The Deep State” has shot up since Donald Trump became President of the United States. A term previously confined to academic discussions of Turkish politics is beginning to appear in mainstream news stories all over the world.
Driving the “Deep State” reference spike to ever-higher levels has been the obvious collusion of US intelligence agencies and key media outlets in the ouster of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Adviser.
So, what is The Deep State? And do New Zealanders have any reason to worry that their own state may not be as shallow as it appears?
Turkey is still the best place to start this discussion.
The secular republic created by General Mustapha Kemal out of the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire in the years immediately following World War I was very much a top-down affair.
Kemal and his army had saved the Turkish heartland from dismemberment at the hands of the victorious allies. For that historic achievement Kemal was not only given the name “Ataturk” – father of the nation – but the army which made it possible was accorded a privileged status in the Turkish state – and its politics.
Without the army, Kemal’s modernisation and secularisation of Turkish society could not have succeeded. In the 1920s the Turks were an overwhelmingly rural, poorly-educated and deeply religious people. Had Kemal’s social reforms (the emancipation of women, for example) been put to free and fair vote they would, almost certainly, have been defeated. Accordingly, Kemal’s constitution expressly forbade the politicisation of Islam.
Below the surface of the Turkish state’s everyday interactions with its people Kemal and his successors created a deeper structure of permanent state interests and actors. Any political threat to the Ataturkian settlement would be answered by its principal defenders: the armed forces, the secret police, and the ordinary police leadership. This was what Turkish political scientists dubbed “Derin Devlet” – The Deep State.
Following World War II, the Turkish Republic (which had remained neutral until the final months of the war) acquiesced in the United States’ diplomatic and military policy of “containing” the Soviet Union and joined the Nato alliance.
As a key player in the Cold War, the Turkish Deep State was now obliged to extend its grounds for political intervention to include not only politicised Islam, but any too-aggressive pursuit of socialism. It also stepped up its suppression of Turkey’s minority Kurdish population’s quest for self-determination.
Clearly, Turkey is not alone in possessing a deep state apparatus. No modern state considers it prudent to leave its people defenceless against either invasion from without or subversion from within. The more important question, however, is whether or not the core institutions of the state: the armed services, the secret services, police, judiciary and senior civil servants believe there to be certain political aims and objectives so contrary to the constitutive ethos of the state that they must be suppressed – at any cost.
There is ample evidence from New Zealand’s brief history that this country possesses a deep state of considerable assertiveness. Any perceived threat to the dominant position of New Zealand’s settler population; its capitalist economic system; or to its status as a member-in-good-standing of the Anglo-Saxon “club”; has been met with decisive and often bloody intervention. From the trumped-up excuses for Governor Grey’s assault on the Maori King Movement in 1863, to the political destabilisation campaign which preceded the 1975 General Election, the machinations of New Zealand’s Deep State are hard to miss.
The unmistakeable, if unacknowledged, shifting of pieces on the American political chessboard: strategic leaking of intercepted electronic communications; mass media revelations of politically compromising information; all points to the intervention of the same Deep State that brought down Richard Nixon.
President Trump should not be surprised. In the eyes of the American Deep State he is guilty of President Nixon’s “crime” of attempting to supplant its own apparatus. President Trump’s key advisor, Steve Bannon, has made no secret of his intention to engage in a Lenin-like “smashing” of the core institutions of the American state – or, at least, to purging their leadership. This cannot and will not be countenanced.
Equally, forbidden is what the American Deep State has deemed an unacceptably dangerous attempt to alter the United States’ geopolitical posture vis-à-vis the Russian Federation. In the National Security Agency and the CIA (if not in the FBI) there is clearly a powerful faction which regards the Trump Administration as having been irretrievably compromised by the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This is a very big deal. The present situation in Turkey shows what happens when a populist president believes himself to be in the cross-hairs of the Deep State. The Ataturkian legacy is being smashed to pieces by Turkey’s Islamist President, Tayyip Erdogan.
Will America’s democratic legacy be next?
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 21 February 2017.


mikesh said...

You mention Richard Nixon, but what about JFK.

peteswriteplace said...

Couldn't comment on Turkey, but the US certainly does have a deep state movement. Whether legal, or the Mafia, they act when necessary as Richard Nixon found out. But who acted against JFK? A system so worried, so scared of what JFK would or could do with his proposed changes they decided to remove him totally, and reinforced the deep state that would remove Nixon. Will it act against Trump? You betcha they will, in time. A couple of years down the track the mid-term elections will do it for them, unless there is some immediate crisis. A NZ deep state? The descendants of the old settler society? Hone Harawira and Mana will find they will go nowhere now they have shed support from Labour.

greywarbler said...

Very interesting Chris. The objects of Deep State is to be the man on the stair, who wasn't there. That makes our daily dealings and plans just a piece of theatre viewed objectively, and it brings to mind the Discworld and the Gods who play with the world from the Ramtops.

So what do the simple folk do? that was a song in Camelot roughly about King Arthur's Court. (

It seems that the more education we get the less we can take hold and understand any piece of the human system and our planet, which only becomes more complicated and always beyond the reach of our fingertips. Are we just a smear of jam in a layer cake, formed for the delectation of powerful, disinterested people? You had better write another piece Chris that will bolster our sense of self and worth etc. and not just seem soft chess pieces in a diabolical game.

Phil Saxby said...

The purpose of the Turkish "deep state" was and is the protection of the Ataturk legacy: national unity, democracy and secularism. However, there must come a time when Turkish democracy and secularism can stand on their own, and the "deep state" must withdraw from Turkish political life, to the level of normal, constitutional, process within a functioning democracy. Perhaps that is what is happening in Turkey now? Is Turkey outgrowing its need for a "deep state"?

What of America/NZ/Japan and Europe? The supporting State structure of Courts, Police, military etc in Western democracies is always available in a crisis. Perhaps the arrival of Trump represents one of those crises?

Trump won't serve four years. He will either be arrested, impeached or assassinated (if he does not resign). And the rest of us will breathe a sigh of relief that the Breitbart circus has ended, when that happens. Trust you will too, Chris.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

" Populist" seems to be a good new term with which to denigrate the democratic process and the legitimacy of the wishes of the majority of ordinary people. Your narrative seems to be supporting the need for actual decision making power to be in the hands of secret forces unaccountable to the people, presumably because they don't know what's best for themselves; are not competent to make judgements as to how their society should be run. Or to choose who should decide this for them.
Trump is about as similar to Erdogan as he is to Winston Peters. Erdogan's purges are his application of the Turkish deep state against opposition real or imagined not in the inner circle. Trump obviously is a total outsider and has no recourse to any part of the established US deep state. His position is the opposite of Erdogan's.

The contest that's going on there may well end in bloodshed, but it will be an uprising of people who don't normally resort to violence against the deep state's reversal of their attempt at democracy, a disorganised fury out in the open ,not a secret clandestine imprisonment, disappearance process.

There will be those in the US who wholeheartedly support Trump, There will be those who quietly held they noses and voted for him in spite of their distaste for his personal image in the hope that he really would reduce the mass killing in the middle east carried out in their names, and there will be very many who did not vote for him ,do not like him at all and are horrified at his election but will be much more horrified if the illusion of democracy that exists in America is shattered by an unconvincing impeachment process. Hence the massive world wide media campaign going on to persuade enough people that he is going to be a disaster, before he has a chance to show otherwise , in the hope of getting rid of him without a civil war erupting.

Nick J said...

There are some extremely concerning issues with regard to the opposition to Trump from the "Deep State". Let me first state that as far as I am concerned we vote in a president, a prime-minister and their administrations on the basis that they represent the will of the majority. We do not vote in the "Deep State" and we expect them to follow the directions of the president / PM / administration.

Very clearly the CIA/FBI/NSA have rebelled against their elected leader. The fact that those opposed to Trump have either applauded or withheld their condemnation of the security state is very concerning. Trump was democratically elected, to wish him removed by an un-elected organ of state is to discard any pretense of supporting the "democratic principle". In a literary allusion it is to wish rid of Sauron by putting the One Ring on your finger.

Chris you have previously written of the powers of the security state, in order to remove this do you not think that there needs to be a democratic move by a major party to regain the reins, and to ensure these organs are accountable to the elected representatives of the people. But how? As we know reining in problem children drives them into further delinquency.

Olwyn said...

Chris, you list the priorities of NZ's deep state as "the dominant position of New Zealand’s settler population, its capitalist economic system, and its status as a member-in-good-standing of the Anglo-Saxon “club”. Do you think that this set of priorities may serve to keep NZ in a state of arrested development - more than a dominion but not quite a fully fledged country? It seems arguable that settler dominance, protected by the Anglo-Saxon club and finding expression in capitalism, may serve to diminish our capacity to flourish as an integrated, confident society. I do not doubt that these priorities offer the place some level of protection, but so too does a well-integrated society in which all have a genuine stake.

BlisteringAttack said...

Washington DC isn't full of parks with well used park benches and unread copies of the Washington Post for nothing...

Guerilla Surgeon said...

My predictions on Donald Trump have not been especially accurate. I predicted he wouldn't run, I predicted that he wouldn't stay in the running, I predicted he wouldn't be selected, and I predicted he wouldn't be elected. But here are a couple more. I doubt if he will be impeached. He could however be removed for incompetence as Ronald Reagan should have been towards the end of his term. He could also pop his clogs due to his lack of exercise and terrible diet, coupled with the stress of being the president (which seems to have aged Obama quite a bit).
But having said that, he will be replaced by Pence. Who is just as evil if not more, but acceptable to the Republican establishment and much more focused. So be careful what you wish for.

Wayne Mapp said...

The ample evidence of the "deep state" that you refer to seems to be National winning elections, since the indicators of the deep state are in fact the policies of National. But these do not come from the deep state covertly directs, they are what National members believe, whether naively or as a matter of principle.

In fact I think you would find that there are many National activists who think that there is a "deep state" embedded in Wellington that actively resists any change in the social sphere (education, health, welfare etc).

The references to the deep state in the 1860's seems misplaced. It didn't need the deep state to drive the settler opposition to Maori, it was all there plainly on the surface expressed in newspapers and in the fledgling parliament. General Cameron was doing what the settler govt expressly wanted. The confiscation acts being the prime example. In fact the major complaint of the settler government was that Cameron was not going far enough.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The references to the deep state in the 1860's seems misplaced. It didn't need the deep state to drive the settler opposition to Maori, it was all there plainly on the surface expressed in newspapers and in the fledgling parliament. General Cameron was doing what the settler govt expressly wanted. "

Not very often I would agree with Wayne, but there you go. He ain't wrong.

Chris Trotter said...

Wayne, Wayne, Wayne.

I simply refuse to believe you are so naïve.

Indeed, as a former Minister of Defence, I know you're not. You are well aware of the Deep State's nature - what it is capable of - and how little attention it pays to the opinions of mere Ministers of the Crown.

If you were of a mind, you could do all New Zealanders a favour by telling them all about the egregious conduct of their Deep State. Clearly, you are not of such a mind, and so you continue to peddle the usual "nothing to see here, folks, move along please" fairy tales.

General Cameron's 1863 invasion of the Waikato had to be given at least the appearance of being a justified response to clear and present dangers. Who do you think furnished the "evidence" for the Settler Government's allies in the press? Who "sexed-up" Governor Grey's dossier?

You know who?

Victor said...

David Stone

To my mind, "Populist" is a well established term currently being applied as a euphemism for "Fascist".

That doesn't, to my mind, justify subversion of elected authority by the US deep state, as posited by Chris. But I can imagine situations in which it might be justifiable, e.g. the kind of circumstances faced by the Prusso-German deep state in July 1944.

Meanwhile I await evidence that Americans, in any substantial numbers, voted for Trump because they wanted an end to Middle Eastern adventures. If they did, they will soon be very disappointed.

Chris Trotter said...

Yes, Wayne Mapp is wrong, Guerilla Surgeon.

Read Vincent O'Malley's latest, "The Great War For New Zealand". Cameron's invasion was justified on the basis of "fake news" fabricated by the Governor's officials. Rudimentary stuff compared to Mark Felt's Watergate revelations, but the same principles were at work.

A little less cocksureness and a lot more scholarship would not be unwelcome from your quarter.

Oh, and BTW, intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance. Nobody gets a free pass.

Victor said...

Just correcting my previous post.....

It was, of course, incorrect of me to suggest that, in July 1944, the Prusso-German deep state tried to get rid of an elected government, as opposed to a government which owed its existence to a mixture of popular appeal, terror and an earlier spate of deep state interventions and manipulations.

But the point remains that there are extreme times when it might be ethical for a deep state to abandon its subservience to the surface state in order to prevent catastrophe.

I don't think such a situation currently prevails in the US. But, in a few years' time, it might.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Considering New Zealand only had very limited democracy at the time, I'm not sure that the word deep state should be applied. There really was no need to massage public opinion. All Europeans considered that Maori land would continue to become available for settlement. So if there was a deep state – and it must have been fairly primitive is you said – it really didn't need to justify a great deal. Because settler land hunger was the driving force. Indeed, the major opposition came from parts of the Anglican Church early on. But only parts. There was a major war of ideas in which the the ordinary political organs of the state took full part. The needs of European settlers took precedence here. Even the church was urging Maori to sell land – presumably in order to avoid a clash.
I think you really have to extend the concept of deep state beyond the original meaning to come to your conclusions.

Incidentally, historians are by no means monolithic on this topic.

“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” Worth repeating.

So intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance? But still necessary for a free and open society.

"Nobody gets a free pass."

Including you.

Nick J said...

Victor, I am unsure about the Nazi regimes ongoing legitimacy, they were however "legitimate" by dint of electoral success in extremely trying times. It seems to me that like the Russian communists they inherited a "deep state" apparatus from the prior states. Gestapo, KGB, etc all have a longer term existence separate to the regimes they supported. Now we have a KGB man running the successor state to the USSR, his enforcers are merely another iteration of the same organisation.

I have yet to see a "deep state" organisation subvert their government, I have however seen the "imperial" deep sate organs like the CIA dominate vassal states security organs. In that category there is suspicion of CIA "assistance" to remove the Labour government in 1975, and the curious case of Gough Whitlam.

When is it ethical for a "deep state" organ to intervene? The answer is never, it is not democratic and ultimately self serving. "Spooks" dont really care who pays so long as they are, they arew amoral which by definition excludes ethics. And as I stated before to get a short term result by utilising their "services" is to slip on the Ring of Sauron. You become hostage to the super thugs.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Further to this, now that I've calmed down just a bit. I'm not at all sure why we are arguing, except I seem to have offended you by agreeing with Wayne. Perhaps I could sum up my attitude a little more succinctly. New Zealand may have had a nascent 'deep state'. This 'deep state' may indeed have influenced public opinion on the matter of land confiscations and purchases. But it is not necessary or sufficient as a cause of the various wars and confiscations post eighteen sixty. Because public opinion, and the opinions of its elected representatives were pretty much identical to those of the 'deep state'. And I doubt somehow if anything needed to be "sexed up". There were enough loud voices in eighteen sixty expressing the idea that the King movement should be put down. And the invasion of eighteen sixty-three was pretty much a continuation of the fighting in eighteen sixty.

And I must confess a rather deep aversion to the expression "deep state" it's one of those ill-defined platitudes de jour, which seems now to be responsible for everything governments do that we don't like. Academics mostly don't use it, except in articles about Turkey in the nineteen nineties, even when they are writing about its actions. And I think it's wrong to assume somehow has everyone seems to, that it's a monolithic organisation. It's simply a bunch of competing bureaucracies, that don't necessarily have a lot in common.
I'm not necessarily saying that conspiracies don't exist, but I think we have to treat them individually, rather than as some vast network of evil organisations determined to subvert the state. And much of what passes for deep state actions are simply the normal workings of the bureaucracy. As anyone who's ever watched yes Minister would know.

Wayne Mapp said...

Perhaps I was so inured to the blandishments of the deep state and had incorporated them into my whole political ethos, that I was simply blind to it!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Perhaps one of you guys who are throwing the "deep state" expression around could have a crack at defining it for me?

Chris Trotter said...

Well, GS, I thought I'd made the nature of the Deep State pretty clear within the text.

This passage, in particular, should have alerted you to the actors involved - and their motivation:

"No modern state considers it prudent to leave its people defenceless against either invasion from without or subversion from within. The more important question, however, is whether or not the core institutions of the state: the armed services, the secret services, police, judiciary and senior civil servants believe there to be certain political aims and objectives so contrary to the constitutive ethos of the state that they must be suppressed – at any cost."

Obviously, I would answer "the more important question" in the affirmative.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

In answering G S you identify the deep state as the core institutions named, OK. Then you identify a belief they hold concerning "political aims and objectives" . Who's political aims and objectives? And in "answering in the affirmative" do you affirm the validity of their suppression of them, or do you just confirm that these institutions hold these beliefs? I have to concentrate hard on the text to follow through to an understanding and others might too.
Cheers D J S

Victor said...

Nick J

"When is it ethical for a "deep state" organ to intervene? The answer is never, it is not democratic and ultimately self serving."

I don't think I could be as categorical as you. I believe that, by any measure, those members of the German officer corps, diplomatic service, intelligence services et al, who conspired to end the genocidal regime that was leading their country to destruction, were justified in their actions and that it was a vast pity that they failed.

Of course, people from within these circles had been partially instrumental in the regime's establishment and in its earlier spate of diplomatic and military successes. Many of them, moreover, shared, in some measure at least, the racist and imperialist assumptions of the regime. Had they succeeded, peace would not have been a forgone conclusion, particularly if they had sought to exploit divisions within the allied coalition.

Even so, by my reckoning, they were justified. And,though they failed, they commenced the long and painful process by which their country regained its lost honour.

Deciding the moral calculus in political matters can be hazardous. Normally, it might simply be a case of legality or popular consensus. But, sometimes, such considerations fail to address the enormity or the complexity of what's going on.

And, yes, even so, I would agree, the question remains of "quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Has a deep state ever removed a surface state without a nudge from outside? Dunno. I'll have to think about that.

Victor said...

Nick J

A further thought.

My previous post was posited on the notion that the "brotherhood" of German officers (largely but by no means exclusively of aristocratic origins) along with military intelligence organisations recruited from that brotherhood and diplomats, senior public servants and religious leaders of similar social origins, tastes and education, collectively constituted a "deep state".

If I'm wrong, then the morality of the July plot is irrelevant to this discussion. But, of course, it remains wholly relevant to any discussion of the ethical limits of obedience, when faced with a totally immoral, albeit legally constituted, political authority.

On a personal note, may I add that I revolt entirely against the notion that Sophie Scholl's actions might be justifiable but those of Claus von Stauffenberg are not.

Who am I to judge between people of such outstanding courage and integrity? Yet such a distinction seems implicit in your absolutist view of the subordination of the deep state to its political masters.

Charles E said...

Sounds like a damn good this this Deep State whatsit. Can I join?
And if it doesn't exist it should be invented.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon.

A gentle reminder, GS, that trolling is not permitted on Bowalley Road.

If you wish to indulge in that activity, please go somewhere else.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I can't see how constructive criticism of the term "deep state" can be considered trolling. Trolling involves trying to work someone up into a frenzy by making outrageous statements, which I have this far as I can see, not done. I was just perhaps rather more forcefully stating what David Stone did above. The concept of "deep state" is not something that should be thrown around without some "deep thought" about its nature and aims. And about whether it actually exists in the sense that you seem to believe it does – or not. And in my opinion you haven't done enough of this.
Something which you accused me of a little while ago – lack of scholarship. And I sincerely believe that if what I said in my last comment was trolling, then so was your accusation. Assuming you can be a troll on your own blog :).

Nick J said...

Victor, nice topics to put the discussion of ethics to. When I visited the Museum of German history in Berlin there was a section on the Freikorps...who transition seamlessly from officer class to covert army to Brown Shirts. Continuity.

Charles E said...

No seriously, I think such a 'thing' does exist and it is a good thing. Yet it actually is not a 'thing' or an institution or instrument. It is the instinct of the solid core of the establishment. Those in powerful positions who can in a crisis act in unison without meeting or perhaps even communicating with one another. Entirely paternalistic for sure but just as children need fathers who look out for them, show them how to live and stop them stepping out into thin air, so can and does a nation.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerrilla Surgeon:

FYI - There is considerable scholarship devoted to the "Deep State" phenomenon - most particularly, as I noted, in Turkey.

Recent developments internationally have seen the Deep State analysis shift across the Atlantic, where it now provides a useful tool for explaining the institutional responses to Trump.

You may dispute the usefulness and accuracy of this analysis, GS - that is your prerogative - but you may not insult me, or attempt to browbeat me into giving it up.

The Deep State has become a "thing" in contemporary political debate. Get used to it.

Victor said...

Nick J

Your point is well made.

But does it support the absolutist case you seem to be making?

If Deep States exist, they can do harm or they can do good, albeit that the good is always vitiated by the resort to force, fraud or both. Of course, this reservation might itself be considered vitiated where force and fraud already rule the roost, as was certainly the case in July 1944.

I would, however, have thought that a member of the German officer corps who ended up in the Brownshirts would, ipso facto, have ceased to be part of the Deep State, prior to January 1933, unless, of course, he was working under cover.

Nick J said...

Victor...The absolutist bit; you know I had never questioned my assumption of the "evil" of the Deep State and it came as a surprise when you commented. Can they do good? Now there is a poser, I need to ponder. I have Kissingers latest to read, I have alwats considered him a criminal however he makes a lot of sense. No easy answers but it may shed some light on the subject.

On the Brownshirts you are right. My point was the continuity of a politicised militarism with a deep pool of available deep state backers from whom to recruit and to garner support from.

greywarbler said...

Victor at 24//2 15.12
Sophie Scholl and Claus von Faustenberg are mentioned. And I can't find mention of them elsewhere in the post. A few years back I started looking at Germans who stood up for good in the nasty society after remembering Admiral Canaris. And read about the White Rose group and Sophie Scholl and must honour her name by a little tribute to her, her brother and the brave group standing against their fellow people.

Hans and Sophie Scholl, often referred to in German as die Geschwister Scholl (literally: the Scholl siblings), were a brother and sister who were members of the White Rose, a student group in Munich that was active in the non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany, especially in distributing flyers against the war and the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. In post-war Germany, Hans and Sophie Scholl are recognized as symbols of the Christian German resistance movement against the totalitarian Nazi regime. Wikipedia

and Claus von Stauffenberg
Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was a German army officer and member of the German nobility who was one of the leading members of the failed 20 July plot of 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi Party from power.More at Wikipedia

I would dearly like, at our Anzac rituals over the country, to have a few minutes spent on bringing forward the heroes of the other side of the war, to whom we owe much for their deep devotion to respecting humanity. That is what our people were also fighting for, though perhaps not so clearly in their minds. My father's bones lying in France would approve I think, he was apparently a good man, and a thinker.

By the way, The Deep State perhaps is seen as necessary in a democracy with changing politicians, personnel etc. and like permanent police, defence force, helps to give continuity to efforts to maintain the integrity of the state. That would be the official reason anyway.

greywarbler said...

This video of over 2 hours is fascinating and historical. See the young Tony Blair make the decision to invade Iraq, or wherever, see the young Donald Trump and hear his amazing story. (The casino one is really good.) See the weathercock politicians swing around and point the finger of fire at Gaddafi when someone has to take the blame apart from the real miscreant. It is better, or worse, than fiction. And after efforts to fix the problem, that seem worse than the disease, one is left with a feeling of...well, dis-ease.

The Deep State is deeper than three wells.

Victor said...


I read somewhere recently that Sophie is the most popular girl's name in Germany and has been for some years.

Perhaps there's some hope for our species after all.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

We shouldn't be putting the White Rose organisation and von Stauffenberg's coterie of army officers in the same category. Basically all they had in common was an aversion to Hitler. Von Stauffenberg was NOT a Democrat.

Victor said...


I agree that they were different in many ways. My point was that the coterie and its associates might be thought of as Germany's Deep State.

If so, working on the assumptions that they were (whatever their faults) better than the Nazis and that their success might have led to an earlier end to the conflict and a couple of million fewer corpses, it might be reasonable to cite their attempt as an example of Deep State working for the good. In other words, if there is such a thing as a Deep State, it's not always a wholly bad thing.

The July plot, moreover, almost succeeded and, had it succeeded, would have had the skills and experience to put an alternative administration together. A deep state might be able to do that sort of thing but a group of admirably courageous, humane and self-sacrificing students can't.

But I agree there's a whole lot of 'mights' and 'coulds' involved here.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor. I suspect that the only part of the July plot that almost succeeded was the assassination of Hitler. The rest of it seems to have been distinctly disorganised. Mind you, if Hitler was dead that might not have mattered.

Victor said...

Your point is well made, GS.

Even so, I've always assumed that, had the plot succeeded, there would have been many able people in "internal emigration", who'd have been available to help the new regime.

Konrad Adenauer comes to mind. The former Lord Mayor of Cologne (in which role he....and not Hitler...had built the first Autobahns)was lying low in enforced retirement in July 1944. He wasn't part of the plot but was pulled in by the subsequent Gestapo dragnet and spent the last few months of the war in a concentration camp.

His subsequent ally and successor as Chancellor, Ludwig Erhard (the "Father of the Economic Miracle"), was working clandestinely on plans for Germany's reconstruction on the assumption of defeat and was in touch with some of the plotters, albeit probably not fully briefed of what was going on.

And, no doubt, there were many others just biding their time.