Praetorian mutiny. Prigozhin is dissatisfied as Himmler

Prigozhin has been depicted in the media as Putin’s most devoted follower for a considerable time. He has accumulated a substantial fortune and wielded significant influence due to his association. Originally, he owned a catering business carrying orders for the Kremlin, earning him the nickname “Putin’s cook.” Later on, as the owner of the Wagner Group, a private army that corrupted African governments contracted to suppress opposition. His military mercenaries also participate in the conflict in Ukraine. However, on Friday, Prigozhin disobeyed Putin and began marching on Moscow. He betrayed his current patron and principal. Like Hitler’s Himmler once.

Comparing different historical periods using simple analogies is an intellectual abuse. Although some similarities exist, events from different periods differ significantly in origin, external and internal circumstances, and implementation methods. Nevertheless, people’s behavior has changed slightly over the centuries, and some standard features may exist. However, those in power circles may become addicted to this practice, losing their ability to reason and resorting to betrayal if their ambitions are not fulfilled.

The Wagner group is often compared to the Nazi SS as they are both seen as elite formations with highly motivated and well-equipped soldiers. However, this comparison needs to be more accurate. In the case of the mercenaries fighting in Bakhmut, both groups operate without official state supervision. The SS, or Schutzstaffel (from German “protective troops”), were established and functioned until the end of World War II as the political police of the NSDAP, the Nazi Party. The Waffen SS troops were created within the SS in 1940, and they fought with unwavering dedication, even as the Red Army approached Berlin. At its peak, 220,000 men served in these formations. Soldiers were grouped into four divisions. Heinrich Himmler was the head of the SS until April 29, 1945.

Like Yevgeny Prigozhin, Himmler was driven by ambition to attain more power and significance. He aspired to become the successor of Adolf Hitler. He portrayed himself in Nazi Party circles as the one who safeguarded the leader of the Third Reich against internal and external threats. Himmler was a faithful praetorian who, out of love for the Führer, executed the final solution of his most sinister idea, to completely exterminate the Jews remaining on the territory of the Third Reich and the territories occupied by it.

However, Hitler was not enthusiastic about giving Himmler more power, which left Himmler frustrated and ultimately led him to betray. In February and April of 1945, Himmler met with Swedish Count Folk Bernadotte when the Millennium Reich’s fate was already determined. Bernadotte aimed to rescue as many concentration camp prisoners as possible. At the same time, Himmler had a different agenda: he attempted to initiate secretive peace negotiations with the Allies, including ceasing operations on the Western Front. When Hitler learned about this, on April 29 – the day before his suicide – he removed Himmler from all government and party duties and even expelled him from the NSDAP. Heinrich outlived his idol by only 23 days. On May 23, interrogated by the British, he committed suicide by taking potassium cyanide.

If you believe the media and scanty, unofficial information from the circles of the Russian power, Prigozhin, who for almost the entire period of the war in Ukraine criticized the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov for incompetent leadership in Ukraine, wanted to show Vladimir Putin what his ” mercenaries boys” and an army, were capable of, with himself as the commander. However, the Shoigu coterie won, forcing the Wagner Group and other mercenary units to submit to the Ministry of Defense by a special law act.

Prigozhin, who felt humiliated, reached a breaking point and instigated a mutiny. He acted like Himmler and betrayed those around him. From an outside perspective, it is clear that both individuals had unfulfilled ambitions that eventually boiled over and resulted in explosive behavior. Strangely, even though Putin claims to be a great historian, he doesn’t seem to learn from the mistakes of other dictators like Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler. The ancient Greeks used to say, “Fear the Danaians who bring gifts,” a reminder of the Trojan Horse.

Antoni Styrczula for

Translated by PEV.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in the text reflect only the author's views.