Egypt : he’s gone!
The fall of Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 had a similar feel. It was people power pure and simple. The crowd, goaded beyond endurance by the man’s tedious Leninist rhetoric and unintimidated by the Securitate, starting calling “Dictator” and surged toward the central committee building. The royal couple of Roumanian Marxism-Leninism fled from the balcony and then to the border but were captured and dealt summary justice – that is, before a firing squad – after a mock two hour trial.
The strutting Shah of Iran, overthrown in 1979, became a haunted itinerant only four years after hosting a gaudy celebration in Persepolis to celebrate 2500 years since the Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great. His own Pahlavi dynasty was make-believe, his father having been a mere army sergeant. His exile was a Womens’ Weekly tour, from Egypt to Mexico and back to Egypt, before he died in 1980.
In the Soviet Union in March 1952 the only celebrants of Stalin’s overdue death were in the Gulag. The starved, frozen inmates knew who had blighted their lives and allowed themselves a cheer or two. Other dictators have died, their illusions intact, Franco for example. Others have fallen after battlefield defeat like the two Napoleons, the Greek colonels or, thanks to Thatcher, the Argentinian generals.
Suicide is a way out. Hitler, Goebells and Himmler contemplated pictures of Mussolini’s dangling corpse and chose the more dignified alternative, a neat SS-manufactured cyanide capsule or bullet from a Mauser pistol. Actually Hitler had long been focused on suicide, as part of his larger love of death itself. Malcolm Muggeridge speculated it would have been better to have the former Nazi leadership holed up in a boarding house where they could have bored one another and their visitors with stories of their triumphs past, old blowhards kept in a kind of house arrest for public edification.
“Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
Celebrate the moment. The dictator is gone.