Gihren Zabi, the man so evil even his own father, Degwin, compared Hitler favorably to Gihren.
In his commencement address to the military adacemy class of which Char Aznable was a member, Gihren Zabi framed the Spacenoid cause as a militarist revolution:
The time stand on the threshhold of a new stage! Through the difficult times since the first generation of emigrants, space colony dwellers have gone from being called the dispossessed to being the chosen people!
And you cadets are our vanguard! For you are the elite! You have been rigorously selected from the chosen people to be here today. It is you cadets who will be the defenders of colony society, as well as the leaders of the new humanity!
To break human history free from its stagnation, rouse yourselves to action! Struggle on with the goal of becoming the great military leaders of tomorrow! Stand with me! Join me on the front lines of our battle!
— Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin - Eve of The Red Comet episode 4, English subtitles, 9anime.to version
Zeon Zum Deikun called Earth “a sacred blue and green orb — the cradle of civilization and a sacred home that we must eternally preserve and protect,” yet here Gihren Zabi sets the expectation of war.
He fulfills it, too.
After the colony drop of Operation British and the Battle of Loum, Gihren’s father Degwin Zabi lectures him:
Degwin: Gihren, a quick peace. That is what our aim must be. I believe the wisest course is to use this victory to force the Federation to the negotiating table.
Gihren: With all due respect, we will continue to be victorious. In our next engavement, and the next, until the very end. When we do negotiate, it will be at a time of our choosing when we deem it to be most advantageous for us.
Degwin: Other men said the very same thing before their downfall! Men like Napoleon and Hitler!
Gihren: The follies of ancient history can offer us no lessons! We already live outside the bounds of human experience and are cultivating our own history! To think that such words would come from my own father, Zeon Zum Deikun’s closest comrade! What did Deikun tell us?! Did he not proudly declare that Spacenoids would become a new species of humanity?! That we would usher in the next stage of human evolution?! We have in our hands the perfect opportunity with which to make Deikun’s ideals a reality! An opportunity like this will never visit us again.
We must press on! We shall never compromise! Onwards! Ever onwards!
— Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin - Eve of The Red Comet episode 6, English subtitles by David Fleming, 9anime.to version
Degwin then calls Kycilia Zabi, and asks her to stop her brother Gihren, saying no one can stop him but her, that Gihren will cause the end of Zeon the country and Zabi the family. She promises that she will remain by Degwin’s side, with a Look.
In a later scene, Degwin goes to meet the captured Earth Federation Forces general Johann Abraham Revil.
Revil: You have made your feelings abundantly clear, Sovereign. We must bring this war, the worst in human history, to an end.
Degwin: Ever since Cain and Abel in ancient times, hostility and conflict between humans have never ceased, and man has yet to understand his fellow man. What a deplorable state of affairs. Zeon Zum Deikun's intent was to free us from that old curse. Even if all things, space included, are God’s creation, is it so wrong that it was we space immigrants who found a hope that is so many times more powerful than the sense of freedom that people once felt when they made the crossing to the New World?
That is what Deikun was thinking when he set forth his protocols for the new era. We gathered under his banner as his comrades. We had no idea that his hope for a new humanity would lead to such disgusting hatred and terrible devastation. Admiral Revil, is there nothing we can do to defuse this situation, you and I, working together?
Revil: What, indeed? It may be possible for you, but a prisoner like me?
Degwin: I understand. I understand. I understand you fully, General Revil.
— Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin - Eve of The Red Comet episode 6, English subtitles by David Fleming, 9anime.to version
Kycilia sends Zeon Lieutenant General M’Quve, a fancier of Earth history, to Earth to sabotage the peace negotiations process and lead the ground war. Revil is sprung from a Zeon POW jail by Kycilia’s spy agency in cooperation with the Earth Federation. Why? It suits Kycilia’s purposes to provide a worthy opponent to M’Quve and a leader for the demoralized Federation. But it also suits Degwin’s purposes to release Revil so that he may negotiate on behalf of the Federation.
The war does not end with the truce that M’Quve was sent by Degwin to negotiate; Kycilia’s plan to prolong the war succeeds. The freed Revil rallies Earth against the treaty with Zeon. Degwin, enraged, blesses the Zeon invasion fleet’s mission, which fails with the loss of Earth chases the Zeon off Earth and into space, killing Dozle’s favorite son, Garma.
Seeking peace once more, Degwin arranges truce talks with Revil at a defined location in space, where Degwin and Revil are incinerated by Zeon’s latest superweapon, fired by Gihren. Gihren is killed by Kycilia. Kycilia is killed by Char.
Degwin sought political power, with the goal of Spacenoid independence.
Gihren sought political power, with the goal of Spacenoid dominance.
After the death of Garma Zabi, youngest of the Zabi children, Gihren delivers this public eulogy:
Gihren: [on broadcast] We have lost a hero to our glorious and noble cause. But does this foreshadow our defeat? No! It is a new beginning. Compared to the Earth Federation, the resources of Zeon are less than one thirtieth of theirs. Despite this difference, how is it that we have been able to fight the Federation for so long? It is because our goal in this war is a righteous one.
Bright Noa: [commenting] This is Garma’s funeral. It’s nothing more than a propaganda campaign aimed against the Federation. Amuro, you could learn a lot from this.
Gihren: It’s been over fifty years since the elite of Earth, consumed by greed, took control of the Earth Federation. We want our freedom! Never forget the times when the Federation has trampled us! We, the Principality of Zeon, have had a long and arduous struggle to achieve freedom for all citizens of our great nation. Our fight is sacred, our cause, divine. My beloved brother Garma Zabi was sacrificed. Why?
Char Aznable: [commenting in a bar] Because he was a spoiled brat.
Gihren: The war is at a stalemate. Perhaps many of you have become complacent.
[garbled…] Such a lack of compassion by the Earth Federation has polluted our most sacred planet for their own greed. “We must send a proud message, a message composed of words” — we have wasted too much time with words. We need strong action now! The Earthside elite must be taught a strong lesson for their evil corruption! This is only the beginning of our war. We’ve been putting more and more resources into our effort to make our military stronger than ever. The Earth Federation has done the same.
Many of your brothers and fathers have perished valiantly in the face of a contemptible enemy. We must never forget what the Federation has done to our people. My brother Garma has shown us these virtues through his own valiant sacrifice.
By focusing our anger and sorrow, we are finally in a position where victory is within our grasp, and once again our most cherished nation will flourish. Victory is the greatest tribute we can pay to those who sacrificed their lives for us! Rise, our people, rise! Take your sorrow, and turn it into anger! Zeon thirsts for the strength of its people! Hail Zeon!
Bright Noa: What a bunch of nonsense. This man’s trying to turn the Zabi family into a royal dictatorship.
— Mobile Suit Gundam episode 12, “The Threat of Zeon”, official English dub
It’s a rally-the-troops speech in the face of a setback, but this eulogy does contain some some stock Zeon talking points:
The corruption line is interesting because it does not appear in the Zeonism of Zeon Zum Deikun; corruption charges are something introduced by Gihren.
This speech does not contain the aspects of Zeonism that deal with Newtype theory. There there are reasons that this might be the case.
From a Doylist stance, this episode is only eleven episodes into the first season of a TV show whose purpose was to inspire toy purchases. Perhaps the showrunners hadn’t thought through the reasons for the One Year War, beyond rebellion. Perhaps Zeon Zum Deikun’s personal philosophies had not been established yet.
But from a Watsonian perspective, Gihren’s lack of discussion of Newtype theory might have to do with political realities. The show had already referred to the existence of Newtypes, with Federation officers discussing whether certain people were Newtypes. And Newtype theory was a Zeonist idea, so the idea must have been in circulation among the Zabis, who cloaked themselves in Zeon Deikun’s ideology. For Gihren to omit Newtypes would mean that he thinks they’re irrelevant to the war effort, or not useful for rallying people, or something whose existence he wants to keep secret.
Months later, Gihren presents to his father a plan for defense of the Zeon homeland, Side 3, using a weapon called the Solar Ray System. The Solar Ray System is based in a former residential colony; its former inhabitants have already been forcibly evicted to other colonies, and construction begun, before this meeting.
Gihren: By using an existing colony for the System, we’ll protect Zeon while saving time and money.
Degwin: Let’s say we were victorious. Well, then what, Gihren?
Gihren: I’d be honored if you sign your authorization.
Degwin: Eeh. Why bother? You’ve started.
Gihren: But without you, the sovereign, there is no Zeon.
Degwin: And? Just what are you planning?
Gihren: We’ve reduced the human population. We will then maintain these numbers with the superior races. It’s the only way man can finally attain everlasting peace. And it can only be done by controlling people through the Zabi family dictatorship.
Degwin: Gihren, are you familiar with Adolf Hitler?
Gihren: Hitler? You mean, from the Middle Ages.
Degwin: Yes. A dictator, completely out of touch with the rest of the world. [signs the Solar Ray System plans] You seem … to be following … in his footsteps.
Gihren: Is that so?
Degwin: I established the Principality to quickly unite the Zeons and to make the Zeon ideal a reality. But now…
Gihren: Hitler’s follower has managed to lead the nation into a dictatorship.
Degwin: Together with Kycilia.
Gihren: Yes. Just as with the Federation, a democracy will only promote weakness. People will only end up destroying each other. As they have done so in this war. I’ll be victorious. See for yourself how a Hitler follower fights this war. I depart, to take my command at A Boa Qu. [exits]
Degwin: Bah. Don’t forget that Adolf Hitler was defeated.
— Mobile Suit Gundam episode 40, “The Threat of Zeon”, official English dub
Gihren seems ignorant of the historical precedent; Degwin is not. Gihren is not interested in being told of the defeat of Adolf Hitler, who he was told was similar to him. His half-remembered history does not serve him. And while Degwin speaks to the audience to denounce his son, he’s not willing to upset the power balance of the Principality of Zeon in the middle of a war.
Gihren, on the other hand, is quite willing. With Degwin aboard the Zeonic flagship The Great Degwin, Gihren orders the Great Degwin to advance upon the Federation fleet before deploying the Colony Laser system to destroy both.
Kycilia: Father was aboard the Great Degwin, yet you destroyed it along with the Federation forces. Why?
Gihren: I didn’t have any choice. It wasn’t the right time to initiate peace negotiations.
Kycilia: But there was no need to commit patricide, was there, Admiral? [threatens him with gun]
Gihren: [laughs] Enough with the jokes.
Kycilia: You aren’t usually this naïve, dear brother. [shoots him]
— Mobile Suit Gundam episode 42, “The Threat of Zeon”, official English dub
Degwin died on December 30, 0079. Gihren was killed a day later, on December 31.
How does history remember him?
In 0096, the leader of the Sleeves faction of Neo Zeon describes Gihren:
Full Frontal: In the end, Zeon was assassinated, and the Zabi family rose up from it to build the Republic of Zeon. They chose to fight back the Federation government’s suppression with force. The ‘inventions’ of mobile suits and colony drop fighting was the result of the power given to Zeon Republic to match the Federation. Humanity lost half its population, but it could be seen as a deliberate reduction in population Gihren Zabi planned when he used racism to replace Zeonism.
Everyone knew right now that Zeon was killed by the Zabi family’s treachery. The Zeon Republic had such a crime, and after a year’s war, it fell defeated.
Volume 4, Chapter 1, Part 5 of the Baka-Tsuki translation of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn available on The Internet Archive.
Full Frontal has inherited Gihren’s role as the military leader of the most warlike faction of Zeon, yet he decries Gihren as racist and treacherous.
Thus for Degwin and Gihren.
I haven’t come across any political statements by Kycilia, save a self-serving declaration of “As long as I live, Zeon survives,” which she uses to justify her evacuation from A Baoa Qu after Gihren’s death, before the Federation captures that fortress.
Assassinated, perhaps by Gihren or Kycilia.
While he was active in the military, I’m unaware of any political activity on the part of Dozle. He seems more concerned with his family and military success than with political ideology.
I think he does what he does in order to please his father, Degwin.