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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Europe’s mid-century crisis of the 1940s destabilized power relations due to the simultaneous expansion and erosion of state power relative to society. This in turn unleashed a process of paramilitarization that eroded the state’s monopoly over the use of force. Ferocious struggles for power broke out at a local level between a wide range of gangs and armed bands. Paramilitarization reached a high point during the chaotic transitional period between Nazi and post-Nazi rule when the day-to-day authority of the state broke down almost completely. In order to gain an advantage over their rivals, actors on the ground established client–patron relationships with one or other of the great powers. Local struggles in Europe thereby became internationalized, which in turn contributed significantly both to the course of the Second World War and to the outbreak of the Cold War.

Keywords: Cold War, irregular warfare, occupied Europe, political violence, power relations, state and society, Second World War

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