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date: 26 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Violence was key to state administration and politics in interwar Europe, particularly in the major authoritarian regimes on the Continent: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union. Yet the nature and level of violence varied substantially among these three regimes, as did the importance of violence in daily policing operations and in people’s lived experiences. This chapter examines the role of violence in state administration in these three dictatorships between 1919 and 1939, focusing on surveillance, political policing, and mass repression. Each regime utilized violence in highly different ways, and it is difficult to speak of a single model of interwar authoritarianism. All three are similar, however, within a broader context of modern European state practices and especially military practices: each promoted a particular vision of social transformation that made sense only in the broader field of military conquest and the framing experiences of two totalizing global wars.

Keywords: violence, authoritarianism, surveillance, policing, totalitarianism, mass repression

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