By Eric Vandenbroeck

Earlier I already investigated why the First World War broke out.

As suggested, it is not without historical irony that the centenary of the Great War was accompanied by civil war in Syria and Iraq, revolution in Egypt, and violent clashes between Jews and Arabs over the Palestinian question, as if to offer proof that many of the issues raised but not solved by the First World War and its immediate aftermath are still with us today.

While the starting point of that story can be said to be the Russian Civil War(s) that followed the Bolsheviks insurrection in November 1917, even if Europe experienced a short lived period of stabilization between 1924 and 1929, the core issues raised but not solved between 1917 and 1923 would return, with new urgency, to the international and domestic political agenda after the onset of the Great Depression in 1929.

True, from late 1923, after the signing of the Lausanne Treaty that ended conflict in Anatolia and Eastern Thrace, Europe as a whole entered a period of relative political and economic stability.1 Internationally, a spirit of rapprochement was embodied in agreements such as the 1924 Dawes Plan, designed to make German reparations payments more manageable; the Locarno Treaty of 1925, in which Germany acknowledged its new western borders, thereby improving Berlin’s previously tense relationship with Paris; and the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which effectively banned war as an instrument of foreign policy, except in self-defence. 2

The general climate of international rapprochement also allowed for a symbolic reconciliation between Ankara and Athens during Venizelos’ penultimate term as Prime Minister (1928– 32), culminating in the Treaty of Friendship (1930) that settled the contentious issue of compensation for the destruction and confiscation of property during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919– 22. Venizelos, who had started that war, even proposed Atatürk for the Nobel Peace Prize. 3

In tandem with these developments, the most important international organization of the 1920s and 1930s, the League of Nations, worked tirelessly towards resolving the effects of the post-war refugee crises, while also making substantial contributions, through its various agencies, to the fields of healthcare, drug control, economic co-operation, labour legislation, disarmament, and the prevention of ‘white slave’ trafficking. 4

Yet despite all of these encouraging signs, by 1929, Europe continued to plunge into crisis and violent disorder. This was particularly true for Germany, the recipient of significant US loans, which now had to be recalled from businesses, prompting many of them to either go bankrupt or lay off their employees. By 1931 one-third of the German workforce was unemployed, and millions more were on precarious short-term contracts. 5

Neighboring Austria, still far from fully recovered from the effects of the Great War, was also badly hit. The country had staggered from one economic crisis to the next in the 1920s, dependent for its survival on financial assistance from the Western Powers. Even before the Depression, unemployment ran at well over 10 per cent a year, and this increased further during the slump when the collapse of one of Austria’s largest banks, the Creditanstalt, sent shock waves through the banking system in all of central Europe. Bulgaria and Hungary, already weak economically, were also deeply affected by the Wall Street crash. 6

The economic and political crisis in Europe after 1929 fatally undermined any remaining faith in democracy and prompted an intensified search for New Orders that could cure the ills of Western capitalism and reverse the injustices imposed on the defeated states of Europe in the period 1918– 20. Parties of the extreme Left and Right, which had long denounced democracy as a ‘foreign’ and involuntarily adopted political system, enjoyed growing support for their populist promises to resolve their countries’ economic and political crises by radical means. 7

This particularly applied to Germany, where the slump catapulted Hitler’s Nazi Party from the fringes of politics to its very centre. In the general elections of 1928, Hitler had received no more than 2.8 per cent of the popular vote, a figure that would increase to over 37 per cent in the federal elections of July 1932. Although the Nazis did not create Germany’s economic and political crisis, they proved to be its main beneficiary. Many voters increasingly viewed them as the only viable alternative to the Communist Party, whose support had also grown steadily in response to the same sense of crisis.

The apparent inability of liberal democracy to manage economic crisis and bitter social conflict were crucial to Hitler’s election successes between 1929 and 1932.8 In other parts of Europe, too, the slump pushed voters towards extremist parties and created excuses for politicians to bypass Parliament in the name of ‘stability’ and ‘order’. Against Woodrow Wilson’s optimistic predictions that the post-war world would be ‘safe for democracy’, most of the democracies established in Europe in 1918 were eventually replaced by authoritarian regimes of one kind or another. 9 In Bulgaria the right-wing Italian-and German-inspired People’s Social Movement under Aleksander Tzankov grew in strength, while on the Left, the Communist Bulgarian Workers’ Party (BWP) enjoyed significant support in the cities. 10 In May 1934 a small elitist organization of anti-royalist nationalists, ‘Zveno’, executed a successful coup, supported by other right-wing groups. 11 The new government abolished political parties and trade unions, introduced censorship, and centralized the administration in pursuit of a corporate state along the lines of the Italian Fascist model. Within less than a year, however, the Zvenari were forced out of office and their government was replaced by a de facto royal dictatorship under Boris III and his obedient Prime Minister, Georgi Kioseivanov. 12

In Austria, in early 1933, Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss shut down Parliament and assumed dictatorial powers, suppressing the Left and banning the Austrian Nazis. When Dollfuss was murdered during an attempted putsch by the Austrian Nazis in July 1934, he was succeeded by Kurt Schuschnigg, who continued to rule by decree until Hitler decided to absorb Austria into the German Reich by force in the Anschluss of 1938.13

By the mid-1930s authoritarian regimes or outright dictatorships of various forms had become the norm across central and eastern Europe, and appeared to hold the keys to the continent’s future. 14 Their common denominator was a fundamental opposition to parliamentary democracy and Western capitalism on the one hand, and anti-Bolshevism on the other. Yet profound differences also existed between them. In Poland, for example, Józef Piłsudski, who had led his country to democracy and independence in 1918, staged a military coup in 1926 and remained in power until his death in 1935. Unlike many other states in central Europe, Piłsudski’s Poland never became a fascist dictatorship but certainly more authoritarian than it had been prior to 1926.15 This would become a common pattern in many of the successor states of eastern Europe, sometimes through military putsches, as in Estonia and Latvia in 1934, or through royal imposition, as in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. In January 1929, following the shooting of several leaders of the Croatian Peasant Party in Parliament, Yugoslavia’s King Alexander dissolved Parliament and proclaimed a royal dictatorship, only to be assassinated in Marseille five years later in what quickly transpired to be a joint IMRO and Ustashe operation. 16

The chaotic years after 1929 were generally accompanied by significant outbursts of violence, often committed by individuals or groups that had already played a prominent role between 1917 and 1923. Although physical violence was much less widespread between 1923 and 1929, a broader culture of violent rhetoric, uniformed politics and street fighting persisted throughout the 1920s. On the Left, fantasies of exporting the Bolshevik revolution beyond the Soviet Union were nurtured by the various Communist parties of Europe, which Moscow controlled through the Comintern or Third International (1919– 43). On the extreme Right, by contrast, paramilitary movements as diverse as the Nazi storm troopers (Sturmabteilung, or SA), the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Austrian Heimwehr, the Croation Ustashe, and Baltic Home Guards such as the Lithuanian Riflemen Union, the Latvian Aizsargi, and the Estonian Kaitseliit, all thrived on the idea of violently opposing the lingering threat of a communist revolution, a fear that dated back to 1917.

In the wake of the Great Depression, these simmering conflicts escalated into frequent clashes between political militants, as many countries returned to the conditions similar to civil war that had prevailed during the immediate post-war years. In the last phase of the Weimar Republic, for example, street-fighting resulted in some 400 casualties, while in Austria the murder in 1934 of Chancellor Dollfuss was indicative of a more general surge in politically motivated violence. 17 Worse still was the situation in Bulgaria, where levels of violence had remained extremely high throughout the 1920s and continued to escalate in the 1930s. In addition to communist and anti-communist cycles of violence and repression, the country was haunted during the entire interwar period by the unresolved Macedonian question. The Macedonian IMRO, emboldened by its prominent role in the brutal murder of Prime Minister Stambolijski in 1923, and supported by Mussolini, further intensified its operations, carrying out more than 460 armed operations in Yugoslavia before 1934, including hundreds of assassinations and kidnappings of members of the armed services and the gendarmerie. 18

Further west, Portugal and Spain also abandoned democracy and descended into violence. Already in 1926 a coup in Lisbon established first the Ditadura Nacional and then the Estado Nuevo under António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal from 1932 to 1968.19 In Madrid, General Miguel Primo de Rivera imposed a military dictatorship in 1923, which lasted until 1930. Following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1931, Spain returned to democracy for six troubled years before its Popular Front coalition of Socialists and Communists, in power from February 1936, was challenged by an army coup that July. The Left, soon supported by International Brigades composed of volunteers from around the world, rallied in defence of the Republic and fought the nationalist putschists under General Francisco Franco for the next three years. Matters were made worse by international meddling in the conflict, with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy backing Franco while the Spanish Left received some support from the Soviet Union. The civil war killed more than half a million people, and eventually ended in Franco’s victory. 20

By the later 1930s only two of the new states invented on the continent of Europe in 1918 – Finland and Czechoslovakia – had survived as liberal democracies. However, Czechoslovakia was destroyed when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland in 1938, and then occupied the rest of the Czech territories in March 1939, giving the occupied lands their pre-1918 Habsburg names of Bohemia and Moravia. 21 Finland, meanwhile, managed to defend its independence against the invading Red Army in the extremely violent Winter War of 1939– 40, but had to accept reduced territory in the Treaty of Moscow (1940). 22

On the eve of the Second World War there were thus many fewer democracies in Europe than there had been before the Great War. Even in the two principal European victor states of the Great War, France and Britain, economic instability had given rise to extremist movements. Although it was never a real contender for power, Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists claimed to have some 50,000 members at the peak of its popularity in 1934.23 In France, both the extreme Left and the Right were becoming increasingly militant. Paramilitary organizations such as the royalist Action française and the right-wing veterans’ organization Croix de Feu, proliferated, the latter growing to a membership of nearly half a million in the mid-1930s. 24 Both Britain and France survived the radicalization of politics as democracies, but the international situation they were facing in 1938– 9 was bleak. Resurgent revisionist powers such as Germany and Italy in Europe and Japan in the Far East were determined to tear apart whatever was left of the ailing international system established in Paris in 1919. Although there was nothing inevitable about the war that began in September 1939 and transformed into a global conflict of unprecedented scale in 1941, many of the key issues at its heart – and the way in which it was fought – can be traced back to the final phase of the Great War and its immediate aftermath. Much of Europe before 1914 had prided itself on the relative legal security and stability that many of its states provided for their citizens. Oddly, even during the First World War, the states’ monopoly on force, upheld by the police, continued to prevail in the huge swathes of territory away from the fighting fronts. One of the novelties of the February Revolution in Russia in 1917 was that the pressures of war led to the first major crack in this system, soon to be followed by its complete implosion. As we have seen, it was defeat in the Great War, and the collapse of the pre-war system, that allowed new actors to compete violently for power, generally without the relative restraint that had characterized social and political conflicts prior to 1914. The first fateful legacy of these years lay in a new logic of violence that permeated domestic as well as international conflicts, and culminated in the war on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. The purpose of Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, launched in June 1941, was no longer to militarily defeat an opposing army and to impose harsh conditions of peace on a defeated Soviet Union, but rather to destroy a regime and annihilate significant proportions of the civilian population in the process. Entire countries in central and eastern Europe were to be purged of those deemed racially or politically undesirable. 25

This logic, which had a longer tradition in relation to the allegedly ‘inferior’ populations of the colonial world and which also underpinned the Balkan Wars and the Armenian genocide, experienced a pan-European breakthrough in the various conflicts between 1917 and 1923. This was a radical reversal of the long-standing ambition of European policymakers since the Wars of Religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to tame armed conflict by distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants, and by decriminalizing the enemy as a iustus hostis. 26 In the internal and international armed conflicts discussed in this book, and again in the civil wars and inter-state wars from the mid-1930s onwards, by contrast, opponents were often portrayed and perceived as criminalized and dehumanized enemies undeserving of mercy or military restraint. The distinctions between civilians and combatants, already blurred during the First World War, completely vanished in this type of conflict. It is no coincidence that both during the period between 1918 and 1923 and again from the 1930s, the number of civilians murdered in armed conflicts generally exceeded those of soldiers killed. The criminalization and dehumanization of the enemy was not only reserved for external foes. It also applied to internal enemies of different guises. Central to this new attitude towards ‘enemy civilians’ was the widely perceived need to cleanse communities of their ‘alien’ elements before a utopian new society could emerge, and to root out those who were perceived to be harmful to the balance of the community. On the political Right, the belief that only an ethnically homogeneous national community, cleansed of internal enemies, was capable of winning the war of the future – which many considered inevitable – constituted a powerful component of the common currency of radical politics and action in Europe between 1917 and the 1940s; this was especially so in those countries frustrated with the outcomes of both the Great War and post-war conflicts. On the radical Left, the idea of the ‘purified community’ had a different meaning, and violence was primarily directed against real or perceived class enemies. Yet political persecution in the Soviet Union (which culminated in the Great Purge of 1937– 8 that eventually killed off 1 per cent of the Soviet Union’s adult population) was also more generally directed against suspect population groups and potential ‘fifth columns’ in a future war with Nazi Germany, which Stalin anticipated would take place in the mid-to late 1940s. 27

In the vanquished states of the Great War, the direction and purpose of internal violence was further guided by the widely held belief that the outcome of that war had remained open until 1918, and that the defeat of the Central Powers was nothing but the result of treason on the home front. References to this ‘betrayal’ and to ‘unfinished business’ were common. 28 In Nazi Germany in particular, those groups allegedly responsible for the events of November 1918 (communists, Jews, pacifists) featured prominently as victims of Nazi terror from the moment of Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. From the mid-1930s the terror became more systematic, as Hitler began preparing the nation for war. He was determined to prevent a repeat of November 1918 when – in his view and that of many other Germans – a small minority of revolutionaries and Jews on the home front had betrayed the war effort and caused military collapse. The Nazis’ obsession with the idea of internal betrayal loomed large until the spring of 1945, when thousands of deserters or alleged ‘defeatists’ were shot or strung up on lamp posts and trees along German roads as the Allies crossed the border into the Reich. Most German soldiers, however, did not require such gruesome reminders. Driven on by fear of Red Army retribution and the belief that death with honor intact was preferable to a repeat of 1918, the Wehrmacht fought on futilely until the bitter end, thereby causing the deaths of a further 1.5 million soldiers in the last three months of the war. 29

In Italy, too, an obsession with internal divisions dating back to the Great War played out violently, as Mussolini’s regime subjected real or potential dissenters to arrests, intimidation through violence, and forced resettlement to remote parts of southern Italy. The Gestapo’s Italian equivalent, the political police or ‘PolPol’, formed in 1926, worked hand in hand with the Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism (OVRA), whose job it was to monitor the correspondence of dissidents. Similar to the Gestapo, the PolPol and OVRA employed a large number of informers, some of them former socialists or communists either coerced into collaboration or persuaded to work for the regime through financial incentives. 30

The continuation of a logic of violence was also traceable in the former Habsburg lands in which crude notions of violently ‘un-mixing’ the region’s ethnic complexity, coupled with militant anti-Bolshevism and radicalized anti-Semitism, created fateful legacies. The Hungarian White Terror of 1919– 20 had given an indication of the widespread chauvinist and racist mood in the country at the end of the Great War, notably through the widespread pogroms against Jews. It revived with added fury (and on an even broader popular basis) between the early 1930s and the mid-1940s, culminating in the active collaboration of some Hungarians with the Nazis in the systematic mass murder of the Hungarian Jews. 31 The same attitudes were also felt in Austria, where traditional anti-Semitism and anti-Slav sentiments, reinforced during the Great War and through Jewish migration from east-central Europe to Vienna in its wake, would resurface with renewed intensity after the brief moment of relative stabilization in the mid-1920s gave way to economic depression and political turmoil. 32

This kind and level of violence was not in itself particularly surprising as the violent actors of 1917– 23 were often identical with those who would unleash a new cycle of violence in the 1930s and early 1940s. For many German, Austrian and Hungarian fascists of the 1930s, the experiences of 1918– 19 provided a decisive catalyst for political radicalization and a catalogue of political agendas, whose implementation was merely postponed during the years of relative stability between 1923 and 1929. Some of the most prominent paramilitary activists of the immediate post-war period would resurface in the central European dictatorships of the Right, not only in Italy, where the veterans of fascist squads were given prominent positions in Mussolini’s dictatorship. 33 In Hungary, too, leading Arrow Cross members such as Ferenc Szálasi and others repeatedly pointed to the period between November 1918 and the signing of the Trianon Treaty in June 1920 as the moment of their ‘political awakening’. In 1932 the most notorious Hungarian paramilitary leaders of the post-war years, Pal Prónay and Gyula Ostenburg, founded the short-lived Hungarian National Fascist Party (Magyar Országos Fascist Párt). When Hitler handed power to Szálasi’s Arrow Cross in Hungary in 1944, Prónay helped to put together a new militia, which fought against the Red Army between December 1944 and February 1945 during the Battle of Budapest. 34

In Austria, too, personal continuities between the armed conflicts of the immediate post-First World War period and their sequel from 1939 are easy to identify. Robert Ritter von Greim, for example, once the leader of the Tyrolese branch of the paramilitary Oberland League, briefly became Hermann Göring’s successor as commander of the German Luftwaffe. Other Austrian paramilitaries from the period following the First World War also enjoyed high-powered careers during the Second World War: Hanns Albin Rauter, who had contributed decisively to the radicalization of the Styrian Heimwehr, became Higher SS and Police Chief in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, while his compatriot and friend, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, succeeded Reinhard Heydrich as head of the Nazis’ major terror agency, the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), in 1943. For all of these men, fascist dictatorships provided the opportunity to settle old scores and ‘solve’ some of the issues that the inglorious defeat of 1918, coupled with the perceived threat of Bolshevik revolution and imperial collapse, had raised.

To be sure, the relationship between post-1918 paramilitarism and the various fascist movements of the 1930s and early 1940s was not always that straightforward. Many prominent paramilitaries of the immediate post-war period were dedicated anti-Bolsheviks and committed anti-Semites in 1918, but eventually found their own political ambitions to be at odds with those of the Nazis. The former Heimwehr leader, Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg, who had entertained close personal relations with Hitler after 1919 (and indeed participated in the Nazis’ unsuccessful Munich putsch of November 1923), opposed the Austrian Nazi movement in the 1930s, rejected his own post-war anti-Semitism as ‘nonsense’, advocated Austrian independence in 1938, and even served in the British and Free French forces as a fighter pilot during the Second World War. 35 Starhemberg was not the only prominent paramilitary who came to realize that his vision for a national Austrian ‘rebirth’ was incompatible with that of Nazism. Captain Karl Burian, founder and head of the monarchist underground organization ‘Ostara’ after the end of the Great War, paid for his continued royalist beliefs with his arrest by the Gestapo and his execution in 1944.36 Even in Germany the ranks of former Freikorps leaders were purged, notably during the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934 when several of them, now within the SA leadership, were killed. This did not, of course, prevent the Nazis from celebrating the Freikorps as their spiritual predecessors, who had heroically and violently defied the peacemakers in Paris in 1919. Prominent figures such as Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich emphasized their Freikorps past, even if they had themselves only seen limited military action after 1918. It is also telling that one of the largest monuments ever to be built in the Third Reich was the Annaberg memorial in Upper Silesia, celebrating the May 1921 victory of Freikorps soldiers over Polish insurgents in the battle that raged over Silesia’s ‘Holy Mountain’.

Through their ‘victory in defeat’ at the Battle of Annaberg the Freikorps embodied the kind of violent revisionism that the Nazis implemented from the later 1930s onwards. 37 It is precisely this treaty revisionism, driven by the desire to ‘redeem’ lost territory and populations, that forms a second enduring legacy of the immediate post-war period. The Lausanne Conference of 1923 had demonstrated that it was possible for a defeated state to become a victorious one, as Mustafa Kemal succeeded in tearing up the Treaty of Sèvres while also achieving his aim to transform the ‘Turkic core’ of the Ottoman Empire into a homogeneous, secular nation state. Both Hitler and Mussolini were impressed and inspired by Kemal’s ‘success’ and his willingness to wage war, if necessary, to confront Western imperialism. It was their shared determination to challenge the international system established in 1919 that eventually brought Berlin and Rome together, starting with their intervention in the Spanish Civil War and the Pact of Friendship (1936) that was to form the basis of the wartime ‘Axis’. 38 In Italian and German propaganda the Pact of Friendship was celebrated as the joining of forces between two long-suppressed but now re-emerging states with common foes who had long sought to prevent them from assuming their rightful place among the world’s Great Powers. 39 The alliance became global when Hitler entered into a further pact with Japan, which was soon to be known as the ‘Anti-Comintern Pact’. Despite Hitler’s racial prejudices against the Japanese, he viewed the country as having complementary geopolitical interests with Germany, notably in its mutual quest to overcome the constraints of the international system established in Paris. Although Japan was never ruled by a regime that could be described as ‘fascist’ in any meaningful sense, leading politicians in Tokyo came to share some common ground with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1930s. Most importantly, perhaps, there was a common ideological rejection of the liberal political order on the one hand and Soviet-style Bolshevism on the other, as well as the ambition to provide a non-communist authoritarian alternative to both. 40

Furthermore, politicians in Tokyo had not forgotten that the United States and the British Dominions prevented the inclusion of a ‘racial equality’ clause in the Covenant of the League of Nations, one of the key demands of Japanese diplomats in Paris in 1919. Racial equality had been high up on Tokyo’s political agenda ever since Japan emerged as the Far East’s economic and military powerhouse in the second half of the nineteenth century, and even more so after the country’s stunning victories over Chinese forces in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894– 5, and over the Russian Empire ten years later. Still being denied recognition as a racially equal partner after emerging victorious from the First World War had left many in Japan feeling deeply offended. 41

Even if the full military alliance between Berlin, Tokyo and Rome was yet to be formalized through the Tripartite Pact of September 1940 (subsequently joined by other revisionist states such as Hungary and Bulgaria), it was the Pact of Friendship and the Anti-Comintern Pact that first sent a very clear and alarming message to the rest of the world’s Great Powers: the most staunchly revisionist powers in the world were now working together in their attempts to overcome the remnants of the Paris peace treaties. 42

The likelihood of a general war in Europe had increased significantly since the mid-1930s, and neither Hitler nor Mussolini had ever made a secret of their firm belief that this would be something positive, a way of bringing out the “racial essence” of their people. Both agreed that a great reckoning with the West and Soviet Russia was inevitable in the long run. Mussolini himself described Italy’s intervention against the Western Allies from 1940 as a war against ‘the plutocratic and reactionary democracies of the West who have invariably hindered the progress and often threatened the very existence of the Italian people’. 43

Hitler’s initial step towards the undoing of the Paris peace settlement of 1919 had been to start Germany’s rearmament, thereby defying the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. In March 1936, German troops entered the previously demilitarized Rhineland, without prior consultation with Paris or London. Two years later, Hitler annexed his native Austria, a move greeted by many Austrians with outright enthusiasm over this ‘correction’ of the Treaty of St Germain. Hitler received a triumphal welcome when he visited his birthplace of Braunau am Inn just over the Austrian border and again in Vienna, as thousands of Austrians celebrated the Anschluss on the capital’s Heldenplatz.

Up until the Anschluss of 1938, Hitler got away with undoing the provisions of the Versailles Treaty, as many contemporaries, even in western Europe, regarded his moves as a not altogether unreasonable correction of some of the injustices built into the Paris peace settlements. It was only from the summer of 1938 onwards, as Hitler began his assaults on other successor states founded in 1918 and 1919, that this mood began to change. At the Munich Conference in September 1938, London and Paris permitted Nazi Germany to absorb the Sudetenland on the periphery of Czechoslovakia, where some three million ethnic Germans lived, but they also made it clear that they would not tolerate further expansion. Although a more general war was only narrowly avoided in September 1938, Hitler had no intention of abandoning his aggressive foreign policy. Instead, he stepped up the pace of military preparation and increased pressure on the states of east-central Europe to join the Axis. By that stage Hungary had already drawn closer to Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. In the wake of the Munich settlement and Hitler’s occupation of the rest of the Czech lands in March 1939, Hungary successfully demanded the return of a slice of Slovakia and the whole of Ruthenia. More territorial gains were made by Budapest when, following Hitler’s decision to wage a more general war in the East, the Hungarian head of state Miklós Horthy secured Hitler’s support for regaining two-fifths of Transylvania and part of the Banat, at the expense of Romania and Yugoslavia. This revisionism gave Berlin a uniquely strong hand as the Western Allies (until their betrayal of Czechoslovakia) had by definition to stand by the borders established after the Great War. Both Mussolini and Horthy to different degrees feared Hitler and were suspicious of German military power, but by building their regimes on the basis of post-war injustices, there was an unstoppable logic to their falling into the Nazi orbit.

Bulgaria, too, fell in line with the other revisionist powers of Europe. Up until 1938, Tsar Boris had tried to keep Bulgaria neutral, even if he agreed with the Nazi aim of destroying the post-war peace-treaty system. But after the Anschluss of Austria in March 1938 and the Munich Agreement in November, the government in Sofia suddenly found itself under considerable domestic pressure from the pro-Axis lobby, which rightly noted that Bulgaria was the only defeated power of the Great War that had not yet benefited from territorial revisions of the Paris peace treaties. After the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Bulgaria increasingly moved into the German camp. In September 1940, Sofia regained the southern Dobrudja after Germany had pressurized Romania into signing the Treaty of Craiova. In the spring of 1941, Bulgaria officially joined the Axis and dispatched occupation forces to Macedonia, Western Thrace, and parts of eastern Serbia to free up Wehrmacht troops for the war further east. 44

At the heart of the European war that began in 1939 and turned global two years later, there was thus not only a violent clash between incompatible political regimes but also an attempt to regain lost territories and minorities living under ‘foreign rule’ after 1918. For Hitler and the Nazis, the return of these minorities was imperative, and the same was true for governments in Budapest and Sofia. 45 For Hungary – Germany’s past and future wartime ally – the loss of almost three million Magyars now living under Romanian, Czechoslovak and Yugoslav rule was an injustice that needed to be redeemed. Sofia felt the same way about the one million ethnic Bulgarians ‘lost’ to other territories in 1919. Yet at the same time, expansionism – notably in the German, Italian and Soviet cases, but also in that of Japan – went further and amounted to nothing less than competing neo-imperial projects. Within Europe this clash of neo-imperial projects played out violently in the former imperial territories of east-central Europe that had become independent in 1918– 19.46

In the case of Japan, leading businessmen and army circles had for some time called for territorial conquests in northern China to provide Japan with secure areas for colonization and economic exploitation. For years, large Japanese conglomerates (the zaibatsu) had operated the coal-mines and iron deposits of Manchuria, protected by strong military forces, the so-called Kwantung Army. Deteriorating relations with China and the growing Soviet threat from the north endangered Tokyo’s interests in Manchuria at the same time as the Great Depression hit the Japanese economy hard. At the instigation of right-wing leaders of the Kwantung Army, Japanese forces seized the whole of Manchuria in September 1931, establishing the puppet state of Manchukuo in February 1932.47

The Manchurian crisis and the League of Nations’ lack of determination in its response to a Chinese plea for help offered an important lesson that was not lost on the other revisionist states. They made events seemingly far away part of the same network of challenges to the international order established between 1918 and 1920. Mussolini viewed the West’s reaction (or lack thereof) to the Manchurian crisis as an invitation to follow Tokyo’s example and adopted a more aggressive foreign policy aimed at increasing Italian influence in the Mediterranean and northern Africa, as well as enlarging Italy’s small colonial inheritance (Libya, Somalia, Eritrea) into a second Roman Empire. 48 In 1932 the Italian Foreign Ministry began planning for the conquest of Ethiopia (Abyssinia), one of the few countries in Africa that had not come under colonial administration during the late nineteenth-century imperialist Scramble for Africa. In October 1935, Italian troops invaded and victory was secured the following spring, after Rome’s forces made indiscriminate use of poison gas and aerial bombing against both military and civilian targets. 49

Japan’s violent expansion into northern China and Mussolini’s dreams of a spazio vitale in northern Africa and the Mediterranean, had its functional equivalent in Hitler’s ambitions to carve out a Lebensraum in east-central Europe. 50 Hitler’s imperial project of creating an ‘ethnically cleansed’ living space for his people in the territories between Warsaw and the Ural Mountains had roots that pre-dated the First World War. ‘The East’ had long been seen as a priority area for economic domination and even colonization. 51 The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that established Imperial Germany as a major (though short-lived) European land empire in 1918 further reinforced the perception of eastern Europe as a realm of possibilities. Hitler’s view of the East as a living space for Germany’s growing population was a particularly extreme form of this widely discussed idea, notably in its wartime implementation that saw the deliberate killing or starving to death of millions of unwanted inhabitants. But even his obsession with violently establishing a new racial order in the wide spaces of east-central Europe was a direct response to Hitler’s reading of the events of the past: if Imperial Germany had failed to ‘civilize’ and permanently subjugate eastern Europe before and during the Great War, it was because the means chosen at the time had not been radical enough. The war of the future would have to be a ‘total war’, as Erich Ludendorff had called it in his book of that name (Der Totale Krieg), first published in 1935. In Hitler’s understanding of the term, that total war could only be won if it was waged against both domestic and international enemies. 52

Racism was at the core of the expansionism and empire-building of all three Axis powers as it legitimized the conquest of territories inhabited by ‘inferior’ races – be they Slavs, Chinese, or African – and the killing or rape of enemy civilians. Despite the rhetoric about its ambition to create a pan-Asian ‘sphere of co-prosperity’, the Japanese regime allowed its soldiers to sexually abuse and massacre Korean and Chinese civilians en masse. 53 Even before the outbreak of the Second World War, Mussolini had adopted a policy of liquidating large sections of Ethiopia’s intellectual and professional community as a means of ‘pacifying’ the newly conquered territory. Biological racism certainly went furthest in Germany, where Nazi anti-Semitism under conditions of war posed a unique case in its ambition to murder each and every Jew in German-occupied Europe. 54

After Hitler’s surprise attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, his vision for an ethnically cleansed eastern European empire was to clash violently with both indigenous quests for national independence and Soviet imperial ambitions for east-central Europe that also dated back to 1918. Immediately after the end of the Great War, Lenin’s dream of recapturing the recently lost western territories of the former Tsarist Empire had to be temporarily abandoned when, in 1920, the Soviet government was forced to sign peace treaties with Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, effectively renouncing Moscow’s territorial claims in the Baltic region. A few months later, in March 1921, the Soviet-Polish Treaty of Riga had assigned western Belorussia, East Galicia and Volhynia to Warsaw’s direct control. 55

Elsewhere, however, the Bolshevik regime had been more successful in regaining vast territories temporarily lost in the final months of the Great War. By the time Soviet Russia emerged from the civil war, Moscow had already regained control over Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine.  But the Bolsheviks’ ambitions did not end there. By late 1939, in line with the secret clauses of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact signed in August, Stalin re-established control over the Baltic States and eastern Poland, leaving Finland as the only territory once ruled by the Romanovs to permanently maintain its independence. Hitler’s eventual failure to carve out an empire between Warsaw and the Urals after 1941, when he attacked the Soviet Union in violation of the provisions of the German-Soviet Pact, gave Stalin an opportunity to expand the Soviet Empire even further, by setting up clientele states in what was to become the Eastern Bloc. Just thirty years after the Romanov Empire had collapsed for good in 1918, the Soviet Union was larger and more powerful than Imperial Russia had ever been.

Contemporaries who lived through the period saw the continuities between the years 1917– 23 and the Second World War more clearly than many scholars have since. Leading politicians before and during the Second World War continually referred back to the ‘post-war’ period in their attempts to make sense of the world around them or to historically contextualize and justify their geopolitical ambitions. In a famous 1939 speech to mark the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, Benito Mussolini, for example, emphasized both the centrality of the post-war years for the rise of fascism and the need to honor through deeds the memory of those who had died in the post-war struggles:

On 23 March 1919 we raised the black flag of the fascist revolution, the forerunner of European renewal. Veterans of the trenches and young men gathered around this flag, forming squads that wished to march against cowardly governments and against fatal Eastern ideologies, in order to free the people from the evil influence of 1789. Thousands of comrades fell around this flag, fighting like heroes, in the truest meaning of the Roman word, in the streets and squares of Italy, in Africa and in Spain. Their memory is always alive and present in our hearts. Some people may have forgotten the hardships of the post-war years [someone from the crowd shouts: ‘Nobody!’], but the squadristi have not forgotten, they cannot forget [someone from the crowd shouts: ‘Never!’].

Little over a year later, in June 1940, just as Italy joined the Axis in a war that would see Italian troops deployed in the Mediterranean, north Africa, the Balkans and Russia, Mussolini returned to this theme, suggesting that the Fascists’ national ‘revolution’ was soon to be completed through a reckoning with Italy’s external enemies. The war Italy was about to join, he claimed, was ‘nothing but a logical stage in the development of our revolution’.

Hitler, too, repeatedly referred back to the ‘post-war’ years in his speeches and through symbolic gestures. His decision, for example, to have the June 1940 armistice with France signed in the same railway carriage in Compiègne Forest in which the Germans had acknowledged defeat in November 1918 was a heavily charged act, whose meaning was as widely understood and appreciated as the annexation of Danzig and West Prussia the previous year: the Führer was correcting the historical injustices brought upon Germany at the end of the Great War.

In the Baltic States and Ukraine, too, the Second World War brought back memories of the wars fought against the Red Army twenty years earlier. At least initially, many nationalists in the region welcomed the German offensive against the Soviet Union in June 1941 as the beginning of a return to independent nationhood first established in 1918. To the north, in Finland, during the 1939 attack by the Red Army, the reappointed commander-in-chief, Carl Mannerheim, emphasized in his very first order to the Finnish Defense Forces that the war ahead of them was nothing but the continuation of a conflict that had begun in 1918: ‘Brave soldiers of Finland! As in 1918 our hereditary enemy is once again attacking our country … This war is nothing other than the final act of our War of Independence.’  In the event, the Winter War was not ‘the final act’ of the story, as it was followed, between 1941 and 1944, by the brutal Continuation War. Up to this day, many Finnish nationalists maintain that their country never participated in the Second World War, but in a conflict for national independence that played out violently in several interconnected episodes between 1918 and 1944.

As the quotations from Mussolini and Mannerheim make abundantly clear, contemporaries felt the lingering presence of the conflicts that had been fought so violently at end of the Great War and during its immediate aftermath, a period in European history that had destroyed old structures and created new ones, simultaneously ending and expediting or initiating historical developments. In the collective memory of the peoples of Europe this period featured prominently either as one of revolutionary turmoil, national triumph, or perceived national humiliation to be redeemed through yet another war. As such, the period helps us to understand the logic and purpose of subsequent cycles of violence that often extended beyond 1939. In the case of Yugoslavia their legacies could still be felt in the 1990s when the multi-ethnic state, which hitherto had been held together largely due to Josip Broz Tito, descended into a brutal civil war during which all parties replayed, in their attempts at self-justification, the horrors and injustices of the first half of the century.

Beyond Europe’s shores, the legacies of the Great War and its immediate aftermath could also be felt for decades. Back in 1918, Lenin’s and Wilson’s talk of self-determination and the rights of small nations had inspired the enemies of empire everywhere, from the Far East to northern Africa, where nascent decolonization movements demanded racial equality, autonomy, or outright independence. Such demands were generally met with violence, and there was hardly a year in the interwar period when Paris or London was not involved in quelling some form of colonial unrest within their respective empires. Even if it was to take another and yet more murderous war between 1939 and 1945 to usher the process of global imperial dissolution towards completion in the 1950s and 1960s, its origins coincide with the ‘Wilsonian moment’ of 1918 and the further expansion of the British and French empires shortly thereafter.  The most durable of these post-imperial conflicts proved to be those that haunted the Arab lands once ruled by the Ottomans. Here violence has erupted with great regularity for nearly a century.

1. On this theme, see the essays in Robert Gerwarth (ed.), Twisted Paths: Europe 1914– 1945 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007). On economic recovery and relative political stability through cooperation between American financial power and Britain’s political leverage, see also Patrick Cohrs, The Unfinished Peace after World War I: America, Britain and the Stabilisation of Europe, 1919– 1932 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

2. Zara Steiner, The Lights that Failed: European International History 1919– 1933 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

3. Paschalis M. Kitromilides (ed.), Eleftherios Venizelos: The Trials of Statesmanship (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), 223.

4. Patricia Clavin, ‘Europe and the League of Nations’, in Gerwarth (ed.), Twisted Paths, 325– 54; Pedersen, The Guardians; Steiner, The Lights that Failed. See also Alan Sharp, Consequences of the Peace: The Versailles Settlement – Aftermath and Legacy 1919– 2010 (London: Haus, 2010), 217.

5. For a general survey of the Great Depression and its effects, see Patricia Clavin, The Great Depression in Europe, 1929– 1939 (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2000). On Germany in particular, see the classic account by Harold James, The German Slump: Politics and Economics 1924– 1936 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).

6. On Austria, see Eduard März, ‘Die große Depression in Österreich 1930– 1933’, in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 16 (1990), 409– 38. On Bulgaria and Hungary, see M. C. Kaser and E. A. Radice (eds), The Economic History of Eastern Europe 1919– 1975, vol. 2: Interwar Policy, the War and Reconstruction (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986); and Richard J. Crampton, Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and After (London and New York: Routledge, 1997).

7. On the dual economic and political crisis in interwar Europe, see Robert Boyce, The Great Interwar Crisis and the Collapse of Globalization (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

8. Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (London: Penguin, 2004), 232– 308.

9. Richard J. Overy, The Interwar Crisis, 1919– 1939 (Harlow: Pearson, 1994), 44ff; Woodrow Wilson’s quotation is from his speech to the US Congress on 2 April 1917: http:// index.php/ Wilson% 27s_War_Message_to_Congress.

10. Dimitrina Petrova, Aleksandar Tzankov i negovata partia: 1932– 1944 (Sofia: Dio Mira, 2011); Georgi Naumov, Aleksandar Tzankov i Andrey Lyapchev v politikata na darzhavnoto upravlenie (Sofia: IF 94, 2004).

11. See Valentina Zadgorska, KragatZveno’ (1927– 1934) (Sofia: ‘Sv. Kliment Ohridski’, 2008), 8.

12. On King Boris III and his rule, see Georgi Andreev, Koburgite i katastrofite na Bulgaria (Sofia: Agato, 2005); Nedyu Nedev, Tsar Boris III: Dvoretsat i tayniyat cabinet (Plovdiv: IK ‘Hermes’, 2009); Stefan Gruev, Korona ot trani (Sofia: Balgarski pisatel, 2009).

13. On Austria in this period, see, for example, Emmerich Tálos, Das austrofaschistische Herrschaftssystem: Österreich 1933– 1938 (Berlin, Münster and Vienna: LIT, 2013); Jill Lewis, ‘Austria: Heimwehr, NSDAP and the Christian Social State’, in Aristotle A. Kalis (ed.), The Fascism Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 212– 22. On violence in this period, see in particular Gerhard Botz: Gewalt in der Politik: Attentate, Zusammenstöße, Putschversuche, Unruhen in Österreich 1918 bis 1938 (Munich: Fink, 1983).

14. Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 140– 1. See also Charles S. Maier, Leviathan 2.0: Inventing Modern Statehood (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 273.

15. Christoph Kotowski, Die ‘moralische Diktatur’ in Polen 1926 bis 1939: Faschismus oder autoritäres Militärregime? (Munich: Grin, 2011); on the cult surrounding his persona, see Heidi Hein-Kircher: Der Piłsudski-Kult und seine Bedeutung für den polnischen Staat 1926– 1939 (Marburg: Herder-Institut, 2001).

16. Dmitar Tasić, ‘The Assassination of King Alexander: The Swan Song of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization’, in Donau. Tijdschrift over Zuidost-Europa (2008), 30– 9.

17. Gerhard Botz, ‘Gewaltkonjunkturen, Arbeitslosigkeit und gesellschaftliche Krisen: Formen politischer Gewalt und Gewaltstrategien in der ersten Republik’, in Helmut Konrad and Wolfgang Maderthaner (eds), Das Werden der ersten Republik … der Rest ist Österreich, vol. 1 (Vienna: Carl Gerold’s Sohn, 2008), 229– 362, here 341.

18. Archive of Yugoslavia (Belgrade), 37 (Papers of Prime Minister Milan Stojadinović), 22/ 326. On the context, see Stefan Troebst, Mussolini, Makedonien und die Mächte 1922– 1930. Die ‘Innere Makedonische Revolutionäre Organisation’, in der Südosteuropapolitik des faschistischen Italien (Cologne and Vienna: Böhlau, 1987).

19. Filipe de Meneses, Salazar: A Political Biography (New York: Enigma Books, 2009).

20. The literature on this subject is extensive. For some recent work, see Julián Casanova and Martin Douch, The Spanish Republic and Civil War (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Nigel Townson, The Crisis of Democracy in Spain: Centrist Politics under the Second Republic, 1931– 1936 (Brighton: Sussex University Press, 2000); Helen Graham, The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Stanley Payne, Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2008); Paul Preston, The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2006).

21. Chad Bryant, Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

22. Robert Edwards, White Death: Russia’s War on Finland 1939– 40 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2006).

23. Andrzej Olechnowicz, ‘Liberal Anti-Fascism in the 1930s: The Case of Sir Ernest Barker’, in Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies 36 (2004), 636– 60, here 643. On the BUF more generally, see Martin Pugh, ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts!’: Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars (London: Pimlico, 2006).

24. Philippe Bernard and Henri Dubief, The Decline of the Third Republic, 1914– 1958 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 290.

25. Christian Gerlach, Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord: Deutsche Vernichtungspolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Zürich and Munich: Pendo, 1998), 11– 53.

26. Jörn Leonhard, Die Büchse der Pandora: Geschichte des Ersten Weltkriegs (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2014), 955; David Reynolds, The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century (London: Simon and Schuster, 2013).

27. Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Nicolas Werth, ‘The NKVD Mass Secret Operation no. 00447 (August 1937– November 1938)’, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, published 24 May 2010, http:// The-NKVD-Mass-Secret-Operation-no-00447-August-1937.

28. Hans-Christof Kraus, Versailles und die Folgen: Außenpolitik zwischen Revisionismus und Verständigung 1919– 1933 (Berlin: be.bra, 2013), 15– 33.

29. Michael Geyer, “‘ Endkampf” 1918 and 1945: German Nationalism, Annihilation, and Self-Destruction’, in Richard Bessel, Alf Lüdtke and Bernd Weisbrod (eds), No Man’s Land of Violence: Extreme Wars of the 20th Century (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2006), 37– 67. See also Ian Kershaw, The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944– 1945 (London and New York: Allen Lane, 2011).

30. Christopher Duggan, Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy (London: The Bodley Head, 2012), 151ff.

31. Christian Gerlach and Götz Aly, Das letzte Kapitel: Der Mord an den ungarischen Juden 1944– 1945 (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2004).

32. For a good survey of the history of Jewish life and anti-Semitism in Vienna, see Gerhard Botz, Nina Scholz, Michael Pollak and Ivar Oxaal (eds), Eine zerstörte Kultur. Jüdisches Leben und Antisemitismus in Wien seit dem 19. Jahrhundert (Vienna: Czernin, 2002).

33. Matteo Millan, ‘The Institutionalization of Squadrismo: Disciplining Paramilitary Violence in the Fascist Dictatorship’, in Contemporary European History 22 (2013).

34. On Prónay’s role in the defence of Budapest, see Krisztián Ungváry, A magyar honvédség a második világháborúban (Budapest: Osiris Kiadó, 2004), 418– 20; Béla Bodó, Pál Prónay: Paramilitary Violence and Anti-Semitism in Hungary, 1919– 1921 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).

35. In the 1930s, Starhemberg rejected the myth of a Jewish world conspiracy as ‘nonsense’ and ‘scientific’ racism as a propagandistic ‘lie’. Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg, ‘Aufzeichnungen des Fürsten Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg im Winter 1938/ 39 in Saint Gervais in Frankreich’, in Starhemberg Papers, Oberösterreichisches Landesarchiv Linz.

36. See the Gestapo file on Burian, in ÖStA, B 1394, Burian Papers. 37. James Bjork and Robert Gerwarth, ‘The Annaberg as a German-Polish lieu de mémoire’, in German History 25 (2007), 372– 400. 38. Elizabeth Wiskemann, The Rome-Berlin Axis: A History of the Relations between Hitler and Mussolini (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 68. See also Jens Petersen, Hitler-Mussolini: Die Entstehung der Achse Berlin-Rom 1933– 1936 (Tübingen: De Gruyter Niemeyer, 1973), 60.

39. Ian Kershaw, Hitler, vol. 2: Nemesis, 1936– 1945 (London: Penguin, 2001), 26.

40. Robert Gerwarth, ‘The Axis: Germany, Japan and Italy on the Road to War’, in Richard J. B. Bosworth and Joe Maiolo (eds), The Cambridge History of the Second World War, vol. 2: Politics and Ideology (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 21– 42.

41. Naoko Shimazu, Japan, Race and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919 (London: Routledge, 1998); Frederick R. Dickinson, ‘Commemorating the War in Post-Versailles Japan’, in John W. Steinberg, Bruce W. Menning, David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, David Wolff and Shinji Yokote (eds), The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero (Leiden and Boston, MA: Brill, 2005), 523– 43. See also Mark Mazower, Governing the World: The History of an Idea (London: Penguin, 2013), 252– 5; and Frederick R. Dickinson, War and National Reinvention: Japan in the Great War, 1914– 1919 (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 1999).

42. On the Axis, see, for example, Shelley Baranowski, ‘Making the Nation: Axis Imperialism in the Second World War’, in Nicholas Doumanis, The Oxford Handbook of Europe 1914– 1945 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); MacGregor Knox, Common Destiny: Dictatorship, Foreign Policy, and War in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Lutz Klinkhammer, Amedeo Osto Guerrazzi, and Thomas Schlemmer (eds), Die ‘Achseim Krieg: Politik, Ideologie und Kriegführung 1939– 1945 (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich: Schöningh, 2010).

43. Knox, Common Destiny, 124.

44. Marshall Lee Miller, Bulgaria during the Second World War (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1975).

45. On the German case, see Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (New York and London: Allen Lane, 2008).

46. Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2010).

47. Rana Mitter, China’s War with Japan, 1937– 1945: The Struggle for Survival (London: Allen Lane, 2014); Edward L. Dreyer, China at War, 1901– 1949 (London: Longman, 1995); Louise Young, Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998); Prasenjit Duara, Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003). On Manchukuo, see also Yoshihisa Tak Matsusaka, The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904– 1932 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001).

48. Dennis Mack Smith, Mussolini’s Roman Empire (London: Longman, 1976). On international politics in this period, see Zara Steiner, The Triumph of the Dark: European International History, 1933– 1939 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Anthony D’Agostino, The Rise of Global Powers: International Politics in the Era of the World Wars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 295– 302.

49. Alberto Sbacchi, Ethiopia under Mussolini: Fascism and the Colonial Experience (London: Zed Books, 1985); Angelo Del Boca, The Ethiopian War 1935– 1941 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1969); David Nicolle, The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia 1935– 1936 (Westminster, MD: Osprey, 1997); George W. Baer, The Coming of the Italo-Ethiopian War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967); idem, Test Case: Italy, Ethiopia and the League of Nations (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1976); H. James Burgwyn, Italian Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period 1918– 1940 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997).

50. Knox, Common Destiny; Davide Rodogno, Fascism’s European Empire: Italian Occupation during the Second World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Gustavo Corni, ‘Impero e spazio vitale nella visione e nella prassi delle dittature (1919– 1945)’, in Ricerche di Storia Politica 3 (2006), 345– 57; Aristotle Kallis, Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922– 1945 (London: Routledge, 2000).

51. Philipp Ther, ‘Deutsche Geschichte als imperiale Geschichte: Polen, slawophone Minderheiten und das Kaiserreich als kontinentales Empire’, in Sebastian Conrad und Jürgen Osterhammel (eds), Das Kaiserreich transnational: Deutschland in der Welt 1871– 1914 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2004), 129– 48.

52. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity and German Occupation in World War I (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Gregor Thum (ed.), Traumland Osten: Deutsche Bilder vom östlichen Europa im 20. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2006).

53. Peter Duus, Ramon H. Myers and Mark R. Peattie, The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931– 1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996). On Korea, Alexis Dudden, Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005).

54. Paul Brooker, The Faces of Fraternalism: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). On Japanese racism, see John Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1986).

55. Steiner, The Lights that Failed, notably chapter 5 (The Primacy of Nationalism: Reconstruction in Eastern and Central Europe).