War, Violence, Oppression

Eastern Europe was a region greatly affected by war, violence, and oppression throughout all of the twentieth century. At the century's start and close, warring conflicts took place in the Balkans, in the course of which the difference between combatants and civilians quickly became blurred. In between, two world wars raged and two neighboring totalitarian powers exerted a great influence on the conflict-laden history of the region.
In the wake of the wars that extended into the region and the collapse of the existing prewar orders, ethnic, social, and national extremes were taken up, constructed anew, and fought out with violence. The familiar pattern of wars on two fronts soon broke down into many theaters of war in which civil war-like conditions prevailed.
In the period between these wars, the emergence of authoritarian states could be observed in East Central Europe. They forcefully asserted their claim to power against political adversaries and groups that were stigmatized as enemies on ethnic, national, and/or social grounds. In turn they were opposed by a wide range of groups using subversive or terrorist means. The War, Violence, and Oppression research area is researching in this context the force that was exercised from outside or from above by warring powers and authoritarian regimes against the societies of Eastern Europe. Violent conflicts between ethnic, social, and national groups will also be examined, as well as the relationship between these two manifestations of violence.
The question must be posed as to the status and legitimacy of the use of force in the region under consideration. Was violence a legitimate means of pursuing the conflict, a part of the political culture? When was reference made to experiences of extreme violence-as either an exemplary or a deterring model-in order to exercise violence or to curb it? How does the experience of violence outlast extended periods and what role does it later play?
The War, Violence, and Oppression research area pursues a transnational comparative perspective, taking the many nuances and differences into consideration.