Studies in the History of Violence

Jörg Baberowski and Michael Wildt, professors at Humboldt University Berlin, and Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, professor and director of the Center for Antisemitism Research at the Technical University Berlin, select for publication in the »Studies in the History of Violence« the results of research by younger scholars. These books examine totalitarian systems such as National Socialism and Stalinism, dictatorships, and autocracies and, last but not least, democracies to reveal the dynamics of violent situations and outline pathways that might lead societies out of violence.

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The twentieth century has come to be viewed as the century of genocide; of concentration camps; of total war; of totalitarianism and terrorism; of exile, forced relocation, and state terror. Precisely because these characterizations are correct individually, taken together they evoke a peculiar feeling of helpless or at least reflect persistent disillusionment.

Hopes that violence might be contained and ultimately overcome have given way to the realization that every manifestation of violent behavior is possible, at any time, and at any place in the world and also to the insight that even democracies, as the heirs of the Enlightenment, are not immune to excessive violence. Seen from this perspective, the normative and ethical efforts undertaken to limit the use of force may seem quite inadequate and at times useless. But they are by no means in vain, unless at the price of abandoning one’s moral principles.