Fighting the Red Beast: Revolutionary Violence in Defeated States of Central Europe

TitleFighting the Red Beast: Revolutionary Violence in Defeated States of Central Europe
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsGerwarth, Robert
EditorGerwarth, Robert, and John Horne
Book TitleWar in Peace : Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War
PublisherOxford University Press

This article looks at the transition from war to "peace" in the defeated states of Central Europe following World War I. Peace in these states was fraught  with many seemingly unresolvable problems, specifically the sixteen million soldiers that were demobilized, the collapse of traditional political authority, and the disintegration of former Central European empires. This chapter engages with Mosse's theory of "brutalization", which postulates that it was not the war itself that left devastating legacies in Europe, but the post-war experiences of defeat and revolution.

This chapter analyses the emergence of powerful counterrevolutionary movements in Germany, Austria, and Hungary. These movements were passionately devoted to defeating an often imagined Bolshevik enemy and used extreme violence to suppress all those held responsible for the defeat of the Central Powers in the Great War. World Cat abstract

Explains why, in many parts of Europe, the end of the Great War brought not peace but continued conflict. Contributes to an understanding of the difficult transition from war to peace and shows how paramilitary violence helped legitimize both fascism and communism, and also many of the new nation-states that emerged from the Great War. World Cat abstract of  the volume War in Peace : Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War

The First World War did not end in November 1918. In Russia and Eastern Europe it finished up to a year earlier, and both there and elsewhere in Europe it triggered conflicts that lasted until 1923. Paramilitary formations were prominent in this continuation of the war. They had some features of formal military organizations but were used in opposition to the regular military as an instrument of revolution or as an adjunct or substitute for military forces when these were unable by themselves to put down a revolution (whether class or national). Paramilitary violence thus arose in different contexts. It was an important aspect of the violence unleashed by class revolution in Russia. It structured the counter-revolution in Central and Eastern Europe, including Finland and Italy, which reacted against a mythic version of Bolshevik class violence in the name of order and authority. It also shaped the struggles over borders and ethnicity in the new states that replaced the multi-national empires of Russia, Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey. It was prominent on all sides in the wars for Irish independence. In many cases, paramilitary violence was charged with political significance and acquired a long-lasting symbolism and influence. This volume explores the differences and similarities between these various kinds of paramilitary violence within one volume for the first time. It thereby contributes to our understanding of the difficult transitions from war to peace. It also helps to re-situate the Great War in a longer-term context and to explain its enduring impact. Publisher's abstract of the volume 



Alternate TitlePart I Revolution and Counter-Revolution Chapter 4
Reprint Edition2013
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