John Horne, War and conflict in contemporary European history, 1914–2004, in: Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, Online-Edition, 1 (2004), H. 3,


Abstract: Three processes provided a dynamic of violence that involved the whole continent of Europe in varying degrees. First, “total war” meant the escalation of violence applied to the entire population of enemy states. Second, “totalitarian” ideologies drew on the experience of war and sought to annihilate their own projected antagonists. Third, the tension between territory, peoples, and nation-states was resolved through ethnic violence. The worst episodes of violence, especially the Holocaust, combined all three processes. Democratic states were affected by the same violence but to a much lesser extent, due to inbuilt restraints. Determining whether this dynamic of violence was distinctively European or one dimension of a wider modernity means rethinking European history in a global historical context.