02/22/2016 - Laszlo Borhi: “More than Victims? Popular Responses to National Socialist and Stalinist Dictatorships: The Case of Hungary”
Scholarship on totalitarian regimes moved away from the victimology model. Subjects of national socialist and communist dictatorships seem to have acted in dialogue with the powerful state. Many more Germans than a handful of die-hard Nazis were responsible for World War II genocide and the Holocaust; even more knew about mass murder and turned a blind eye in part because they agreed with it. In the Soviet Union, party and state agencies were supported by civilian informants seeking to redress grievances and denouncing enemies of the people to exact revenge and profit. Traditional attitudes and bonds survived, lower-level authorities defied directives from above. This paper will explore through case studies of the experience of individuals the notion of participatory dictatorship in repressive regimes motivated by totalitarian ideologies and argue that the balance between coercion and voluntary “participation” may tilt toward the former.