'Primitive Cruelty' and 'Refined Vengeance': Violence and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Post-World War I Hungary


EES Dissertation


Department of History


This dissertation examines the relationship between violence and political legitimacy. Using post-World War I Hungary as a case study, it analyzes how individuals participated in and interpreted the relationship of the Red and White Terrors to the regimes they claimed to promote. In the international political arena, it investigates how a variety of groups both inside and outside of Hungary used the violence perpetrated during the Terrors to wage propaganda wars against their political opponents. It also shows how certain circles instrumentalized violence to advocate for foreign policy strategies that would undermine Hungary's sovereignty. This project grapples with the question of how individuals and states decide who has the “right to rule.”