While murder and mayhem have plagued humankind through the centuries, the bloody twentieth century proved that the state with its unrivaled power to organize the use of force has a particularly horrifying potential for inflicting violence. Vladimir Lenin’s militaristic definition of the state— ” special bodies of armed men” — was sadly prophetic.1 Strong states like Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia pulled together an overwhelming array of military, bureaucratic, and police resources to organize murder on an unimaginable scale. Even weak states like Rwanda were able to compile lists of Tutsis to be massacred and order the machetes needed to carry out the gruesome genocide of 1994.2 The historian of the twentieth century can recite a long list of states’ crimes against their own citizens, ranging from the genocides in Europe, Cambodia, and Rwanda, to the “disappearance” of opposition activists in Latin America, to the brutal repression of dissidents throughout the Soviet bloc.
KeywordsState Crime Transitional Justice Democratic Transition Legal Redress Soviet Bloc
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