The Cold War Struggle (2): Communist Atrocities

Alex J. Bellamy

in Massacres and Morality

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199288427
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745430 | DOI:
The Cold War Struggle (2): Communist Atrocities

Show Summary Details


Communist regimes massacred millions of civilians during the Cold War. Governments in the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia initiated programs of radical social transformation and killed, tortured or allowed to starve whole groups thought hostile to change or simply unworthy of life. But it is not simply the number of victims that distinguishes communist from non-communist atrocities in the Cold War. guided by ideologies of selective extermination, communist perpetrators rarely even acknowledged the moral questions raised by their policies of sometimes systematic extermination. Ideological solidarity prompted communist governments to support one another, often enabling communist perpetrators of mass killing to secure sufficient legitimacy. This chapter shows that although communist governments gradually moved away from selective extermination they did not internalise civilian immunity. Indeed, both the Soviet Union (in Afghanistan) and China (in the 1989 Beijing massacre) committed atrocities after abandoning selective extermination.

Keywords: Cold War; communism; civilian immunity; Soviet Union; Cambodia; China

Chapter.  36893 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.