Chapter

The Devil’s Work

D. M. Leeson

in The Black and Tans

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199598991
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191730597 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199598991.003.0008
The Devil’s Work

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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This chapter discusses the causes of police reprisals. Frustrated by their inability to defeat their enemies in battle, and embittered by their inability to convict them in court; terrorized by the guerrillas, and shunned by the people; enraged by the deaths of their comrades, and inflamed by drink; incited by their officers, and encouraged by faint official censure, the police took to reprisals as a form of rough justice. Police mobs destroyed the homes and shops of republicans, and police death squads executed known and suspected insurgents. These crimes have been widely blamed on the RIC’s British recruits, but evidence indicates that Irish police were just as likely to take reprisals as Black and Tans. Reprisals were more than just retaliation for guerrilla violence: they were seen as justifiable punishment for criminal acts — a point of view that was both encouraged by the British government, and shared by the guerrillas

Keywords: social psychology; reprisals; atrocities; revenge; violence; propaganda; masculinity

Chapter.  14170 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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