The Political Legacy of Nazi Annexation
54 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 1, 2021
This paper uses a historical natural experiment - the case of Nazi Operational Zones (OZ) in Italy during WWII - to shed light on the legacy of foreign state repression. While the rest of Northern Italy was placed under Fascist rule, the OZ were de facto annexed by Nazi Germany and subjected to full German administrative and military control. A large segment of the OZ boundary partitioned historically homogeneous regions in a quasi-exogenous manner. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design, we first show that the OZ experienced harsher political persecution and violence. After the war, OZ areas exhibited greater support for radical opposition, on both the left and the right, as well as lower political participation. We interpret these findings as evidence of disenchantment in the political process and distrust of the state. Consistent with this argument, voters in affected areas showed lower political trust and less support for laws suppressing dissent. Overall, our results suggest that foreign repression, even if temporary, has enduring political and social consequences.
Keywords: repression, annexation, radicalization, state trust, Nazi violence
JEL Classification: D72, D74, H56, N44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation