14th journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet

Font Size: 
Incorporated by force: War exposure and political extremism
Stephanos Vlachos

Last modified: 2015-03-16


Does war experience affect the degree of post-war political radicalization? During WWII, the Eastern Borderlands of France were annexed to the Third Reich. Men from these regions were subsequently forcibly conscripted to the Wehrmacht. This resulted in a quasi-random allocation in units and fronts. Using original data on this historical event, I find a persistent effect of WWII participation on contemporary political extremism. Extreme-right candidates receive a larger share of votes in municipalities with a more intense incorporation history, 60 years after the end of the War. In the absence of incorporation, the difference in extreme-right voting in these regions and the rest of the country would be cut in half. Results do not seem to be driven through changes in contemporary socio-economic features. War exposure has a direct, long lasting effect on ideological preferences.


War exposure, ideological preferences, polarization, persistence