We are used to distinguishing the despotic regimes of the twentieth century - Communism, Fascism, National Socialism, Maoism - very precisely according to place and time, origins and influences. But what should we call that which they have in common? On this question, there has been and is still a passionate debate. The debate has been renewed in the past few years. After the collapse of the Communist systems in Central, East and Southern Europe, a mass of archival material has become available. Following the lead of Fascism and National Socialism, communist and socialist regimes throughout the world w belong to the historical past as well. This leads to the resumption of old questions: What place do the modern despotisms assume in the history of the twentieth century? What is their relation to one ather? Should they be captured using traditional concepts - autocracy, tyranny, despotism, dictatorship - or are new concepts required? This book documents the first international conference on this theme, a conference that took place in September of 1994 at the University of Munich. The book shows how new models to understand political history arose from the experience of modern despotic regimes. Here, the most important concepts - totalitarianism and political religions - are discussed and tested in terms of their usefulness. Pyotr Vassilievitsch Alexeiev, Lomossov University, Moscow Karl Graf Ballestrem, Catholic University of Eichstatt Wanda von Baeyer-Katte Karl Dietrich Bracher, Universi
Hans Maier, born on June 18, 1931 in Freiburg in Breisgau, is Emeritus Professor for Political Science and the Theory of Religion at the University of Munich. He was the Bavarian Minister of Culture and Science from 1970 to 1986 and President of the Central Committee of German Catholics from 1976 to 1986. Major publications include Revolution und Kirche (1959), in English, Revolution and Church: The Early History of Christian Democracy, 1789-1901 (London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969). Also Die altere deutsch Staats- und Verwaltungslehre (1966), Die christliche Zeitrechnung (1991), Politische Religionen (1995) and Welt ohne Christentum - was ware anders? (1999).