Richard Crampton is professor of East European history at Oxford and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson center.

The impact of World War II upon Eastern Europe was especially brutal. The nations of the region soon became known as the "killing fields of Europe." The occupation was no less cruel. As the Red Army advanced, it did so with a ferocity borne of ideological fervor and rampant indiscipline. In the decades that followed, the war's end, violence and retribution became the norm in the area and a decline in moral certainty was widespread. Richard Crampton describes a phenomenon that still afflicts the societies of the Balkans.