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This highly innovative volume provides the first investigation of how political legitimacy operated amid the upheavals of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. It argues that legitimacy lay not with rulers, and still less in the barrel of a gun, but in the values about what constituted "good" government. Exploring the domains of political discourse, state propaganda and high and low culture, it explains how in the aftermath of German victory in 1939-40, a wide range of contenders, including bureaucrats, collaborators, Communists and other resistance groups, all claimed the right to rule. As an important contribution to the political culture of wartime Europe, this volume will be essential reading for both political scientists and twentieth-century historians.