Combining the Greek word genos (“race” or “tribe”) with the Latin cide (“killing”), Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), an obscure Jewish lawyer and refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe, coined the word “genocide” in 1944.
Combining the Greek word genos (“race” or “tribe”) with the Latin cide (“killing”),
Building on more than a decade of research and writing on the
The twentieth century has been characterized as “the century of genocide,” with good reason. Several indisputable cases of genocide, as defined by Lemkin, the 1948 U.N. convention, and other sources–notably Nazi Germany’s persecution and systematic mass murder of an estimated six million European Jews–date to the twentieth century. However, recent scholarship, specifically that which accepts a broader definition of the term and thus takes a more inclusive approach in identifying instances of genocide, argues that genocide was not exclusive to the twentieth century; that, in fact, it has occurred throughout history; and that examples, frequently intertwined with warfare, are to be found in the ancient world, the medieval world, and the pre-twentieth century modern world.
According to an increasing number of scholars, the
Other examples of genocide in the ancient world commonly cited by genocide scholars include atrocities committed by the
During the medieval era, Christian Crusaders perpetrated mass slaughters that some scholars interpret as genocidal. Major targets and victims included
Scholars also attribute genocide to the
In 1492, countless Jews either were burned alive or expelled from Spain after refusing to convert to Christianity.
Threats to Armenian survival in Turkey continued long after the genocide of 1915; residents of the neighboring Armenian homeland faced new challenges when the Soviet Union was formed in the early 1920’s, as shown by this 1921 appeal for American help.
While evidence for genocide in both the ancient and the medieval worlds is circumstantial, highly problematic, and subject to differing interpretations, evidence for genocide in the modern world is far more conclusive, and thus scholars who investigate modern genocides stand on much firmer ground when they interpret specific cases of mass atrocity as genocide. However, the modern era has its share of so-called disputed, as opposed to denied, genocides, including the annihilation of indigenous peoples during the
World War I (1914-1918), generally considered the first “total war,” provided the background for the
These starved prisoners died en route to the Dachau concentration camp, while they were packed like sardines in freight cars.
Initiated by Nazi Germany and its fanatical leader
In Rwanda, human skulls on display, many of which show evidence of deep gashes. The killings were the result of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the mass murders of several hundred thousand Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by Hutus subscribing to the Hutu Power ideology.
At the end of the century,
Bergen, Doris L. War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust. 2d ed. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009. Explains the motives that drove Nazi policy from 1933 to 1945 and demonstrates the link between war and the Third Reich’s persecution and murder of Jews and other target groups. Jones, Adam. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2006. A good beginning point for those interested in the history of genocide and major components of genocide studies. Lemkin, Raphael. Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944. The work that introduced genocide to the world. Markusen, Eric, and David Kopf. The Holocaust and Strategic Bombing: Genocide and Total War in the Twentieth Century. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995. Focusing on the Nazi murder of Europe’s Jews and the Allied bombing of Germany and Japan during World War II, the authors argue against treating genocide and war as separate phenomena. Shaw, Martin. War and Genocide: Organized Killing in Modern Society. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 2003. Demonstrates the close connection between war and genocide and argues that there exists a fine line between “degenerate war” and genocide in modern history. Totten, Samuel, William S. Parsons, and Israel W. Charny, eds. Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2004. Written by leading experts and accompanied by primary documents and first-person accounts, this compilation of essays examines major twentieth century genocides.
Collaboration in War
Peace Movements and Conscientious Objection to War
Prisoners and War
War Crimes and Military Justice