Genocides In History
When I hear someone speak of "Genocide" the thought that comes to mind is "mass killing of a group of people or another horrible word comes to my mind "Holocaust". I remembered watching the mini-series back in the 70s. That series pretty much gave me a good education of what happened back in 1944 during World War II to the Jewish people and many other people classified by the Nazis. I could not believe how the entire world missed that until the American soldier literally walked upon it and saw it with their own eyes.
I wrote this hubpage in response to a question asked by a hubber concerning "Genocides in History". Here I have made an attempt to explain what genocide is and how it can go undetected for so long; before someone realize what is happening simply because people do not known what to look for. Even today there is still some form of genocide occurring somewhere in the world. In the end I included a list of some genocides that have occurred before and after the infamous " Holocaust."
What does genocide mean? Genocide is the systematic extermination of a group of people, generally an ethnic, racial, or religious group. The term did not exist until 1944 and an official definition was given in 1948 by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime Genocide (CPPCG). This convention took place due to the discovery of the horrible crime committed by the Nazi in 1944 during World War II.
Origin of the Term "Genocide"
The term "genocide" is from the combination of the latin words "gens, or gentis" meaning "birth, race, stock or kind", and -cidium meaning"cutting or killing." The term was coined by a Polish-Jewish legal scholar named Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959). This how Lemkin defined the term in 1943:
Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.
What Cause A Genocide to Occur?
Typically there are conditions, or rather pre-conditions that must be in place before a genocide can occur. The most often used condition is that they do not place a high value on human life.They usually perceive others as inferior to them or unbelievers to their ideas. These group are driven by someone with high authoritative power and influence. Finally, once the group is convinced that they are the so called "better group," they are driven by a series of campaigns to imposed their new states or new regimes by dehumanizing or humiliating the victims and in time these actions lead to genocide.
The most infamous one took place in Germany when Hitler and the Nazi party took over the country during difficult economic times. Hitler came into Germany with the belief that he would restore Germany to its "rightful" place as a powerful nation in Europe. He wanted everyone living in and around Germany to be people of German blood. His idea ultimately lead to the systematic extermination of the Jewish people. This became the biggest genocide in history, the Holocaust.
The Eight Stages of Genocide
As president of an organization called "Genocide Watch, Gregory Stanton presented a paper during a 1996 briefing to the US State Department; the paper was entitled "The 8 Stages of Genocide." He wrote this paper after the investigation of Rwanda genocide to document why the genocide occurred. Below are the eight stages the organization recognized with their corresponding characteristics:
- Stage 1: Classification - Occurs when people are divided into "us and them."
- Stage 2: Symbolization - When symbols along with hatred are forced upon unwilling group.
- Stage 3: Dehumanization - When one group denies the humanity of the other group by calling them animals or a disease.
- Stage 4: Organization - Special armies or militias usually organized a genocide.
- Stage 5: Polarization - Occurs when hate groups start broadcasting polarizing propaganda material.
- Stage 6: Preparation - This occurs when people are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity.
- Stage 7: Extermination - Occurs when hate groups begin killing their victims because they do not believe their victims are fully human.
- Stage 8: Denial - The hate groups or perpetrators believe that they have not done anything wrong when they are put on trial for their crimes.
A Few Examples of Genocides in history
There is a long list of genocides committed through the ages in various parts of the world. Genocides had occurred as far back as biblical times. The Old Testament mentioned the genocide of the Amalekites and the Midianites. In the Third Punic War (149-146 BC) during the destruction of Carthage, a type of genocide called gendercide occurred where all the men in the group is killed and the females are forced to live with the conquering army. This type of genocide occurred many times during ancient times. Other groups such as the Mongol horsemen committed genocides by destroying entire nations leaving nothing but ruins and bones.
Some scholars, believed many acts of genocide were committed in the Americans against the aborigines and native americans in the 1400s by Europeans and their descendants. But there are strong evidences in the case of Columbus; that large population of the natives died from the diseases he and his men brought over from their countries. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced about 17,000 Cherokees and 2,000 black slaves owned by the Cherokees from their homes. It is estimated that 4,000 in that group lost their lives. Today some historians would considered this action a form of genocide.
In Argentina, a military campaign called Conquest of the Desert took place in 1870 to purge the aborigines from Patagonia located in Argentina and Chile because they refused to submit to the government. There are arguments among some historians who believe this was a genocidal attempt to remove these people. The number of aborigines killed was 1,700.
In the War in the Vendée (1793–1796) that took place in France during the French Revolution, which is considered by an author of history to be the "First Modern Day" genocide. A general during the war was ordered to carry out a pacification of the group that started the uprising during the revolution. Mass executions and group drownings were carried out for three years. In the end 117,000 to 500,000 out of 800,000 people died during this campaign. Many historian do not call this a genocide since the killings occurred on both sides. Genocide is generally seen as overwhelming lost of life on one side.
During the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) and pacification campaign (1902-1913), launch by the United States against the Filipinos claimed the lives of over million Filipinos may have been an act of genocide, since men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from the age of 10 and up were killed. One news reporter saw this as an extermination attempt.
The Herero and Namaqua Genocide that took place in present-day Nambia between 1904 to 1907 is considered the first organized genocide. It was also the first genocide in the twentieth century aim at exterminating an ethnic group, and more than a half of the Namba population and 80 oercent of the Herero population were killed.
The Ottoman Empire carried out a genocide against the Armenians between 1915 to 1923 where 1,500,000 men, women, and children were killed. This action successfully eliminated the Armenians from their homeland of 2,500 years, only 500,000 Armenians survived the genocide. The Ottoman Empire also carried out genocide against the Assyrians and the Greek population in the Ottoman Empire. The genocide that is currently taking p lace in Iraq by ISIS is a result of the breakup of the the Ottoman Empire after the World Wars.
Soviet Union committed genocide against an ethnic group called Don Cossacks between 1919 and 1920. It is estimated that up to 500,000 peoples were deported or killed.
The most well known genocide known as the "Holocaust Genocide" took place in Nazi Germany during World War II. The Holocaust started just before the start of World War II and ended with the liberation of the prisoners in 1944. It is known that more than 6 million Jews were killed. Other peoples such as homosexuals, mentally ill, sexual deviants, Jehovah's Witness and political opponents were also put in the concentration camps. Some historian estimated a total of about 16 million people totaled was exterminated in these camps as recent as 1944.
As you can see from the list, there are many instances of genocides committed in the last 2,000 years, and there are some I did not mentioned because there are so many more. There are some genocides that have been committed in the last ten years such as the genocide presently taking place in Danfur, and then there is one that was committed by Saddam to eliminate the Kurds in Iraq between 1986 to 1988.
Today there are organizations in place to capture and prosecute these people to the fullest extend of the law; in an effort to deter this irrrational behavior against innocent people just because they are different from them.
© 2009 Melvin Porter