Genocides in History “Accordingly, I have placed my death squad with orders to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, the men, women, and children of Polish descent. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” -Adolf Hitler (1939)
History of Genocide • “Genus” (race, people), “Cide” (killer, slayer) • The systematic, planned extermination of a group of people based upon their race, religion, affiliation or background.
History of Genocide • Records of genocide are recorded as far back as the Old Testament • Multiple genocides in the 20th century, including the deadliest ever (Holocaust)
History of Genocide • Genocide has been notoriously ambiguous and difficult to define • Example: is the United States treatment of the Native Americans an act of genocide?
Modern Examples • Armenian Genocide (1915-23) • The Holocaust (1939-45) • Cambodian Genocide (1975-79) • Rwandan Genocide (1994)
The Holocaust • Dates: 1939-1945 • Casualties: 12 million • Summary: Jews and other “political opponents” were imprisoned, enslaved and executed
Cambodian Genocide • Dates: 1975-1979 • Casualties: 2 million • Summary: Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge imprisoned and execu-ted ethnic and reli-gious minorities as well as political diss-enters & intellectuals
Rwandan Genocide • Date: 1994 • Casualties: 800,000 • Summary: The Interhamwe and many regular Hutu civilians systemati-cally massacred ethnic Tutsis
Armenian Genocide • Dates: 1915-1923 • Casualties: 1.2 million • Summary: The Otto-mans (Turks) target-ed and executed the Armenians for politi-cal dissent and treason
Themes of Genocide • Dehumanizing: creating terms and caricatures of a particular group in order to make them appear sub-human • Organization: organizing militias or paramilitary groups to carry out the actual genocide • Propaganda: when a group uses media and rhetoric to separate the “master race” from the “undesireables”
Themes of Genocide • Extermination: the actual execution of the violence • Denial: groups in power often deny, rationalize, or justify their actions.
Dehumanization “The only good bourgeois is a dead bourgeois” • An attempt by the group in power to portray the victims as less-than-human • Examples: Jewish “rats” and “dogs;” and Tutsi “cockroaches”
Organization • The Creation of a militia or force to enforce the genocide • Examples: Hitler’s SS/Gestapo, Turkish Hamidiye, Hutu Interhamwe
Propaganda “The greater the lie, the more people will believe it” • Using media to sensation-alize and demonize the targeted group • Examples: Burning the Reichstag (German Parliament), Rwandan President’s plane crash
Extermination • The systematic execu-tion the targeted group • Examples: Nazi death camps, Cambodian forced labor camps, Armenian death marches
Denial “You should know that Terezin was not such a bad camp.” • Perpetrators and supporters often deny or try to justify the genocidal actions • “We were just following orders,” “We didn’t know” • Deaths are greatly exaggerated
Analysis • Should Holocaust denial be illegal? Why or why not? • Identify 20th century examples of the various themes of genocide