The Genocide Portal
Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group—in whole or in part. A term coined by Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, the hybrid word geno-cide is a combination of the Greek word γένος (genos, "race, people") and the Latin suffix -caedo ("act of killing").
The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such" including the killing of its members, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to "bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part", preventing births, or forcibly transferring children out of the group to another group. Victims have to be deliberately, not randomly, targeted because of their real or perceived membership of one of the four groups outlined in the above definition.
The Political Instability Task Force estimated that, between 1956 and 2016, a total of 43 genocides took place, causing the death of about 50 million people. The UNHCR estimated that a further 50 million had been displaced by such episodes of violence up to 2008.
The word genocide has also come to signify a value judgment as it is widely considered the epitome of human evil. (Full article...)
During World War II, ghettos were established by the Nazis to confine Jews, Romani and Serbs into tightly packed areas of the cities of Eastern Europe. Starting in 1939, the Nazis began to systematically move Polish Jews into designated areas of large Polish cities. The first large ghetto at Tuliszków was established in December 1939 or January 1940, followed by the Łódź Ghetto in April 1940 and the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1940, with many other ghettos established throughout 1940 and 1941. The ghettos were walled off, and any Jew found leaving them was shot. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of these ghettos, with 380,000 people and the Łódź Ghetto, the second largest, holding about 160,000.
The situation in the ghettos was brutal. In Warsaw, 30% of the population were forced to live in 2.4% of the city's area, a density of 9.2 people per room. In the ghetto of Odrzywół, 700 people lived in an area previously occupied by 5 families, between 12 and 30 to each small room. The Jews were not allowed out of the ghetto, so they had to rely on food supplied by the Nazis: in Warsaw this was 253 calories (1,060 kJ) per Jew, compared to 669 calories (2,800 kJ) per Pole and 2,613 calories (10,940 kJ) per German. With crowded living conditions, starvation diets, and little sanitation (in the Łódź Ghetto 95% of apartments had no sanitation, piped water or sewers) hundreds of thousands of Jews died of disease and starvation.
In 1942, the Nazis began Operation Reinhard, the systematic deportation to extermination camps during the Holocaust. The authorities deported Jews from everywhere in Europe to the ghettos of the East, or directly to the extermination camps -- almost 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto alone to Treblinka over the course of 52 days. In some of the Ghettos the local resistance organisations started ghetto uprisings. None were successful, and the Jewish populations of the ghettos were almost entirely killed.
||"We are living in a time of the trivialization of the word 'Holocaust,' What happened to the Jews cannot be compared with all the other crimes. Every Jew had a death sentence without a date."
||— Simon Wiesenthal, AP Interview, 1999
Rwandan refugee camp in Zaire.
Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918.
Gas canisters and hair of Holocaust victims from a Nazi concentration camp.
Mummified victims of the Rwandan Genocide (1994) at Murambi Technical School. Photograph taken in July 2001 by Emmanuel Cattier.
Weimar (Buchenwald), Germany, taken by the 3rd U.S. Army. Prisoners of all nationalities were tortured and killed. 04/14/1945
Bones of anti-Nazi German women still are in the crematoriums in the German concentration camp at
Original caption states: "Deep gashes delivered by the killers are visible in the skulls that fill one room at the Murambi School." Aftermath of
"A relic of the Armenian massacres at Erzingan", image taken from US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's memoirs (1918).
International prosecution of genocide (ad hoc tribunals)
It is commonly accepted that, at least since World War II, genocide has been illegal under customary international law as a peremptory norm, as well as under conventional international law. Acts of genocide are generally difficult to establish, for prosecution, since intent, demonstrating a chain of accountability, has to be established. International criminal courts and tribunals function primarily because the states involved are incapable or unwilling to prosecute crimes of this magnitude themselves.
For more information see:
International prosecution of genocide (International Criminal Court)
To date all international prosecutions for genocide have been brought in specially convened international tribunals. Since 2002, the International Criminal Court can exercise its jurisdiction if national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute genocide, thus being a "court of last resort," leaving the primary responsibility to exercise jurisdiction over alleged criminals to individual states. Due to the United States concerns over the ICC, the United States prefers to continue to use specially convened international tribunals for such investigations and potential prosecutions.
For more information see:
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