The Scourge of Genocide: A Historical Reality
The Scourge of Genocide: A Historical Reality

The Scourge of Genocide: A Historical Reality

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  • Pages: 10 (2681 words)
  • Published: November 6, 2017
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Genocide, which involves the destruction or elimination of individuals based on their ethnic, national, racial or religious background, has been a persistent issue throughout history. This ultimate form of racism through murder has been regarded as inherent to human nature by some due to its consistent occurrence. However, few believe that genocide is acceptable and it is punishable by law. The term was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish legal expert who referenced Nazi Germany's practice during World War II where they annihilated groups through indirect means or straightforward murder.

The Holocaust was an attempt by the Nazis to exterminate Jews and Gypsies. While genocide has been present since ancient times, it wasn't recognized as a crime under international law until 1951. Throughout history, conquered enemy groups typically had all male members killed and any remaining survivors were forced to live within the territory, regard


less of their status as civilians or soldiers.

Throughout history, there have been various instances of mass killings during warfare. Atilla the Hun's army committed widespread slaughter in Europe during the 5th century and Genghis Khan's forces perpetrated large-scale massacres across the Middle East in the 13th century. Although international laws regarding warfare gradually developed as many nations reached an agreement in the 18th and 19th centuries that harming or killing civilians during war was unacceptable, these laws are not always consistently enforced due to countries remaining ultimate authorities.

In the 20th century, several nations resorted to mass murders for political gain. Turkey's nationalist government organized and executed forced migration and genocide of approximately 1.5 million Armenians living in eastern Turkey during World War One (1914 - 1918).

Approximately 5-6 million Jews, half a million

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Gypsies, and millions of other undesirables within German territory were killed during World War Two in Nazi Germany's genocide. This led to the death of two thirds of all Jews in occupied and Allied Europe, nine out of ten German Gypsies, half of all captured Soviet prisoners of war, and almost twenty percent of other peoples in Eastern Europe. Croatia's government was also responsible for genocide during the war and killed between 200,000 to 340,000 Serbian citizens in the former Yugoslavia. Since then, at least sixteen nations have attempted or succeeded in committing genocide. For more information on this topic please visit "What led to the Rwandan genocide."

Genocide has been documented in different parts of the world, such as Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. One example is the Khmer Rouge, a Communist group that caused around 1.7 million Cambodian fatalities from 1975 to 1979 (source 30). During this same period when East Timor was still a Portuguese colony located in the southeast part of the Indonesian archipelago, Indonesia's invasion also resulted in genocide.

Indonesia, Guatemala, Rwanda, and Bosnia have all suffered from genocide that resulted in devastating loss of life. In Indonesia, approximately 200,000 people - over one-third of the local population - lost their lives during takeover efforts. From 1978 to 1983 in Guatemala, the national army systematically massacred about 200,000 Mayan Indians. In Rwanda during a coup carried out by Hutu extremists in 1994, an estimated 750,000 Tutsi ethnic group members died. Since conflicts began within former Yugoslavian states in 1991, thousands of Bosnian Muslims have been impacted by genocide.


to Source 19, the Ottoman Empire of the Turks underwent a major genocide before and after World War I. The Armenian Army was disarmed on April 24th, and soldiers were killed while their leaders were imprisoned and executed, leading to the start of the genocide by the Turkish government. Survivors faced oppressive heat as they were forced to march towards concentration camps where they received mistreatment. Harsh weather conditions coupled with lack of basic necessities such as food and water led to many deaths.

Sources 14 and 15 provide evidence of the Turks committing horrendous atrocities against the Armenians, exposing them to gruesome sights. The implementation of a systematic policy for three years led to the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians. Although denying any genocide, the Turkish government is accused of deliberately being responsible for these mass killings. The New York Times reported on Karahissar's merciless killing where only a handful of children were spared, highlighting an organized and systematic approach by officials who eliminated anyone disagreeing with this claim. Despite claiming that the Armenians were simply "casualties of war," it appears unlikely given their lack of proximity to any Russian invasion site.The Turks committed a barbaric act by creating the 'Teskillati Mahsusa' organization, which employed violent ex-prisoners to form murder battalions that killed Armenian citizens. Despite international awareness of the genocide, major nations failed to act due to a lack of evidence and preoccupation with Third Reich developments. Notably, Germany and Austria were allies with the Ottoman Empire at the time. However, the United States advocated for Armenians and worked to rescue orphaned survivors known as 'the miserable remnants of death marches', documented on a

popular online platform dedicated to the genocide.The Armenian race suffered a terrible event in 1915, which was deemed by a US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire as the most horrific episode in human history (source 2). The systematic killing of an entire people is considered a significant crime against humanity. This atrocity was able to occur due to the impunity of the Ottoman Empire during World War II when other countries were unable to intervene (source 32). Nonetheless, Armenians survived and welcomed thousands of refugees back into their country. However, this genocide is often overlooked compared to the Holocaust that occurred during a similar time. The strategic timing and efforts by the Ottoman empire to conceal evidence have led many people unaware of these events.

The discovery of Adolf Hitler's statement about the Armenians' lack of remembrance did not receive much coverage and was soon forgotten (source 3). However, this mentality ultimately led to the Nazi genocide of Jews and Gypsies during World War II. Hitler's rise to power and effective implementation of his beliefs in Nazi Germany made this possible (source 16). According to Hitler, Germans were racially superior while Jews and Gypsies were "biologically handicapped" and threatened the purity of the German race. He referred to Germans as the master race, believing that eliminating these impure groups was necessary for preserving and strengthening German society.

The Rom, also known as the Gypsies, have been living in Europe since the fifth century and sharing a common language and culture. Historically, they were nomadic until the 1900s. Sadly, during World War II under Nazi rule, they faced persecution that led to massacres. Although there is debate surrounding

their early history, it is generally accepted that the Rom originated from India and settled in Iran by the fourteenth century. As they continued moving eastward from India, they assimilated various cultural practices into their own. The Rom arrived in Hungary around 1438 before venturing into Serbia and other Balkan nations. Subsequently, they migrated through Poland and Russia before finally arriving in Sweden and England during the sixteenth century.

In Spain, Gypsies settled in significant numbers simultaneously. Although some converted to Islam or Orthodox Christianity, many European Gypsies became Roman Catholics and continued to practice their pre-Christian customs alongside their new religion. This caused the church to have varied reactions towards the Gypsies, resulting in difficulty and animosity towards the community. Due to being broken up into various dialects, their language was traditionally only passed down orally for hundreds of years. However, in the early days of the Soviet Union's Communist regime, Romany publications emerged, making their language a written one today. Unfortunately, prejudice and animosity towards Gypsies still remain widespread wherever they settle.

According to sources 35 and 36, the Gypsies were often viewed as outdated individuals who couldn't keep up with modern society due to their traditional lifestyle. Their nomadic nature dictated their professions, as they were typically unable to secure settled jobs or land in the countries they resided in. Consequently, they primarily traded animals and engaged in small-scale commerce, while also practicing various arts like silver and gold work, as well as music, to earn a living. Despite gaining notoriety for fortune-telling, this activity was often just a side gig. Gypsies frequently faced accusations of theft and dishonesty due to their

way of living and language. As strangers and outsiders in the areas they settled in, they often bore the brunt of society's aggression, much like the Jews.

Occasionally, there was enmity that led to deadly actions. For instance, the Prussian ruler, Frederick William I, issued an edict in 1725 that authorized the killing of all Gypsies aged eighteen or above on the grounds that they were deemed valueless humans and marked for annihilation. Concurrently, their melodies and poetry inspired notable artists like Franz Liszt, thereby endowing their way of life with a local character. Despite different historical rationales, the Gypsies and the Jews were akin in the sense of being outsiders in predominantly Christian Europe.

According to a 1941 report presented to Heinrich Himmler, the Nazis considered the Gypsies as a unique group that differed from all other individuals. The report stated that there were approximately 39,000 Gypsies in the Nazi empire, with around 28,000 residing in Germany and 11,000 in Austria. Most of these belonged to Sinti and Lalleri tribes - two of the most widely dispersed Gypsy tribes. Despite emphasizing a "pure" Nordic society centered on sedentary peasant life, the regime recognized that the Gypsies lived an entirely different lifestyle with numerous roots and settlements that prevented them from settling down completely. As they were regarded as detrimental to this new society's vision and incapable of assimilating into it, the Nazi government classified them as "asocials."

Although there was no questioning the Aryan heritage of the Gypsy clans, they were also classified as "people of different blood" (Andersblutige). Through an analysis conducted by Dr. Ritter and his team, out of twenty thousand Rom, over 90%

were determined to be devoid of mixed blood (Mischilinge).

The issue of dealing with a minority group considered Aryan was resolved by denying that Gypsies were part of the race. The Nazis did not contest this argument. Ritter proposed suppressing the Gypsy people by preventing them from mixing with Germans, sterilizing them and forcing them into labor camps. Pure and mixed Gypsies were both viewed as asocial and subjected to the same treatment. Tragically, during the Holocaust, Gypsies ended up in concentration and extermination camps documented by sources 33 and 34. Himmler's decree on December 14, 1937 allowed for preventative arrests of individuals displaying asocial behavior that endangered society but weren't necessarily guilty of any crime.

The Nazis took advantage of a free phasing of regulations, allowing them to commit numerous crimes against the Gypsies. On April 4, 1938, regulations were implemented targeting "beggars, vagabonds (Gypsies), and prostitutes without a permanent residence." As the Nazi's racial policies became more extreme, the murder of Gypsies increased significantly. Pure and mischilinge gypsies were reintroduced into their community, but many others were sent to concentration camps. The Nazis subjected the Gypsies to atrocities such as gas chambers and horrific medical experiments. The humiliation of the Gypsies had no limitations under Nazi power. Shockingly, approximately 200,000 gypsies fell victim to the Holocaust.

Although the Nazis committed similar crimes against multiple cultures, their Holocaust targeting Jews received more attention and recognition. Their main objective was to eliminate inferior cultures from their gene pool while refining their own people. However, it's important to acknowledge that the Nazis' hatred extended beyond Jews despite the extensive documentation recognizing the Holocaust as genocide. The

Nazi regime blamed Jews for Germany's loss in World War 1 and economic depression in 1923, which they were unable to defend themselves against due to their minority status. National Socialism focused on a racial enemy while communism centered on a class enemy.

According to sources 4 and 16, Hitler expressed his disdain for the Jews through speeches and discussions about Nazi beliefs. He made it clear in source 5 that upon gaining power, his top priority would be to eradicate Jews. In source 6, he stated that the concept of retaliation would be applied, and in the event of war, the goal would not be to promote Jewish victory but to eliminate the Jewish population in Europe.

'(source 7)' - The war's outcome, as we predict, won't be what the Jews envision – to uproot the Aryans. Instead, it will result in the total extermination of the Jewish people.

(source 8) Upon his rise to power, Hitler swiftly implemented legislation aimed at oppressing Jewish people and ultimately facilitating genocide. His first move, in 1933, was to require Jews to relinquish their civil service jobs, university education, and access to law courts. That same year, a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses was instituted, marking the start of a sequence of increasingly harsh discriminatory measures. With each step, Jews were further marginalized, making subsequent actions easier to execute (source 17). In 1935, the Nuremburg laws further stripped German Jews of their rights by stripping them of their citizenship, rendering them outsiders in their own country.

Between 1937 and 1939, the definition of Jews changed from being based on race to the bloodline of their grandparents. This caused a range of new

laws and regulations that restricted Jewish individuals' rights and opportunities. For example, public schools were off-limits for Jewish children, while leisure activities such as going to the cinema or resorts were forbidden. Even their residential areas were limited, with certain parts of cities out-of-bounds. Economic life was also hit hard; Nazi sanctions led to Jewish businesses being seized or sold at low prices. Propaganda in the form of posters and cartoons blamed Jews for various problems and aimed to gain support for Nazi acts against them.

Physical abuse of the Jews' rights started in 1938, exemplified by the infamous night of Kristallnacht. Over 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps and many killed. Additionally, 191 German synagogues were burned, 76 completely destroyed; 815 Jewish-owned shops were demolished, and 29 warehouses and 171 homes were set on fire. As a result of their heritage, Jews in their own country were physically attacked during wartime.

The Nazi regime escalated their persecution of Jews with the Kristallnacht, a violent riot instigated by the government that targeted Jewish individuals and businesses. This was just the beginning of a larger program aimed at exterminating Jews, which intensified during WWII. City conquests like Warsaw and Lodz were transformed into ghettos where Jewish residents suffered under poor living conditions, resulting in many deaths. Concentration camps emerged across Poland and conquered regions of the Soviet Union where Jews faced gassing and mass shootings. Additionally, Jewish leaders and opposition figures were systematically executed to further oppress the people. The atrocities committed by the Nazis were largely unchecked by neighboring countries during this time. (Sources: 18, 11)

Poland had multiple concentration camps, including Chelmno and Auschwitz-Birkenau (sources

12 + 13). The former used mobile gas vans to execute prisoners in mass by pumping poisonous gas. However, Auschwitz-Birkenau is notorious for causing the death of approximately 1,250,000 individuals.

During the Nazi regime, the Jewish population, comprising about 90% of the group, suffered immense agony and their atrocities will always be remembered. As the most conspicuous foreign group in Germany, they faced severe persecution and were specifically targeted by the regime's aggression. Consequently, they became the largest victims of genocide in the 20th century. These genocidal events significantly contributed to breeding racial prejudice between different groups across Europe during that period. At the beginning of this era, intolerance towards others was widespread and enforcing international law proved to be difficult.

The implementation of genocide was made possible by gradual steps that blurred the line of what was acceptable, making it difficult for people to object against small actions. The Turks enforced their regime heavily, preventing their people from fighting against the atrocities committed against the Armenians. This, coupled with distractions from war, allowed the Turks to escalate unfair acts to the level of genocide, with no change in the attitude towards different races. Similarly, one man's vision in Nazi Germany led to mass acceptance of his ideals, which were imposed and suppressed all other viewpoints. Hitler was able to keep the Holocaust a secret and persuade people that "impure" blood needed purifying. Despite attempts by the Allies to bring down the regime, Hitler continued to exterminate Jews and Gypsies.

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