essay about genocide

What is Genocide?

Genocide is an internationally recognized crime where acts are committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. These acts fall into five categories:

Killing members of the group

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

There are a number of other serious, violent crimes that do not fall under the specific definition of genocide. They include crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and mass killing.

Raphael Lemkin, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, coined the word genocide in 1944 and made it his mission to compel nations to prevent it from occurring in the future. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of United Nations

Origin of the Term Genocide

The word “genocide” did not exist prior to 1944. It is a very specific term coined by a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959) who sought to describe Nazi policies of systematic murder during the Holocaust, including the destruction of European Jews. He formed the word genocide by combining geno- , from the Greek word for race or tribe, with -cide , from the Latin word for killing. 

Genocide as an International Crime

On December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved a written international agreement known as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This convention established genocide as an international crime, which signatory nations “undertake to prevent and punish.” Preventing genocide, the other major obligation of the convention, remains a challenge that nations, institutions, and individuals continue to face.

This Section

Find information on historical cases of genocide and other atrocities.

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essay about genocide

What Are The Main Causes of Genocide?

As the Genocide Convention of 1948 states, “at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity” (Kaye and Stråth 2000: 24). Nevertheless, the twentieth century was termed the “century of genocide” because of the high number of cases of genocide during that time period (Bartrop 2002: 522). For the purpose of this essay, the definition of genocide will be taken from the Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. The genocide of the Armenians, the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda are the three genocides of the twentieth century that fit that definition (Destexhe 1994: 4-5). In this essay, the causes of modern genocide will be investigated using these three genocides as case studies. There are various reasons why genocide may occur and it is often a combination of circumstances that leads to genocide. The present essay will investigate the underlying conditions that make genocide possible, while leaving out catalytic events that may trigger genocide. The essay will firstly draw on the works of Horkheimer and Adorno in examining the relations between Enlightenment ideas and genocide. The correlations between war and economic crises will be subject to analysis in the second part of the essay. Finally, the creation of out-groups and in-groups will be explored. While these are certainly not the only causes of genocide, they may be deemed to be pre-conditions.

Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide” in the 1940s with the Holocaust in mind, which for him signified the return of an enlightened people to barbarism (Freeman 1995: 210). Similarly, Foster (1980: 2) sees the Holocaust as an aberration of an enlightened and developed nation. However, there are other scholars who argue that genocide is not an exception of Enlightenment but in fact a result of it. Horkheimer and Adorno (1973: 3-4) argue that the ideals of Enlightenment, which are human emancipation and rationality, alienate humans from nature and result in men wanting to control nature and, in turn, other people as well. Bauman (1989: 91), continuing this idea over a decade later, proposes that since the Enlightenment, the extermination of a people serves to establish a perfect society. The Enlightenment brought with it the belief in an evolutionary development towards a better society through state engineering (Bauman 1989: 70; Kaye and Stråth 2000: 11). “Gardening” and “modern medicine” were used as metaphors for human tasks that would improve a society (Bauman 1989: 70). In the enlightened world, a state can become a “wonderful utopia” (Hamburg 2008: 44) through “designing, cultivating and weed-poisoning” (Bauman 1989: 13). It is a modern idea that everything can be measured and classified, even a “race” and its character (Bauman 1989: 68). This classification of races, coupled with the modern idea of a constantly improvable society, leads to Social-Darwinist ideas of the survival of the fittest (Kaye and Stråth 2000: 15).

Armenians (Balakian 2008: 160), Jews (Bauman 1989: 76) and Tutsi (Mullen 2006: 172) were seen as worthless groups standing between a population and the realisation of such a perfect society. Therefore, in the mind of the “rational and enlightened” thinker, they were legitimate targets for extermination (Kaye and Stråth 2000: 15). This “purifying” of the state through genocide is reflected in the language of the genocidaires (Stone 2004: 50). Armenians were termed “tubercular microbes” and a local politician asked rhetorically “isn’t it the duty of a doctor to destroy these microbes?” (Balakian 2008: 160). Hitler spoke of the “Jewish virus” and that “by eliminating the pest, [he would] do humanity a service” (Bauman 1989: 71). Not only medical terms were used to justify the killings. Gardening metaphors can also be found. In Rwanda, the chopping up of Tutsi men was called “bush clearing” and slaughtering women and children was labelled as “pulling out the roots of the bad weeds” (Prunier 1997: 142). These three examples support Bauman’s theory that the Enlightenment brought about the idea of being able to socially engineer a perfect state. Genocide was consequently justified by the idea of “purifying” the state through tasks that a doctor or a gardener would employ in order to improve an unhealthy body or a garden.

Naturally, not every enlightened nation will descend into genocide. There are other factors that influence a state’s likeliness of genocide. According to Staub (2006: 98), an important indicator for the potential of future genocide is a difficult life condition, such as war or an economic crisis. He argues that during times of hardship, humans feel the need to protect themselves, which can result in losing respect for another group or blaming that group for the present conditions. Often, there is a history of long-standing animosities towards the group that is blamed, such as with the Jews in Europe and the Tutsi in Rwanda (Förster 2007: 73). However, Staub (2006: 99) says that people also feel the need to belong to something bigger during these times and therefore create an in-group together alongside an out-group. The parallels between war and genocide will now be examined, before the connection between economic crisis and genocide is made.

According to Bartrop (2002: 522), a strong link exists between war and genocide since the First World War. He argues that due to the war’s destructiveness, people were transformed into commodities, a condition in which a “surplus population” could simply be eliminated. Shaw (2007: 464) supports this notion. He has discovered that “the major instances of genocide have clearly taken place in the context of war and militarisation”. According to both Bartrop (2002: 528) and Shaw (2007: 465), the presence of war shapes the psyche of a population and makes their willingness to kill certain groups more likely. In the Ottoman Empire during the Second World War, Turkish leaders suspected the Armenians to be cooperating with Russia, which provided the rationale behind killing the entire group  (Hamburg 2008: 27). In this instance, “war provided the context as well as the pretext to make Turkish nationalist dreams […] come true” (Förster 2007: 77). The Holocaust, too, was used as a means to quietly destroy an undesired minority (Hamburg 2008: 27). Jews were blamed for every woe of Germany, just like the Armenians were seen as an enemy to the state. Nazis blamed the loss of World War I on the Jews, which made it legitimate to kill that group (Campbell 2009: 155). Fifty years later, in 1994, every Tutsi in Rwanda was accused of being part of the invading rebel army, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which consisted primarily of members of the Tutsi minority  (Hintjens 1999: 258). Exterminating this “enemy within” was therefore framed as a justifiable act of self-defence (Bartrop 2002: 526). War is an exceptionally difficult life condition during which innocent groups can be seen as threats; grievances towards that group are in rare occasions handled through genocide (Campbell 2009: 156).

The second difficult life condition Staub refers to is one of economic crisis. As with war, during times of a recession, people are inclined to find someone to blame for their misfortune (Hamburg 2008: 25). In Hamburgs’s (2008: 34) words, “a sharp economic downturn can create a sense of crisis that makes a population ready to scapegoat a vulnerable out-group and softens popular reluctance to kill others”. Local leaders have learned that these feelings can be easily manipulated for their own goals, which may be the elimination of an unwanted minority (Hamburg 2008: 24). Victims are often portrayed as wealthy and as willing to take advantage of other groups, which justifies killing that group (Hamburg 2008: 27). With the World Economic Crisis in 1929, support for the Nazi party in Germany increased drastically (Foster 1980: 9). The party blamed Jews for the crisis, which appealed to the general public, who were in want of a scapegoat for their condition (Foster 1980: 13). Similarly, Tutsi in Rwanda were accused of bringing about the economic crisis in the 1980s, a crisis that had been brought about by plummeting coffee prices, in order for power and dominance to be restored (Hintjens 1999: 256). During times of an economic crisis people look for someone to blame. Turning towards a wealthy minority such as the Jews in Germany or the Tutsi in Rwanda is simple. If this is coupled with the local leaders who seek to exploit such grievances, it can lead to genocide.

It has been shown that people are likely to build an out-group during times of hardship. However, a further important factor is the need to belong to an in-group during difficult times such as war or recession. In the words of Hamburg (2008: 32), “perpetrators bond together as a community with a kind of sacred cause […] in the ritual of genocidal killing”. Being part of something larger is, therefore, provided through belonging to a group. The feeling of belonging is intensified through doing something extreme like the killing of people. Whole communities experience a form of ecstasy while partaking in the killing of others (Stone 2004: 55). This can be shown using the example of the genocide in Rwanda, where the militia group was called interahamwe , which translates to “those who fight together” (Hintjens 1999: 257). The construction of out-groups and in-groups is important for people during difficult times. When leaders exploit grievances towards the out-group, it can turn people into killers who experience happiness through belonging to an in-group that seeks to “purify” the state of a perceived evil.

Incidents of genocide are not unique to the modern era; however, ideas of Enlightenment have led to humans’ wish to continually improve their societies. If a certain group is seen as standing between the population and this goal, it can be seen as “rational” and legitimate to rid oneself of that group. The chances of genocide occurring against an out-group that is perceived as standing between society and utopia is more likely during times of hardship, such as those of war and economic crises. Humans feel the need to blame an out-group and eliminate that threat to society. Being part of a genocidal squad may give them the desired feeling of security during those times of instability. It is therefore imperative to monitor situations in countries, especially those where grievances against an out-group already exist, and to step in as soon as the country experiences changes in welfare. Genocide is not inevitable and the international community should never again fail to prevent it.

Balakian, Peter. 2008. ‘The Armenian Genocide and the modern age’. The Sydney Papers : 144-161.

Bartrop, Paul. 2002. ‘The relationship between war and genocide in the twentieth century: A consideration’. Journal of Genocide Research 4(4): 519-532.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1989. Modernity and the Holocaust . Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Campbell, Bradley. 2009. ‘Genocide as Social Control’. Sociological Theory 27(2): 150-172.

Destexhe, Alain. 1994-1995. ‘The Third Genocide’. Foreign Policy (97): 3-17.

Förster, Stig. 2007. ‘Total War and Genocide: Reflections of the Second World War’. Australian Journal of Politics and History 53(1): 68-83.

Foster, Claude R. 1980. ‘Historical Antecedents: Why the Holocaust?’. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 450: 1-19.

Freeman, Michael. 1995. ‘Genocide, Civilisation and Modernity’. The British Journal of Sociology 46(2): 207-223.

Hamburg, David A. 2008. Preventing Genocide: Practical Steps Towards Early Detection and Effective Action . Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

Hintjens, Helen M. 1999. ‘Explaining the 1994 genocide in Rwanda’. The Journal of Modern African Studies 37(2): 241-286.

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno. 1973. Dialectic of Enlightenment . London: Allen Lane.

Kaye, James and Bo Stråth, eds. 2000. Enlightenment and Genocide, Contradictions of Modernity . Bruxelles: P.I.E.-Peter Lang.

Mullen, Gary A. 2006. ‘Genocide and the Politics of Identity: Rwanda through the lens of Adorno’. Philosophy Today 50: 170-175.

Prunier, Gérard. 1997. The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide . London: Hurst and Company.

Shaw, Martin. 2007. ‘The general hybridity of genocide and war’. Journal of Genocide Research 9(3): 461-473.

Staub, Ervin. 2009. ‘The Origins of Genocide and Mass Killing: Core Concepts’. In The Genocide Studies Reader , eds. S. Totten and P.R. Bartrop. New York: Routledge.

Stone, Dan. 2004. ‘Genocide as transgression’. European Journal of Social Theory 7(1): 45-65.

— Written by: Dominique Maritz* Written at: University of Queensland Written for: Sebastian Kaempf Date written: March 2011

*The author has since married and has changed her name to Dominique Fraser

Further Reading on E-International Relations

  • Accepting the Unacceptable: Christian Churches and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
  • Perpetuating the Single Reality – the Culture of Rwanda’s Genocide Memorials
  • Performances of Justice? Interrogating Post-genocide Adjudication
  • The Cambodian Genocide: Operationalizing Violence Through Ideology
  • Are We Living in a Post-Panoptic Society?
  • Are You a Realist in Disguise? A Critical Analysis of Economic Nationalism

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By Chris McMorran Norman Schultz

August 2003

Genocide Defined

Genocide is generally defined as the intentional extermination of a specific ethnic, racial, or religious group. Compared with war crimes and crimes against humanity, genocide is generally regarded as the most offensive crime. At worst, genocide pits neighbor against neighbor, or even husband against wife. Unlike war, where the attack is general and the object is often the control of a geographical or political region, genocide attacks an individual's identity, and the object is control -- or complete elimination -- of a group of people.

The history of genocide in the 20th century includes:

  • the 1915 genocide of Armenians by Turks;
  • the attempted extermination of European Jews by Nazis during World War II;
  • the widespread genocide in Cambodia during the 1970s;
  • the "ethnic cleansing"[1] in Kosovo by Serbs during the 1990s;
  • the killing of Tutsis by Rwandan Hutus in 1994.[2]

Since 1948, the United Nations has defined genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such."[3] Actions included in this definition are:

  • Killing members of a group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on a group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Notice that in the U.N. definition, murder is not the only way to destroy a group. For example, the recent Australian practice of forcibly removing biracial Aborigine children from their parents could be classified as genocide, since the goal of this practice was to assimilate the children into mainstream Australian culture, and thus slowly erode the Aborigine culture and population.[4]

Causes of Genocide

The underlying causes of conflicts that result in acts of genocide often have deep historical roots. Stereotypes and prejudices can develop over centuries. Ethnic and cultural distinctions often result in the formation of "in-group" and "out-group" thinking, where members of different races, religions, or cultures view each other as separate, alien, and "different." Identity groups are formed from such thinking.

In many regions, members of different identity groups, for mutual advantage, develop conflict prevention methods. Yet where resources are limited, or where pressures are placed on societies because of political or economic instability, relations may degrade. This can lead one group to become convinced that many of its problems are the fault of another group, and that all of those problems would be resolved if only the other group no longer existed. Guy Burgess has named this irrational and potentially dangerous idea the " into-the-sea" frame . Coexistence and power sharing are not considered to be viable options, and the more powerful group instead desires to exterminate the other (i.e., drive the other side "into the sea"). Often there is a "coherent and vicious elite" led by a majority-supported dictator who incites genocidal movements. Such movements find expression more readily when powerful political entities are made up of a common ethnicity and when minorities are marginalized.

Responding to Acts of Genocide

Genocide, like any morally relevant action, can be supported, denounced, or viewed with apathy. One's moral convictions will result in varying responses to genocidal acts. Perpetrators of genocide often feel completely justified in their actions, and may draw on local cultural or political values to curry favor. This can lead to a response of support, thereby furthering the criminal acts. Others, while not participating in the acts directly, may support them by financial or political means.

Still other groups may attempt to take a neutral, apathetic stance. International law and historical precedent, however, has made it extremely dangerous for relevant parties to attempt to merely stand by. An example of such behavior was the Swiss policy of neutrality in World War II.. In the mid-1990s Swiss banks were held accountable for servicing the financial interests of Nazi party members and for failing to settle accounts with Holocaust victims or their surviving family members. It would seem that parties that are in a position to oppose acts of genocide, but fail to do so, can expect punitive repercussions.

The international community, following international law , sometimes attempts to stop genocide before it happens, or while it is in process. Often, however, the ability to do anything effective is minimal. Another approach is punishment after-the-fact, which is supposed to not only extract retribution or justice, but also act as a deterrent against future genocidal acts. Whether the deterrence effect is real, however, is unclear.

Preventing acts of genocide has become an important topic in peace research. Preventing genocide implies understanding how genocidal motivations begin and how groups become powerful enough to impose their plans on their victims. This involves the ability to recognize how ethnic and political values mesh in potentially dangerous ways and how elite organizers of genocide obtain state power. In addition to developing working theories of how genocidal acts begin and progress, prevention also necessitates the ability to detect signs of genocidal schemes and respond to them as early as possible. Government investigation agencies (such as the FBI and Interpol), the United Nations, and independent human rights organizations (such as Amnesty International), utilize some early detection methods. Attempts to prevent genocide usually involve preventive diplomacy and violence prevention . Dealt with elsewhere in depth, suffice it to say here that this involves both Track I and Track II diplomatic efforts to diffuse tensions and try to encourage the parties to negotiate at least a settlement , if not a resolution of their differences -- enough to prevent widespread violence.

Sanctions are also sometimes used as deterrents or punishments for unacceptable behavior. For example, economic, financial and military sanctions were imposed against the Yugoslav Federation to try to end their support of the Serb's "ethnic cleansing," a euphemism for genocide. Military intervention may also be called upon, as was the case with U.N. peacekeeping forces and later NATO forces acting in Bosnia in the 1990s.

International law also supports after-the-fact prosecution of war criminals. International law was the force behind the Nuremberg trials of Nazi officers in the late 1940's and, in more modern times, the trial of former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosavic at The Hague. The International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2002, is intended to make such prosecution more effective. Though adherence to the ICC Statute (the Rome Statute) varies from country to country,[5] 139 countries signed the initial statute and the 60-country ratification minimum required for the ICC to enter into force was reached on April 11, 2002. Both the United States and Russia have refused to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC, however, leading to questions about how effective the court can be without their participation.

Problems with Punishment

In actuality, all forms of punishment face difficult challenges. Many question the effectiveness, and the ethicality, of economic sanctions , especially since sanctions can easily affect an entire nation's economy, arguably punishing innocent citizens for the crimes of their government or of a powerful faction. Legal punishment for genocidal acts can be frustrated by an inability to find the individuals responsible. Also complicating the matter is the fact that the number of people who committed the crimes is often so large as to make a trial huge, costly, and impractical. Military action also presents the challenges of how to engage, when to intervene, and how long to stay when hostilities have subsided, in addition to the delay from the time when military action is deemed necessary and when (if at all) it is approved by the international community.

Threat of punishment can also prolong a conflict. If one side fears prosecution if they end the conflict, they may continue, even though they realize that they cannot win. One answer to this fear is offering amnesty to all sides, as was done in South Africa with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here the belief was that reconciliation and stability would be much more easy to achieve if people testified about their heinous actions, but then were forgiven, instead of prosecuted. This, many argue, has allowed that intractable conflict to be transformed much more effectively than it might have been, had whites been threatened with prosecution for crimes against humanity or other violations of international law.

The Aftermath of Genocide

Acts of genocide cause people to flee dangerous areas, becoming refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs). Great numbers of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries can be a social, political, and economic burden on those countries. Refugees often encounter discrimination in new countries, and may have no choice but to live in refugee camps, not knowing when or if they will return home. When they do return, they don't know if they will find their homes and possessions intact. This is but one of myriad problems faced by individuals, communities, and societies after a genocide ends.

Once the acts of genocide come under control, and accountability for the crimes is being enforced, the processes of peacebuilding , reconciliation , and healing must begin. Victim groups will, understandably, have a great deal of hatred for their oppressors. Relations between enemy ethnic groups must improve; otherwise retaliatory violence is essentially assured. Efforts to forge new relations between groups and to empower the victim group are justified. Realistically, though, true reconciliation will likely take a long time, as the crimes are horrible enough to make them nearly unforgivable.

The greatest challenge following genocide is rebuilding a society, since a conflict that at one time might have been resolved may now have become intractable. The rebuilt society must have a power-sharing form of government in order to prevent future inequalities that could lead to violent retaliation. Preventing a cycle of hatred and violence becomes the central challenge.

However, sharing power with one's past enemy, especially following such a horrible crime as genocide, may not be possible. Peace is often tenuous in these situations, as is the case today in Rwanda and Cambodia .

[1] Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for genocide. Ethnic cleansing means "the purging, by mass expulsion or killing, of one ethnic or religious group by another" according to the Oxford English Dictionary "ethnic cleansing" avaliable at . The term is derived from the Serbian and Croatian etniko ienje and was first used in the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia, especially to describe the actions taken by the Serbian government against ethnic Albanian Muslims living in Kosovo. The Serb government wished to have a Serbia for Serbs and tried to rid its southern region, Kosovo, of non-Serbs.

[2] Some moderate Hutus were also victims of mass killings in 1994.

[3] United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

[4] Decoust, MichPle. "Australia 's Forgotten Dreamtime." [on-line] ( Le Monde diplomatique , October 2000) Available from . Accessed 28 January 2002.

[5] Notably, the United States and China have not ratified the Rome Statute, each having political objections to certain aspects of the treaty. Negotiation efforts between the ICC and countries yet to ratify its power continue. For up-to-date information on such efforts, see

Use the following to cite this article: McMorran, Chris and Norman Schultz. "Genocide ." Beyond Intractability . Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: August 2003 < >.

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An Introduction to the Criminology of Genocide pp 51–74 Cite as

Why Does Genocide Occur?

  • William R. Pruitt 2  
  • First Online: 16 January 2021

392 Accesses

Since genocide is a topic crossing many academic disciplines there is no single theoretical explanation for why genocide occurs. The many different disciplines examining genocide have offered many different theories of genocide. These theories though can be categorized and grouped together in certain ways.

The purpose of this chapter is to explore in more depth specific theories that explain why genocide might occur. Tying these theories back to the previous chapter will allow students to make connections between the material in Chap. 2 and how they are used in theoretical work.

  • Genocide theory
  • Criminological theory
  • Genocide disciplines

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Supra note 6.

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Morrison, Wayne (2004). Criminology, genocide, and modernity: Remarks on the companion that criminology ignored. In Colin Sumner (Ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Criminology (pp. 68–88). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

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Supra note 11.

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Verdeja, Ernesto (2002). On genocide: Five contributing factors. Contemporary Politics , 8(1), 37–54.

Rafter, Nicole (2016). The crime of all crimes: Toward a criminology of genocide. New York: New York University Press.

Pruitt, William R. (2011). Toward a modified collective action theory of genocide: A qualitative comparative analysis. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Northeastern University.

Koenigsberg, Richard A. (2009). Nations have the right to kill: Hitler, the Holocaust, and war. New York: Library of Social Science.

Ibid., at 3.

Korematsu v. United States (1944). 323 U.S. 214.

Rafter, Nicole (2008). The criminal brain: Understanding biological theories of crime. New York: New York University Press.

Barta, Tony (2005). Mr. Darwin’s shooters: On natural selection and the naturalizing of genocide. Patterns of Prejudice , 39(2), 116–137.

Ibid., at 129.

Supra note 27 at 4.

Supra note 27 at 185.

Brannigan, Augustine & Hardwick, Kelly H. (2003). Genocide and general theory. In Chester L. Britt & Michael R. Gottfredson (Eds.), Control Theories of Crime and Delinquency (109–131). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction.

Agnew, Robert (2010). A general strain theory of terrorism. Theoretical Criminology , 14(2), 131–153.

Anderson, Kjell (2018). Perpetrating genocide: A criminological account. London: Routledge.

Tittle, Charles R. (2004). Refining control balance theory. Theoretical Criminology , 8(4), 395–428.

Savelsberg, Joachim J. (2010). Crime and human rights. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Tittle, Charles R. (1995). Control balance . Boulder: Westview Press: 191.

Hagan, John and Rymond-Richmond, Wenona (2009). Darfur and the crime of genocide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Supra note 46.

Brannigan, Augustine (2013). Beyond the banality of evil: Criminology and genocide . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ibid., at 72–73.

Ibid., at 73.

Supra note 38.

Supra note 27.

Supra note 41.

Huttenbach, Henry R. (2004). Towards a theory of genocide? Not yet! A caveat. Journal of Genocide Research, 6(2), 149–150.

Criminology-Related Websites

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Pruitt, W.R. (2021). Why Does Genocide Occur?. In: An Introduction to the Criminology of Genocide . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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World History Project - Origins to the Present

Course: world history project - origins to the present   >   unit 7.

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<p>Jews from <a href="/narrative/10727">Subcarpathian Rus</a> get off the deportation train and assemble on the ramp at the <a href="/narrative/3673">Auschwitz-Birkenau</a> killing center in occupied Poland. May 1944. </p>

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime and its allies and collaborators. The Holocaust was an evolving process that took place throughout Europe between 1933 and 1945.

Antisemitism was at the foundation of the Holocaust. Antisemitism, the hatred of or prejudice against Jews, was a basic tenet of Nazi ideology. This prejudice was also widespread throughout Europe.

Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews evolved and became increasingly more radical between 1933 and 1945. This radicalization culminated in the mass murder of six million Jews.

During World War II, Nazi Germany and its allies and collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews using deadly living conditions, brutal mistreatment, mass shootings and gassings, and specially designed killing centers.

  • Final Solution
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  • World War II

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What was the holocaust .

The Holocaust (1933–1945) was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime and its allies and collaborators. 1 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines the years of the Holocaust as 1933–1945. The Holocaust era began in January 1933 when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in Germany. It ended in May 1945, when the Allied Powers defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. The Holocaust is also sometimes referred to as “the Shoah,” the Hebrew word for “catastrophe.”

Boycott of Jewish-owned businesses

Why did the Nazis target Jews?

The Nazis targeted Jews because the Nazis were radically antisemitic. This means that they were prejudiced against and hated Jews. In fact, antisemitism was a basic tenet of their ideology and at the foundation of their worldview. 

The Nazis falsely accused Jews of causing Germany’s social, economic, political, and cultural problems. In particular, they blamed them for Germany’s defeat in World War I (1914–1918). Some Germans were receptive to these Nazi claims. Anger over the loss of the war and the economic and political crises that followed contributed to increasing antisemitism in German society. The instability of Germany under the Weimar Republic (1918–1933), the fear of communism , and the economic shocks of the Great Depression also made many Germans more open to Nazi ideas, including antisemitism.

However, the Nazis did not invent antisemitism. Antisemitism is an old and widespread prejudice that has taken many forms throughout history. In Europe, it dates back to ancient times. In the Middle Ages (500–1400), prejudices against Jews were primarily based in early Christian belief and thought, particularly the myth that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. Suspicion and discrimination rooted in religious prejudices continued in early modern Europe (1400–1800). At that time, leaders in much of Christian Europe isolated Jews from most aspects of economic, social, and political life. This exclusion contributed to stereotypes of Jews as outsiders. As Europe became more secular, many places lifted most legal restrictions on Jews. This, however, did not mean the end of antisemitism. In addition to religious antisemitism, other types of antisemitism took hold in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. These new forms included economic, nationalist, and racial antisemitism. In the 19th century, antisemites falsely claimed that Jews were responsible for many social and political ills in modern, industrial society. Theories of race, eugenics , and Social Darwinism falsely justified these hatreds. Nazi prejudice against Jews drew upon all of these elements, but especially racial antisemitism . Racial antisemitism is the discriminatory idea that Jews are a separate and inferior race. 

Chart with the title

Where did the Holocaust take place?

The Holocaust was a Nazi German initiative that took place throughout German- and Axis-controlled Europe. It affected nearly all of Europe’s Jewish population, which in 1933 numbered 9 million people. 

The Holocaust began in Germany after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933. Almost immediately, the Nazi German regime (which called itself the Third Reich ) excluded Jews from German economic, political, social, and cultural life. Throughout the 1930s, the regime increasingly pressured Jews to emigrate. 

But the Nazi persecution of Jews spread beyond Germany. Throughout the 1930s, Nazi Germany pursued an aggressive foreign policy . This culminated in World War II, which began in Europe in 1939. Prewar and wartime territorial expansion eventually brought millions more Jewish people under German control. 

Nazi Germany’s territorial expansion began in 1938–1939. During this time, Germany annexed neighboring Austria and the Sudetenland and occupied the Czech lands. On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany began World War II (1939–1945) by attacking Poland . Over the next two years, Germany invaded and occupied much of Europe, including western parts of the Soviet Union . Nazi Germany further extended its control by forming alliances with the governments of Italy , Hungary , Romania , and Bulgaria . It also created puppet states in Slovakia and Croatia. Together these countries made up the European members of the Axis alliance , which also included Japan. 

By 1942—as a result of annexations, invasions, occupations, and alliances—Nazi Germany controlled most of Europe and parts of North Africa. Nazi control brought harsh policies and ultimately mass murder to Jewish civilians across Europe. 

The Nazis and their allies and collaborators murdered six million Jews.

Geography of the Holocaust

How did Nazi Germany and its allies and collaborators persecute Jewish people? 

Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies and collaborators implemented a wide range of anti-Jewish policies and measures. These policies varied from place to place. Thus, not all Jews experienced the Holocaust in the same way. But in all instances, millions of people were persecuted simply because they were identified as Jewish. 

Throughout German-controlled and aligned territories, the persecution of Jews took a variety of forms:

  • Legal discrimination in the form of antisemitic laws . These included the Nuremberg Race Laws and numerous other discriminatory laws.
  • Various forms of public identification and exclusion. These included antisemitic propaganda , boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses , public humiliation , and obligatory markings (such as the Jewish star badge worn as an armband or on clothing). 
  • Organized violence. The most notable example is Kristallnacht . There were also isolated incidents and other pogroms (violent riots).
  • Physical Displacement. Perpetrators used forced emigration, resettlement, expulsion, deportation, and ghettoization to physically displace Jewish individuals and communities.
  • Internment. Perpetrators interned Jews in overcrowded ghettos , concentration camps , and forced-labor camps, where many died from starvation, disease, and other inhumane conditions.
  • Widespread theft and plunder. The confiscation of Jews’ property, personal belongings, and valuables was a key part of the Holocaust. 
  • Forced labor . Jews had to perform forced labor in service of the Axis war effort or for the enrichment of Nazi organizations, the military, and/or private businesses. 

Many Jews died as a result of these policies. But before 1941, the systematic mass murder of all Jews was not Nazi policy. Beginning in 1941, however, Nazi leaders decided to implement the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. They referred to this plan as the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” 

What was the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”?

The Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” (“ Endlösung der Judenfrage ”) was the deliberate and systematic mass murder of European Jews. It was the last stage of the Holocaust and took place from 1941 to 1945. Though many Jews were killed before the "Final Solution" began, the vast majority of Jewish victims were murdered during this period.

Young girls pose in a yard in the town of Ejszyszki (Eishyshok)

Mass Shootings

The Nazi German regime perpetrated mass shootings of civilians on a scale never seen before. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, German units began to carry out mass shootings of local Jews. At first, these units targeted Jewish men of military age. But by August 1941, they had started massacring entire Jewish communities. These massacres were often conducted in broad daylight and in full view and earshot of local residents. 

Mass shooting operations took place in more than 1,500 cities, towns, and villages across eastern Europe. German units tasked with murdering the local Jewish population moved throughout the region committing horrific massacres. Typically, these units would enter a town and round up the Jewish civilians. They would then take the Jewish residents to the outskirts of the town. Next, they would force them to dig a mass grave or take them to mass graves prepared in advance. Finally, German forces and/or local auxiliary units would shoot all of the men, women, and children into these pits. Sometimes, these massacres involved the use of specially designed mobile gas vans. Perpetrators would use these vans to suffocate victims with carbon monoxide exhaust.

Germans also carried out mass shootings at killing sites in occupied eastern Europe. Typically these were located near large cities. These sites included Fort IX in Kovno (Kaunas), the Rumbula and Bikernieki Forests in Riga , and Maly Trostenets near Minsk . At these killing sites, Germans and local collaborators murdered tens of thousands of Jews from the Kovno, Riga, and Minsk ghettos. They also shot tens of thousands of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews at these killing sites. At Maly Trostenets, thousands of victims were also murdered in gas vans.

The German units that perpetrated the mass shootings in eastern Europe included Einsatzgruppen (special task forces of the SS and police), Order Police battalions, and Waffen-SS units. The German military ( Wehrmacht ) provided logistical support and manpower. Some Wehrmacht units also carried out massacres. In many places, local auxiliary units working with the SS and police participated in the mass shootings. These auxiliary units were made up of local civilian, military, and police officials.

As many as 2 million Jews were murdered in mass shootings or gas vans in territories seized from Soviet forces. 

Killing Centers

Photograph of Dawid Samoszul

German authorities, with the help of their allies and collaborators, transported Jews from across Europe to these killing centers. They disguised their intentions by calling the transports to the killing centers “resettlement actions” or “evacuation transports.” In English, they are often referred to as “deportations.” Most of these deportations took place by train. In order to efficiently transport Jews to the killing centers, German authorities used the extensive European railroad system , as well as other means of transportation. In many cases the railcars on the trains were freight cars; in other instances they were passenger cars. 

The conditions on deportation transports were horrific. German and collaborating local authorities forced Jews of all ages into overcrowded railcars. They often had to stand, sometimes for days, until the train reached its destination. The perpetrators deprived them of food, water, bathrooms, heat, and medical care. Jews frequently died en route from the inhumane conditions.

The vast majority of Jews deported to killing centers were gassed almost immediately after their arrival. Some Jews whom German officials believed to be healthy and strong enough were selected for forced labor. 

My mother ran over to me and grabbed me by the shoulders, and she told me "Leibele, I'm not going to see you no more. Take care of your brother."  — Leo Schneiderman  describing arrival at Auschwitz, selection, and separation from his family

At all five killing centers, German officials forced some Jewish prisoners to assist in the killing process. Among other tasks, these prisoners had to sort through victims’ belongings and remove victims’ bodies from the gas chambers. Special units disposed of the millions of corpses through mass burial, in burning pits, or by burning them in large, specially designed crematoria .

Nearly 2.7 million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered at the five killing centers. 

What were ghettos and why did German authorities create them during the Holocaust? 

Ghettos were areas of cities or towns where German occupiers forced Jews to live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. German authorities often enclosed these areas by building walls or other barriers. Guards prevented Jews from leaving without permission. Some ghettos existed for years, but others existed only for months, weeks, or even days as holding sites prior to deportation or murder. 

German officials first created ghettos in 1939–1940 in German-occupied Poland. The two largest were located in the occupied Polish cities of Warsaw and Lodz (Łódź). Beginning in June 1941, German officials also established them in newly conquered territories in eastern Europe following the German attack on the Soviet Union. German authorities and their allies and collaborators also established ghettos in other parts of Europe. Notably, in 1944, German and Hungarian authorities created temporary ghettos to centralize and control Jews prior to their deportation from Hungary. 

The Purpose of the Ghettos

German authorities originally established the ghettos to isolate and control the large local Jewish populations in occupied eastern Europe. Initially, they concentrated Jewish residents from within a city and the surrounding area or region. However, beginning in 1941, German officials also deported Jews from other parts of Europe (including Germany) to some of these ghettos. 

Jewish forced labor became a central feature of life in many ghettos. In theory, it was supposed to help pay for the administration of the ghetto as well as support the German war effort. Sometimes, factories and workshops were established nearby in order to exploit the imprisoned Jews for forced labor. The labor was often manual and grueling. 

Life in the Ghettos

Charlene Schiff describes conditions in the Horochow ghetto

Jews in the ghettos sought to maintain a sense of dignity and community. Schools, libraries, communal welfare services, and religious institutions provided some measure of connection among residents. Attempts to document life in the ghettos, such as the Oneg Shabbat archive and clandestine photography, are powerful examples of spiritual resistance . Many ghettos also had underground movements that carried out armed resistance. The most famous of these is the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943.    

Liquidating the Ghettos

Beginning in 1941–1942, Germans and their allies and collaborators murdered ghetto residents en masse and dissolved ghetto administrative structures. They called this process “liquidation.” It was part of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” The majority of Jews in the ghettos were murdered either in mass shootings at nearby killing sites or after deportation to killing centers. Most of the killing centers were deliberately located near the large ghettos of German-occupied Poland or on easily-accessible railway routes. 

Who was responsible for carrying out the Holocaust and the Final Solution?

Many people were responsible for carrying out the Holocaust and the Final Solution. 

At the highest level, Adolf Hitler inspired, ordered, approved, and supported the genocide of Europe’s Jews. However, Hitler did not act alone. Nor did he lay out an exact plan for the implementation of the Final Solution. Other Nazi leaders were the ones who directly coordinated, planned, and implemented the mass murder. Among them were Hermann Göring , Heinrich Himmler , Reinhard Heydrich , and Adolf Eichmann . 

However, millions of Germans and other Europeans participated in the Holocaust. Without their involvement, the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe would not have been possible. Nazi leaders relied upon German institutions and organizations; other Axis powers; local bureaucracies and institutions; and individuals. 

German Institutions, Organizations, and Individuals

Adolf Hitler addresses an SA rally

As members of these institutions, countless German soldiers , policemen , civil servants , lawyers, judges , businessmen , engineers, and doctors and nurses chose to implement the regime’s policies. Ordinary Germans also participated in the Holocaust in a variety of ways. Some Germans cheered as Jews were beaten or humiliated. Others denounced Jews for disobeying racist laws and regulations. Many Germans bought, took, or looted their Jewish neighbors' belongings and property. These Germans’ participation in the Holocaust was motivated by enthusiasm, careerism, fear, greed, self-interest, antisemitism, and political ideals, among other factors. 

Non-German Governments and Institutions

Nazi Germany did not perpetrate the Holocaust alone. It relied on the help of its allies and collaborators. In this context, “allies” refers to Axis countries officially allied with Nazi Germany. “Collaborators” refers to regimes and organizations that cooperated with German authorities in an official or semi-official capacity. Nazi Germany’s allies and collaborators included:

  • The European Axis Powers and other collaborationist regimes (such as Vichy France ). These governments passed their own antisemitic legislation and cooperated with German goals.
  • German-backed local bureaucracies, especially local police forces. These organizations helped round up, intern, and deport Jews even in countries not allied with Germany, such as the Netherlands .
  • Local auxiliary units made up of military and police officials and civilians. These German-backed units participated in massacres of Jews in eastern Europe (often voluntarily). 

The terms “allies” and “collaborators” can also refer to individuals affiliated with these governments and organizations.

Individuals across Europe 

Throughout Europe, individuals who had no governmental or institutional affiliation and did not directly participate in murdering Jews also contributed to the Holocaust. 

One of the deadliest things that neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, and even friends could do was denounce Jews to Nazi German authorities. An unknown number chose to do so. They revealed Jews’ hiding places, unmasked false Christian identities, and otherwise identified Jews to Nazi officials. In doing so, they brought about their deaths. These individuals’ motivations were wide-ranging: fear, self-interest, greed, revenge, antisemitism, and political and ideological beliefs.

Individuals also profited from the Holocaust. Non-Jews sometimes moved into Jews’ homes, took over Jewish-owned businesses, and stole Jews’ possessions and valuables. This was part of the widespread theft and plunder that accompanied the genocide. 

Most often individuals contributed to the Holocaust through inaction and indifference to the plight of their Jewish neighbors. Sometimes these individuals are called bystanders . 

Who were the other victims of Nazi persecution and mass murder?

The Holocaust specifically refers to the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews. However, there were also millions of other victims of Nazi persecution and murder . In the 1930s, the regime targeted a variety of alleged domestic enemies within German society. As the Nazis extended their reach during World War II, millions of other Europeans were also subjected to Nazi brutality. 

The Nazis classified Jews as the priority “enemy.” However, they also targeted other groups as threats to the health, unity, and security of the German people. The first group targeted by the Nazi regime consisted of political opponents . These included officials and members of other political parties and trade union activists. Political opponents also included people simply suspected of opposing or criticizing the Nazi regime. Political enemies were the first to be incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps . Jehovah’s Witnesses were also incarcerated in prisons and concentration camps. They were arrested because they refused to swear loyalty to the government or serve in the German military.

The Nazi regime also targeted Germans whose activities were deemed harmful to German society. These included men accused of homosexuality , persons accused of being professional or habitual criminals, and so-called asocials (such as people identified as vagabonds, beggars, prostitutes, pimps, and alcoholics). Tens of thousands of these victims were incarcerated in prisons and concentration camps. The regime also forcibly sterilized and persecuted Afro-Germans . 

People with disabilities were also victimized by the Nazi regime. Before World War II, Germans considered to have supposedly unhealthy hereditary conditions were forcibly sterilized. Once the war began, Nazi policy radicalized. People with disabilities, especially those living in institutions, were considered both a genetic and a financial burden on Germany. These people were targeted for murder in the so-called Euthanasia Program .

The Nazi regime employed extreme measures against groups considered to be racial, civilizational, or ideological enemies. This included Roma (Gypsies) , Poles (especially the Polish intelligentsia and elites), Soviet officials , and Soviet prisoners of war . The Nazis perpetrated mass murder against these groups.

How did the Holocaust end? 

Defeat of Nazi Germany, 1942-1945

But liberation did not bring closure. Many Holocaust survivors faced ongoing threats of violent antisemitism and displacement as they sought to build new lives. Many had lost family members, while others searched for years to locate missing parents, children, and siblings.

How did some Jews survive the Holocaust? 

Despite Nazi Germany’s efforts to murder all the Jews of Europe, some Jews survived the Holocaust. Survival took a variety of forms. But, in every case, survival was only possible because of an extraordinary confluence of circumstances, choices, help from others (both Jewish and non-Jewish), and sheer luck. 

Survival outside of German-Controlled Europe 

Some Jews survived the Holocaust by escaping German-controlled Europe. Before World War II began, hundreds of thousands of Jews emigrated from Nazi Germany despite significant immigration barriers. Those who immigrated to the United States, Great Britain, and other areas that remained beyond German control were safe from Nazi violence. Even after World War II began, some Jews managed to escape German-controlled Europe. For example, approximately 200,000 Polish Jews fled the German occupation of Poland. These Jews survived the war under harsh conditions after Soviet authorities deported them further east into the interior of the Soviet Union.

Survival in German-Controlled Europe

A smaller number of Jews survived inside German-controlled Europe. They often did so with the help of rescuers. Rescue efforts ranged from the isolated actions of individuals to organized networks, both small and large. Throughout Europe, there were non-Jews who took grave risks to help their Jewish neighbors, friends, and strangers survive. For example, they found hiding places for Jews, procured false papers that offered protective Christian identities, or provided them with food and supplies. Other Jews survived as members of partisan resistance movements . Finally, some Jews managed, against enormous odds, to survive imprisonment in concentration camps, ghettos, and even killing centers. 

Displaced persons wait

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, those Jews who survived were often confronted with the traumatic reality of having lost their entire families and communities. Some were able to go home and chose to rebuild their lives in Europe. Many others were afraid to do so because of postwar violence and antisemitism . In the immediate postwar period, those who could not or would not return home often found themselves living in displaced persons camps . There, many had to wait years before they were able to immigrate to new homes.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the world has struggled to come to terms with the horrors of the genocide, to remember the victims, and to hold perpetrators responsible . These important efforts remain ongoing.

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Liberation of Nazi Camps

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About Life after the Holocaust

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Postwar Trials

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"Final Solution": Overview

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Forced Labor: An Overview

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Gassing Operations

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Deportations to Killing Centers

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Killing Centers: An Overview

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  • What can we learn from the massive size and scope of the Holocaust?
  • Across Europe, the Nazis found countless willing helpers who collaborated or were complicit in their crimes. What motives and pressures led so many individuals to persecute, to murder, or to abandon their fellow human beings?
  • Were there warning signs of what was to come before the Nazis came to power in 1933? Before the start of mass killing in 1941?

In this context, “allies” refers to Axis countries officially allied with Nazi Germany. “Collaborators” refers to regimes and organizations that cooperated with German authorities in an official or semi-official capacity. These German-backed collaborators included some local police forces, bureaucracies, and paramilitary units. The terms “allies” and “collaborators” can also refer to individuals affiliated with these governments and organizations.

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Title: Compelled Silence and Compelled Sound in the Uyghur Genocide

Since 2017, China has waged a repressive campaign against Uyghurs in an effort to destroy their ways of life. This essay considers compelled silence and compelled sound as a byproduct of this genocidal campaign. The impact on Uyghur soundscapes reveals the depth of Chinese state interference into Uyghur life and underscores the gross scale of the mass atrocity itself.

Introduction One afternoon in June 2018, I found myself browsing in an antique shop in Östengboyi (The Stream’s Edge), a neighborhood running alongside the Id Kah mosque of Kashgar, the famed Uyghur city in China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region. Behind me, I heard a voice say, “essalamu eleykum,” meaning peace be upon you , the Arabic greeting used by Muslims worldwide. “We eleykum essalam,” I heard another voice answer. And also on you . I turned and saw two elderly Uyghur men embracing. I then looked toward the shopkeeper; surprise was written across his face. Our eyes met, but we said nothing.

Normally, their exchange would have been unremarkable. These Arabic phrases are, although sacred in origin, entirely mundane. However, these were not normal times. As early as a year before, anecdotal evidence suggested that Uyghurs had stopped using religiously inflected phrases like these lest the phrases arouse suspicions of “religious extremism.” By this June afternoon, I had been in the region for nearly two weeks, and this was the first and last time on this trip I heard any Uyghurs say these words. Each day of my visit contained myriad clues such as this that the contours of Uyghur life had changed. Dialogue among Uyghurs simply sounded different. Linguistic and other soundscapes of the recent past were now a distant memory.

This essay considers the roles of silence and sound in the slow-motion genocide playing out in the Uyghur homeland, where Chinese authorities are waging an assault on Uyghurs and other Turkic and/or majority-Muslim ethnic groups. I argue that the state is compelling both silence and sound as a way to eliminate the Uyghur identity. These sonic changes show the human cost of the state-led destruction of the most intimate aspects of Uyghur life.

Background For decades, China has embarked on repressive, assimilative campaigns targeting the indigenous peoples of what it calls the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). State efforts include “Strike Hard” campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s; a move toward “bilingual” (but really monolingual) education beginning in the early 2000s; repression following the 2009 Ürümchi Uprising; and, since 2014, a “ People’s War on Terror .” All of these campaigns are linked by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) anxieties over the legitimacy of its governance in the region: Uyghurs see themselves as the original inhabitants of this land and have resisted assimilation for decades.

State repression has intensified since 2017. China has taken a multi-pronged approach to its assault on the Uyghurs, embarking on a massive internment campaign , [1] meting out long prison sentences , building up a surveillance state , separating families , placing people in exploitative labor schemes , and forcibly sterilizing women , among other things. Leaked government documents show that the highest levels of CCP leadership developed and approved this program and that at least one local official envisioned the end game as being to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.” Scholar Rian Thum has aptly described the many dimensions of this campaign, commenting , “The internment and assimilation program in Xinjiang has the overall logic of colonial genocides in North America, the formalized racism of apartheid, the industrial-scale internment of Germany’s concentration camps, and the police-state penetration into everyday life of North Korea.” Other experts have stated that these actions constitute crimes against humanity and genocide .

Compelled Silence, Compelled Sound No part of Uyghur life is left untouched in this campaign, soundscapes included. After a 2018 field trip to the region, scholar Joanne Smith Finley recounted that a Uyghur told her , “Now we don’t talk anymore.” This and the linguistic self-policing I describe in the beginning of this essay are only two examples of what I refer to as compelled silence and compelled sound—sonic practices, here dictated by the forces of the state, that shape what is and is not sayable, speakable, utterable.

Compelled silence has largely played out in internment settings. Survivors who have spoken publicly about their experiences in the camps have described long periods of silence in detention, periods when internees were explicitly disallowed from talking outside of class, talking in a specific language such as Uyghur, or talking at all. But silence is a vacuum that can be filled, and the state has used compelled sound to do just that. Another common element of survivors’ stories is being forced to memorize and recite or sing “red” (i.e., political, pro-CCP) songs, including “Without the Party There Would Be No New China” (“没有共产党就没有新中国”), among others. While in some other parts of China the singing of red songs continues as a voluntary, public event, in internment settings in the Uyghur Region it is a forced act, one that fills the void left as the lineage and roots of the detained are broken, as the state creates a vacuum of silence that it can shape and fill with itself.

Compelled silence and sound have also played out in the world of Uyghur music from 2017 to the present. Uyghur music has long been an excellent gauge of political attitudes, an expressive realm that has served for decades as a civil society-like space both despite and because of China’s repressive policies. Professional music-making in the region has long been subject to the whims of the state, and periods of political volatility have been marked by decreases in public artistic performance. This was the case following the 2009 unrest in Ürümchi. The following year, I interviewed members of a professional ensemble in the city who told me they had not performed for roughly one year. Following a brief revival in 2012 and 2013, that world grew quieter once again following the beginning of the People’s War on Terror in 2014. [2]

By 2018, I spoke with a source in Ürümchi who noted that none of the major ensembles there had, to their knowledge, performed any public concerts in at least a year despite still being required by their bosses to show up for work. Similarly, a source I spoke with in Kashgar that same summer noted that the only performances they were doing were those that they were “sent down” to counties, townships, and villages to perform. These shows were almost undoubtedly ideological in nature, containing red songs and skits with explicitly pro-CCP, nationalist themes. As of 2020, some shows appear to be taking place, though their regularity and openness to public audiences are difficult to gauge from afar. Even a professional musical world can grow paradoxically quiet, compelled into silence by the state.

Over the past several years, some of the most beloved and visible Uyghur singers and musicians have released songs that mark dramatic stylistic and thematic departures from their larger bodies of work, suggesting that authorities may have coerced them to some degree. In mid-2017, just several months after the mass internment campaign began, a singer beloved for his classical and pop styling released a Uyghur-language song dedicated to Xi Jinping. The song marks a significant stylistic departure from not only his performance style but also the aesthetic sensibilities central to Uyghur music . It opens with an introduction on the tämbur , the most virtuosic of the Uyghur lutes, but the instrument is merely a framing device that disappears as the singer begins his melodic line, which lacks the “scent” ( puraq ) that defines melodies in Uyghur song. The lyrics are pure propaganda: the singer praises Xi Jinping for putting light into the hearts of the people.

A year later in summer 2018, the long-hailed King of Uyghur Pop released a Chinese-language song entitled “美丽新疆,” or “Beautiful Xinjiang.” The song is remarkable for two reasons: the lyrics are in Mandarin, which the singer rarely sang in previously, and the singer refers to the Uyghur region not as the “homeland” ( weten ), a lightly coded word preferred by singers, poets, and others for decades, but explicitly as the colonial “Xinjiang.” [3] By August 2020, the same singer surprised members of the Uyghur diaspora when a video of him singing another patriotic song in Chinese and English was circulated following a live-streamed concert. The lyrics in the newer song liken the relationship between the singer and China to one of child and parent, and the melody is completely devoid of the musical characteristics that make Uyghur music Uyghur.

Since 2017, studios and stages where Uyghur music once thrived have grown quiet. When sound has returned to them, it has been of a fundamentally different character than before, missing the styles, themes, and aesthetics that form the heart of local musical practices. It is impossible to know exactly the circumstances in which Uyghur artists are writing, producing, and performing patriotic, pro-CCP songs. Given that a number of Uyghur performers have been detained, [4] and given that Uyghur performers almost never produced or sang songs like these in the recent past, it seems reasonable to surmise that at least some of them feel compelled to sing as a way of performing loyalty to authorities who are constantly redrawing the political lines Uyghur performers—and all other Uyghurs—must toe. Such compelled sound constitutes a violation of rights. Although the right to freely make sound is not defined in international human rights frameworks, it is nonetheless central to freedom of expression and dignified human life.

Listenin g to the Uyghur Genocide Sound is both a weapon of the weak and a tool that the powerful can—and do—co-opt and abuse. In the case of the Uyghur Region, where Chinese authorities have created an environment of fear in their ongoing quest to destroy Uyghur culture, altered and unexpected sounds give clues into the depths of state intrusion into everyday life. Listening for compelled silence and compelled sound can help us to understand the tragic human dimensions of this mass atrocity: namely, the way the Chinese state exerts control over fundamental forms of human expression, over the most intimate and mundane aspects of daily life. The extent to which Uyghur music and culture more broadly will survive this attack is difficult to predict. Continuing to listen, including to the voices of brave Uyghur activists around the world, will give the international community, which up until now has been largely reticent to call this genocide by name, more indications of how they should speak out.

Dr. Elise Anderson is Senior Program Officer for Research and Advocacy at the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington, DC. She earned dual PhD degrees in Central Eurasian Studies and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University-Bloomington in 2019. Her research has long focused on various aspects of music among the Uyghurs, and her writing has appeared in Asian Music and the LA Review of Books, among other outlets.

[1] Numbers—of both detainees and camps—are estimates at best. For only two examples, see Blanked-Out Spots On China’s Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang’s Camps and Adrian Zenz’s “Wash Brains, Cleanse Hearts”: Evidence from Chinese Government Documents about the Nature and Extent of Xinjiang’s Extrajudicial Internment Campaign.  

[2] The ethnographic interviews and observations referenced in this essay occurred between 2010 and 2018.

[3] “Xinjiang,” which means “new territory” or “new dominion,” only became a name for the region in 1884, when it began appearing in Qing documents. Uyghurs and other indigenous inhabitants of the region have long preferred to call it by other names, including East Turkistan or, more recently, the Uyghur Region.

[4] Many of these musicians are rumored to have been released, though their precise whereabouts at time of publication are difficult to ascertain. Performers who have appeared to disappear into state detention at one point or another since 2017 include Abdurehim Heyit , Ablikim Kalkun , Sanubar Tursun , Ablajan Awut Ayup , and Zahirshah Ablimit , among others.  

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126 Genocide Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best genocide topic ideas & essay examples, 💡 interesting topics to write about genocide, 📌 simple & easy genocide essay titles, 👍 good essay topics on genocide, ❓ genocide research questions.

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Genocide, Essay Example

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The term “genocide” did not exist before 1944. It is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group. Human rights, as laid out in the US Bill of Rights or the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, concern the rights of individuals. The phrase genocide existed in 1944. It refers to violent crimes against human beings with the intention of destroying the being of those individuals or groups. There is a concern for human rights in the US Bill of Rights and in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration. After the holocaust on 9 December, the UN approved the prevention and conservation and punishment of genocide as a crime as championed by Lemkin. The Conservation declares genocide a global crime, which must be punished and prevented. It is defined as acts done with the intention of destroying, in part or in whole, ethnic, religion, national, or any other group through mass killing of members, causing physical or mental harm, having measure to prevent births, or transferring children to another area of group by force. The paper will outline the similarities and differences between genocides in Cambodia and Kosovo by looking at the causes, the way people’s lives were ended, the killing fields, and the reactions from the international bodies.


Both the Kosovo and the Cambodian genocides were horrible and involved, mass killings, rotting bodies, and strange empty graves. Many witnesses and evidence were hidden through intimidation and killings (Jones 2006).

The Khmer Rouge began their killings campaign immediately they took authority of Cambodia in 1975. The targets were all intellectuals who included religious leaders, doctors, attorneys, and military leaders. The genocide is estimated to have killed more than 1.7 million individuals during that campaign (Jones 2006). It is noted as one of the greatest tragedies involving humans in the 20 th century. The oppressive, ultra-communist Khmer Rouge rule that was led by Pol Pot, wanted to convert the country to agrarian utopia and this led to mass killing of the people in Cambodia.

In 1998 and 1999, more than 12,000 Kosovan men, children, and women were killed by the Serbian forces. Another eight hundred thousand were deported by force, while others fled in fear of being murdered (Hughes 2009). The act was referred as to ethnic cleansing, cleansing the elements or the people who were undesirable and unwanted. These people were discriminated against and were seen as unclean and unnecessary, the Albanians. There was a mass act of rape of women, torture and brutality, and sadism (Quigley 2006). The overall results were extreme dehumanization. This violence and murder lasted 78 days only after the NATO was involved and hence forced Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his men from Kosovo permanently. However, thousands of Albanians kept missing and never returned home even after Slobodan in 2001, released thousands of Albanian prisoners from jails.

With reference to the US bombings, for in both instances there is a debatable case for a link to subsequent killing committed by the rule of Slobodan Milosevic and Pol Pot. In the Cambodian situation, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge was greeted as they rallied into Phnom Penh in 1975. Most of the people who would be its prospect victims supposed that Pot’s army would defend them from US attack. Certainly, the disreputable emptying of Cambodian cities that describes the beginning of the country’s odd social revolution was consummate peacefully (Hughes 2009). Most urban inhabitants believed that the momentary mass departure was required because of the risk of renewed harassment from the US air force.

In Kosovo, assaults on Kosovar Albanians that were modest in scale only became full-sized tribal cleansing after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombing battle had begun. However, to an onlooker it seems grotesquely one-sided to examine only the slaughter of the Khmer Rouge and Serbian armed forces and mercenaries. To the sufferers, individuals whose bodies are maimed and whose houses are destroyed by napalm and cluster bombs, terms like collateral damage are little more than literalism (Simon 2007).


The Kosovan genocide was largely aimed at killing of the Albanian by the Serbian forces as directed by the Serbian leader Slobodan after the declaration that Kosovo was still and would remain part of Serbia. The violent response by the Albanians is what led to the mastermind of the genocide by the Serbian leader (Quigley 2006). In contrast, the Cambodian genocide was planned when Pol Pot and his group took power in Cambodia and was target at mass killing of all intellectuals in the country for the interest of the party. Therefore, it is clearly noted that the two events are different as Kosovan genocide was what can be termed as ethnic or national genocide as it was one nation killing the other nation, while that of Cambodia is a group genocide as it involved killing of a certain targeted group of people, the intellectuals in the country (Simon 2007).

In summary, having seen the effects of the crime of genocide in these two cases, genocide must be prevented with all measures as it leads to both mental and physical harm to the victims, and mass murder with the intention of whipping out the target group by the dominant group. It is an international crime and, therefore, must be punished as it is against human rights.

Hughes, J. (2009). Colonial genocide and reparations claims in the 21st century the socio-legal context of claims under international law by the Herero against Germany for genocide in Namibia, 1904-1908 . Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International.

Jones, A. (2006). Genocide a comprehensive introduction . London New York: Routledge.

Quigley, J. (2006). The Genocide Convention an international law analysis . Aldershot, England Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub.

Simon, T. (2007). The laws of genocide: prescriptions for a just world . Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International.

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Racial-biological thinking: the world holocaust, impact of the holocaust on jewish peoples in europe and israel, republic of rwanda: languages, religion, culture, agriculture, the holocaust: historical anti-semitism, historical representation of the rwandan genocide, holocaust denial: anti-semitic conspiracy theory, armenian genocide: germany’s complicity and impact, a study of chomsky’s writings on the cambodian genocide, causes and effects of the bosnian genocide, human rights violation in xinjiang, depiction of the genocide of the jews in ordinary men by christopher r. browning, economic policy of the international monetary fund in rwanda, the nature of ethnic civil wars: case study of rwandan genocide, the boy in the striped pajamas: a powerful story of human nature, genocide and innocence, historical roots of the rwandan genocide, the representation of rwandan genocide in the film hotel rwanda, homosexuality and the holocaust, inclusion of holocaust education in schools, the holocaust: chronicle of murders, relevant topics.

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girl flees israeli strike

A girl carrying a bird cage reacts as people flee following an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 23, 2023.

The Nation Publishes Gaza Genocide Article Killed by Harvard Law Review

"palestine brings to legal analysis an unmasking force: it unveils and reminds us of the ongoing colonial condition that underpins western legal institutions," argues rabea eghbariah..

The Nation this week published a piece about Israel's genocidal war on the Gaza Strip that the Harvard Law Review commissioned from a Palestinian scholar but then refused to run after several days of internal debate, a nearly six-hour meeting, and a board vote.

The essay—"The Ongoing Nakba: Towards a Legal Framework for Palestine ," by Rabea Eghbariah, a human rights attorney and doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School—begins: "Genocide is a crime. It is a legal framework. It is unfolding in Gaza. And yet, the inertia of legal academia, especially in the United States, has been chilling."

The controversy over Eghbariah's own piece helps prove his point. In an email to Eghbariah and Harvard Law Review president Apsara Iyer, online chair Tascha Shahriari-Parsa, one of the editors who commissioned the blog article, called the bid to kill it an "unprecedented decision" by the academic journal's leadership.

The Intercept reported on that email and others from those involved:

"As online chairs, we have always had full discretion to solicit pieces for publication," Shahriari-Parsa wrote, informing Eghbariah that his piece would not be published despite following the agreed-upon procedure for blog essays. Shahriari-Parsa wrote that concerns had arisen about staffers being offended or harassed, but "a deliberate decision to censor your voice out of fear of backlash would be contrary to the values of academic freedom and uplifting marginalized voices in legal academia that our institution stands for." Both Shahriari-Parsa and the other top online editor, Sabrina Ochoa, told The Intercept that they had never seen a piece face this level of scrutiny at the Law Review . Shahriari-Parsa could find no previous examples of other pieces pulled from publication after going through the standard editorial process.

In a statement, the Harvard Law Review said that it "has rigorous editorial processes governing how it solicits, evaluates, and determines when and whether to publish a piece. An intrinsic feature of these internal processes is the confidentiality of our 104 editors' perspectives and deliberations. Last week, the full body met and deliberated over whether to publish a particular blog piece that had been solicited by two editors. A substantial majority voted not to proceed with publication."

According to The Nation , 63% of editors who participated in the anonymous vote opposed publication.

"At a time when the Law Review was facing a public intimidation and harassment campaign, the journal's leadership intervened to stop publication," 25 editors said in a statement shared with The Nation and The Intercept . "The body of editors—none of whom are Palestinian—voted to sustain that decision."

"We are unaware of any other solicited piece that has been revoked by the Law Review in this way," they added. "This unprecedented decision threatens academic freedom and perpetuates the suppression of Palestinian voices. We dissent."

Eghbariah wrote in an email to an editor: "This is discrimination. Let's not dance around it—this is also outright censorship. It is dangerous and alarming."

It is also part of a broader trend identified by more than 1,700 lawyers and law students. In a letter to the American Bar Association last week, they noted "increasing instances of discrimination and censorship faced by Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and other communities within law schools, universities, law firms, and other corporate entities, particularly due to their expression of support for the Palestinian people."

Since Israel declared war in response to a Hamas-led attack on October 7, genocide experts around the world have used the term to describe Israeli airstrikes and raids that have killed more than 14,500 Palestinians in Gaza—among them over 6,000 children—and destroyed infrastructure including residential, educational, medical, and religious buildings.

"Some may claim that the invocation of genocide, especially in Gaza, is fraught . But does one have to wait for a genocide to be successfully completed to name it? This logic contributes to the politics of denial ," Eghbariah wrote in his essay.

After pointing to both statements from Israeli politicians and the forming consensus among genocide scholars, he stressed that "genocide is the material reality of Palestinians in Gaza: an entrapped, displaced , starved , water-deprived population of 2.3 million facing massive bombardments and a carnage in one of the most densely populated areas in the world."

"And yet, leading law schools and legal scholars in the United States still fashion their silence as impartiality and their denial as nuance. Is genocide really the crime of all crimes if it is committed by Western allies against non-Western people?" he added. "This is the most important question that Palestine continues to pose to the international legal order. Palestine brings to legal analysis an unmasking force: It unveils and reminds us of the ongoing colonial condition that underpins Western legal institutions."

Eghbariah also explained the term Nakba, or "catastrophe," which is used to describe the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians during the creation of the modern state of Israel in the 1940s—and argued that "the Nakba is ongoing."

"The Nakba is both the material reality and the epistemic framework to understand the crimes committed against the Palestinian people," he wrote. "And these crimes—encapsulated in the framework of Nakba—are the result of the political ideology of Zionism, an ideology that originated in late 19th-century Europe in response to the notions of nationalism, colonialism, and antisemitism."

"We must imagine that one day there will be a recognized crime of committing a Nakba, and a disapprobation of Zionism as an ideology based on racial elimination . The road to get there remains long and challenging, but we do not have the privilege to relinquish any legal tools available to name the crimes against the Palestinian people in the present and attempt to stop them," he concluded. "The denial of the genocide in Gaza is rooted in the denial of the Nakba. And both must end, now."

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107 Genocide Essay Topics

🏆 best essay topics on genocide, ✍️ genocide essay topics for college, 🎓 most interesting genocide research titles, 💡 simple genocide essay ideas, ❓ research questions about genocide.

  • Rwandan Genocide in “Sometimes in April”
  • Genocide and Mass Killing in “Becoming Evil” by Waller
  • The Genocide in Rwanda 1994
  • Indian Boarding Schools and Native Americans Genocide
  • The Rwandan Genocide and Its Roots
  • The Colonization of America as a Native American Genocide
  • Rwandan Genocide: Causes and Outcomes
  • Social and Psychological Studies of Genocides Social and psychological studies of genocides help explain these processes and understand why people commit immoral acts and are willing to support evil.
  • The “Just War” Theory, Genocide and Mass Murder The theory of just war was revived in the late 60s of the twentieth century in the United States due to the desire to find objective moral criteria for assessing the armed force.
  • The El Salvador Uprising of 1932 and the Haitian Genocide of 1937 The source offered for analysis speaks of two terrible events, the El Salvador Uprising of 1932 and the Haitian Genocide of 1937.
  • Reflections on the Video About Genocide in Darfur The video about Genocide in Darfur, being the medium through which a harsh experience is shown greatly benefits the people who have not been to the scene.
  • Individuals Targeted During Genocide in Rwanda The Rwandan genocide remains one of the unspeakable happenings that led to the slaughter of many innocent citizens.
  • The Consequences of Darfur Genocide This paper will discuss the origin of the Darfur genocide, its effects on the region, and the attempts to resolve it.
  • Human Rights and the Rwandan Genocide In the first half of 1994, Rwanda lost approximately 800,000 citizens due to tribal clashes that led to what is referred to now as the Rwandan Genocide.
  • Genocide in the Twentieth Century: Rwandan Case The Rwandan genocide was the result of a conscious encouragement of fear and hatred by the elite, who sought to stay in power.
  • The Darfur Genocide: The Causes and the Aspects The Darfur genocide in Western Sudan is considered the first genocide of the 21st century. The goal of this paper is to outline all the issues that shaped the Darfur genocide.
  • Terrorism and Genocide: Impact on Populations Victims of terror actions usually recover within a short time, given that terrorist actions are considered moderate stress reactions.
  • Terrorism and Genocide: Traumatic Impacts The defense centers of excellence for psychological health and traumatic brain injury were launched to help those veterans who feel their lives are at risk psychologically.
  • The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust Comparing the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide the latter is much simpler in terms of cause, method, and outcome. The Holocaust is the direct result of anti-Semitism.
  • Genocidal Activities in American Movies The analysis of the movies Schindler’s List and Sometimes in April that strive to reflect the times of global genocide suffered by nations.
  • The Rwanda Genocide and the Colonial Politics The Rwanda genocide was because of negative ethnicity which was brought out by the politicians. Were politicians more careful in what they say and do, such events can be avoided.
  • Holocaust and Genocide Analysis The ideology provided by Nazi underlined the descent of the German people from the Aryan race and rejected all other nations.
  • “Justifying Genocider” Article by Ter-Matevosyan German society has always been considered a perfect representation of what the impact of racism and intolerance can be in modern society.
  • Herero Holocaust Among European Colonial Genocides The source identifies a pattern of events that preceded the holocaust in Germany. As Ter-Matevosyan notes, the holocaust is one of the worst historic moments in modern history.
  • “The Persistence of Genocide” by David Rieff Genocide is an act that affects the lives of people that are meant to endure it. International human rights organizations categorize genocide into two forms.
  • The Rwandan Genocide as One of the Devastating Genocides Since the Holocaust The historic Rwandan Genocide, organized by Hutu hardliners, resulted in the merciless murder of approximately one million individuals after a three months rampage in 1994.
  • Literature: “Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide” by Gerard Prunier The article gives a critical view of the war that has been taking place in Darfur. This war has continued for a long time, and it would be right to consider it genocide.
  • Genocide and the Communist Revolution in Cuba
  • African Genocide and Its Effect on Children
  • Child Survival and the Fertility of Refugees in Rwanda After the Genocide
  • American Indian Genocide Museum: The Confederate Flag
  • Legal and Non-Legal Responses to the Rwandan Genocide
  • Differences Between the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust
  • Conflict, Institutions, and Economic Behavior: Legacies of the Cambodian Genocide
  • Religion and the Bosnian Genocide
: Did Religion Play a Significant Role in the Bosnian Genocide?
  • Human Rights and Intervention in the Rwandan Genocide
  • License for Genocide: International Law Violations and the Bleiburg Massacre at the Close of World War II
  • American Manifest Destiny and the Genocide of the American Indian
  • Examining the Genocide and the State of Violence in the Modern European Era
  • American Passivity: Rwanda Genocide
  • Choosing Genocide: Economic Perspectives on the Disturbing Rationality of Race Murder
  • Genocide, Dehumanization, and Survival Methods During World War 2
  • Armenian Genocide: The First Genocide of the 20th Century
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Among the Victims of the Cambodian Genocide and Khmer Rouge Reign
  • Discrimination and Genocide Within Societies
  • Cambodian Genocide and Its Effect on Cambodia
  • Slobodan Milosevic and Genocide in the Former Yugoslavia
  • Apache Wars: The Genocide of the Chiricahua Indian Tribe
  • Cultural Genocide and Its Impact on American History
  • Smile Through the Evils of Genocide!
  • Genocide: Nazi Germany and the United States
  • Armenian Genocide Accusations Against the Ottomans
  • Genocide: The Worst Humanitarian Disaster
  • Post World War II: Sexual Violence and Genocide
  • Armed Conflict and Schooling: Evidence From the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
  • Canada’s “Genocide”: Thousands Taken From Their Homes
  • How the Holocaust Compares to One Other Form of Modern Genocide (Kurdish Genocide)
  • Economics and Genocide: Choices and Consequences
  • Localized Ethnic Conflict and Genocide: Accounting for Differences in Rwanda and Burundi
  • Armenian Genocide and Holocaust Comparison
  • Serbia and Kosovo: From Myth to Genocide
  • Genocide, Racial Science and Human Experimentation
  • Factors That Influence the Primary Motivation of Genocide
  • Difficulties With Proving the Crime of Genocide on Example of the Case Vasiliauskas. v. Lithuania
  • Genocide and Mass Killings in Africa
  • Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide in Bosnia
  • Crime Against Humanity and Peace – Rwandan Genocide and Others
  • Modern Genocide: The Killing Fields of Cambodia
  • Genocide Discourses: American and Russian Strategic Narratives of Conflict in Iraq and Ukraine
  • Exposing Humanity’s Darkest Sin: Jewish Genocide
  • Modern Eastern Europe: The Politics of Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide
  • Belgian and French Influence on the Rwandan Genocide
  • Slavery and Genocide Against Native Americans
  • Genocide During the Bosnian War
  • The Armenian Genocide and the Decline of the Ottoman Empire
  • Civil War and Genocide in Guatemala
  • Genocide: The Holocaust and Holodomor
  • How Could the Guatemalan Genocide Have Been Prevented?
  • Who Attempted Genocide in World War II?
  • Why Didn’t the US Intervene in the Rwandan Genocide?
  • What Is the Connection Between Genocide and Social Revolution?
  • What Ideas and Beliefs Led to the Armenian Genocide?
  • How Many Hutus Died in the Rwandan Genocide?
  • What Groups Were Involved in the Cambodian Genocide?
  • Does Iran Recognize the Armenian Genocide?
  • Why Did Some Us Senators Oppose Signing the Genocide Convention?
  • How Pervasive Is Genocide in Human History?
  • Which Groups Protected Under the Genocide Convention?
  • How Many Countries Have Ratified the Genocide Convention?
  • What Role Did the Media Play in the Rwandan Genocide?
  • What Does Genocide Mean According to the United Nations?
  • What Are Countries That Have Signed the Genocide Convention Obligated to Do?
  • How Did the Rwandan Genocide Affect the Country?
  • Did Anyone Try to Stop the Cambodian Genocide?
  • Was There Media Coverage of the Darfur Genocide?
  • What Effect Did the Guatemalan Genocide Have On Today’s Society?
  • How Did Other Countries React to the Rwandan Genocide?
  • What Is Indigenous Cultural Genocide?
  • Why Did the Clinton Administration Deny the Rwandan Genocide?
  • What Were the Traumas Caused by the Genocide?
  • How Can Some World Powers Support Governments That Commit Genocide?
  • Have Been Punished Governments That Commit Genocide?
  • What Is the Connection Between Imperialism and Genocide?
  • Why Did Pol Pot Commit Genocide?
  • What Was the Role of Mass Deportations in the Genocide?
  • Why Is Humiliation Such a Central Factor in Genocide?
  • How Can Forensic Anthropologists Help Establish the Truth After Genocide?

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These essay examples and topics on Genocide were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on December 27, 2023 .

In Rafah, the final – and most deadly – stage of this genocide is upon us

I fear what an Israeli invasion would mean for more than a million displaced, hungry, desperate Palestinians sheltering in the city.

Ghada Ageel

For many years, every time I travelled to Gaza to visit my family, I passed through the Rafah crossing, the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt. And every time I took a breath in the border city of Rafah, I was reminded of my sister Taghreed’s words:  “I am inhaling the scent of the history of my land.” Her eyes would glow with pride every time she talked of Rafah, and I share the sentiment.

The history of this corridor spans thousands of years, a testament to the rich history of Palestine and its people. For millennia, Rafah has been a resting place and a trade hub for caravans from across Palestine travelling towards the Sinai Peninsula and onwards to Egypt and Africa.

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Today, a genocide is unfolding in this ancient, precious city. As I witness this genocide from afar and fear what the threatened Israeli invasion would mean for the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians forced to take shelter there, I feel like I am one of those powerless souls who recognised what was happening in Srebrenia or the Warsaw Ghetto, tried to raise the alarm but couldn’t do anything to avert the tragedy as the world had already decided to turn a blind eye to the impending massacre of innocents.

Since the beginning of this latest war on Gaza, every new phase in the Israeli onslaught has inflicted more suffering, pain and death on the civilian population. Displaced many times over, those who are now in Rafah have nowhere else to go. The invasion of Rafah would thus be the last, and the most deadly phase of this genocide – the first genocide in human history that has been broadcast live to the world.

Sadly, this is not the first time beautiful Rafah has become the background to crimes against humanity. The border city’s recent history is a wound kept open by constant violence. The majority of Rafah’s residents, like most cities in Gaza, are the descendants of those displaced during the 1948 Nakba while others are the survivors of a 1956 massacre and the many other Israeli aggressions that came after.

My 89-year-old aunt Rayya, a refugee from Barqa village, which was destroyed by Israel in 1948, has been witness to decades of massacres, violence and oppression in this city.

In 1956, during the tripartite aggression involving Britain, France and Israel, also known as the Suez Crisis, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip for about four months, perpetrating horrifying massacres in both Khan Younis and Rafah.

On November 2, when the Israeli military occupied Khan Younis and ordered males aged 16 and older to come out and present themselves at points across the city, my aunt was there visiting family. Then a 22-year-old newlywed, she witnessed the Israeli military line those men and boys up against walls and massacre them over the course of two days.

My aunt eventually decided to leave the family home with her sister’s family in search of safety. They walked to the beach in Khan Younis and sought refuge under the trees. They ate anything they could find and dug holes in the ground to sleep, find clean water and use as a toilet. Despite the surrounding danger and the continuous sound of bombardment, Rayya, fearing for the safety of her husband, made the difficult decision to continue her journey on to Rafah.

Upon her arrival, Rayya realised that there had been yet more executions across Rafah. She could not find her husband anywhere. For days, she grappled with the harrowing uncertainty of his fate. Fortunately, her husband had survived that particular wave of violence. He later died during the occupation of Gaza in 1967, killed by the Israeli army while travelling along the beach from Khan Younis to Rafah.

After her husband’s murder, Rayya found herself alone, a single mother, tasked with raising five children in the hardship and destitution of the Rafah refugee camp.

In the 1970s, she was forced to seek employment in Israel’s agriculture sector, labouring in the fields collecting tomatoes to provide for her family.

During the first Intifada in 1987, Rayya lost an eye while trying to rescue her youngest son from the hands of Israeli soldiers. She was struck in the eye by the butt of a rifle while trying to prevent soldiers from taking her child.

At the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, one of her grandchildren, 13-year-old Karam, was shot in the back of the head as he was running away from an Israeli army post after throwing stones at soldiers. The unconscious child was rushed to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, but doctors said he had no possibility of survival beyond a few hours.

Rayya and her daughter in law, Karam’s mother, were presented with an agonising choice: Stay at the hospital and accompany Karam in his final hours of life, or return to Rafah before checkpoints were closed to mourn his death at home with their loved ones. Uncertain whether they would be allowed to move between cities in the coming days, they eventually decided to go home without Karam’s body.

In 2004, Rafah was subjected to what Israel called Operation Rainbow, a cruelly ironic title for what was considered – at the time – the worst episode of violence the city had witnessed. The operation resulted in the destruction of hundreds of homes throughout Rafah. Rayya’s home was also partially demolished during this spate of violence. Then, during the 2014 war on Gaza, Rayya lost another grandson – a bright engineering student, recently engaged.

Today, 10 years later, Rayya is once again trying to survive military aggression in Rafah. I have not been able to contact her recently, but I fear she is once again displaced, hungry, cold and terrified, digging holes in the ground to find water or go to the toilet at the age of 89.

The story of my aunt Rayya – a story of suffering and perseverance – is the story of Rafah. Her story echoes the tragic stories of more than a million displaced Palestinians who have been forced to seek safety in the border city. But Rafah’s story is also one of international solidarity. Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and James Miller all lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military in Rafah while bravely taking a stand against Israel’s brutal occupation.

Rafah is now the last refuge for Palestinians in Gaza amid a still unfolding genocide, and it is the place where the international community could and should take action to prevent another Warsaw or Srebrenica.

This is the moment for every member of the global civil society, everyone who believes in human rights, justice and freedom for all, to speak up against the deafening silence of their political leaders and take a stance for the long suffering Palestinian people.

As the threat of a catastrophic Israeli invasion looms on the horizon in Rafah, we cannot continue to ignore the plight of Palestinian refugees, displaced many times over, sick, hungry and forced to resist a blatant ethnic cleansing campaign with nothing but their fragile bodies.

No one can claim ignorance about what’s happening today in Rafah, in Gaza, across Palestine. The truth is evident in the testimonies of the children living through the genocide, in the work of brave journalists on the ground documenting their own slaughter, in the carefully researched and sourced reports of experts, academics, human rights defenders and international institutions. Rafah is the final opportunity for the international community to come together for peace and dignity in Palestine. It’s time for Rafah to finally be truly safe and prosper. It is time for lifelong refugees like my aunt Rayya to find permanent safety and security. It is time for a ceasefire, and a free Palestine.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Knights and Daughters of Vartan Announce Essay Contest in Conjunction with Times Square Genocide Commemoration

NEW YORK — The Knights and Daughters of Vartan are holding their annual essay contest in conjunction with the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and its subsequent commemoration in Times Square, which will be held on Sunday, April 21. High school students (grades 9-12) are invited to participate in a writing contest to enhance awareness of the Armenian Genocide.

All submissions should be received by Monday, April 8, 2024, and the winners will be announced publicly in Times Square at the commemoration event.

“The Knights and Daughters of Vartan, continuing with their annual tradition, will sponsor a writing contest for high school students, where they will reflect on the Armenian Genocide and the importance of historic and cultural preservation,” said Times Square Co-Chairs Haig Gulian and Christopher Artun.

All submissions must be emailed to [email protected] by 11:59 pm on Monday, April 8, 2024.

The prizes are $300 for first, $200 for second and $100 for third.

The prompt is: As descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, why do you feel the responsibility to share your family’s historical accounts and stories, and how will you carry your family’s story into the future? If you are not a descendant, why do you believe it’s important to recount the history of the Armenian Genocide to the public? Overall, how does transmitting stories from one generation to the next help preserve and retain historical facts?

The essay must respond to the essay prompt. Responses must be between 750-1000 words typed in Times New Roman 12-point font and double-spaced.

Please include the applicant’s first and last name at the top of each page along with contact information.

Accepted file formats include .doc, .docx, .pdf

Please note your essay will be judged on its originality, clarity, historical accuracy, and understanding of the essay contest theme.

The Times Square commemoration will take place on April 21, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. The annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square is sponsored by the Knights of Vartan and Daughters of Vartan, a national fraternal organization, and co-sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian National Committee of America, Tekeyan Cultural Association, Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, Armenian Bar Association, and the Armenian Missionary Association of America; participating organizations include the Diocese of the Armenian Church, Prelacy of the Armenian Church, Armenian Presbyterian Church, Armenian Evangelical Union, Armenian Catholic Eparchy, Armenian Network of America, Armenian International Women’s Association, Homenetmen Scouts of NY & NJ, Armenian Youth Federation, and several national Armenian youth organizations.

Founded in 1985 by the late Sam Azadian, a former Brooklyn, New York resident who lost four siblings during the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Times Square has honored the more than  1.5 million Armenian lives lost during the horrific events of the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians perpetrated by the Young Turk Government of the Ottoman Empire. This internationally recognized annual event draws thousands of Armenians and non-Armenian participants to commemorate the solemn occasion. The event features speeches and tributes delivered by prominent political figures and civic leaders, officials of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, representatives of major Armenian-American organizations, and distinguished scholars and educators as well as high-ranking Armenian and non-Armenian clergy.

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Watching Genocide

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Most of us, when in school, learned at least something about the genocide of the Jews during the 1930s and 1940s. Six million Jews were killed as Hitler tried to eliminate the Jewish population from the earth. Most young students were horrified that such a thing had occurred so recently in history, and couldn’t imagine it ever happening again. But happen again it did, numerous times, since the latter part of the twentieth century.

Korea: When war between North Korea and South Korea began, the U.S. intervened. At least 800,000 military personnel and more than 1,500,000 civilians were killed. The follow is part of a  quotation from the U.S. military leader of that war, Curtis Lemay :  “So we went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea…Over a period of three years or so, we killed off-what-twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure.”

Indonesia: Under the thirty-year rule of the brutal General Suharto, who came to power following the U.S.-led overthrow of his democratically-elected predecessor, between 400,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed. Suharto “ launched an army-sponsored massacre of the very large but mostly unarmed Communist opposition ,” resulting in these deaths. Suharto’s rule is considered one of the most brutal of the twentieth century.

Vietnam: The U.S., once again, launched its killing machine in Vietnam in the 1950s,  killing at least 2,000,000 civilians and over 1,000,000 soldiers  over a period of twenty years.

Cambodia: Between 1976 and 1979, between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 people were killed by the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge came to power after the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam.

Iraq: The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,000,000 innocent civilians.

There were others, of course. Bangladesh, East Timor, Guatemala and others most of which barely made the news, and many people in the Global North were hardly even aware of them. But what most of them have in common is the United States, which will go to any lengths to assure that the leaders of any country are willing to do its bidding.

Today, as this is being written, another genocide is taking place, and this one has been publicized all over the world. Israel has, to date, killed at least 30,000 innocent Palestinians, over 70% of them women and children. People around the world have demonstrated in support of the Palestinian people, yet the U.S., once again, is leading the way in fostering genocide. On February 20, the U.S. once again, for the third time, vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution that would have demanded a ceasefire. But no; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U .S. ambassador to the United Nations, said this : “Any action this council takes right now should help, not hinder these sensitive and ongoing negotiations, and we believe that the resolution on the table right now would in fact negatively impact those negotiations.” Let’s not forget that the United States, in addition to preventing a ceasefire by vetoing this and earlier resolutions, is financing this genocide, with $4 billion annually to Israel, and billions more in weaponry since this murderous onslaught began. The U.S. has no need to ‘negotiate’; it could simply tell Israel that it was cutting off the unending stream of money. In order to get the hostages released, it could promise to completely fund, with billions of dollars, the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, where it is estimated that  over 70% of the infrastructure  has been destroyed. It could also promise to recognize the nation of Palestine on the pre-1967 borders (it could be argued that Palestine should be re-established on the pre-1948 borders, but that is a topic for another essay).

These actions would bring peace to the Middle East, but obviously that is not what ‘Genocide Joe Biden’, or any previous U.S. president has wanted. With billions of dollars in weapons sales as stake, why would the U.S. government want a peaceful Middle East? And why would Congress stop the flow of money to Israel, when doing so might jeopardize the flow of pro-Israel lobby money to members of Congress? In the  2023-2024 election cycle alone, that total is $10,495,254 , and there are still several months before the 2024 elections are held. Would the illustrious members of Congress want to jeopardize those campaign contributions? What’s a little genocide, when financial donations are at stake? And who has been the top recipient of pro-lobby dollars since 1990? None other then ‘Genocide Joe’ himself, having received at least $5,223,313 from these disgraceful lobbies. No wonder he keeps vetoing resolutions that would reign in apartheid Israel.

With each election cycle, we hear rumors of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. Why, this writer wants to know, do members of Congress never talk about Israeli meddling in U.S. elections? Is it because the Zionist regime’s meddling is right out there in the open, hiding, as it is said, in plain sight? For the answer to why Israeli interference isn’t questioned, please refer back to the information above about campaign contributions.

So with the money flowing, are we, the common man and woman, expected to ignore genocide as our elected officials do (this writer does not refer to them as ‘representatives’; they only represent the lobbies that have bought and paid for them)? It seems unlikely, since around the world, in every major city, there have been and continue to be massive pro-Palestinian demonstrations. ‘Genocide Joe’, in his senile, doddering way, seems to think that, by November, the general populace will have forgotten about Gaza. He is in for a rude awakening that will result in his election night concession speech. Unlike earlier genocides, many of which were supported and financed by the United States, this one is being viewed in real time on social media. The voters will not soon forget the infant who legs had to be amputated after being crushed in a bombed building, amputated without anesthesia. We will not forget the children eating animal feed, or desperately scooping up flour that spilled out of a broken bag. We will remember Hind, the 6-year-old girl calling desperately for her mother after her uncle’s car was shot at and everyone else in the car was dead. Fearful, alone, with only dead relatives for company, darkness surrounding her, her mother was able to get rescue workers to her. But without hearing from her or them for days, her mother feared the worst. This young girl and those sent to rescue her had been killed by Israeli forces. No, we will not forget.

The efforts of tens of millions of people around the world may not stop this genocide, and Israel’s annexation of the Gaza Strip. But those government officials, in any nation, who have allowed it, must be held to account. The International Court of Justice must act, and those mass murderers must pay for their crimes.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars.


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Guest Essay

The Trauma Experienced in Gaza Is Beyond PTSD

A collage of images from the destruction resulting from the war in Gaza around an eye with a tear being shed.

By Yara M. Asi

Ms. Asi is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Global Health Management and Informatics.

“We will die. All of us. Hopefully soon enough to stop the suffering that we are living through every single second.” Those words were sent in a text last week by a physician working for Doctors Without Borders in the southern Gaza Strip. And it is far from an uncommon feeling shared by those struggling to survive and care for one another in Gaza these days.

What would we call this feeling from the perspective of Western medicine? Suicidal ideation? Depression? Post-traumatic stress disorder? Whatever it is, we are taught that such thoughts are abnormal and require medical intervention.

When the bombing finally stops, the rebuilding of Gaza’s homes, schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure will begin — a process Gazans are extremely familiar with at this point. They will also begin processing trauma many people on Earth cannot understand: the prospect of starving to death ; waking up at a hospital and finding out you are one of the last surviving members of your family ; watching a child killed by an airstrike being pulled from rubble ; displacement for the second, fifth or 10th time .

How do we repair the shattered minds and emotions of these survivors? Where do we begin to bring people back from a state of mental anguish where the thought of a quick death is seen as a glimmer of mercy?

As a Palestinian from the West Bank, I am no stranger to the trauma faced by Palestinians in the occupied territories, and I have spent my career trying to answer those questions and capture and convey the various injustices faced by Palestinians, specifically as they relate to health . Most current frameworks for mental health are almost totally insufficient to describe and reckon with the war-related trauma Palestinians in Gaza have endured these past several months. And by extension, our traditional methods of providing mental health care will not be enough, either.

The aftermath of this war will undoubtedly include a harrowing period of recovery that will require extraordinary financial and political investment. But it’s also a time to rethink mental health in populations that have experienced such devastating collective trauma, as well as what genuine healing may look like to ensure that hope and justice, not just continued trauma, are passed down to future generations. While military campaigns are being waged, the numbers of dead and physically injured tell us just one story about the entirety of the mental and emotional agony being perpetuated, funded and justified.

Some studies suggest PTSD and depression are among the most common mental health disorders observed in populations affected by war, but our understanding of how war affects mental health is fairly new. PTSD wasn’t a proper medical diagnosis until 1980, after over a decade of research and treatment of Vietnam veterans who returned home with what we previously called shell shock, war neurosis or gross stress reaction. The tools and questionnaires used to screen for PTSD were generally developed and tested in the West, but these days they are deployed extensively across populations affected by the brutality of war, including Syria , South Sudan and Ukraine .

While these tools can be valuable, a growing field of literature criticizes the lack of nuance or context in some of these framings, including how people describe trauma differently across cultures and process traumatic experiences, based in part on their perception of why the trauma is occurring. Too often we rely only on the relatively simple and straightforward analysis of surveys rather than the time-intensive and more subjective experience of interviews, observations and other methods that account for context.

Importantly, we also lack tools to adequately measure trauma that is ongoing and so deeply entrenched in a community. Because of its extensive history of violence, deprivation and other traumatic events, Gaza has been the site of many studies about the mental health burden of life in war, including many of children. A 2020 study of students in Gaza ages 11 to 17 found that nearly 54 percent of participants fit the diagnosis criteria for PTSD. A more recent study of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza found that 100 percent of participants had been exposed to traumas in 2021. The traumas that Palestinians face can include events as varied as land confiscation, detention, home demolition, loss of loved ones and fear of losing one’s life.

After such persistent, endless trauma, “the effect is more profound,” Samah Jabr , a psychiatrist who works in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told Quartz in 2019. “It changes the personality, it changes the belief system, and it doesn’t look like PTSD.”

When trauma is so normal, it can also become normalized. My loved ones in Palestine shrug off or even laugh at experiences that would be highly distressing to most. It’s also easy to miss how poor mental health can increase the risk of physical ailments like heart disease and diabetes among the populace. The limitations of our approach to mental health become exceedingly clear in such contexts.

What does this tell us about next steps for Gaza? Like all aspects of the health system in the besieged territory, mental health care is underfunded there. Humanitarian aid distributed to Gaza must include resources devoted to providing adequate mental health services. We are already seeing small efforts to offer children art classes or puppet shows at their crowded shelters, to help them cope with the ongoing trauma, but we need to start more significantly building up mental health infrastructure. That includes establishing a well-trained health care work force that can offer a wide range of culturally competent mental health treatments to those affected.

For such a wide-scale disaster like the current war, however, we cannot stop at mere medical treatments. For adequate mental health , adults need jobs, children need schools, and everyone needs shelter and regular access to food, water and medicines. Eventually, people need to return home. Robust mental health in survivors cannot be restored without stability, security and a repaired community.

Significantly, medical practitioners and researchers cannot be limited by the language of medical diagnoses or the treatment that derives from them. To call what is experienced by people in Gaza today PTSD misses that these are not people in a post-trauma situation. Treatment may help a Vietnam veteran recognize that a loud sound is not always a threat. Treatment cannot help convince children in Gaza that the bombs they hear will not kill them, because the bombs might. It cannot offer comfort to a woman worried her children may starve, because they could.

Rather than use the term “post-traumatic stress disorder,” many have called to reframe the view of such suffering. Some have called it chronic traumatic stress disorder, and others, including Palestinian scholars, have referred to it as feeling broken or destroyed . This is not just a matter of semantics. These alternatives show that it is not enough to offer therapeutic options that place the abnormality within individuals and not within the circumstances they are experiencing. Is it not actually quite normal and understandable to feel broken or destroyed when everything you have ever known is reduced to rubble?

The scale and scope of suffering in Gaza today remind us that people in war zones need healing, justice and a genuine feeling of physical and mental safety. Even if a cease-fire is brokered, what is the good of working to recover from such trauma if people are nearly certain they will experience it again? Everyone above the age of 10 in Gaza already has, several times.

Until there is meaningful action on the social, political and economic determinants that limit people’s ability to thrive, to experience joy and safety, to merely live, we cannot expect mental health treatments to do what the world’s most powerful actors are unwilling to do.

Yara M. Asi is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Global Health Management and Informatics and a visiting scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. She was a 2020-21 Fulbright U.S. scholar in the West Bank. She is the author of “How War Kills: The Overlooked Threats to Our Health.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , X and Threads .

Brazil’s president accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, doubling down after earlier uproar

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

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Brazil’s president alleged Saturday that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, doubling down on harsh rhetoric after stirring controversy a week earlier by comparing Israel’s military offensive in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust.

Israel has vehemently pushed back against genocide claims, saying its war is targeting the militant group Hamas, not the Palestinian people. It has held Hamas responsible for civilian deaths, arguing that the group operates from civilian areas.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Saturday that the bodies of 92 Palestinians killed in Israeli bombardments were brought to hospitals over the past 24, raising the overall toll in nearly five months of war to 29,606. The total number of wounded rose to nearly 70,000.

The ministry’s death toll does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, but it has said two-thirds of those killed were children and women. Israel says its troops have killed more than 10,000 Hamas fighters, but has not provided details.

WIDENING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS Israel declared war after the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel in which militants killed about 1,200 people and took some 250 hostages. More than 100 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza.

The steadily rising civilian death toll and a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza have amplified calls for a cease-fire. Hunger and infectious diseases are spreading and some 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced, with about 1.4 million crowded into the southern city of Rafah o n the border with Egypt.

Negotiators from the United States, Israel, Egypt and Qatar were meeting in Paris this weekend to try to reach a deal on pausing the fighting. Egypt and Qatar serve as mediators between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to fight until “total victory,” but has dispatched a delegation to Paris to seek the release of hostages in exchange for a temporary truce. Negotiators face wide gaps and an unofficial deadline — the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan around March 10.

NEW GENOCIDE ALLEGATIONS Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he would not give up his “dignity for falsehood,” an apparent reference to calls for him to retract comments comparing Israel’s conduct in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews perished during World War II.

“What the Israeli government is doing is not war, it is genocide,” he wrote Saturday. “Children and women are being murdered.”

In response to Lula’s initial comments, Israel declared him a persona non grata , summoned Brazil’s ambassador and demanded an apology. In retaliation, Lula recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Israel for consultations.

Last month, South Africa filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians. The court issued a preliminary order in the landmark case two weeks later, ordering Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza.

Israel, created in part as a refuge for survivors of the Holocaust, has accused South Africa of hypocrisy.

MORE SETTLEMENTS Meanwhile, Netanyahu and his right-wing government drew an angry response from the United States, its closest ally, over plans to build more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu’s fire-brand finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has said the plans came in response to a Palestinian shooting attack earlier in the week that killed one Israeli and wounded five.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that he was “disappointed” to hear of the Israeli announcement. “It’s been long-standing U.S. policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace,” he said in Buenos Aires. “They’re also inconsistent with international law.

The Biden administration also restored a U.S. legal finding dating back nearly 50 years that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are “illegitimate” under international law.

Blinken said the U.S. believes settlements are inconsistent with Israel’s obligations, reversing a determination made by his predecessor, Mike Pompeo .

Magdy reported from Cairo.

Find more of AP’s coverage at

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At 99, this amazing Holocaust survivor and musician is still beating the drum for peace

essay about genocide

Saul Dreier, fresh out of rehab after hip surgery, was ready for an interview, and the 99-year-old showed it by diving right into the story, one he's told many times.

It wasn't the story of his idyllic childhood in Krakow, Poland. Or how that was shattered when World War II broke out, or how he and his family were forced like hundreds of thousands of other Jews into ghettos as Nazis occupied the country.

It was not the story of watching German soldiers shoot his disabled mother, or losing his family, or his labor in a concentration camp at Mauthausen–Gusen .

Instead, Dreier, who's played all over the world with his Holocaust Survivors Band, launched energetically into the story of how he started his first band a decade ago, at the tender age of 89.

"I read an essay − you know what this is, an essay? − about a woman, she was 108 years old and she was a pianist. She was liberated from a German camp and she played for people there, to Jews living in Germany," he told USA TODAY from his home in Coconut Creek, Florida. "She passed away, and I wanted to do something for this woman."

He contemplated ways to continue her legacy : To educate people about the Holocaust, to fight antisemitism, to advocate for peace and tolerance. He decided his longtime love for music would be the way to win hearts.

Dreier has traveled the world since then, doing that and more − even playing drums with the U.S. Marine Band at a White House Hanukkah celebration.

A new calling − at 89 years old

Turns out, advocacy was the easy part. The hard part? Convincing loved ones, including his wife, he wasn't crazy.

Within days of reading the article that inspired him, Dreier walked into a local Sam Ash Music store and asked about drum sets. An incredulous, but ultimately helpful, sales person showed Dreier what he needed, accessories and all, then loaded Dreier's "very small Lexus" so he could bring his equipment home.

"It was everywhere," Dreier recalled. "On the back. In the front. On the top. With just enough room left for me to drive. I was a very happy musician."

When he got home, he announced to his wife that he had a surprise for her. "But you live with a woman many years, she knows all my tricks," he said. She wasn't impressed.

"She told me, 'The drums go or I go,'" he remembered. "But when you're married so long, you fight for five minutes and then you make up."

After performing his first show, an "international concert" that he arranged at a local synagogue with a small orchestra and a Brazilian singer, the skeptics were convinced.

'Never again,' as fewer Holocaust survivors remain

Dreier, who raised four children with his wife, is a grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of three. A former welder and retired businessman, he lives independently. His wife, Clara, died in 2016.

He's one of a shrinking number of survivors of the 20th century's worst genocide, one that claimed 6 million Jewish lives. There are about 245,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors still living, according to a study by the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany . Most, 49%, live in Israel, while about 18% live in North America; altogether, survivors are spread across 90 countries.

"These are Jews who were born into a world that wanted to see them murdered," Greg Schneider , the conference's executive director, wrote. "They endured the atrocities of the Holocaust in their youth and were forced to rebuild an entire life out of the ashes of the camps and ghettos that ended their families and communities. The data forces us to accept the reality that Holocaust survivors won’t be with us forever, indeed, we have already lost most survivors.”

Dreier's mission and mantra − "never again, never again, never again" − was the inspiration behind Saul's Generation Foundation , founded along with Justyna Kolaczek, who met Dreier through a mutual friend. The foundation helps connect people of Polish heritage with their homeland, connects young people with seniors, helps elderly people in need and educates young people about history.

"He talks to young people about their mental health," said Kolaczek, who divides her time between Poland and the U.S. "We see so many students and teens with mental health challenges, so we are going to schools to talk about Saul's past, about the war and what he went through."

But that's not all. "It's about dreams, too, and how it's never too late to follow them. He did this when he was 89 years old," she said.

Dreier's energy and passion are remarkable for anyone, let alone someone nearing a century of living. He's endured unimaginable losses, battled cancer, witnessed the worst of humanity − and still, somehow, come through all of it with love in his heart and music in his soul.

"He is a huge inspiration for young people," Kolaczek said. "Sometimes, he acts like a teenager."

"I am in love with my foundation," Dreier replied, sounding like a kid with a serious crush. "It's about how we all have one heart. No matter who we are, we all have to live with one heart."

That heart keeps beating, just like Dreier's drums.

Contact Phaedra Trethan by email at [email protected], on X (formerly Twitter) @wordsbyphaedra, or on Threads @by_phaedra .


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  1. Genocide

    genocide, the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race.

  2. What is Genocide?

    Genocide is an internationally recognized crime where acts are committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. These acts fall into five categories: Killing members of the group Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group

  3. Genocide Essay

    Genocide Genocide History Genocide is a term that can be defined as a planned and systematic destruction of whole or parts of certain national, religious, race, ethnic, cultural or political group (Akhavan 21). Genocide is deliberated with a different set of actions for a purpose to destroy an essential foundation of life.

  4. What Are The Main Causes of Genocide?

    For the purpose of this essay, the definition of genocide will be taken from the Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".

  5. Genocide

    Genocide is generally defined as the intentional extermination of a specific ethnic, racial, or religious group. Compared with war crimes and crimes against humanity, genocide is generally regarded as the most offensive crime. At worst, genocide pits neighbor against neighbor, or even husband against wife.

  6. Why Does Genocide Occur?

    Nonetheless, culture does have a role in genocide. Some believe that genocide is the result of cultural aspects within the state. 12 The two main cultural aspects that lead to genocide are ethnicity and colonization. Ethnicization of the state is considered one of the dominant forces behind genocide.

  7. READ: Why Does Genocide Still Happen (article)

    Arts and humanities > World History Project - Origins to the Present > Era 7—The Great Convergence and Divergence (1880 CE to the future) > Yeah, But? | 7.6 READ: Why Does Genocide Still Happen Google Classroom After the Holocaust, the world vowed to never again permit the crime of genocide.

  8. Introduction to the Holocaust

    Introduction to the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime and its allies and collaborators. The Holocaust was an evolving process that took place throughout Europe between 1933 and 1945. Antisemitism was at the foundation of the Holocaust.

  9. Compelled Silence and Compelled Sound in the Uyghur Genocide

    This essay considers the roles of silence and sound in the slow-motion genocide playing out in the Uyghur homeland, where Chinese authorities are waging an assault on Uyghurs and other Turkic and/or majority-Muslim ethnic groups. I argue that the state is compelling both silence and sound as a way to eliminate the Uyghur identity.

  10. 2010 On Genocide

    1 On Genocide, by Anthony D'Amato, in International Law Across the Spectrum of Conflict: Essays in Honour of Professor L.C. Green on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday, Naval War College International Law Studies "Blue Book", Vol. 75, pp.119-130. Abstract: The crime of genocide is the newest international crime.It must be kept as a separate, distinct,

  11. Opinion

    The Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, defines crimes against humanity as extermination of, or other mass crimes against, any civilian population. The crime of ...

  12. The Paradox of Genocide Denial

    Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. Tsitsernakaberd Memorial. Yerevan, Armenia, Introduction In the midst of World War I, during the summer of 1915, the rulers of the Ottoman Empire developed a systematic plan that led to the deaths of over one million Armenian men, women, and children (Bloxham 1).

  13. The History of the Genocide in the Rwandan Essay

    The History of the Genocide in the Rwandan Essay Exclusively available on IvyPanda Updated: Dec 20th, 2023 Table of Contents Introduction The Rwanda genocide that occurred in 1994 led to the loss of about 800,000 lives of the Tutsi community.

  14. 126 Genocide Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    126 Genocide Essay Topic Ideas & Examples Updated: Sep 26th, 2023 9 min Table of Contents 🏆 Best Genocide Topic Ideas & Essay Examples The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide deals with one of the most debatable issues of the history of the twentieth century, i.e. The Impact of Genocide on the Modern Society

  15. Comparing And Contrasting Two Examples Of Genocide History Essay

    The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast the genocide in Rwanda and the Holocaust of Nazi Germany and to find similarities or trends. The essay will start with a brief historical recap on the genocide in Rwanda and on the Nazi Holocaust, before engaging the main of the topic.

  16. How Can We Prevent Genocide?

    Podcasts. Videos. Articles & Reports. Carnegie Ethics Newsletter. Classroom Resources. Key Terms. Connect. All Media. Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation executive director Tibi Galis shares some lessons he has learned from situations where risks were present but genocide and mass atrocities did not occur.

  17. Genocide, Essay Example

    It is defined as acts done with the intention of destroying, in part or in whole, ethnic, religion, national, or any other group through mass killing of members, causing physical or mental harm, having measure to prevent births, or transferring children to another area of group by force.

  18. Trail of Tears: the Greatest Genocide in American History: [Essay

    The Trail of Tears is one of the biggest genocides of all time and is widely overlooked in American history. In order to understand the situation Native Americans were put through, it is important to know the events that led up to this horrific time in our nation's history. There is an English saying that goes "those who do not know their ...

  19. 105 Genocide Essay Topics Worth Your Attention

    They met their end facing the cruelest creatures on our planet — human beings. Our list of genocide essay topics does not cover all of the recognized genocides, but the ones with the highest death tolls. We haven't included topics about the Holocaust, as there is a separate list about it. Table of contents hide 1 Armenian Genocide essay topics

  20. Essays on Genocide

    Genocide, in which mass amounts of a specific group of people are killed, and cultural genocide, in which the culture of a group is forced in extinction, often arises from violent conflicts that typically have at least one of two main factors driving them: religion... Genocide Science Fiction 4 Genocide and Political Violence in The 20th Century

  21. The Nation Publishes Gaza Genocide Article Killed by Harvard Law Review

    Jessica Corbett Nov 23, 2023 The Nation this week published a piece about Israel's genocidal war on the Gaza Strip that the Harvard Law Review commissioned from a Palestinian scholar but then refused to run after several days of internal debate, a nearly six-hour meeting, and a board vote.

  22. 107 Genocide Essay Topics & Research Titles at StudyCorgi

    The historic Rwandan Genocide, organized by Hutu hardliners, resulted in the merciless murder of approximately one million individuals after a three months rampage in 1994. Literature: "Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide" by Gerard Prunier. The article gives a critical view of the war that has been taking place in Darfur.

  23. Palestinian genocide accusation

    The State of Israel has been accused of carrying out or inciting genocide against Palestinians during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.This accusation has been linked to the conceptualization of Israel as a settler colonial state. Those who believe Israel's actions constitute genocide typically point to the phenomena of anti-Palestinianism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism in Israeli society ...

  24. In Rafah, the final

    The author's daughter, Ghaida, with her aunt, Rayya, Summer 2023 in Gaza[Photo courtesy of Ghada Ageel] For many years, every time I travelled to Gaza to visit my family, I passed through the ...

  25. Knights and Daughters of Vartan Announce Essay Contest in Conjunction

    NEW YORK — The Knights and Daughters of Vartan are holding their annual essay contest in conjunction with the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and its subsequent commemoration in Times Square, which will be held on Sunday, April 21. High school students (grades 9-12) are invited to participate in a writing contest to enhance awareness of the Armenian Genocide.

  26. Watching Genocide

    Most of us, when in school, learned at least something about the genocide of the Jews during the 1930s and 1940s. Six million Jews were killed as Hitler tried to eliminate the Jewish population ...

  27. Opinion

    Ms. Asi is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida's School of Global Health Management and Informatics. "We will die. All of us. Hopefully soon enough to stop the ...

  28. Brazil's president accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza

    Brazil's president alleged Saturday that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, doubling down on harsh rhetoric after stirring controversy a week earlier by comparing Israel's ...

  29. Holocaust survivor Saul Dreier, 99, promotes peace through his band

    Saul Dreier, fresh out of rehab after hip surgery, was ready for an interview, and the 99-year-old showed it by diving right into the story, one he's told many times. It wasn't the story of his ...