Genocide

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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The crime of destroying or conspiring to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

Genocide can be committed in a number of ways, including killing members of a group or causing them serious mental or bodily harm, deliberately inflicting conditions that will bring about a group's physical destruction, imposing measures on a group to prevent births, and forcefully transferring children from one group to another.

Genocide is a modern term. Coined in 1944 by Polish scholar of INTERNATIONAL LAW Raphael Lemkin, the word is a combination of the Greek genos (race) with the Latin cide (killing). In his book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Lemkin offered the definition of "a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves" (Lemkin 1944, 79). The book studied in particular detail the methodology of the Nazi German genocide against European Jews, among whom were his parents. Later, he served as an advisor to both the U.S. War Department and the NUREMBERG TRIALS of Nazi leaders for WAR CRIMES. He dedicated his life to the development of international conventions against genocide.

The contemporary archetype of modern genocide is the Holocaust, in which German Nazis starved, tortured, and executed an estimated six million European Jews, as well as millions of other ethnic and social minorities, as part of an effort to develop a master Aryan race. Immediately upon coming to power in Germany in 1933, the Nazis began a systematic effort to eliminate Jews from economic life. The Nazis defined persons with three or four Jewish grandparents as being Jewish, regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliation with the Jewish community. Those with one or two Jewish grandparents were known as Mischlinge, or mixedbreeds. As non-Aryans, Jews and Mischlinge lost their jobs and their Aryan clients, and were forced to liquidate or sell their businesses.

With the onset of WORLD WAR II in 1939, the Germans occupied the western half of Poland, forcing nearly two million Jews to move into crowded, captive ghettos. Many of these Jews died of starvation and disease. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Nazis dispatched 3,000 troops to kill Soviet Jews on the spot, most often by shooting them in ditches or ravines on the outskirts of cities and towns. Meanwhile, the Nazis began to organize what they termed a final solution to the Jewish question in Europe. German Jews were required to wear a yellow star stitched on their clothing and were deported to

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ghettos...

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