View Full Version : Genocide and the movement to prevent any more genocides.

Peter Lemkin
01-07-2011, 06:54 PM
Almost 90 years ago, a young student in Poland, Raphael Lemkin, became intrigued – and deeply troubled – about the case of an Armenian youth accused of murdering the Turkish official responsible for the 1915 genocide of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire.

He was perplexed by the question of why it is a crime for one person to murder another, but not a crime for a government to destroy more than a million people. Lemkin gave this sort of mass destruction a name: genocide.

What, Lemkin asked, are the economic, social, and cultural repercussions of genocide? How many ways are there to destroy a people? How can states be held to account for their actions?

He devoted most of his life to studying and writing about the issue. He also actively campaigned for international laws that would protect ethnic, racial, religious and national groups. His most intensive efforts focused on the drafting, adoption, and ratification of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

When Lemkin died in 1959, he left an extensive trove of correspondence and papers documenting his work, as well as treatises on the meaning and impact of genocide. Today, many of those papers are held in the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, from which most of the artifacts used in this exhibition are drawn. Additional collections are located at the New York Public Library and the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati.

Together, they provide an important resource and source of inspiration for new generations of scholars, human rights advocates, diplomats, and activists who continue to wrestle with the crime of genocide, which, sadly, continues to occur in the world today.

After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Lemkin escaped to Sweden, where he became a lecturer at the University of Stockholm. Invited to Duke University in North Carolina by law professor Malcolm McDermott, who had earlier met and worked with him in Poland, Lemkin made an arduous journey east through Russia, Siberia, and Japan, arriving on the East coast of the U.S. in 1941 as a refugee.

Soon after America entered the war, the U.S. Army recruited Lemkin to teach classes in military government, and the Board of Economic Warfare engaged him as a consultant.

In 1944, Lemkin published his most important work, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, a legal analysis of Nazi-occupied Europe. In it he coined a new word, genocide, derived from the Greek word genos, meaning tribe, and the Latin word cide, meaning to kill.

Lemkin believed in the power of language—that part of what enabled civilized nations to commit intentional group destruction and the world to ignore these atrocities was the lack of a specific word to differentiate this sort of crime from others. He viewed genocide as a unique crime because the ultimate goal of the perpetrator was the total destruction of an entire group of other human beings—the genocide not only of people, but also the destruction of their culture and civilizations.

In Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Lemkin noted that the harsh, racist decrees of the Nazis represented a perversion of the entire tradition of European jurisprudence. The Nazi edicts that, for instance, penalized the use of the Polish language or allotted food rations on the basis of "race" were both an expression of the intention to wipe out entire peoples and cultures and the framework that facilitated this annihilation.

Even as Lemkin was formulating his concept of genocide, intentional group destruction on an unprecedented scale was taking place in his homeland, Poland, and members of his own family were victims.

When the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933, it immediately instituted an anti-Semitic campaign, an expression of its racist ideology, which asserted that Germans were members of a "master race" and Jews, Blacks, Roma, Sinti, and Slavs were "subhuman." German Jews were stripped of their citizenship and other civil rights.

During WWII, as Jews in other countries fell under German occupation, they too, were persecuted and isolated from their fellow citizens. They were imprisoned in ghettos and camps, where they were subject to forced labor, random killings, starvation, and disease.

In 1941, when Germany broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union and invaded eastern Poland, the Baltic countries, Ukraine, and Russia, the Nazis inaugurated a more systematic program of mass murder, deploying special killing squads to shoot down entire Jewish communities.

But it was in January 1942 at the so-called Wannsee Conference that the Nazis formally enunciated a plan for genocide, "The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem," whose aim was the total extermination of Jews.

The Nazi state mobilized every branch of government to participate in intentional group annihilation. Genocide was carried out on an industrial scale.Jews from the ghettos in Poland and from other German-occupied territories in Western and Central Europe, as well as another targeted group, the Roma and Sinti, were shipped by rail to concentration camps in Poland, including 6 killing centers: Chelmo, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Maidanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. These were facilities established primarily and exclusively for the assembly-line style mass murder of human beings. In these killing centers, millions of men, women, and children were murdered upon arrival or soon died from starvation, torture, or disease.

An estimated 6 million Jews were killed in the Nazi genocide. Although Lemkin, and his brother Elias and his wife and two sons survived the Holocaust (as it came to be called), the brothers lost 49 other members of their family, including their parents.

When the war was over, Lemkin served as an advisor to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg Trial Judge, Robert Jackson. He fought to have the word genocide introduced into the trial record, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

"The Assembly was over. Delegates shook hands hastily with one another and disappeared into the winter mists of Paris. The same night I went to bed with fever. I was ill and bewildered. The following day I was in the hospital in Paris... Nobody had established my diagnosis. I defined it... as Genociditis: exhaustion from the work on the Genocide Convention."

In 1946, Lemkin turned to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly convened at Lake Success, NY in an effort to have the newly formed body condemn the act of genocide as an international standard. He presented a draft resolution for a Genocide Convention treaty to Cuba, India, and Panama, persuading them to sponsor the resolution. He also formed a committee to lobby 23 organizations around the world, which resulted in a joint petition supporting the adoption of a Genocide Convention, and which was presented to the delegates of the General Assembly.

The final draft of the resolution was approved by the General Assembly on December 11, 1946. It affirmed that genocide was a crime under international law and directed the Member States and the Social and Economic Council to draft a treaty to present to Member States for ratification.

From 1947-1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was hashed out with Lemkin's consultation. The draft was presented to the General Assembly from September to December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris and was unanimously adopted on December 9, 1948.

Though the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was officially adopted by the United Nations in 1948, it was still necessary for 20 nation-states to ratify the convention before its codification as international law.

Just as he had lobbied tirelessly for the Convention’s adoption, Lemkin devoted himself to securing its ratification. His strategy was to try to obtain ratification status from countries on each continent, hoping to cause a “domino effect.” For instance, he lobbied Mexico in the hope that the rest of Latin America would follow; and he looked to the Philippines as the key to success in Southeast Asia. He sent countless letters, and telegrams, made phone calls, and met with anyone who he thought could help further these goals.

By 1951, 25 nation-states had ratified the treaty, and the Convention was officially introduced into international law. Since then, the Convention has been ratified by a total of 140 countries.

Lemkin was disappointed that his adopted country, the U.S., was not among the first to ratify the Convention. In the intensifying atmosphere of the Cold War, anti-UN sentiment and concerns about loss of sovereignty played a strong role in the opposition. Some worried, for instance, that the law would permit the extradition of U.S. citizens to foreign countries or that discrimination and violence against African-Americans could be considered genocide under its provisions.

In fact, ratification by the U.S. did not occur during Lemkin's lifetime. It was only in 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, that the U.S. ratified the convention, largely through the efforts of Democratic Senator William Proxmire, who, over a 20-year period, gave over 3,000 speeches in the Senate lobbying for the passage of the Convention.

After the UN's adoption of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948, Lemkin became a celebrity. Many newspaper articles were written about him and he was even nominated twice for a Nobel Peace Prize. He received the Grand Cross of Cespedes from Cuba in 1950 and the Stephen Wise Award of the American Jewish Congress in 1951.

He became a lecturer at Yale, and also taught at Rutgers and Princeton, but he continued his work on genocide. He consulted for the UN, played a leading role in the U.S. Committee for a UN Genocide Convention, and drafted a manuscript, History of Genocide, which, however, was never published.

But Lemkin's celebrity was short-lived. By the time he died of a heart attack on August 28, 1959, he was poverty-stricken and alone. His funeral was attended by only a few people.

The headstone on his grave at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens reads "The Father of the Genocide Convention."

But, despite Lemkin’s unflagging efforts to outlaw genocide, the crime continues. In the last two decades, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide has been implemented as a basis for prosecution and judgment in former Yugoslavia, against those responsible for genocidal acts against Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in Rwanda, where genocide was perpetrated against the Tutsi minority by members of the Hutu Interhamwe militia and collaborators.


Links for Genocide Research and Education Research Centers, Advocacy Organizations and Educational websites

Resources on 20th Century Genocides Including Resources on this website, Books and Articles, Reports, Survivor ad Eyewitness testimonies, Commemoration, Film and Video and Websites Hereros 1904 | Armenian 1915-1923 | Holodomor 1933 | Shoah 1941-1945 | Parajmos 1941-1945 | East Bengal 1971 | Burundi 1972 | Cambodia 1975-1979 | Guatemala 1982-1983 | Iraqi Kurds 1988 | Bosnia 1992-1995 | Rwanda 1994

Genocide Scholars to meet in June 2005 in Florida, USA
Sixth Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars will meet in Boca Raton, Florida, USA, June 4 - 7, 2005

Summer Courses in Copenhagen, Denmark and Toronto, Canada:
International Summer Course on Genocide at Copenhagen University Aug. 1-19, 2005 Deadline for applications: 15 April (for students requiring a visa) 15 May (for all others). Øresund Summer University (ØSU), in collaboration with Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, offers the course: This Time We Knew: The Failure of the International Community to Prevent Genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur

Genocide and Human Rights University Program, to be held in Toronto,Canada, August 2-12, 2005 The International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute) is pleased to announce the fourth year of the program. Registration by May 31, 2005

New and Forthcoming Books for 2004 on Genocide and related topics Also Selected books 1999-2004 and bibliographies of books in French, German, Italian, Portugues , Spanish and other languages.

In Bayside, New York a free exhibit entitled “1900-2000: A Genocidal Century,” is open to the public through December, 2004 at the Queensborough Community College's Holocaust Resource Center & Archives (established 1983). The exhibit features photographs, text and an accompanying catalogue detailing occurrences of the systematic extermination of millions of people by different nations and governments over the past 100 years. Included are the destruction of Hereros in German South West Africa (Namibia), Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, Ukrainians in the USSR, Jews and others in Nazi Germany, the Killing Fields in Khmer Rouge Cambodia, ethnic Muslims in Bosnia, and of Tutsi in Rwanda. [ See www.qcc.cuny.edu/NewsAndEvents/ PressReleases/Genocide.htm ] The center is in the Library Building on the Bayside campus, lower level, Room 30. Hours are: Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call (718) 281-5770. www.qcc.cuny.edu/HRCA

The State of California Center for Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights, and Tolerance (California State Univ., Chico) is devoted to the teaching of the Holocaust and other genocides to elementary, junior, and high school students. Provides teachers with updated curricular materials, survivor testimony and other educational resources to support the 'Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide established 1988, revised 1998 www.csuchico.edu/mjs/center/

Holocaust and Genocide Studies: The Future Is Now by Dr. Steven L. Jacobs http://www.unr.edu/chgps/jacobsframe.html
" The following concrete suggestions are therefore offered not in the spirit of condemnation, but, rather, in strengthening not only this relationship between "Holocaust Studies" and "Genocide Studies" but to focus our work in both arenas:
#1: Serious scholarly work on both Holocaust and Genocide cannot only concern itself with the historical evidence of such tragedies but must append to its conclusions significant, practical suggestions which address the realities of the present and the unplanned-for realities of the future.
#2: Inside academia, departments of "Holocaust Studies" or clusters of courses within other department [e.g. History, Judaic Studies, etc.] must be consciously expanded to include courses in genocide.
. #3: We must stop the academic internecine warfare with regard to the question of the uniqueness of the Holocaust in contradistinction to all other practices of genocidal destruction, refocus our thinking, and accept Israel Charny's credo, "I believe that all cases of genocide are similar and different, special and unique, and appropriately subject to comparative analysis."
#4: Journals of both Holocaust Studies and Genocide Studies must devote a portion of their publications to continuing to explore the interrelationship between the two. "
From Center News, Vol. 3, No. 2, (June 1998), the newsletter of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Peace Studies, University of Nevada, Reno http://www.unr.edu/chgps/blank.htm

Genocide studies programs around the world: Genocide research and education programs at 32 colleges and universities in 9 countries and 13 U.S. States. Australia: University of New South Wales, Sydney: Canada: Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec; Germany: Universität Bremen ; Ruhr-Universität Bochum; Ireland: National University Galway: Italy: Università di Ferrara; Netherlands: Centrum voor Holocaust en Genocidestudies ; Sweden: Uppsala Universitet; Switzerland: Universität Zürich; United Kingdom: Bournemouth University, Dorset: USA: California: CSU Sacramento ; CSU Chico ; Claremont McKenna College; UC Berkeley; Connecticut: Yale University; Illinois:University of Illinois; District of Columbia: American University, Wash. College of Law; Maryland:University of Maryland, College Park, MD; Massachusetts:Clark University, Worcester, MA ; University of Massachusetts - Amherst ; Michigan: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI Minnesota: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN ; St. Cloud University; Missouri: Webster University, St. Louis, MO; New Jersey: Brookdale Comm College, Lincroft, NJ ; Drew University -Madison, NJ: Rider Univ. - Lawrenceville, NJ : Ramapo College- Mahwan, NJ: William Patterson University - Wayne, NJ; New York: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Institute for the Study of Genocide, Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY;Monroe Community College - Rochester, NY ; Nevada: University of Nevada, Reno, NV; Pennsylvania:West Chester University, West Chester, PA

Read the new short story Weight of Whispers by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. The story depicts the situation of Boniface Kuseremane, a Sorbonne-educated refugee from Rwanda, stranded in anglophone Kenya with his mother, sister and fiancee in the immediate aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide. Kenyan writer Owuor, 35, won the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for the story. The story’s “great strength" say Zanzibari author Abd al-Razzaq Gurnah (Chair of the Caine Prize judges) "is the subtle and suggestive way it dramatises the condition of the refugee and also successfully incorporates so many large issues.” In her story, Owuor writes "In exile we lower our heads so that we do not see in the mirror of another’s eyes, what we suspect: that our precarious existence rests entirely on the whim of another’s tolerance of our presence." Currently Executive Director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, Owuor comments, "I've always written as my way of untying knots . . . of untying things I don't understand. Drawing from a lot of experience in my own journeys, I keep wondering why it is necessary to humiliate and destroy just because one has the capacity to" [Sept, 22, 2003, Wash. Post ] Weight of Whispers (about 38 pages in length) can be read on the website of the new Kenyan literary journal Kwani www.kwani.org

Prevent Genocide International


Peter Lemkin
01-07-2011, 07:02 PM

Peter Lemkin
01-07-2011, 07:03 PM

Peter Lemkin
01-07-2011, 07:09 PM
Yes, related. My Uncle. I remember him well. When he died in 1959 his Nuremberg evidence and all of his books and papers, unfinished Encyclopedia of Genocide [now complete and available], lay in our basement of my parent's home for over 20 years. I spent a large portion of my childhood reading it. His secretary, a Norwegian woman named Reidun, is still alive in Barbados. He was the role model I followed [without knowing it] of an 'un-embedded' (in any Nation) International Citizen Activist. Were he alive today, I'm sure he'd join this Forum.......

A few of the Lemkins [very incomplete list] anhilated in the Third Reich's Holocaust [Shoah]
Name Town District Region Country Birth Date Source
Eliashtam* Ida RIGA RIGAS VIDZEME LATVIA 1908 Page of Testimony
Khirsh Ela RIGA RIGAS VIDZEME LATVIA 1901 Page of Testimony
Lemkine Movcho PARIS SEINE FRANCE 1896 Page of Testimony
Lemkine Mosche MINSK MINSK CITY MINSK BELORUSSIA (USSR) 1896 List of deportation from France
Lemkine Mochar MINSK MINSK CITY MINSK BELORUSSIA (USSR) 1896 List of victims from Auschwitz
Lomkin Rakhel KEDAINIAI KEDAINIAI LITHUANIA 1896 Page of Testimony
Hirsh Ela RIGA RIGAS VIDZEME LATVIA 1906 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Shlomo IWIENIEC WOLOZYN NOWOGRODEK POLAND 1903 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Tzipora SLONIM SLONIM NOWOGRODEK POLAND Page of Testimony
Lemkin Benjamin WOLKOWYSK WOLKOWYSK BIALYSTOK POLAND 1885 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Anna ZIBO SALAJ TRANSYLVANIA ROMANIA 1911 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Risze SLONIM SLONIM NOWOGRODEK POLAND 1902 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Abraham WOLKOWYSK WOLKOWYSK BIALYSTOK POLAND 1915 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Ester SLONIM SLONIM NOWOGRODEK POLAND 1908 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Sheftel RIGA RIGAS VIDZEME LATVIA 1858 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Eliahu IWACEWICZE POLESIE POLAND List of victims from
Lemkin Sheina IWACEWICZE POLESIE POLAND List of victims from Yizkor books
Lemkin Yosef IWACEWICZE POLESIE POLAND List of victims from Yizkor books
Lemkin IWACEWICZE POLESIE POLAND List of victims from Yizkor books
Lemkin Zisla KARSAVA LUDZAS LATGALE LATVIA 1890 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Israil TARNOPOL TARNOPOL TARNOPOL POLAND 1922 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Eliahu SLONIM SLONIM NOWOGRODEK POLAND 1870 Page of Testimony
Lemkin Khaia SLONIM SLONIM NOWOGRODEK POLAND 1909 Page of Testimony
Name unknown KRUSTPILS DAUGAVPILS LATGALE LATVIA 1885 Page of Testimony
Martinovsky Tzila RIGA RIGAS VIDZEME LATVIA 1887 Page of Testimony

from Raphael Lemkin's Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress, (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), p. 79 - 95.

Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in November 1944, was the first place where the word "genocide" appeared in print.

Raphael Lemkin coined the new word "genocide" in 1943 (see the book's preface, dated November 15, 1943) both as a continuation of his 1933 Madrid Proposal and as part of his analysis of German occupation policies in Europe. In this 670 page book, Axis Rule, Lemkin introduced and directly addressed the question of genocide in 16 pages of Chapter IX entitled "Genocide" (below).

Lemkin uses the word genocide broadly, not only to describe policies of outright extermination against Jews and Gypsies, but for less immediate Nazi goals as well. In Lemkin's analysis Nazi Germany had undertaken a policy for the demographic restructuring of the European continent. Therefore he also used the word genocide to describe a "coordinated plan of different actions" intended to promote such goals as an increase in the birthrate of the "Aryan" population, the physical destruction of the Slavic population over a period of years, and policies to bring about the destruction of the "culture, language, national feelings, religion" and separate economic existence (but not physical existence) of non-German "Aryan" nations thought to be "linked by blood" to Germany.

In recent years the word "genocide" has most often been used to refer to the destruction of groups within a single country ("domestic genocide"). In Axis Rule, however, the word applies to occupation polices conducted across an entire continent. Policies within Germany are addressed only to the extent that these policies impacted Austria, and those parts of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, the Memel Territory and Poland formally incorporated into Germany.

Within Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Part I: Analysis of "German Techniques of Occupation," 92 pages in length, includes nine chapters of general analysis. In these chapters, Lemkin addresses 1) Administration, 2) Police, 3) Law, 4) Courts, 5) Property, 6) Finance, 7) Labor, 8) Treatment of Jews, and 9) Genocide.

Part II: The Occupied Countries, 167 pages in length, addresses specific aspects of of occupation administration by the Axis powers. In addition to German occupation policies, Part II addresses polices of the other Axis countries: Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania as well as the wartime puppet states of Croatia and Slovakia. The 17 occupied countries and territories included in the baook are Albania, Austria, the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia), Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Denmark, the English Channel Islands, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Memel Territory, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the USSR and Yugoslavia.

The largest section of Axis Rule is Part III: Laws of Occupation is 370 pages in length. Here Lemkin provides English translations of 334 statues, decrees and laws from the 17 occupied countries and territories. Most of the documents are from the years 1940 and 1941, though the collection spans a five and half year period March 13, 1938 to November, 13, 1942. The range of the dates underscores the fact that Axis Rule was a work of analysis of the enemy's public documents written during wartime (and not those captured at the end of the war). These documents were available to Lemkin and others from sources in the neutral countries in Europe.

In the decades since the Second World War, Chapter IX has become the most widely quoted and cited section of Axis Rule. Between 1944 and 1946, however, the entire book was of tremendous value as a reference guide to to war crimes investigators, governments returning from exile and Civil Affairs sections of Allied armies trying to establish order in postwar Europe.

I. Genocide - A New Term and New Conception for Destruction of Nations

II. Techniques of Genocide in Various Fields






1. Racial Discrimination in Feeding

2. Endangering of Health

3. Mass Killing


III. Recommendations for the Future

Prohibition of Genocide in War and Peace

International Control of Occupation Practices


New conceptions require new terms. By "genocide" we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. This new word, coined by the author to denote an old practice in its modern development, is made from the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing), thus corresponding in its formation to such words as tyrannicide, homocide, infanticide, etc.(1) Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify 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. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.

The following illustration will suffice. The confiscation of property of nationals of an occupied area on the ground that they have left the country may be considered simply as a deprivation of their individual property rights. However, if the confiscations are ordered against individuals solely because they are Poles, Jews, or Czechs, then the same confiscations tend in effect to weaken the national entities of which those persons are members.

Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and the colonization by the oppressor's own nationals.

Denationalization was the word used in the past to describe the destruction of a national pattern. (1a) The author believes, however, that this [p. 80] word is inadequate because: 1.) it does not connote the destruction of the biological structure; 2.) in connoting the destruction of one national pattern it does not connote the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor; and 3.) denationalization is used by some authors to mean only deprivation of citizenship.

Many authors, instead of using a generic term, use currently terms connoting only some functional aspect of the main generic notion of genocide. Thus, the terms "Germanization," "Magyarization," "Italianization," for example, are used to connote the imposition by one stronger nation (Germany, Hungary, Italy) of its national pattern upon a national group controlled by it. The author believes that these terms, are also inadequate because they do not convey the common elements of one generic notion and because they do not convey the common elements of one generic notion and they treat mainly the cultural, economic, and social aspects of genocide, leaving out the biological aspect, such as causing the physical decline and even destruction of the population involved. If one uses the term "Germanization" of the Poles, for example, in this connotation, it means that the Poles, as human beings, are preserved and that only the national pattern of the Germans is imposed upon them. Such a term is much too restricted to apply to a process in which the population is attacked, in a physical sense, and is removed and supplanted by populations of the oppressor nations.

Genocide is the antithesis of the Rousseau-Portalis Doctrine, which may be regarded as implicit in the Hague Regulations. This doctrine holds that war is directed against sovereigns and armies, not against subjects and civilians. In its modern application in civilized society, the doctrine means that war is conducted against states and armed forces and not against populations. It required a long period of evolution in civilized society to mark the way from wars of extermination, (3) which occurred in ancient times and in the Middle Ages, to the conception of wars as being essentially limited to activities against armies and states. In the present war, however, genocide is widely practiced by the German occupant. Germany could not accept the Rousseau-Portalis Doctrine: first, because Germany is waging a total war; and secondly, because, according to the doctrine of National Socialism, the nation, not the state, is the predominant factor. (4) In this German conception the nation provides the biological element for the state. Consequently, in enforcing the New Order, the Germans prepared, waged, and continued a war [p.81] not merely against states and their armies (5) but against peoples. For the German occupying authorities war thus appears to offer the most appropriate occasion for carrying out their policy of genocide. Their reasoning seems to be the following:

The enemy nation within the control of Germany must be destroyed, disintegrated, or weakened in different degrees for decades to come. Thus the German people in the post-war period will be in a position to deal with other European peoples from the vantage point of biological superiority. Because the imposition of this policy of genocide is more destructive for a people than injuries suffered in the actual fighting, (6) the German people will be stronger than the subjugated peoples after the war even if the German army is defeated. In this respect genocide is a new technique of occupation aimed at winning the peace even though the war itself is lost.

For this purpose the occupant has elaborated a system designed to destroy nations according to a previously prepared plan. Even before the war Hitler envisaged genocide as a means of changing the biological interrelations in Europe in favor of Germany. (7) Hitler's conception of genocide is based not upon cultural but biological patterns. He believes that "Germanization can only be carried out with the soil and never with men." (8)

When Germany occupied the various European countries, Hitler considered their administration so important that he ordered the Reich Commissioners and governors to be responsible directly to him. (9) The plan of genocide had to be adapted to political considerations in different countries. It could not be implemented in full force in all the conquered states, and hence the plan varies as to subject, modalities, and degree of intensity in each occupied country. Some groups - such as the Jews - are to be destroyed completely. (10) A distinction is made between peoples considered to [p. 82] be related by blood to the German people (such as Dutchmen, Norwegians, Flemings, Luxemburgers), and peoples not thus related by blood (such as the Poles, Slovenes, Serbs). The populations of the first group are deemed worthy of being Germanized. With respect to the Poles particularly, Hitler expressed the view that it is their soil alone which can and should be profitably Germanized. (11)




1. Another term could be used for the same idea, namely, ethnocide, consisting of the Greek word "ethnos" -nation- and the Latin word "cide."

la. See Violation of the Laws and Customs of War. Reports of Majority and Dissenting Reports of American and Japanese Members of the Commission of Responsibilities, Conference of Paris 1919, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Division of International Law, Pamphlet No. 32 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1919), p. 39.

2. See Garner, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 77.

3. As classical examples of wars of extermination in which nations and groups of the population were completely or almost completely destroyed, the following may be cited, the destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C.; the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 72 A.D.; the religion wars of Islam and the Crusades; the massacres of the Albigenses and the Waldenses; and the siege of Magdeburg in the Thirty Years War [May, 1631]. Special wholesale massacres occurred in the wars waged by Genghis Khan and by Tamerlane.

4. "Since the State in itself is for us only a form, while what is essential is its content, the nation, the people it is clear that everything else must subordinate itself to its sovereign interests." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939). p. 842.

5. See Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus de 20. Jahrhunderts (München-Hoheneichenverlag, 1933, pp. 1-2: "History and the mission of the future no longer mean the struggle of class against class, the struggle of Church dogma against dogma, but the clash between blood and blood, race and race, people and people."

6. The German genocide philosophy was conceived and put into action before the Germans received even a foretaste of the considerable dimensions of Allied aerial bombings of German territory.

7. See Hitler's statement to Rauschning, from The Voice of Destruction, by Hermann W. York, 1940), p. 138, by courtesy of G. P. Putnam's Sons:
". . . The French complained after the war that there were twenty million Germans too many. We accept the criticism. We favor the planned control of population movements. But our friends will have to excuse us if we subtract the twenty millions elsewhere. After all these centuries of whining about the protection of the poor and lowly, it is about time we decided to protect the strong against the inferior. It will be one of the chief tasks of German statesmanship for all time to prevent by every means in our power, the further increase of the Slav races. Natural instincts bid all living beings not merely conquer their enemies, but also destroy them. In former days, it was the victor's prerogative to destroy entire tribes, entire peoples. By doing this gradually and without bloodshed, we demonstrate our humanity. We should remember, too, that we are merely doing unto others as they would have done to us."
8. Mein Kampf, p. 588.

9. See "Administration," above, pp. 9-10.

10. Mein Kampf, p. 931: ". . . the National Socialist movement has its mightiest tasks to fill: . . . it must condemn to general wrath the evil enemy of humanity [Jews] as the true creator of all suffering."

11. Ibid., p. 590, n. ". . . The Polish policy in the sense of a Germanization of the East, demanded by so many, rooted unfortunately almost always in the same wrong, conclusion. Here too one believed that one could bring about a Germanization of the Polish element by a purely linguistic integration into the German nationality. Here too the result would have been an unfortunate one: people of an alien race, expresssing its alien thoughts in the German language, compromising the height and dignity of its own nationality by its inferiority."

As to the depopulation policy in occupied Yugoslavia, see, in general, Louis Adamic, My Native Land (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943).

Peter Lemkin
01-07-2011, 08:00 PM

Peter Lemkin
01-07-2011, 09:45 PM
Key Writings of
Raphael Lemkin
on Genocide

As part of our activities to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) and to further educational activities for preventing genocide, Prevent Genocide International presents this series of Dr. Lemkin's writings on genocide. The collection spans the years from 1933-1947 and includes items Lemkin wrote in French, German and English - as well as translations in Spanish.

People often use the Internet to find the latest information on a topic, yet for a greater understanding of an issue such as prevention of genocide it is importent to examine the past. This series is a resource for all who want to understand the origins of the concept of genocide and efforts to have genocide recognized as an international crime. As a body of writing, the series "Key writings of Raphael Lemkin on Genocide" will provide students, scholars, teachers, activists and others with a resource for reference and further study.

Volunteers around the world have worked to locate these documents and transform them from printed pages into electronic texts. We are especially pleased with efforts to translate articles into new languages, making the series available to a larger number of people.

If you find the "Key writings of Raphael Lemkin on Genocide" series useful to you, we ask that you contact our office by email, or by other means. Especially if you can help us translate more articles, or review and check the translations of other volunteers, please contact us.

Prevent Genocide International exists only as a network of volunteers. This website and the our global network exist only through the time and talents and financial support of people located all around the world. Please contact us if you can help us in our educational efforts for the prevention of genocide.

Key writings of
Raphael Lemkin
on Genocide

Quick Guide to the Series

1933: 'General (Transnational) Danger'
1944: Axis Rule in Occupied Europe
1945: 'Genocide: A Modern Crime'
1946: 'The Crime of Genocide'
1947: 'Genocide as a Crime under International Law'

Chronology of the Life of
Raphael Lemkin
Bibliography of Writings by
Raphael Lemkin

"Les actes constituant un danger general (interétatique) consideres comme delites des droit des gens" Expilications additionelles au Rapport spécial présentè à la V-me Conférence pour l'Unification du Droit Penal à Madrid (14-2O.X.1933).

This report was published by Paris law publisher A. Pedone (13, Rue Soufflot) as part of the Librarie de la cour d'appel ed de l'order de advocates.

English translation: "Acts Constituting a General (Transnational) Danger considered as Crimes under International Law" Translation by James T.Fussell
"Akte der Barbarei und des Vandalismus als delicta juris gentium" (Acts of Barbarism and Vandalism under the Law of Nations), Anwaltsblatt Internationales, Vienna,Vol. 19, No. 6, (Nov. 1933), p. 117-119
Lemkin wrote this German language article as an abbreviated version of the report 'General (Transnational) Danger' he originally presented in French at the 5th Conference for the Unification of Penal Law in Madrid, Spain in October 1933. The article was published in Anwaltsblatt Internationales (Lawyer Gazette International), a legal monthly based in Vienna, Austria and edited by Dr. Rudolf Braun.
Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (http://www.preventgenocide.org/lemkin/AxisRule1944-1.htm): Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Goverment - Proposals for Redress, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944, 670pp.

Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in November 1944, was the first place where the word "genocide" appeared in print. Raphael Lemkin coined the new word "genocide" in 1943 both as a continuation of his 1933 Madrid proposal and as part of his analysis of German occupation policies in Europe.

French translation: Le règne de l'Axe en Europe occupée, Le premier paragraphe de Chapitre IX: " Génocide " de Raphaël Lemkin, 1944

Spanish translation: Las Reglas del Eje sobre la Europa Ocupada, Primer párrafo de Capítulo IX: " Genocide " de Raphael Lemkin, 1944. Translation by Carlos Mario Molina Arrubla, May 2000
"Genocide - A Modern Crime" FREE WORLD (New York), Vol. 9, No. 4, (April 1945), p. 39-43
This article is a summary for the general public of the concepts and proposals Lemkin originally presented in Chapter 9: "GENOCIDE" of Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. Free World was a wartime "Non-Partisan Magazine devoted to the United Nations and Democracy."
"Genocide" American Scholar, Vol. 15, No. 2 (April 1946), p. 227-230

"Le crime de génocide" La Documentation Francaise, 24 septembre 1946, Notes Documentaires et Etudes No 417 (Serie Textes et Documents. - L)
Spanish translation: "Genocidio" Translation by Carlos Mario Molina Arrubla, August 1999

"Genocide as a Crime under International Law" American Journal of International Law, Vol. 41, No. 1 (1947), p.145-151