Encyclopedia

Genocide

a term derived from the Greek word genos, "race" and the Latin work caedes, "killing." The term as generally applied means the killing of persons belonging to a specific racial, ethnic, or religious group with the intent to destroy the group.

The term was invented by Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish jurist. Lemkin pointed out that the crime of genocide need not mean the immediate and total destruction of the group. It may also consist of a planned actions designed to destroy the basic components of a group's distinctive existence such as its language, culture and national consciousness.

The term has taken on a specific legal meaning as defined by the United Nations Genocide Convention. It defined genocide as the following actions carried out against a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in order to destroy that group in full or in part: 1. Killing persons belonging to the group; 2. Causing grievous bodily or spiritual harm to members of the group; 3. Deliberately enforcing upon the group living conditions which could lead to its complete or partial extermination; 4. Enforcing measures designed to prevent births among the group; 5. Forcibly removing children from the group and transferring them to another group.

The term genocide is similar to the Crimes Against Humanity charge which was part of the indictment at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (officially the International Military Tribunal or IMT) against the Nazi war criminals. It has been said that genocide is a component of the Holocaust but the Nazi crime against the Jewish people has features that surpass genocide. These features include: the use of mass production methods for the killing of human beings, the use of transportation systems to concentrate people from diverse geographical areas and the adoption of the legal and administrative capacity of the modern state to identify and separate the victims.


Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.


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