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© Copyright 2001, Jim Loy
The word "genocide" was coined (from Greek "genos"=race or tribe, and "-cide"=kill) during World War II, to describe the mass killing of the Jews. It had, of course, happened before World War II. Genocide is probably as old as history itself. In 1915 the Young Turks killed over a million Armenians in Turkey. In 1937-38, Turkey massacred the Kurds in Turkey. In World War II, the Germans tried to wipe out the Jews (Hitler's "final solution" or "the Holocaust"), and Gypsies.
Stalin executed many millions of Russians, including the kulaks (successful farmers). This is not always classified as genocide, as it was Russians killing Russians. But the immense scale of the atrocity puts it in the same league with other acts of genocide. The Khmer Rouge killed between 1.5 and 2 million Cambodians, about a quarter of its entire population. Again, this is not always classified as genocide. Some of it is, because Buddhists and Moslems were specifically targeted; but so were people who could read, those who lived in cities, even those who wore glasses.
In recent years, we have the case of Rwanda (in 1994), where radio "journalists" of the ruling Hutu tribe, urged the killing of all members of the rival Tutsi tribe. In a couple of months, 500,000 to 1 million Tutsis had been murdered. Serbia's "ethnic cleansing" (beginning in 1992) involved genocide in Bosnia (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and other areas of the former Yugoslavia. There have been other acts of genocide, elsewhere in the world.
Upon first hearing of the Jewish Holocaust, one might ask, "How could this have happened, once?" For, surely it has never happened before or will ever happen again. But it has happened before, and continues to happen, now. The question still remains, "How can this happen?"
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