Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
Essay title: Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
In 1944, Raphael Lemkin wrote, “genocide refers to a coordinated plan aimed at the destruction of the essential foundation of life of national groups.” It was in his book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, that the word genocide first appeared, but the concept had been used many years prior to the naming. Similarly, ethnic cleansing had also been carried out by leaders for several decades and is defined as “the elimination of a group based on ethnic/racial factors.” These two terms share many similarities, but differ greatly because ethnic cleansing does not necessary mean the killing of a race, but rather can be accomplished by deportation or forced emigration. However, genocide clearly is the planned extermination of a racial group. Both concepts are seen through history being used by the powerful leaders of their time.
It was during the 1930’s that the terms ethnic cleansing and genocide were introduced to the world. Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, came to power in Germany and had hopes to take over the world. One of Hitler’s main goals was to create the perfect society. Hitler’s belief was that Aryans were a superior race whose nation had been weakened by racially undesirable groups. Hitler in his quest to take over the world began to target many groups such as the Jews, Gypsies, Polish intellectuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals. He first put to use the concept of ethnic cleansing by emigrating many of the groups into ghettos and taking away their natural-born right. For instance, Poles were moved to small areas inside Poland and many Jews were moved out of Germany into Poland. The aim of the Nazi Party was to blame these people for Germany’s depression and the loss in World War I.
Soon after moving them into ghettos, concentration camps were developed and the Nazi Party now planned a genocide, a mass murder of the “inferior population.” Many countries arose in fury over Hitler’s actions and went to war with Hitler, but the killing of millions in the concentration camps was kept secret by the Nazis. Moreover, Hitler considered the war a good and necessary step towards racial purity and expansion German living space. Eventually, the war in Europe came to an end and though many were freed from the camps, over 11 million died under Hitler’s rule. Much of Hitler’s horrendous acts were released to the world after the Axis powers had lost and many only became aware of the massive murder after the war had ended.
Secondly, in 1975, another genocide occurred in Cambodia. Years later it became known as the Killing Fields, but initially it was an