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International Relations 20th Century Genocides
by
Simon Payaslian

Introduction

The scholarship on genocide has grown exponentially since the 1970s. The two general objectives of genocide studies have been to develop more systematic explanations of causes of genocide and a deeper understanding of consequences than previously available in the literature. Genocides in the 20th century are estimated to have cost more than forty million lives. The term “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin (b. 1900–d. 1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, who in reaction to the atrocities taking place during World War II advocated the creation of an international legal instrument to prevent genocide. His efforts led to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (9 December 1948). The convention is legally binding under international law but has become the subject of much heated debate, mostly regarding contending definitions of “genocide.” A consensus has formed among scholars that genocides in the 20th century encompassed (although were not limited to) the following cases: Herero in 1904–1907, the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915–1923, the Holodomor in the former Soviet Ukraine in 1932–1933, the Jewish Holocaust in 1938–1945, Bangladesh in 1971, Cambodia in 1975–1979, East Timor in 1975–1999, Bosnia in 1991–1995, and Rwanda in 1994. The diversity of subject areas, theories, and methodologies in genocide studies notwithstanding, most work is primarily concerned with the role of the perpetrator state; the nature of leadership; the ability of the leaders to transform ordinary men into murderers and bureaucracies into instruments of murder; and, finally, how to prevent future genocides. Although a small number of scholarly works have also paid attention to followers and bystanders, this area requires more research, as does genocide prevention. Regardless of the paucity of scholarly literature on genocide prevention, the European Union, in cooperation with the government of Hungary, took the significant step of establishing, in 2011, the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities.

General Overviews

The literature on genocide consists of general surveys; comparative analyses of two or more cases; anthologies on a specific genocide, with individual chapters analyzing various aspects of the case; and case studies that offer historical analyses with varying degrees of detail and units of analysis. General surveys—for example, Totten and Parsons 2009—often first discuss definitions of “genocide” and theoretical considerations, followed by individual chapters devoted to each case of genocide. The comparative approaches develop theoretical frameworks and identify key factors common in the cases under consideration. The comparative approach has registered limited success in furthering the subfield; frequently, these books contain chapters on individual cases rather than systematic comparative analyses of two or more cases. Melson 1992 and Midlarsky 2005 are successful comparative studies. Anthologies covering a case of genocide usually contain chapters that address different aspects of the case, such as the chronological sequence of events, the leadership of the perpetrator regime, the psychology of trauma suffered by the survivors, and the international or geopolitical situation. The largest body of scholarship consists of single case studies, which provide fairly detailed analyses of the events and personalities, while advancing a specific theory or theories about the causes and consequences of the genocide. The scholarship on genocide in the 20th century underscores several variables that contribute to such human catastrophes. Rummel 1994 and Valentino 2004 stress the role and nature of the state; Valentino 2004 pays particular attention to the personal characteristics of the leaders and their ability to mobilize the machinery of murder (e.g., bureaucracies of civil services, the military, and intelligence) and the population. Staub 1989 focuses on the psychology, culture, and ideology of the perpetrator group. Charny 1999 is a monumental, two-volume encyclopedia of genocide, covering various dimensions of mass murder and genocide. The significant growth in genocide studies clearly reflects efforts to understand genocides, with the hope of finding effective means of preventing future genocides. Hamburg 2010 proposes new approaches to conflict resolution and management. Similarly, Staub 2011 discusses various social and psychological factors contributing to conflict escalation and approaches to early prevention.

  • Charny, Israel W. Encyclopedia of Genocide. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 1999.

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    The two volumes offer a comprehensive, indispensable source for specialists and nonspecialists alike. Particularly strong are the sections on the study of genocide, the Armenian genocide, and the Holocaust. The guiding principle, as articulated by Charny, is that genocide is a universal phenomenon.

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  • Hamburg, David A. Preventing Genocide: Practical Steps toward Early Detection and Effective Action. Rev. ed. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010.

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    Identifies early warning methods for proactive assistance for countries experiencing violence. Hamburg recommends the creation of international centers for the prevention of genocide, one within the UN system and one in the European Union. Democratic and economic development would further strengthen preventative measures.

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  • Melson, Robert F. Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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    Provides an excellent comparative analysis and an explanatory model. Discusses the significance of several variables, including revolutionary regime, the personal characteristics of the leadership, the ideology of the perpetrator (e.g., pan-Turkism and anti-Semitism), and war. War creates the political and bureaucratic space for the implementation of a policy of annihilation.

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  • Midlarsky, Manus I. The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Midlarsky presents a comparative analysis of domestic (social and economic) and international (geopolitical) environments of the 20th century genocides. He correctly contends that comparative analyses of genocide are necessary for more meaningful understanding of genocide and mass murder. He also considers nongenocide cases in an effort to develop an explanatory framework.

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  • Rummel, R. J. Death by Government. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1994.

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    Rummel introduces the concept of “democide,” as applied to the intentional killing by states. The word “genocide,” he argues, should be reserved for state-sponsored mass murder for the physical and cultural destruction of a people. Numerous data are presented in useful tables. Democratization represents the best solution to end democide.

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  • Staub, Ervin. The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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    A psychological and cultural study on the susceptibility of ordinary citizens to turn into perpetrators of genocide and mass violence. Under certain circumstances, individuals embrace stereotypical thinking that serves as ideological justification for mass murder. This volume also examines the role of bystanders. Outlines specific steps toward nonviolent conflict resolution.

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  • Staub, Ervin. Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    This study analyzes the causes of various forms of mass violence and—based on several case studies (e.g., Rwanda)—certain principles and practices of prevention and reconciliation. The author stresses the role of political leaders, the media, nongovernmental organizations, and bystanders in preventing escalation of conflict and creating opportunities for reconciliation.

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  • Totten, Samuel, and William S. Parsons, eds. Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. 3d ed. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    This anthology is essential reading on the genocides of the 20th century. The volume combines background information and analyses with eyewitness accounts to explore the causes and consequences of genocide. The final chapter considers the sociological and international dimensions of genocide prevention and legal, military, and humanitarian responses.

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  • Valentino, Benjamin A. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century. Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

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    Argues that although psychological and sociological factors (e.g., ethnic hatreds) contribute to genocide, such mass killings are ultimately policies orchestrated by a small circle of dictatorial leaders and implemented by loyal followers. Genocide is an instrument of policy, and prevention necessitates the removal from power of such leadership.

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Herero, 1904–1907

Until the late 20th century the Herero genocide had not received much attention among genocide scholars. Germans settled in Southwest Africa (known in the early 21st century as Namibia) in the 1890s and viewed the local Herero as belonging to an inferior race, an attitude that not surprisingly fueled local resentment and anger against the colonial settlers. Drechsler 1980, Bridgman 1981, and Olusoga and Erichsen 2010 examine how the Germans’ sense of cultural superiority served to legitimize economic exploitation, use of the Herero for cheap labor, seizure of Herero lands, and threats to the survival of traditional community life. Thus economic and cultural factors at first contributed to mutual hostilities. Bridgman 1981 offers a detailed analysis of the Herero rebellion and notes that although the Herero lacked the military wherewithal to challenge the superior German firepower, they rebelled on several occasions, as in 1896, in some cases even humiliating the Germans. Later studies, such as Olusoga and Erichsen 2010 and Sarkin 2011, confirm the findings in Drechsler 1980 and Bridgman 1981 that the rebellion in January 1904 elicited a genocidal reaction by the German forces, under the command of General Lother von Trotha, who had been dispatched to the colony by Kaiser Wilhelm II explicitly for the task. Under Trotha’s command the German military disarmed the Herero men and attacked the populace at various strategic points, forcing them to escape to the Omaheke desert. In the process the German army killed men, women, and children—nearly sixty-five thousand, or 80 percent of the Herero population.

  • Bridgman, Jon M. The Revolt of the Hereros. Perspectives on Southern Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

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    Emphasizes the significance of military power in genocide. The Herero relied on guerrilla warfare for defense. Frustrated by repeated failures to enslave them, the German military eventually resorted to a strategy of annihilation. The limited military capability the Herero possessed could not compete against the superior German technology and firepower.

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  • Drechsler, Horst. “Let Us Die Fighting”: The Struggle of the Herero and Nama against German Imperialism, 1884–1915. Translated by Bernd Zöllner. London: Zed, 1980.

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    Provides a detailed analysis of German involvement in Southwest Africa, the culture of colonialism, and economic interests. Discusses the German strategy of divide and conquer and the increasingly repressive rule that led to the Herero uprising in January 1904, to which Germany reacted with the decision to annihilate the Herero.

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  • Olusoga, David, and Casper W. Erichsen. The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism. London: Faber and Faber, 2010.

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    A detailed study on German diplomatic and military engagement in Southwest Africa. Places the genocide in the broader context of the German experience in empire building and stresses the employment of racial theories to subjugate and annihilate indigenous peoples in Africa. This policy also reflected the genocidal culture that led to the Holocaust.

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  • Sarkin, Jeremy. Germany’s Genocide of the Herero: Kaiser Wilhelm II, His General, His Settlers, His Soldiers. Cape Town, South Africa: University of Cape Town Press, 2011.

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    Examines German colonial policy in Southwest Africa between 1885 and 1915 and the atrocities committed against the Herero between 1904 and 1907. Theories of race and war, as developed in the 19th century, served as “scientific” justification for German cultural superiority and for the severe brutality toward Africans.

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The Armenian Genocide, 1915–1923

The Armenian genocide has received considerable attention from genocide scholars since the 1980s. Hovannisian 1986 and Dadrian 2008 provide historical background material. Dadrian’s monograph offers a comprehensive analysis of the history and implementation of the genocide, with an emphasis on Islam as a key contributing element. Hovannisian 1986, Akçam 2006, and Kévorkian 2011 agree that Islam played a significant role but assign a primary role to Turkish xenophobia and ultranationalism. Armenians, a Christian people, were forced to live under Muslim Ottoman rule, in which society was divided into millets (ethno-religious communities), with the Muslims maintaining legal and cultural superiority relative to the Christians and Jews. Melson 1992 stresses that World War I enabled the ultranationalist Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti (Committee of Union and Progress) Party—led by the military dictatorship of Mehmed Talaat, Ismail Enver, and Ahmed Jemal and inspired by the ideology of Pan-Turkism—to launch a policy of genocide against the Armenians, beginning in April 1915. Davis 1989, written by the US consul at Kharpert, or Harput at the time, reports the conditions in the region during the genocide. For the survivors of the mass deportations and death marches, the Syrian desert was the final destination. By 1923, when the Republic of Turkey was formally established, approximately 1.5 million Armenians had lost their lives as a result of mass murder, forced deportation, famine, and disease. Hovannisian 2007 explores the Turkish government’s denial of the genocide and whether Armenians in the Republic of Armenia and the diaspora can or should support reconciliation with Turkey.

  • Akçam, Taner. A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. Translated by Paul Bessemer. New York: Metropolitan, 2006.

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    Draws on documents from a number of governments, including Ottoman, and eyewitness accounts. This study examines the causes of the Armenian genocide during World War I; Turkish nationalism and the intensification of hostilities toward the Armenians; and the role of the military, the Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti Party, and state agencies.

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  • Dadrian, Vahakn N. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. New York: Berghahn, 2008.

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    Comprehensive study using various primary sources, including government documents (e.g., Ottoman and German) and eyewitness accounts. Emphasizes Ottoman theocracy and Islam as the primary cultural factor contributing to the genocide. Presents a detailed analysis of implementation of the genocidal policies and the nature of German involvement in the genocidal processes. Originally published in 1995.

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  • Davis, Leslie A. The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat’s Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915–1917. Edited by Susan K. Blair. New Rochelle, NY: Caratzas, 1989.

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    Contains the report written by Davis while he served as US consul in Kharpert during the Armenian genocide. Prepared based on his personal observations, this volume, as a primary source, offers profound insights into the local community, Armenian–Turkish relations, and the Turkish atrocities committed against the Armenians.

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  • Hovannisian, Richard G., ed. The Armenian Genocide in Perspective. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1986.

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    Explores the various aspects of the Armenian genocide, the historical background on the internationalization of the Armenian question, the provocation thesis, the key determinants of the genocide, the Turkish government’s policy of denial, the impact of the genocide on literature, and survival trauma.

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  • Hovannisian, Richard G., ed. The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2007.

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    Looks at the Armenian genocide from multidisciplinary perspectives, the legacies of the genocide, and the collective trauma suffered by survivors. Provides comparative analyses of the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian experiences. Studies the question of Armenian–Turkish reconciliation/normalization and mediation by an international agency (i.e., the United Nations).

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  • Kévorkian, Raymond. The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History. London: Tauris, 2011.

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    The most comprehensive study available on the Armenian genocide. Surveys the social, political, and geopolitical conditions that gave rise to the Young Turk movement and that eventually led to the policies of annihilation of the Armenian people under the Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti.

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  • Melson, Robert F. Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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    Examines the causes of both genocides and, in combining the “intentionalist” and “functionalist” models, argues that both approaches were directly relevant as ideology (e.g., pan-Turkism and anti-Semitism) not only shaped the worldview of the top decision makers but also served to legitimize the implementation of genocidal policies by the bureaucracies in time of war.

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The Holodomor, 1932–1933

The Holodomor (Ukrainian: “killing by starvation”) was Stalin’s genocidal policy against the people of Soviet Ukraine in 1932–1933. Among the reasons for the famine, Conquest 1986 stresses the Marxist ideology of class conflict and the brutal methods employed by the Bolshevik regime to Sovietize the nationalities. The new Soviet person was expected to transcend his or her national identity, embrace Sovietization, and serve Soviet society as a member of the proletariat to counter the ubiquitous threat of capitalist exploiters. Oleskiw 1983, Conquest 1986, and Graziosi 2009 agree that Stalin pressed forward with rapid industrialization and relied on agricultural collectivization to finance industrialization, a policy that required brutal measures to force the peasantry to fulfill their quotas. Conquest 1986 and Graziosi 2009 offer systematic analyses of the famine. Dolot 1985 demonstrates the human sacrifices demanded by the regime to achieve its budgetary objectives according to state plans. The papers presented in Hryn 2008 analyze the Ukrainian famine in the broader context of Soviet economic difficulties as the Moscow government pursued rapid industrialization at the expense of the agricultural sector. Conquest 1986 and Graziosi 2009 discuss the Marxist-Bolshevik intellectuals’ arrogant attitude toward the peasantry; such intellectuals deemed Ukrainian opposition a capitalist, kulak threat to the proletarian priorities. The conflict between Moscow and Ukraine proved catastrophic for the latter. The Stalinist leaders in Moscow and their followers in Ukraine sought to deal a fatal blow to Ukrainian nationalism by controlling agricultural production in the republic and exportation of grain—a policy that resulted in the death of between four and ten million Ukrainians. The famine therefore is often referred to as a man-made famine designed as a campaign to eradicate Ukrainian nationalism that included “dekulakization,” collectivization, the kolkhoz system, exorbitant taxes on agricultural production, and—particularly after the summer of 1932—other, excessively repressive measures.

  • Conquest, Robert. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

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    A comprehensive study of the Holodomor, with a detailed analysis of Stalin’s policy of famine as rooted in the widespread Marxist-Bolshevik intellectual antipathy toward the peasantry, Ukraine’s agricultural production, and Moscow’s policy of intentionally destroying the Ukrainian economy as an antinational measure. According to Conquest’s calculations, seven million died as a result of the 1932–1933 famine: five million in Ukraine, one million in the North Caucasus, and one million “elsewhere” (p. 306).

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  • Dolot, Miron. Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust. New York: Norton, 1985.

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    Offers a firsthand account of the hardship experienced by Ukrainians as a result of the famine. Maintains that Stalin and the Soviet government in Moscow were hostile toward Ukrainian peasants.

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  • Graziosi, Andrea. Stalinism, Collectivization and the Great Famine. Holodomor. Cambridge, MA: Ukrainian Studies Fund, 2009.

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    Addresses the controversy concerning interpretations of the Ukrainian famine in 1932–1933 and contends that the Holodomor constitutes genocide. The ideology of the Bolshevik leaders and their brutal approach in dealing with peasants led to deterioration in state–peasant relations, which the Stalinist regime used to destroy the Ukrainian nationalist movement.

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  • Hryn, Halyna, ed. Hunger by Design: The Great Ukrainian Famine and Its Soviet Context. Papers presented at the symposium “The Ukrainian Terror-Famine of 1932–1933: Revisiting the Issues and the Scholarship Twenty Years after the HURI Famine Project,” 20 October 2003. Harvard Papers in Ukrainian Studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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    Contributors place the Holodomor not only in the broader context of the economic crisis in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the Urals, but also in the context of genocide scholarship. Applying the genocide convention, the book concludes that the Holodomor was genocide.

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  • Oleskiw, Stephen. The Agony of a Nation: The Great Man-Made Famine in Ukraine, 1932–1933. London: National Committee to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Artificial Famine in Ukraine 1932–1933, 1983.

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    Provides a brief history of the Soviet Ukraine and identifies various ideological, social, and economic reasons for the famine. Above all, the Stalinist regime was determined to eradicate Ukrainian national identity.

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The Jewish Holocaust, 1938–1945

The Holocaust is by far the most extensively studied case among the genocides of the 20th century. Brustein 2003 examines the history of anti-Semitism and its different components, such as religion, race, and economy. The German military defeat and humiliation in World War I and the postwar economic crisis aggravated deep sentiments of anti-Semitism. By then, so-called scientific theories of race developed in the 19th century had gained in popularity. Friedländer 1997 and Hilberg 2003 analyze the history of the rise to prominence of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in early 1933 and the establishing of German racial superiority as the incontestable ideology of the state. Steinweis 2009 looks at Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), a barrage of mass violence by the Nazis in November 1938 that symbolized the beginning of the Holocaust. Levi 1996 provides a firsthand account of the mass arrests and forced removal to concentration camps. Lifton 1986 examines not only the impact of Nazi propaganda demonizing Jews, but also government-supported medical experimentation in concentration camps. Goldhagen 1996 and Gellately 2001 maintain that the German public, long obsessed with Jews, was aware of the Nazi atrocities and supported Hitler and the party. Goldhagen 1996 characterizes German anti-Semitism as “eliminationist anti-Semitism,” a thesis that proved extremely controversial. Browning 1992 focuses on a specific group to demonstrate that ordinary citizens can be transformed into murderers under certain conditions. The German military, which had invaded Austria in March 1938, invaded Poland in September 1939, launching World War II, and with each subsequent conquest of new territory sought, together with its allies, to annihilate the local Jewish communities, leading to the death of approximately six million Jews.

  • Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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    Draws on the postwar investigation concerning the role of 210 members of Reserve Police Battalion 101, a unit of the German Order Police, and their personal background and demonstrates how ordinary humans turned to violence in the Polish villages of Józefów and Łomazy for personal self-interest, loyalty to comrades, obedience to orders, and careerism, but not necessarily for utopian, ideological reasons.

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  • Brustein, William I. Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511499425Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the historical (religious, racial, economic, political) roots of anti-Semitism and the nationalist narratives hostile toward Jews in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Romania. Brustein’s empirical analyses test the relationship of the level of anti-Semitism to the level of Jewish immigration, gross domestic product, and leftist voting.

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  • Fein, Helen. Accounting for Genocide: National Responses and Jewish Victimization during the Holocaust. New York: Free Press, 1979.

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    A groundbreaking historical-sociological study of the Holocaust. This study explores the causes of Jewish victimization—whereby Jews were excluded from the “universe of obligation”—and the domestic, regional, and international circumstances that enabled the Nazi leadership to implement the policy of annihilation. Shows the extent to which anti-Semitism permeated cultures and institutions in European societies.

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  • Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews. Vol. 1, The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

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    Deals with the political, cultural, and ideological aspects of the Nazi regime and the chronology of the Holocaust. Uses government archival sources, diaries, letters, and memoirs and stresses the participation of government authorities at different levels and the apathy among the people, who failed to halt the Nazi policy. Continued in The Years of Extermination, 1939–1945: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945 (New York: HarperCollins, 2007).

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  • Gellately, Robert. Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    Anti-Semitism alone cannot explain the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust. Based on primary sources, including government archives and news media, the author maintains that the public was fully aware of the Nazi genocidal policies and that many citizens, performing their patriotic duties, as defined by the regime, cooperated with the Gestapo.

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  • Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Knopf, 1996.

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    This volume asserts that ordinary but anti-Semitic Germans—civil servants, merchants, workers, and students—directly and willingly participated in the daily operations of the machinery of mass murder to annihilate the Jews. Centuries of demonization of the Jews and “eliminationist anti-Semitism” had prepared these Germans for the task.

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  • Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. 3d ed. 3 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

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    Originally published in 1961. A groundbreaking study of the Holocaust, this book set the future research agenda for Holocaust studies. Covers the history of anti-Semitism and underscores the role of bureaucrats, who directly facilitated or were complicit in the administration of mass violence and the murder of Jews.

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  • Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity. Translated by Stuart Woolf. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

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    Originally published in 1947, in Italian, as Se questo è un uomo (If this is a man). This memoir captures in vivid detail Levi’s life in the concentration camp at Auschwitz from February 1944 until January 1945. He discusses victim’s physical pain and psychological trauma and the perpetrator’s culture of xenophobia and tyranny.

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  • Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic, 1986.

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    Studies the extent to which Nazi doctors were engaged in medical experiments in the concentration camps and oversaw, as routine process, eugenics and euthanasia, the mass murder of those deemed physically unfit to live. Younger doctors who were committed to Nazism participated in mass murder, while also seeking to advance their careers.

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  • Steinweis, Alan E. Kristallnacht 1938. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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    Drawing on postwar trial documents and survivor testimonies, this book demonstrates that the pogroms of November 1938, though organized by the Nazis, were also public expressions of virulent anti-Semitism. As Germans attacked Jews, the police did not intervene to stop the violence.

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Bangladesh, 1971

Despite the extensive attention the genocide in Bangladesh received in the 1970s, this case has been neglected by the scholarly community. Prior to the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan consisted of two regions, West Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh), separated by more than a thousand miles and, as Sisson and Rose 1990 and Mascarenhas 1975 demonstrate, a culture of distrust. Mascarenhas 1971, Akmam 2002, and Jahan 2009 argue that both Hindus and Muslims in East Pakistan supported independence because of the economic disparities and the Pakistani policy to thwart Bengali political aspirations. West Pakistani leaders considered Bengalis an inferior race and contaminated by Hindu religion; these leaders sought to purify the Muslim community. The Awami League, headed by Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, led the Bengali secessionist movement. Two events, a natural disaster and a constitutional crisis, led to the liberation war and the genocide. Bose 2011 recounts the events, beginning in 1968, and the rise of General Yahya Khan as president on 25 March 1969. First, the government’s near total neglect of the humanitarian crisis caused by a cyclone in November 1970 (which claimed between 250,000 and 500,000 lives) exacerbated the political situation. Second, the leadership caused intense conflict and a constitutional crisis in the aftermath of elections in December 1970. Sisson and Rose 1990 and Bangla Desh: Documents show the election results: Mujib’s Awami League secured 160 of the 162 seats in East Pakistan’s provincial assembly and a clear majority (160 of the 300 seats) in the National Assembly. Payne 1973 notes that Mujib would have become prime minister, but Yahya’s regime rejected the results, opting instead for political maneuvering disguised as negotiations. On 25 March 1971 the Pakistani army attacked Dhaka, and the following day East Pakistan declared its independence as Bangladesh. During the next nine months the Pakistani army and its local collaborators retaliated with full force; this genocidal campaign took between one and three million lives and generated a horrific refugee crisis as an estimated ten million fled to India.

  • Akmam, Wardatul. “Atrocities against Humanity during the Liberation War in Bangladesh: A Case of Genocide.” Journal of Genocide Research 4.4 (2002): 543–559.

    DOI: 10.1080/146235022000000463Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes East Pakistan–West Pakistan hostilities, which were intensified by widening economic disparities between the two regions. The West Pakistani military’s reaction to the Bengali secessionist movement led to the wholesale massacres of Bengalis. Akmam discusses various definitions of “genocide” and their applicability to the case of Bangladesh and contends that the massacres of Bengali Hindus constituted a genocide. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Bangla Desh: Documents. 2 vols. New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, 1971–1973.

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    A valuable collection of documents, containing background material (including a commentary by Hans J. Morgenthau); addresses and statements by the key personalities; various data, such as election results; reports and declarations by political parties; and newspaper articles depicting the atrocities committed during the genocide.

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  • Bose, Sarmila. Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

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    This study is based on interviews of genocide survivors and Pakistani participants (including Pakistani army officers), case studies, and visits to sites in Bangladesh. Sarmila describes the events leading to the Pakistani military intervention in East Pakistan and chronicles the wholesale violence.

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  • Jahan, Rounaq. “Genocide in Bangladesh.” In Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. 3d ed. Edited by Samuel Totten and William S. Parsons, 297–321. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Examines the causes and consequences of the genocide and the different strategies employed by the Pakistani army in organizing it. Although the international community failed to prevent the genocide and opposed postgenocide trials, the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations dispatched relief aid to Bangladesh. Presents several eyewitness accounts.

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  • Mascarenhas, Anthony. The Rape of Bangla Desh. Delhi: Vikas, 1971.

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    Written by a journalist, this powerful work captures the tragedy of massacres and destruction. The text offers background material and explanations regarding the genocide. The genocide is discussed in some detail. A number of useful appendixes provide documents and the chronology of the events leading up to the genocide.

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  • Mascarenhas, Anthony. “Bangladesh: A Profile of 20th Century Genocide.” In Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: A World Survey. Vol. 1. Edited by Willem A. Veenhoven, 241–257. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1975.

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    This paper underscores the cultural differences between East and West Pakistan. Mascarenhas details West Pakistan’s discriminatory practices in various areas (e.g., politics, language, economy, and religion), which contributed to the polarization of society and culminated in the genocide. The absence of democratic institutions and practices amplified the deleterious impact of such factors on the relationship between East and West Pakistan.

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  • Payne, Robert. Massacre. New York: Macmillan, 1973.

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    Payne considers in detail the events leading up to the genocide, the principal perpetrators, and the genocide. Identifies eight stages of genocide. Yahya Khan was determined to prevent Sheikh Mujibar Rahman from assuming office as prime minister and pretended to encourage the postelection negotiations in order to buy time to carefully organize the massacres.

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  • Sisson, Richard, and Leo E. Rose. War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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    Comprehensive treatment of Pakistani politics and the genocide. Sisson places the unfolding crisis in the context of international diplomacy. Also contains interviews of many of the principal figures in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the United States.

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Cambodia, 1975–1979

Several studies offer excellent historical background material and assessment of the Communist Khmer Rouge (Red Khmer) regime and its atrocities in Cambodia after gaining power in April 1975, in the aftermath of a protracted civil war. Kiernan 2008 provides a fairly comprehensive analysis of the Khmer Rouge government and the genocide. Chandler 1999 examines the personality of Pol Pot, his life, and events that shaped his worldview, his joining of the Communist Party while in France perhaps serving as a significant point in his career. Chandler 1991 looks at Cambodian culture and values; similar to Kiernan 2008, Chandler 1991 and Short 2005 analyze the Pol Pot regime’s ideological hostility toward Westernization, modernization, and capitalism and the obsessive drive to total autarky. The consolidation of power by the totalitarian clique not only did not allow for opposition, but all rights associated with political and civil liberties were crushed as well, along with money economy, newspapers, and courts. An extremely valuable compilation of documents, De Nike, et al. 2000, gives a vivid picture, through numerous eyewitness accounts, of the brutalities committed by the regime and offers an excellent supplementary reader to Kiernan 2008 and Short 2005. Short 2005, Kiernan 2008, and Chandler 1991 study in some detail the Pol Pot regime’s genocidal policies soon after consolidation of power. The regime turned Cambodia into a prison camp and, its citizens, totaling eight million, into prisoners; the regime targeted workers; journalists, lawyers, doctors, and other educated persons; and ethnic and religious groups—Cham Muslim, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese—and caused the death of approximately two million Cambodians. The Khmer Rouge repeatedly raided Vietnamese territory, which led to a war with and an invasion by Vietnam that finally resulted in the overthrow of the Khmer government in January 1979.

  • Chandler, David P. The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War, and Revolution since 1945. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.

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    Stresses Cambodian political culture and traditional values and attributes the genocide to poor leadership, its ideology of reviving the Cambodian empire and “glorious past,” and its miscalculated policies based on emulation of foreign models that were not applicable to Cambodia. The Pol Pot regime emphasized agriculture and sought to eradicate urban capitalism and Westernization in an effort to create a new Cambodia.

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  • Chandler, David P. Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Rev. ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1999.

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    Examines the life of the Khmer Rouge leader. Chandler seeks to understand and may even appear sympathetic toward Pol Pot. Ordinary and mild-mannered but virulently ultranationalistic, Pol Pot was responsible for the genocidal murder of more than one million Cambodians, one of the most horrible human catastrophes of the 20th century.

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  • De Nike, Howard J., John Quigley, and Kenneth J. Robinson, eds. Genocide in Cambodia: Documents from the Trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary. Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

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    A valuable source for eyewitness accounts and reports compiled for the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal in August 1979. The documents depict the atrocities committed by the Pol Pot regime against the Cambodian people, intellectuals, clergy, and ethnic minorities (the Muslim Cham, Chinese, and Vietnamese).

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  • Kiernan, Ben. The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975–79. 3d ed. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    Provides one of the best and most comprehensive analyses of the Cambodian genocide, the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge, and the consolidation of totalitarian rule. The regime’s racist ideology shaped its genocidal policy of creating an ethnically and ideologically pure Khmer society.

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  • Short, Philip. Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare. New York: Holt, 2005.

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    Based on interviews with leaders of the Khmer Rouge and archival sources, this study explores Cambodian culture and the intellectual origins of the Khmer leadership in the context of the highly unstable regional politics. Upon assuming power, the Khmer leaders became extremely nationalistic, particularly in response to the Vietnamese threat.

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East Timor, 1975–1999

The literature on the genocide in East Timor emphasizes the international, geopolitical situation in the region as directly contributing to the genocide. Jardine 1999 provides historical background and presents the genocide in East Timor in a long historical perspective. The Indonesian president Suharto (1968–1998), who enjoyed Western support for his anti-Communist policies, viewed the civil war in East Timor as an opportunity to annex it in the name of “Indonesianization.” Ramos-Horta 1987 offers a firsthand account of the Indonesian invasion in December 1975 and the ensuing human rights violations and bloodshed. Taylor 1999 focuses primarily on the egregious human rights violations by the Indonesian army. Tanter, et al. 2006 examines the key personalities engaged in the atrocities of 1999. Nevins 2005 contends that the international community failed to act because of the lack of political will at the United Nations and among the governments historically involved in Indonesia and East Timor. When in August 1999, in a UN-sponsored referendum, East Timorese voted for independence, the Indonesian army, unwilling to leave in defeat, unleashed a campaign of terror, killing more than 1,500 people and forcing the evacuation of approximately 250,000. Robinson 2009 also condemns the failure of the United Nations to prevent the bloodshed; however, unlike most other studies on this case, Robinson 2009 gives a more optimistic assessment of Australia’s role and maintains that the Australian intervention in 1999 perhaps prevented another round of genocide. In May 2002, East Timor finally achieved independence. By then, Indonesia’s genocidal measures had cost between 130,000 and 200,000 East Timorese lives (30 percent of the population) during the 1975–1999 period.

  • Jardine, Matthew. East Timor: Genocide in Paradise. 2d ed. Monroe, ME: Odonian, 1999.

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    Presents a brief background history, including the end of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia in 1949 and plans to end Portuguese colonial rule in East Timor in the fall of 1976. Examines the atrocities committed by the Indonesian army in the aftermath of the invasion in East Timor on 7 December 1975, in the name of Indonesianization.

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  • Nevins, Joseph. A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005.

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    Discusses the destruction caused by the Indonesian military after East Timor, in a UN-sponsored referendum, voted for independence in August 1999. The volume also stresses the failure of the international community to prevent the bloodshed and argues that lack of political will and geopolitical and economic interests prevented such action.

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  • Ramos-Horta, José. Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea, 1987.

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    Provides a personal account of the human catastrophe unfolding in East Timor after the Indonesian military invasion on 7 December 1975. The analysis is placed within the context of international relations and the failure of Australia, the United States, and the United Nations to prevent the humanitarian crisis.

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  • Robinson, Geoffrey. “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor. Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

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    Based on eyewitness accounts and documents, Robinson offers a case of a successful termination of violence. Although the international community had failed to intervene to stop the genocide in the 1970s and the bloodshed in 1999, in the latter case, the Australian-led intervention under the International Force for East Timor sanctioned by the UN Security Council prevented another genocide.

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  • Tanter, Richard, Desmond Ball, and Gerry van Klinken, eds. Masters of Terror: Indonesia’s Military and Violence in East Timor. World Social Change. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006.

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    Analyses of the principal actors in the atrocities committed in 1999 by the Indonesian military and the East Timorese militia loyal to it. The volume contains useful chronology detailing the events from 21 May 1998 to late October 1999.

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  • Taylor, John G. East Timor: The Price of Freedom. Politics in Contemporary Asia. New York: Zed, 1999.

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    Looks at the human rights violations by the Indonesian military as it sought to integrate East Timor. Taylor covers the disappearances, tortures, forced evacuation, and mass murder. He suggests various scenarios regarding the future of East Timor. Contains a chronology from 1974 to 1999.

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Bosnia, 1991–1995

Among the many excellent studies on the Bosnian case, Gagnon 2004 and Cigar 1995 remain the best. Contrary to perceptions in the West, Gagnon 2004 maintains that ethnic hostilities, though not irrelevant, were not the primary cause of the genocide in Bosnia. Instead, the political leadership in Serbia and Croatia opted for war and mass violence so as to marginalize the opposition, while pressing for market liberalization for their own economic interests. Cigar 1995 provides a detailed analysis of the aftermath of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, which unleashed powerful nationalist movements. Sells 1996 examines the causes of the genocide in Bosnia, identifying key ideological components that motivated the Serbians under Slobodan Milošević as tensions between Serbia and the other constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia escalated. Milošević and his cohorts sought to eliminate the Bosniacs (Bosnian Muslims) as part of their “Greater Serbia” project and to that end imposed dictatorial rule, seized control of both the press and electronic media, and installed supporters in positions of power. Cigar 1995 and Sells 1996 assert that the virulence of Serbian and Croat ultranationalism was grounded in cultural and religious symbolism and used to mobilize the public against Bosnians—the latter branded “Christ killers.” Cigar 1995 and Cushman and Milošević 1996 evaluate the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church (headed by Patriarch Pavle) and Serbian intellectuals as sources of legitimation for the perpetrators of the genocide. Gutman 1993 consists of news reports covering the genocide. Vulliamy 1994 looks at the genocide, drawing on news articles, interviews, and eyewitness accounts. The Yugoslavian federal army, under Milošević, with great brutality commenced a war that during the next four years claimed more than one hundred thousand lives and destroyed cities, infrastructure, religious buildings, libraries, and culture.

  • Cigar, Norman. Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of “Ethnic Cleansing.” Eastern European Studies. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995.

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    Based on meticulous documentation of the Serbian policy of annihilation of Muslim Bosnians, this study maintains that rather than spontaneous outbursts of atrocities, the genocide was premeditated and systematic, as part of the project of creating a Greater Serbia under the Serbian leader Milošević, with the support of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

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  • Cushman, Thomas, and Stjepan G. Milošević, eds. This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

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    Papers cover broader themes than the title suggests. Particularly useful are Philip J. Cohen’s essay on the complicity of Serbian intellectuals in the genocide and Michael Barnett’s comparative analysis of the UN responses to the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia. Barnett attributes the UN failure to act to bureaucratization and a preference for protecting its own reputation over securing the safety of victims.

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  • Gagnon, V. P., Jr. The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

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    Provides a valuable counterimage to perceptions that the Bosnian war was the result of ancient ethnic hostilities. The violence was not inevitable, but instigated by the political elites in Serbia and Croatia for their own political and economic gain.

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  • Gutman, Roy. A Witness to Genocide: The 1993 Pulitzer Prize–Winning Dispatches on the “Ethnic Cleansing” of Bosnia. New York: Macmillan, 1993.

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    A compilation of Newsday articles from November 1991 to June 1993 on the genocide in Bosnia, this book contains reports of the mass murder, forced deportation, concentration camps, and destruction of Bosnian Muslim culture by Serbs. Based on eyewitness accounts as well as interviews with Serb authorities and Bosnian prisoners and victims.

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  • Sells, Michael A. The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. Comparative Studies in Religion and Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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    Examines the causes and consequences of the genocide in Bosnia, paying close attention to the religious aspect of the stereotyping and dehumanizing of the target group (i.e., Bosnians) by the perpetrators. The virulence of Serbian and Croat ultranationalism was grounded in cultural and religious symbolism.

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  • Vulliamy, Ed. Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War. New York: St. Martin’s, 1994.

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    Based on interviews, eyewitness accounts, and newspaper reports, this volume covers the destruction of cities, infrastructure, religious buildings, and libraries. Vulliamy reports the destruction by the Serbs of several mosques built in the 15th and 16th centuries and laments that his generation, very similar to the previous generation, witnessed genocide.

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Rwanda, 1994

The Rwandan genocide has generated an enormous literature within a relatively short period of time. Although each work focuses on a specific aspect of the genocide, a general consensus has emerged as to the causes of the genocide, the principal perpetrators, and the events leading to the genocide. Gourevitch 1998 and Mamdani 2001 are two among many works that provide excellent analyses of the history and political background, although Mamdani 2001 does not focus on the genocide. Melvern 2006 notes that the Hutu–Tutsi relations turned particularly hostile after the Hutu revolution of 1959. In 1990 the Front Patriotique Rwandais (Rwandan Patriotic Front), formed by Tutsi refugees in Uganda, invaded Rwanda, and President Juvénal Habyarimana (r. 1973–1994) reacted with force. Finally, it was the crisis after his assassination on 6 April 1994, in a plane crash, that propelled Rwanda into a genocidal state. The new regime, led by President Théodore Sindikubwabo, Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, and Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, launched a massive propaganda campaign, in which the Tutsi were labeled ibyitso (traitors) and inyenzi (cockroaches). The genocide, which lasted a mere one hundred days (6 April–17 July 1994), claimed approximately five hundred thousand Tutsi lives (nearly 75 percent of the Tutsi population), according to Des Forges 1999; others estimate as high as eight hundred thousand. Gourevitch 1998, Prunier 1995, and Melvern 2006 draw on primary sources, firsthand accounts, interviews, and official Rwandan and UN reports to discuss the genocide in great detail. Des Forges 1999 contains minutes of meetings by the perpetrators, which reveal the intention of the Sindikubwabo government to annihilate the Tutsi. Equally revealing is the interview in Gourevitch 1998 with Sindikubwabo, who fled to Zaire after the genocide. Contrary to perceptions that the genocide was the result of spontaneous, haphazard, chaotic violence, these studies and Straus 2006 concur that the genocide was systematic and planned. Melvern 2006 and Dallaire 2004 offer scathing assessments of the international community for its failure to prevent the genocide.

  • Dallaire, Roméo. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2004.

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    Written by a Canadian general who served as head of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, this book ranks among the best sources documenting the genocide. His attempts to mediate between the two sides failed, and the United Nations ignored his urgent reports advising action.

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  • Des Forges, Alison. “Leave None to Tell the Story”: Genocide in Rwanda. New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999.

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    Report based on eyewitness accounts, interviews, and various documentation—such as minutes of Hutu meetings. This study analyzes the political, sociological, and cultural factors, including the ubiquitous and virulent Hutu propaganda targeting the Tutsi, which propelled Rwandan society to genocide. Foreign governments continued their diplomatic and military relations with the perpetrators.

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  • Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998.

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    An excellent and detailed analysis of the political and psychological aspects of the genocide in Rwanda and the local and international responses to it. Gourevitch offers a powerful firsthand account of his travels in war-ravaged Rwanda and records the public’s memories of the atrocities.

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  • Mamdani, Mahmood. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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    Provides an analysis of the hostilities in Rwanda from the perspective of postcolonial scholarship and the legacy of colonialism. Stresses Hutu–Tutsi ethnocultural differences and the sense of superiority the Hutu felt toward the Tutsi. The study also considers the regional and international context of the genocide.

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  • Melvern, Linda. Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide. Rev. ed. London and New York: Verso, 2006.

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    The study draws on interviews and Rwandan and UN documents and identifies the principal perpetrators (e.g., Jean Kambanda and Théoneste Bagosora) of the genocide. The massacres occurred in the context of deep ethnic hatred and brutal Hutu leadership, with international networks in arms trade and imports of machetes for the militias.

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  • Prunier, Gérard. The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

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    Prunier views the genocidal events as almost inevitable, given the political and ideological conditions under Hutu leadership, political and economic considerations, and unfolding military conflicts. The racialist conceptions of the native peoples inherited from German and Belgian colonial rule contributed to the genocidal mentality.

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  • Straus, Scott. The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.

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    Argues that the Hutu political elite deliberately organized the genocide, exercised tight control over state administration, and launched a propaganda campaign to kill Tutsis. Many perpetrators mentioned fear of punishment (e.g., death and physical harm) by Hutus, obedience to the authorities, and protection of family as motivating factors to participate in the killing.

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LAST MODIFIED: 11/21/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199743292-0105

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