Genocide Versus Democide

June 25, 2009

[February 4, 2005] I want to comment on the UN report denying genocide in Darfur. But, first I want to clarify the difference between genocide and democide. Often in this blog I use the latter term democide for murder by government, as do some of my links. But the more popular term is genocide, as in the aforementioned UN report.

What are the differences and similarities between democide and genocide? As defined, elaborated, and qualified in my Death By Government). Democide is any murder by officials acting under the authority of the central government. That is, they act according to explicit or implicit government policy or with the implicit or explicit approval of the highest officials. Such was the burying alive of Chinese civilians by Japanese soldiers, the shooting of hostages by German soldiers, or the starving to death of Ukrainians by communist cadre.

Genocide, however, is a confused and confusing concept. It may or may not include government murder, refer to wholly or partially eliminating some group, or involve psychological damage. If it includes government murder, it may mean all such murder or just some. Boiling all this down, genocide can have three different meanings (on this, see my encyclopedia entry here).

One meaning is that defined by international treaty, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This makes genocide a punishable crime under international law, and defines it as:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Note that only the first clause includes outright killing, while the other clauses cover non-killing ways of eliminating a group. I will call this definition the legal meaning of genocide, since it is now part of international law.

Regardless of this definition and doubtlessly influenced by the Holocaust, ordinary usage and that by students of genocide have tended to wholly equate it with the murder and only the murder by government of people because of their nationality, race, ethnicity, or religion. This equating of genocide with the killing of people because of their indelible group membership I will label the common meaning of genocide.

What about government murdering people for other reasons than their indelible group membership? What about government organized death squads eliminating communist sympathizers, simply fulfilling a government death quota (as in the Soviet Union under Stalin), or the murder of those who criticized government policy? None of such murders are genocide according the legal and common meanings. To cover such murders, some students of genocide have stretched its meaning to include all government murder, regardless of group identity. This may be aptly named the generalized meaning of genocide. In this meaning, genocide = democide.

As obvious, the problem with the generalized meaning of genocide is that to fill one void it creates another. For if genocide refers to all government murder, what are we to call the murder of people because of their nationality, race, ethnicity, or religion? It is precisely because of this conceptual problem that the concept of democide is useful.

For understanding and research, the legal view of genocide is too complex and subsumes behavior too different in kind. I argue, therefore, that genocide should ordinarily be understood as the government murder of people because of their indelible group membership (let the international lawyers struggle with the legal meaning), and democide as any murder by government, including this form of genocide.

This understood, governments murdered about 170,000,000 people in the last century, 1900-1987. Around 38,000,000 of that was genocide. For what governments committed what and when, see Tables 16A.1 of my Statistics of Democide (link here).

Link of Note

”20th Century Democide” By R.J. Rummel

A narrative and statistical overview.

Power kills, absolute Power kills absolutely . . . . The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more it is diffused, checked and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide. At the extremes of Power, totalitarian communist governments slaughter their people by the tens of millions, while many democracies can barely bring themselves to execute even serial murderers.

Armenian Genocide

June 6, 2009

[first published May 4, 2005] Were the total number of human beings murdered by governments—their democide—widely known, it would be stunning and chilling. And perhaps it would bring pressure on liberal democracies, the only type of government that does not murder its own, to stop the democide now going on in Sudan, North Korea, Burma, and various other thugdoms in Africa.

In the history of this democide in the last century, one that stands out for various reasons is the mass murder of Armenians, Greeks, and other Christians by the Young Turk rulers during 1915 to 1918. It was well planned in the highest councils of government, and well prepared and organized, as was the Holocaust. Then in 1915 the telegrammed order, “Take care of the Armenians,” launched the genocide.

The Young Turk government collapsed with Turkey’s defeat along with its ally Germany in World War I. But, the killing did not end then. Within less than a year of their defeat the post-war Turkish government was taken over by Kemal Attaturk, whose positive reputation in the West hides the fact that he restarted the genocide of the Armenians, and with a greater focus on wiping out the Greek minority also.

The table below provides the totals. The large collection of estimates, sources, and my calculations behind this these numbers is in Chapter 5 of my Statistics of Democide .

Among genocide scholars the entire focus is on the Young Turks, and the United States State Department is often questioned by them about what it knows. After all, the United States had full information about the genocide from it is ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, and other diplomats in Turkey at the time. Ambassaador Morgenthau actually wrote a book published in 1919 that described the genocide. But, for political reasons the State Department refuses to make its archives on the genocide public, or even acknowledge that the genocide took place. Now, Israel—ISRAEL—not only joins the United States in this, but also pressures its genocide scholars and others against public comments on it.

How explain this? By two words that I increasingly find distasteful—real politic. I hope some day we can encase in lead the foreign policy these words describe and drop it in the deepest part of the ocean. The sound we might then hear could be the cheering of all the dead souls whose memory this policy has consigned to oblivion.

Link of Note

”Rattling the Cage: Playing politics with genocide” (4/21/05) By Larry Derfner, The Jerusalem Post

I am including the following article in full, since one has to register with the newspaper to read it.

“And the world stood silent.” This is one of the most indelible Jewish memories of the Holocaust, and one of our most bitter accusations.

On Sunday, in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide the slaughter of at least 1 million Armenian civilians by the Turkish Ottoman regime will be memorialized.

What does the State of Israel and many of its American Jewish lobbyists have to say about it, about this first genocide of the 20th century? If they were merely standing silent, that would be an improvement. Instead, on the subject of the Armenian genocide, Israel and some US Jewish organizations, notably the American Jewish Committee, have for many years acted aggressively as silencers. In Israel, attempts to broadcast documentaries about the genocide on state-run television have been aborted. A program to teach the genocide in public schools was watered down to the point that history teachers refused to teach it.

In the US Congress, resolutions to recognize the genocide and the Ottoman Turks’ responsibility for it have been snuffed out by Turkey and its right-hand man on this issue, the Israel lobby.

Jeshajahu Weinberg, founding director of the US Holocaust Museum, wrote that when Armenians lobbied to show the genocide in the museum, Turkey and Israel counter-lobbied to keep out any trace of it. The museum decided to make three mentions of the genocide, including Hitler’s call to his troops to be merciless to their victims: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Over 125 Holocaust scholars including Elie Wiesel, Deborah Lipstadt, Daniel Goldhagen, Raul Hilberg and Yehuda Bauer have signed ads in the New York Times demanding acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and the Ottoman Turks’ culpability for it. Wiesel testified in Congress on behalf of such a resolution. The International Association of Genocide Scholars which, by the way, is studded with Jewish names holds the same view as a matter of course.

In the face of all this, Israel’s position, as articulated by then-foreign minister Shimon Peres before a 2001 visit to Turkey, says the Armenian genocide is “a matter for historians to decide.”

The American Jewish Committee’s position is that of “the US government, the government of Israel, and the Turkish Jewish community: that this is an issue best left to historians, not politicians,” says Barry Jacobs of the AJC’s Washington office.

Off the record, a Foreign Ministry official describes Israel’s approach to the issue as “practical, realpolitik. Whoever sees our position in this region can understand how important our relations with Turkey are.”

And that’s what determines the Israeli and US Jewish establishment stand on the Armenian genocide Israel’s crucial military, economic and political ties with Turkey.

Then, along with the “realpolitik” considerations, there’s the Jewish people’s weighty moral debt to Turkey, a safe harbor for Jews since the Spanish Inquisition over 500 years ago.

Finally, on a petty level, there’s the worry that letting the Armenian genocide out of history’s closet might diminish the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust in people’s minds.

“Frankly, I’m pretty disgusted. I think that my government preferred economic and political relations with Turkey to the truth. I can understand why they did it, but I don’t agree with it.”

That’s Yehuda Bauer talking. He’s Israel’s leading Holocaust historian, an Israel Prize winner, and now academic adviser to Yad Vashem. He began studying the Armenian genocide about 25 years ago as a natural outgrowth of his study of the Holocaust.

For 80 years, says Bauer, Turkey has been “denying the genocide… saying, ‘Yes, there was terrible suffering on both sides, the Turkish versus the Armenian, these things happen in war.’ But that’s nonsense. This was a definite, planned attack on a civilian minority, and whatever Armenian resistance there was came in response to the imminent danger of mass murder.”

To Turkey’s claim, backed by Israel and its Washington lobby, that there’s no conclusive proof of a Turkish Ottoman order for the mass murder of Armenians, Bauer says, “Oh, there’s no doubt about it whatsoever. It’s absolutely clear.” He cites “thousands” of testimonials from US, German and Austrian officials who were in Turkey and what is now Armenia when it happened.

One of the most important of those witnesses was US ambassador to Turkey Henry Morganthau a Jew, incidentally. He wrote that the “persecution of Armenians is assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate a systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and… arbitrary efforts, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.”

Israel and the Israel lobby fully acknowledge that the Armenians suffered a terrible “tragedy.” A Foreign Ministry statement even notes that “the Jewish people have a special sensitivity to the murders and human tragedies that occurred during the years 1915 and 1916.”

They just won’t say who was to blame, or whether Turkey bears historical responsibility. Mention Wiesel and all the rest of the Holocaust and genocide historians, and the Israeli and US Jewish officials come back off the record with the renowned Bernard Lewis. Along with a few other American historians, Lewis says it wasn’t a genocide at all, that World War I was going on and Armenians were fighting with Russia against the Turks, and that you can’t blame Turkey for what happened, not then and certainly not now.

Thus the official Israeli/Jewish line: “It’s a matter for historians to decide.”

Fair enough. Even though Lewis’s side is terribly outnumbered among Western historians, let’s say the burden of proof lies with Wiesel, Bauer, Lipstadt et al, who say the Ottoman Turks ordered the massacre of 1 million-1.5 million Armenians. Let’s say Israeli and US Jewish leaders aren’t competent to judge who’s right and who’s wrong.

And let’s even give their declared neutrality the benefit of the doubt because of Israel’s relations with Turkey, and Turkey’s long history of welcoming Jews in distress.

The point is this: Israel and the US Jewish establishment may say they’re neutral over what happened to the Armenians 90 years ago, but their actions say the opposite. They’ve not only taken sides, they’re on the barricades. They’ve done everything they can to cover up what the great majority of historians, including the entire community of Holocaust scholars, say was a clear-cut case of genocide.

Jews shouldn’t do this for any reason. Ninety years after the Armenian genocide, there is a decent Jewish response to the sickening behavior of the State of Israel, the American Jewish Committee and other US Jewish organizations: Not in our name.

Never Again Series

Its Democide, Not Politicide

May 8, 2009

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[First published October 25, 2005] Some of you may have come across the term politicide. Barbara Harff (here) and I independently developed the concept. I used it to refer to the murder by government of people because of their politics, political activities, or their threat to the government. Politicide is not genocide, which is the attempt to eliminate in whole or in part people because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, or religion.

Harff, unfortunately, and those who have followed on her research have used the term to define any government murder other than genocide. This is a simple misunderstanding of the extent and variety of government murder. True, when a government kills “rightists,” “counterrevolutionaries,” or officials of the former defeated government, as Mao did in China, it was politicide. When Pol Pot tortured and murdered Khmer Rouge for supposedly plotting against him, it was politicide. When Lenin had Czar Nicolas II and his whole family assassinated in 1918, it was politicide. But then much, if not most, government murder is not politicide or genocide, but democide.

Now, democide is any murder by government, which is the intentional killing of unarmed people for whatever purpose. It is comparable to the concept of murder in domestic law. It includes genocide, politicide, massacres, atrocities, assassination, extermination, ethnic cleansing (if killing is involved), suicide bombing, and indiscriminate shelling, bombing, and strafing.

The problem with equating politicide with democide is the killing that is thereby omitted. For example, everyone knows about the so-called Rape of Nanking by the Japanese Army when it captured the city on December 13th, 1937. Its soldiers were given freedom to rape, loot, and kill for nearly two months. I calculate that about 200,000 civilians and POWs thus were massacred. But while some killing was politicide, most was not. The label cannot be applied, say, to women being raped and then murdered, or husbands and fathers shot while trying to prevent their wives or daughters from being raped. Nor, can it apply it to the binding of POWs together, pouring gasoline on them, and burning them alive, or using them for bayonet practice.

Similarly with the widespread rape and murder of helpless women and children as the Red Army pursued the defeated Germans across Eastern Europe and into Germany in 1945. None of this should be characterized as politicide, but as democide.

You may be surprised at the extent to which empirical research and solid research conclusions depend on the proper conceptualization of the subject. While the discussion of politics can tolerate confusion over such terms as liberal (as vs. 19th century liberal), scientific research begins with establishing and defining terms. And in research on the democratic peace, it is especially important to distinguish politicide from democide — that is, murder for political purposes from wanton murder.

Link of Note

“‘Us’ or ‘Them’?” By Thomas Sowell


Compromise and tolerance are not the hallmarks of true believers. What they believe in goes to the heart of what they are. As far as true believers are concerned, you are either one of Us or one of Them.
. . . [M]any issues that look on the surface like they are just about which alternative would best serve the general public are really about being one of Us or one of Them — and this woman was not about to become one of Them.

Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.

RJR: Exactly. And now I have the characterization of the 50-times-more-effective Gartzke (here) for which I was looking. He is a true believer.

Links I Must Share

“79% of Iraqi voters back constitution “

RJR: Much better than the American Constitution would have done if put to a referendum, and like the two Sunni provinces that voted in large numbers against it, so would have Maryland for sure, and perhaps Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts (only nine states needed for ratification).

“Rice Outlines Iraq Victory Strategy On Capitol Hill “:

. . . .The key to victory over the insurgency in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Senate Committee on Foreign Relations members, is to “clear areas from insurgent control, hold them securely, and build durable, national Iraqi institutions.” American servicemen and women are fighting in Iraq “at a pivotal time in world history,” Rice said. Efforts to defeat the insurgents “must succeed,” she said, if the Iraqis are to be successful in establishing an inclusive, democratic government unique in the Middle East. “Let’s work together on how we will win,” Rice said, calling for increased collaboration between U.S., coalition, and Iraqi security forces, as well as help from the U.S. Congress.

“Leahy says president needs to find plan to bring troops home”:

The president must develop a plan to bring the troops home from Iraq, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said Tuesday. “The American people need to know that the president has a plan that will bring our troops home,” said Leahy in a speech delivered in the Senate.

“This war has been a costly disaster for our country,” he said. “Far from making us safer from terrorists, in fact it has turned Iraq into a haven and recruiting ground for terrorists and deflected our attention and resources away from the fight against terrorism,” he said. “If anything, it has emboldened our enemies, as it has become increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world cannot stop a determined insurgency.”

RJR: Relevant follow-on to Rice’s hope above. This was said after the above announcement of the Iraqi constitution’s victory. He, and his liberal-left colleagues, are playing the Vietnam song all over again. We won every battle in Vietnam, the South was democratizing, but with the Democrats controlling Congress and the budget, they forced us to leave Vietnam to the communists and many Vietnamese to their deaths. Good thing the Republicans now control Congress, and we should make sure they continue to do so after the 2006 election.

” With a Whimper” Victor Davis Hanson:

How the violence in Iraq will end. . . . So when this is all over — and it will be more quickly than we imagine — there will be a viable constitutional government in Iraq. But the achievement will be considered either a natural organic process, or adopted as a success by former critics only at its safe, penultimate stage.
Most of us tragically will forget many of the American soldiers who courageously fought, died, and gave the Middle East its freedom and us our security. Purple fingers, not overloaded American helicopters taking off from the embassy roof, is the future of Iraq.
Yes, the terrorists’ assault against the Iraqi democracy will end — as all failed insurrections do — not with a bang but with a whimper.

RJR: As history has mercifully forgotten all the no-sayers about the democratization of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany, and an American victory in the Cold War, so it will do so when Iraq is fully democratized and a stable contributor to peace and human security in the Middle East.

“Syria’s dissidents unite to issue call for change “
RJR: Democratic change in Syria is inevitable, but given the small ethnic gang that rules with their guns, I fear that such change will come only through massive internal violence, and life-saving intervention.

Book 3 of the Never Again Series
free in pdf

Repeat After Me — There Was An Armenian Genocide

April 3, 2009

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[First published September 26, 2005] I’ve gotten more email from Turks or Muslims asking how I could make such a damning claim that Turkey committed genocide. I write back that they’ve been brainwashed.

Turkey did murder about 2,000,000 Armenians and 350,000 Greeks, the first such extensive genocide of the last century (the first was the German slaughter of 65,000 Herero in Namibia in 1904). I know, I know, my figure of Armenian’s murdered far surpasses the 1,500,000 most often given by Armenian and genocide scholars, but they are only counting that period during WWI when the Young Turks were in power. I included the post war period when the Nationalist under Atatürk continued the genocide of Armenians and added the Greeks, and so mentioning Atatürk enrages Turk students the most. After all, he is a hero to Turks and the father of modern Turkey.

There is no doubt this genocide occurred. Genocide scholars, without exception, agree on this, the relevant documents were generated by two court trials, there is voluminous reports from the American ambassador and other diplomats in Turkey, and refugee reports are consistent on this. Nonetheless, Turkey has succeeded in casting doubt on the genocide. Their story is that the Armenians were in rebellion and siding with Russia, which invaded Turkey during the war, and besides which they had killed many Muslim Turks, which they did. Thus, what is interpreted as genocide was an attempt by the Young Turks to subdue the rebellion, and deport Armenians away from the border with Russia.

Then there are the American academic experts on Turkey who agree with Turkey that there was no genocide, but in effect a civil war. But, one has to be careful with these people. Often they are doing research on Turkey under Turkish grants or support, and second they can be denied access to the Turkish archives. Its inner reaches are only available with government permission.

And with sorrow, I must add that the American State Department refuses to recognize this genocide even though our ambassador at the time, Henry Morgenthau, reported extensively on it. We know this because he wrote a book, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story , in which he detailed the genocide. In spite the of documentation that must fill a significant area of the State’s archives, why does it continue to deny what every researcher with the exception of Turkey’s sycophants know, and even what Congress is now considering as a concurrent resolution recognizing the genocide (go here)? Real politics.

Our relationship with Turkey is considered important, and being on the northern borders of Iraq and Syria, a Turkish support is critical, especially it swallowing the acerbic pill of autonomy for the Iraqi Kurds under the proposed Iraqi constitution — for Turkey a bad example to their own near 14 million Kurds (about 20% of the population). Repeatedly, the State Department has refused to recognize genocide, or even democide. Not by Turkey, not by Nazi Germany, not by Stalin, not by Mao, not by Pakistan (in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), not by the Pol Pot, not by Rwanda, not by Serbia, not by Hussein (in his slaughter of the Kurds, often with poison gas), and at first, not of Sudan. Secretary Colin Powell did recognize this genocide, but notice that it is not part of the current vocabulary.

Real politics is always the dominant consideration. I’m tempted to call this the let-them-die policy that there are considerations that are more important then the lives of hundreds of thousands and even millions. State gets away with this because there is little general recognition of how much democide, and its component genocide, is carried out by dictatorships, and what a significant impact on these thug regimes and this awful practice America could have by calling such mass murder what it is, and pointing a trembling, outraged finger at it.

Link of Day

“Turkish Genocide of Armenians”

: A website museum of material on the genocide

Links I Must Share

“Turkish protest over genocide conference “:

Turkey avoided a damaging row with the EU on free speech at the weekend when a conference on the Armenian genocide was finally held in Istanbul after the organisers circumvented a court ban.

“He’ll Have To Go”:

Amidst rumours of his imminent flight from Nepal, King Gyanendra abruptly cancelled his scheduled visit to New York for the UN General Assembly meeting. . . . Kathmandu civil society’s opposition, spearheaded by the Citizen’s Movement for Democratic Peace, has unambiguously adopted the slogan of republican democracy.

The last throes of another monarchy and birth of democracy.

“China’s leaders launch smokeless war against internet and media dissent”:

China announced a fresh crackdown yesterday on the internet amid further revelations of a plan by Hu Jintao, the president, to suppress dissent.

“Senior U.S. Officials Criticize International Failure to Fight Terrorist Financing”

“Anti-War Harangue Feeds Muslim Murderers”

In a time of war, we used to call this treason.

“Please Kill Him Now”
A docudrama of the Armenians genocide

The Holocaust Obsession

March 4, 2009

[First published May 12, 2005] To avoid any misunderstanding, I must say at the beginning that I stand with all those who absolutely condemn the Holocaust. It was one of the most despicable acts of evil in history. I have done much research on it, and have written on it in my book, Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder (link here), and calculate that the number of Jews murdered, often gruesomely and painfully, amount to about 5,291,000.

That said, I think there is a gross distortion of history with the near total emphasis on Hitler and his Holocaust to the exclusion of genocide and mass murder by those whose murdering regimes rivaled the Holocaust, or killed even many more by an order of magnitude. With the number of their victims in parenthesis in millions, I have in mind Stalin (42.7) Mao (since 1928 = 37.8), Chiang Kai-shek (10.2), Lenin (4), and Tojo (4). Compare the memorial Museums built, the movies and TV programs shown, and the paragraphs written in textbooks on the Holocaust compared to what is written or shown about just the tens of milions murdered by the world’s deadliest killer of all time, Stalin.

And yet, in Russia they are now erecting statues in Stalin’s honor. And it has taken many years for those trying to get the funds and site permissions to built a modest memorial to the communist murder of about 110,000,000 people (about 21 times the Holocaust toll). So far, they have raised $300,000 of the $600,000 they see necessary. I can’t even guess at the huge sums appropriated or gifted for the many Holocaust museums and memorials.

Just to get some other measure of this incredible disparity, I used Google. Key words “Stalin (dead OR murder OR genocide OR democide OR killed)” = 989,000 links; Stalin = 1,868 links

“Hitler (dead OR Holocaust OR murder OR genocide OR democide OR killed)” = 1,260,000 links; “Holocaust” = 4,667.

Besides the disparity in treatment of democide across regimes and countries, even for Hitler’s mass murders the focus in on the Jews and few others. Counting the Holocaust, Hitler murdered about 21,000,000 people. The table below provides the statistical breakdown.

Not counting Jews, the Nazis killed about 2,400,000 Poles, 3,000,000 Ukrainians, 1,400 Byelorussians, and 1,593,000 ethnic Russians, all Slavs. They were often murdered because they were Slavs, as Jews were murdered because they were Jews, and the total Slavs thus killed amounts to 10,547,000, many more than Jews killed.

Oh yes, I sometimes read that the Holocaust was special because the Jews were singled out by virtue of their ethnicity/religion. Well, so were Slavs, or regarding my post of two days ago, so were Hindus and Bengalis by Pakistan in their genocide in 1971, and so were Tutsi by Hutu in the Rwandan genocide. And so on for all cases of genocide. However, for me genocide is not a special case at all, but simply a kind of murder by government.

Is the death of a Jew to be thought more horrible because he was a Jew than the murder by quota of some Russian, Chinese, or Vietnamese? One might say that at least those murdered in genocide died because of something about them, and not simply to contribute to a quota. But still, what about those murdered for political reasons or because they stopped clapping for the “leader” too soon, or draped a newspaper temporarily over a bust of Lenin, or had a Western book in their possession, or could speak English, or had a college education, or wore glasses. All these deaths are pitiful and to be condemned. Purposely extended agony, medical experiments, gruesome torture, and painful deaths distinguish no group. Dictator’s creative ability to contrive the most horrible deaths extends to all of them.

All these poor souls deserve recognition. At least we can do them all the honor of learning from their horror. They all should get a memorials.

Link of Note

”Genocidal Threats Demand More Than Just Memorializing” (5/13/05) By Yehuda Bauer

Yehuda Bauer I know well and we once taught a class together. He is a foremost Holocaust scholar, a professor of Holocaust studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a member of the Israel Academy of Science, and the author of “Rethinking the Holocaust”.

He says:

Each genocide is different, but it would be a mistake to dismiss the similarities. Foremost among them is the suffering of the victims. There is no better or worse genocide, just as there is no better or worse murder, no better or worse torture. There is no scale to measure suffering. Jews, Armenians or Poles who were martyred and murdered all suffered the same. . . . The Holocaust was not unique, because that would mean that it could never happen again, to anyone, Jewish or otherwise. This is simply not true. The Holocaust was perpetrated by humans, for human reasons, and anything done by humans can be repeated — not in exactly the same form, but in similar or parallel ways.

Never Again Series

The Shawl

February 27, 2009

[A docudrama of the Holocaust first published on May 18, 2005] As a member of Lübeck’s Reserve Police Battalion 17, I was ordered to prepare for an assignment in Poland. I was told that we had an important mission there for the Fatherland, that we’d be involved in the final solution of the Jewish problem. Our battalion of 314 men was split up into companies and trucked separately to different camps.
When members of my undersized Third Company reached their temporary barracks, a converted brick dairy barn near the Polish town of Plock, we were ordered outside to listen as Oberleutnant Hans Schaefer gave us an orientational speech.
Standing stiffly, the heels of his boots touching each other, his officer’s cap square on his head, Schaefer began in a loud monotone, “Congratulations on being chosen for the work you are about to do, and welcome to Plock. You are here in the service of the Third Reich and the Fuehrer. It would take too many soldiers from the front lines to do this glorious work, and so you policemen are to replace them.
“Now, Jews from Plock will be collected from their homes at daybreak tomorrow and trucked to a field about a mile from here. You will be taken to the field after breakfast and calisthenics. There, you will take the Jews one by one into the adjacent woods, make them lie down on their stomachs, and shoot each in the back of the head.”
The oberleutnant abruptly stopped and looked at us, as though expecting a sudden outcry. Hearing none, he resumed, his voice taking on a sermon-like tone. “I know that this will be hard; I know that you may see these people as human beings. But, they are not. They are . . . ” Suddenly changing tone, he spit, “Vermin, cockroaches!” He punctuated the words by violently swinging one fist into his other hand. “And you are pest exterminators. You will be cleansing not only Germany of their filth, but the world.” Another beat of his fist accompanied the last word.
He settled himself, and put both hands behind him. His boots had not moved a millimeter so far. Again he spoke, “I recognize the personal strain this will place on each of you, however. You have been trained as policemen, to protect and save lives. Only those of us who are privileged to participate in this work will ever know what this will cost you emotionally, but that is your challenge and your heroism.”
He paused and scanned our faces. “If you cannot do this work, if you are psychologically or emotionally unable to, then you may stay here, cleaning the barracks and helping the cooks, until we are finished. Nothing will be done to you. There will be no mark on your record.
“Now, Doctor Alfred Helmut will show you how to carry out your task.”
The doctor had been standing nonchalantly off to the side with a large pad and a portable painter’s easel, which he now carried to the front of our group and set up. He put the pad on the easel. On the front page he had drawn an outline of the back of a human torso and head. He took a red crayon from his pocket and drew a small circle to indicate the precise point on the back of the head where a bullet would kill a person immediately. Then he took out a blue crayon and drew a rough picture of the barrel of a rifle with its bayonet attached.
He stood back to look at his drawing critically, and after a moment he nodded at it. He then partly turned to us, pointed with one unwavering finger to where the bayonet was pointed in the drawing, and announced, as though declaring the winner of a lottery, “Here!” He jabbed his finger closer to the spot. “Here you must aim the point of your bayonet. Then you can sight along it for the perfect shot into the back of the head.”
Looking self-satisfied, the doctor stood beside his pad, looked at us, and waited for questions.
When none came, the oberleutnant asked, “Are there any questions?”
Some of the policemen stared at the ground; others into the distance. Metal clanked on metal as one policeman shifted his position. Nearby tree branches rustled in the pleasant northern breeze.
“Okay, you men know what to do for the Fatherland.” The oberleutnant put his hands behind him again, and nodded to Unteroffizier—Sergeant—Rudolph Hermann.
Hermann saluted the oberleutnant and immediately ordered, “Dismissed.”
All of us were quiet as we headed into the dank barracks and found our bunks. I felt nauseous and my head ached from anxiety. I sat on my bunk with my head in my hands. My skin felt flushed. I could feel my heart beating rapidly. I can’t do this, I thought. But I must. If I don’t, they will all think I’m a coward. A Jew-lover. God in Heaven, what can I do?
There were a few idle conversations going on, but most of the men ignored each other and avoided meeting anyone’s eyes. There was none of the usual banter.
I pulled a newspaper I’d brought from home out of my pack, stretched out on my bunk, crinkled the paper more than necessary just for the distracting sound, and pretended to read. Tomorrow I will be murdering Jews, I thought in disbelief. The Nazis say they are vermin, cockroaches, and subhumans. Even so, why kill them? Why not force them out of Poland or wherever they are? Send them to Africa or somewhere like that. Or put them in ghettos. From what I’ve seen, they prefer to live together anyway. But, to kill women and children?
I didn’t get to sleep until it was almost light. By then I had convinced myself that I could do it.
Early morning crawled by in a haze. Roll call, calisthenics, breakfast, and a few mumbled exchanges with the others. Then we received extra ammunition and clambered onto the trucks for the bumpy ride to the field outside of Plock.
I peered out the back of the truck as it slowed. There they were in the bright morning sun—the Jews. A few old men, old women, young women with children and babies. The last of the trucks that had brought them were just exiting the field by another road in a haze of exhaust fumes.
I gripped my rifle and got out of the truck with the other fully uniformed, helmeted policemen. Ukrainian Auxiliary Police guards around the Polish Jews began to organize them into ten columns, with about five feet between each. The Jews behaved as though they were at some civil function. They obeyed quietly. There were no screams. The only yelling came from the guards. Only the children were noisy, sometimes trying to talk to their mothers or to each other. Some of the babies cried.
The policemen lined up in front of Oberleutnant Schaefer, who stood now with his chest thrust out and, as usual, with the heels of his well-shined boots together and his officer’s cap squarely on this head. He held a typed page of instructions in one hand. Like the others, I stared at the oberleutnant as though only he existed, even ignoring the Unteroffizier, who stood beside him. Nobody looked at the Jews.
“First, are there any of you who cannot do this?” Oberleutnant Schaefer asked. He waited a few moments.
I heard the trucks that had brought us driving off in their own cloud of fumes.
“Okay,” Schaefer continued, “here is the way we will do this.” He paused to consult his instructions, and then barked, “There are twenty of you, so count off beginning on my left.” He pointed at the first man.
We counted off to twenty.
“Now,” said the oberleutnant, “those numbered eleven to twenty form a second line, eleven behind the first man, twelve behind the second, and so on. Go!”
When our two lines had formed and we stood awaiting further instructions, the oberleutnant glanced at his instruction sheet again, then said, “The men numbered one and eleven will take Jews from the first column on my left.” He turned, swung out his arm, and pointed to the appropriate column. “Men numbered two and twelve will take Jews from the next column, and so on. Keep the mothers and their children and babies together. Once you deal with the mother, the children will present no problem.
“You will take your Jews into the woods, down that path behind you. Unteroffizier Hermann will be along the path. He will point to the area in the woods where you are to take your Jew. Once you are assigned an area, pick your spot and do your work. When you are finished, come back out and pick the next Jew from the same column. Any questions?”
One of the policemen put up his hand, and when the oberleutnant looked sharply at him, he asked, “W-what will happen to the bodies?”
The oberleutnant looked confused for a moment. He looked at his instructions.
A baby somewhere among the Jews started crying loudly. I heard its mother trying to hush and comfort it. I couldn’t look away from the oberleutnant.
He finally said, “There is a small concentration camp a short distance from here. A Jew work crew will be marched here from the camp. They will dig a pit, drag all the bodies from the woods into it, and close it up. More questions?” He scanned the policemen ranked before him. “No? Then for the Fatherland, do your duty.”


Third in the first row, I moved stiffly toward a woman in the third column. She was perhaps in her middle thirties, with curly black hair that stuck out from her head and fell in a tangle to a shawl around her shoulders. She wore a shapeless blue dress, beneath which showed what might have been her slip. She appeared to have been suddenly roused from her sleep and forced to dress hurriedly. She was pleasant looking, with a square face, high forehead, and small eyes.
I grabbed her arm and said, “Gekommen—Come.” I pulled her toward the woods. She looked up at me with an entirely blank face and walked with me toward the path.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. This woman was so willing to go with me. She must be afraid. She must fear death. Is it that she doesn’t know? Maybe she thinks I’m just going to rape her, I thought. I was shaking. Could she feel it through my hand on her arm?
We reached Unteroffizier Hermann, who pointed to a patch of grass well into the woods on the right.
I heard the first rifle shot when we reached the assigned spot. It startled me. I heard another shot as I pointed to a small grassy area between a bush of white flowers and a tree. My hand now visibly trembled. I gestured for her to lie down. She lay down on her back. I motioned for her to turn over.
When she did, all I could see of her head was her black hair. At that moment, I heard somebody nearby. I looked to the left and saw a girl stretched out on her stomach. One of my fellow policemen had his rifle’s bayonet pointed at the back of her head. The scene seemed frozen in time, a still picture. It will be in my mind always. No day goes by that the image doesn’t appear to me, sometimes when I get up in the morning; sometimes before bed; sometimes in my nightmares. Even while I’m trying to make love it will flash into my mind, which immediately destroys all passion.
Then the rifle jerked just as I heard the shot, and blood and brain tissue splattered from the girl’s head.
I looked back at the woman on the ground in front of me. I already had my rifle’s bayonet pointed at her head and she still had not made a sound. I stood there for minutes, unable to move, unable to pull the trigger, barely able to breathe. When I did, I smelled gunpowder on the breeze, and something else I hadn’t smelled before. Maybe it was the smell of death, emanating from its executioners and their victims.
I heard more shots, but still I could not pull the trigger.
Finally, I patted her shoulder. She turned her head and looked up at me with empty eyes. I think she was already dead, but for the physical act. I collapsed next to her, pulled her into my arms, and cried, rocking my whole body. My tears seemed pulled from deep inside me, from my soul.
At first, the woman just hung in my arms as though also physically dead. Then she slowly put her arms around my shoulders and held me as well, without a sound, with no tears of her own. She pushed away after a couple of minutes, looked at the tears in my eyes, and for a brief moment her eyes came alive. In one quick motion of her hand, she removed her shawl. She wiped my tears away with it, and then shoved it inside my coat.
I heard another shot nearby. Neuberger, a fellow policeman, came over and grabbed my sleeve and shook it. He hissed, “What are you doing, Schmidt?”
I gently released the woman and she turned to lay back on her stomach. I got up in a daze. Without looking at Neuberger, holding the rifle listlessly in one hand, I plodded away, heading back to the field.
I heard a shot behind me as I passed by Unteroffizier Hermann.
I saw Oberleutnant Schaefer chatting with an officer of the auxiliary guard company that had brought the Jews to the field. They watched the progress of the cleansing operation while they spoke. I approached the oberleutnant, saluted, weakly apologized for interrupting him, and asked, “May I be excused, sir? I don’t feel well.”
The other officer looked away. Oberleutnant Schaefer gave me a steely look for what seemed like minutes, and finally ordered in a cold voice, “Stand at attention here until we’re all done with our work.”
The other policemen stared at me as each emerged from the woods to get another Jew. Shots from the woods were almost continuous, some muffled, some sharp. The light breeze carried the gun smoke into the field, and with it again the hint of death. Everything went as smoothly as it did for a Berlin speech by Hitler. There were no voices, no screams, no yells. It was like a silent movie with the offstage piano music replaced by staccato rifle shots.
After a while there were no more Jews left in the field, and our trucks returned and parked near me. With a sharp motion of his hand, the oberleutnant released me to join the others as they clambered into the trucks. No one spoke with me as we returned; no one looked at me. In the barracks, no one came near me. I just lay on my bunk staring at the ceiling, the image of the girl I had seen shot mixed in my mind with that of the woman who wiped away my tears.
An orderly came in, silently strode up to me, and gave me several papers. One was an order for me to be trucked to the local train station, another was an order for my passage to Lübeck, and the third was my pass. I was to depart within the hour.
Back home, I was reassigned to a police battalion largely made up of old and middle-aged men exempt from “exterminating vermin,” and from the front lines. I never got a promotion, of course. Word went around that I was unpatriotic, so many of the townspeople shunned my family.
I survived the war, saved all the money I could, and with my police contacts, played the black market for American dollars.
Four years after that day in the woods near Plock, I calmly walked into the law office of former Oberleutnant Hans Schaefer. Without a word to his secretary, I opened the door to his inner office and approached the astonished Schaefer, just as I had approached him in that unforgettable field, years ago. He was sitting at his huge mahogany desk, eyebrows arched, small eyes round and staring, his thin lips slightly parted, surprised by the unannounced intrusion. On seeing me, he put both hands palm down on top of his desk as though about to push his corpulent body up.
Before he could rise fully, I strode quickly behind him, jerked his head back, and sliced into his throat with my old bayonet. Blood spurted.
I pulled the still gasping Schaefer onto the floor. When he was finally still, I rolled his body face up. From my pocket, I pulled the shawl I had carried with me since that murdered Jewish woman had given it to me. I draped it over Schaefer’s open, unseeing eyes.

The World’s Greatest Unknown Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

February 23, 2009

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[First published October 6, 2005] You virtually never read about it, nor do genocide scholars generally discuss it, or include it in their books. Yet, about 15,000,000 people were simultanously expelled from 5 countries because of their nationality, and probably around 1,800,000 died in the process or were murdered outright. Did this occur in Africa? No. Surely Asia, maybe China? No. Okay, the Midde East. Wrong again. Well, it had to be in the 17th or 18th Century. And that’s why we con’t know about it. Right? No.

It occurred in Eastern Europe 60 to 66 years ago with the defeat and retreat of the German Army. As Eastern Europe recovered from the Second World War and the occupying victorious Red Army assurred that their post-war governments would be communist and Soviet controlled, ehtnic Germans, most of whom had settled in Eastern Europe well before the war, and Germans who had taken up residence there during the German occupation, were systematically expelled to East and West Germany. True, some may have worked for or supported the German occupation. True, some may have been traitors to their native Hungary, Czechoslavia, Rumania, Yugoslavai, and Poland. However, many of them rereated with the German Army. In any case, whether bemedaled by their native country for previous military service, opposed to Hitler and the occupation, whether having live in the country for generations, they were deported or murdered.

Age or loyalty to their country of birth did not matter. The old and the young, the babies and the crippiled were all expelled into the economic, choatic, defeated, starving, and destroyed Germany, approximately 15,000,000 of them.

The most reprehensible expulsions were about 8,000,000 from the Eastern Terrirories, including German East Prussia, Eastern Pomerania, Eastern Brandeburg, and Silesia. These were part of the German homeland. But, the Soviets took a chunk of the eastern part of Poland, and in compensation gave Poland these Eastern Territories as agreed to at the Yalta Conference. Being part of Germany, they were of course populated by German citizens, over 7,100,000 of them. All were expelled, while 1,400 died from maltreatment (they were systematically denied food), or murdered.

The table below provides the estimate of etthnic or Reich Germans expelled from each Eastern European country and the parallel genocide (genocide is one kind of democide).

See my Statistics of Democide, Table 7.1 for the sources, calculations, and estimates (here).

What about the ethnic Germans living in the Soviet Union? During the war Stalin deported over 1,000,000 of them to the barren wastes of Siberia and Northern Kazakstan. About one out of five died during the deportation or immediaitely there after. In this case, however, Stalin’s ethnic cleansing was nondiscrimantory. He also deported (cleansed) the Crimean Tartars, Georgian Meskhetians, Greeks, and Ukrainians. Overall, the death toll was about 750,000. (see here, from my book Lethal Politics) This was genocide, but you don’t hear about this either.

Links Of The Day


When I was a student of history at Harvard back in 1970, I knew nothing at all about the Expulsion of Germans. None of my history professors considered this event sufficiently notable to mention it, much less to assign a research paper on it. It was curiously not in history class, but in a seminar on Law of War that I first heard about the Expulsion. . . .

Now, when I first approached the subject matter, I thought naively enough that it was a legitimate field of research, like any other. But I soon learned that it was no accident that there was nearly nothing written in English on the theme — it was taboo, it was not chic, it was not fashionable to do research or to publish in this field.

After all, Germans were looked at in a rather monolithic fashion as all Nazis, and not deserving any degree of human sympathy. As citizens of the “evil empire” they were morally disqualified “ad illicio.”

When I read this kind of thing about any genocide, I think of the babies and children who could have nothing to do with any evil doers, but were murdered simply because they shared their nationality, ethnicity, religion, or race.

White House Outline of Bush’s speech before the National Endowment for Democracy (Oct. 6, 2005)

This was an excellent war speech and well done in stessing the necessary elements.

Tidbits from the speech:

This Extremism [the jihadist terrrorists] Cannot Be Given Concessions, Bribed, Or Appeased. We Must Never Accept Anything Less Than Victory”

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. [RJR: Yes, and the leftist opposition to the war in Iraq is like their anti-anti-communism of the past]
The stategy to win:

Prevent terrorist attacks before they occur
Deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and their terrorist allies
Deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes
Deny the militants control of any nation
Deny the militants future recruits by advancing democracy and hope across the broader middle east

And, by standing for the hope and freedom of others, we will make our own freedom more secure.

Links I Must Share

“1918 killer flu ‘came from birds'”:

The Spanish flu virus that killed 50 million people in 1918-19 was probably a strain that originated in birds, research has shown.

The informed speculation was that the virus first infected pigs in Kansas, and then mutated to infect humans. Because of the overcrowded conditions of military camps during WWI, and the continuous deployment of many soldiers overseas, the virus spread rapidly around the world. The toll may have been twice the 50,000,000, since many deaths occurred in remote areas of such countries as India.

“US Looking Sideways: Bird Flu” Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D. gave a speech on bird flu and said:

“. . . we will not be able to sleep through what is likely coming soon — a front of unchecked and virulent epidemics, the potential of which should rise above your every other concern. For what the world now faces, it has not seen even in the most harrowing episodes of the Middle Ages or the great wars of the last century.

We are unprepared for rampant epidemics. And even worse, we haven’t taken sufficient note of the fact that though individually each might be devastating, they are susceptible of either purposeful or accidental combination, in which case they could be devastating almost beyond imagination.

“Senate supports setting interrogation limits”

The Senate defied the White House yesterday by voting to set new limits on interrogating detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, underscoring Congress’s growing concerns about reports of abuse of suspected terrorists and others in military custody.

If the House approves and Bush signs it, the limits will only last until the next 9/11 type attack on the U.S. If it is believed that a captured terrorist has information that will save hundreds of American lives, if not thousands. Then the law will be breached, and rightly so.

Why Democide