Genocide Paper - From Ethnic Genocide to Indiscriminate...

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From Ethnic Genocide to Indiscriminate Politicide: A Comparative Analysis of the Armenian Massacre and Stalin’s Purges Anthony Jercinovich POSC 366 Final Research Paper
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In 1943 Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide” to describe the atrocities the Nazis committed during World War II as part of their Final Solution. Derived from the words genos (Greek for tribe or race) and cide (Latin for killing), the word was designed as one that could not be mistaken for anything else and that would forever bring forth memories of the Holocaust. 1 Yet while Lemkin’s struggle to create a word that could encapsulate the horror of the Jewish massacres and his subsequent battle to ensure the passage of the United Nation’s genocide treaty were admirable, it is important to note that genocide did not begin with the Nazi atrocities. Even before a word existed to describe the crime, genocides were being committed in the form of the slaughter of Armenians in Turkey and Stalin’s politicides in the Soviet Union. Two of the world’s earliest genocides, these evils reveal a pattern of outside noninterference, the use of a current or impending crisis as a reason for bloodshed, and rational planning and systematic execution by the perpetrators. However, there are still significant differences between the two, most notably in that the Armenian genocide was an ethnic struggle whereas Stalin engaged in his purges solely for political reasons. Before presenting an in-depth analysis of these two heinous crimes, it is important to clarify the definition of genocide. The United Nations defines genocide as: a ny 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. 2 The UN further elaborated, stating that conspiracy to commit genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide are all punishable acts in addition to the actual act of genocide. This definition is important because it means that not all members of a group must be eliminated for genocide to have occurred nor must a country 2
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actually commit genocide to be reprehensible for a crime against humanity; the intent or attempt is equally as guilty an act. When examining the genocides that occurred in the Ottoman Empire and the USSR, one of the first similarities that one notices is the conspicuous lack of outside interference, or even condemnation. In the case of the Armenians, the Temporary Law of Deportation forced a majority of the Armenian population to participate in death marches across the country and into the deserts of Syria.
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