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Unformatted text preview: Michael Asfaw April 13, 2010 Thursday 2pm section Paper Assignment, JS-211 Leningrad Blockade: A Slavic Parallel to the Holocaust The Nazi atrocities committed against the Soviet Union at the Encirclement of Leningrad have received attention in the years after the dissolution of the Soviet regime. Recently released documents provided by the Russian authorities as well as the German government during the last two decades shed light on the intentions and ethnic motivations of the Nazi siege, to the extent that numerous historians have argued the case of Leningrad as an act of genocide in a scale comparable to the Holocaust. This paper will thus argue that the siege of Leningrad should be studied as a case of genocide via a racially motivated starvation policy, as the specific characteristics and time frame of the genocide presents similarities to the events of the Holocaust. In order to argue the blockade of Leningrad as a case of genocide, it is necessary to define what an act of genocide is. Historically, the term genocide was ‘genocide’ was first used during the Nuremberg trials by Raphael Lamkin to refer to the Holocaust for the purpose of the trial procedures. This term has since been used widely to refer to other acts of mass murder performed with religious and ethnic incentives. Among scholars, the definition of genocide varies slightly, with most of the definitions acknowledging that an act of genocide is a systematic destruction of ethnic, religious, or national groups with or without particular intent 1 . The widely accepted legal definition offered by the United Nations Convention on Prevention and 1 1 Oxford English Dictionary, second edition 2004. “genocide” Persecution of the Crime of Genocide 2 , which was established following the Nuremburg trials also includes the argument of intent for the crime as a critical part of the definition. This aspect of the definition allows historians to distinguish between civilian casualties during military operations and victims who are targeted based on ethnicity, religion and national affiliation. Although the Jewish victims of the Holocaust are the most well known group of people among the victims of the Nazi racial cleansing, the ultimate fate planned for the Polish and Slavic people was equivalent to that of the Jews. In the minds of Henrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg, two main authors of the key Nazi ideological creed; Poles and Slavs matched the definition of ‘Untermensch’ (sub-human) and were destined for extermination either in short- term or long term periods in a manner very similar to that of the Jews 3 . In fact, Niewyk argues that at least 19,000,000,000 Soviet citizens; which were 11 percent of the total population and 71 percent of the total casualties of the population at the time, died at the hand of the Nazis, of which 4,500,000 deaths were racially motivated 4 . Considering these figures, it is possible to argue that during the Russian campaign 5 , a significant portion of the Soviet citizens sustained...
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- Spring '07
- World War II, St. Petersburg, Leningrad