A genocide or genocide since the Genocide Convention of 1948, a criminal offense in international criminal law , which is characterized by the intention to directly or indirectly, "a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such in whole or in part, to to destroy"; it is not subject to the statute of limitations . The legal definition, which goes back to Raphael Lemkin , also serves as a definition of the term genocide in science.
Genocide is often rated as particularly negative and is described as the “crime of crimes” or “the worst crime in international criminal law”. Since the decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948, the punishment for genocide has also been expressly anchored in various national legal systems .
UN Convention against Genocide
On December 9, 1948, decided the General Assembly of the United Nations in Resolution 260, the " Genocide Convention " (Convention pour la prévention et la répression du crime de génocide, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide ), which came into force on January 12, 1951. The Federal Republic of Germany ratified the convention in February 1955, Austria deposited the instrument of accession on March 19, 1958 and Switzerland on September 7, 2000. According to the convention, genocide is a crime under international law "which is condemned by the civilized world".
It was based on Resolution 180 of the UN General Assembly of 21 November 1947 was found in that "genocide an international crime [is] that requires national and international responsibility of people and states" to the international crimes in World War II to remember.
The Convention defines genocide in Article II as “any of the following acts, committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such:
- a) killing members of the group
- b) inflicting severe physical or mental harm on members of the group
- c) the deliberate submission to living conditions aimed at the total or partial physical destruction of the group
- d) the ordering of measures to prevent births
- e) the forced transfer of children from the group to another group "
“Crimes against humanity”, “war crimes”, “genocide” and “Holocaust” are often used incorrectly as synonyms. The first three terms are legal terms that are also scientific categories.
- Crimes against humanity are widespread or systematic attacks on civilians. In international law, they represent an umbrella term under which both “war crimes”, “ crimes against peace ” and “genocide” fall.
- War crimes are criminal acts that are committed during an armed conflict, most of which violate the Geneva Conventions .
- The National Socialists' plan to murder all European Jews during World War II is called the Holocaust .
Distinguishing features of the offenses
Note that only the intention to destroy the group is required, not the full execution of the intention. There must be an intention that goes beyond the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, religious or social group as such, in whole or in part.
The acts according to Article II letters a) to e) of the Convention (implemented in Germany by VStGB ), on the other hand, must actually (and willingly) be committed. In particular, this means that it does not take many victims for the perpetrators to be guilty of genocide. Only their intention to destroy must be directed towards the whole group or a significant part of it. The perpetrators fulfill the criminal offense, for example, if they - with this particular intention - inflict serious physical or mental damage on individual group members or want to prevent the group from continuing, for example through forced castration. A genocide charge does not therefore require the murder of a single person.(1) No. 1 to 5
The reverse also applies: Acts under Article II letters a) to e) of the Convention are not genocide if their aim is not to destroy a group in whole or in part, regardless of how many members are killed or otherwise impaired. Such measures are also not genocide if their aim is to exterminate a group that is not defined by national, ethnic, racial or religious characteristics.
Whether the actual risk of the destruction of a protected (sub-) group must also exist is legally controversial. The answer to this question depends on whether international criminal law should be applied to an isolated individual offender who acts in the hope of partial or complete destruction of the group .
The practical significance of the convention was very small until the Yugoslav Wars. Until then, there were very few genocide charges. The first conviction by an international court on the basis of the Convention came in September 1998 through the Akayesu judgment of the International Criminal Court for Rwanda .
Article 6 of the Convention is basically based on the principle of territoriality , according to which genocide is prosecuted in the courts in the countries in which the act was committed. In addition, the jurisdiction of international courts of law is provided insofar as the contracting states have submitted to this jurisdiction.
In Germany, the criminal offense of genocide is laid down in International Criminal Code . According to VStGB, the universal law principle applies to genocide , i. H. Acts can also be prosecuted in Germany if they were not committed in Germany and a German is not involved.the
The principle of universal law also applies under the Swiss Criminal Code (Art 264 m StGB ). A parliamentary immunity or similar protective clauses are not applicable and protect against a conviction not (Article 264 n ). Even the normally applied rule that in Switzerland it is no longer prosecuted whose offense is statute-barred abroad or who was acquitted there, is only applicable insofar as the foreign courts do not deliberately play down the offense. An "acquittal" by a regime that obviously approves of genocide and similar crimes or that commits itself should not be recognized as a final judgment (Art 265 m Section 3).
In 2011, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko , former Rwandan Minister for Family and Women, became the first woman to be convicted of genocide and rape as crimes against humanity.
In May 2013, Efraín Ríos Montt , President of Guatemala from 1982 to 1983, was sentenced by a court in Guatemala to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity . Although he would have been the first head of state to be convicted of genocide in his own country by a local court, the verdict was overturned a few days later by the Guatemalan Supreme Court due to formal errors. The new trial was discontinued in April 2018 because Montt had passed away.
Ongoing proceedings before the International Criminal Court
Currently (2018) only one case of genocide (genocide) in the Darfur conflict ( Darfur Sudan ) has been pending at the International Criminal Court since 2005 . Arrest warrants for the arrest of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir , President of the Republic of Sudan , were issued in 2009 and 2010. The trial is on hold as the suspect remains volatile.
The expression genocide appears for the first time with the German lyric poet August Graf von Platen (1796-1835) in his "Polenlied" (Polish songs), in the 1831 ode Der Zukunft Held . He opposes the dissolution of the Polish state, which Austria , Prussia and Russia have divided up among themselves, and promotes the resurrection of the Polish state with other West German democrats who raised the Polish national flag next to the German one at the " Hambacher Fest " in 1832 . In particular, he castigates Russia's policy of repression by shouting after the punishment of the Gengiskhans , “Those who only care for murder, and not battle, / Of genocide!” For the liberal East Prussian MP Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Jordan , the expression refers to the Poles so familiar that he used it in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt on July 24, 1848 when discussing the Polish question , and he increased it:
“The last act of this conquest, the much-vaunted partition of Poland, was not, as it has been called, genocide, but nothing more than the proclamation of a death that had already taken place, nothing but the burial of a corpse that had long been in the process of dissolving more could be tolerated among the living. "
“It was genocide, that cannot be denied; but after the annihilation was completed, it became a blessing. What could the Prussians have achieved in history? The superiority over the Prussians was so great that it was a stroke of luck for both them and the Wends when they were Germanized. "
The term genocide ( new formation in ancient Greek genos "gender, tribe, descendant, ethnic group, people" and Latin caedere meaning "kill, murder") already had a history shaped by the imperialist discussion of the 19th century, as the Polish - Jewish history Lawyer Raphael Lemkin used it as a translation of the Polish ludobójstwo (from lud “people” and zabójstwo “murder”) in a draft law for the Polish government in exile to punish the German extermination campaigns in Poland in 1943 .
Since 1941 at the latest, Lemkin had been looking for a word that aptly describes crimes such as those of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians and the Nazi regime. The fact that he had not been able to convince the League of Nations committee at the Madrid meeting in 1933 with his draft was also due to the fact that words like barbarism and vandalism, which he had used at the time, ultimately glossed over such acts. It should be a word that all aspects of targeted attacks on a population group should be made tangible, including measures such as mass deportations, the forced reduction in the birth rate, economic exploitation and the targeted suppression of the intelligentsia . A term such as “ mass murder ” did not cover all of these aspects. Nor should it be a term that, like barbarism and vandalism, has already been used in other contexts. Lemkin developed the term “genocide”, which also played a role in the fact that it could be used (unlike genocide) in numerous languages in a correspondingly modified form. In his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe he also gave a first definition of the term (translated here): Genocide is
“A coordinated plan of various actions aimed at destroying essential bases of life of a population group with the aim of destroying the group. […] Genocide has two phases: a first in which the typical characteristics and ways of life of the oppressed group are destroyed, and a second in which the characteristics and way of life of the oppressive population group are imposed on the oppressed. This enforcement, in turn, can be done by allowing the oppressed population group to remain, or it is even enforced on the area alone by eliminating the population and colonizing this area by the oppressing population group. "
The term genocide quickly became common in the English-speaking world after several American newspapers began using it in late 1944 to report extensively on Nazi mass crimes in Europe. This is partly due to Lemkin's direct intervention. So he convinced Eugene Meyer , the editor of the Washington Post , that this designation alone was suitable for these crimes. Indeed, an editorial appeared in the Washington Post in December 1944 , which named genocide as the only suitable word to describe that between April 1942 and April 1944 a total of 1,765,000 Jews were killed and burned by gas in Auschwitz-Birkenau were. It would be wrong, the article went on to say, to use the term atrocity (“ atrocity ”) for it, because there is always an undertone of non-directionality and randomness in it. The crucial point, however, is that these acts were systematic and targeted. The gas chambers and crematoria are not improvisations, but rather specifically developed instruments for the extermination of an ethnic group.
The Webster's New International Dictionary picked up the term relatively quickly. The French Encyclopédie Larousse used it in its 1953 edition, and it was listed in the Oxford English Dictionary as a 1955 update to the third edition.
Criticism of the term
The legal definition of genocide has often been criticized as inadequate. The American political scientist Rudolph Joseph Rummel therefore developed the broader concept of democide , which in its definition includes all fatal genocides. In his table Democide of the 20th Century, he comes to 262 million deaths.
Non-fatal acts by a government aimed at destroying a culture are often referred to as ethnocide .
Genocides in history
It is not known when the first genocides took place. Genocide research assumes that genocide occurred in almost all human-populated regions in all epochs. Genocides have been handed down from antiquity . Those of the modern age took place mainly in colonies : initially during colonization by European powers (e.g. on Indians during the Indian Wars ); then partly again during decolonization . After the withdrawal of a colonial power, different ethnic groups occasionally clashed , which now lived in one state due to the demarcation of their colonial power (such as in Biafra and Bangladesh ).
Selection of generally recognized genocides
- Genocide of the Herero and Nama (1904–1908): Colonial war between German troops and the Herero and Nama peoples in German South West Africa , which culminated in genocide by the German colonial power.
- Genocide of the Armenians and genocide of the Syrian Christians ( Assyrians ) from 1915 in the Ottoman Empire under the responsibility of the Young Turkish regime.
- Genocide in Cyrenaica (1929–1934): Genocide by Fascist Italy during the Second Italo-Libyan War against the Arab tribes of Cyrenaica .
- Porajmos (1939–1945): Genocide of the Sinti and Roma during the National Socialist era.
- Holocaust (1941-1945): the genocide of the Jews in the time of National Socialism , especially since the attack on the Soviet Union .
- Genocide of the Ustasha (1941–1945): In the genocide from June 22, 1941 by the Croatian Ustasha, mainly Serbs , but also Jews and Roma , died during the events , about 200,000 dead.
- Genocide in Bangladesh (1971–1972): Genocide by the Pakistani army and its local collaborators in East Parkistan (now Bangladesh ), mainly of the Hindus there, around 3 million deaths.
- Genocide in Burundi (1965 and 1972): Tutsi genocide of Hutu , around 100,000 to 300,000 dead.
- Genocide in Rwanda (1994): In almost 100 days, members of the Hutu majority killed 800,000, i.e. around 75 percent of the Tutsi minority living in Rwanda, as well as moderate Hutu who did not participate in the genocide or actively opposed it.
- Srebrenica massacre (July 1995): In the Srebrenica area, during the post-Yugoslav war in Bosnia, up to 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks - mostly men and boys between the ages of 13 and 77 - were killed by the army of Bosnian Serbs and Serb paramilitaries.
- Genocide of the Yazidis (August 2014): Genocide by the Islamic State of the Yazidis , approx. 5000 dead, 7000 abducted women and children and another thousand missing to this day.
The atrocities of the Congo between 1888 and 1908 were acts under the responsibility of the Belgian King Leopold II , which led to the decimation of the population of the Congo Free State through slavery , forced labor, and massive hostage-taking and killings, and an estimated eight to ten million deaths (around half of the population at that time). Whether the mass murder in the Congo, despite its genocidal proportions, was genocide is a matter of dispute. Because there was no systematic attempt to destroy a specific ethnic group, but the mass murder was the result of extreme exploitation.
The genocides of indigenous peoples , for example the Indian wars in North America, the genocide of the indigenous population in Australia (see History Wars # genocide debate ), Tasmania (see Tasmania # genocide of the indigenous population and Tasmanians ), Brazil (see Transamazônica # genocides ), Argentina (see Julio Popper # Genocide of the Sel'knam ) or during the settlement of Caribbean islands (see Kalinago Genocide 1626 ).
The Holodomor describes a severe, partially anthropogenic famine in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, which killed several million people. The reasons were the forced collectivization of Stalin in order to break the resistance of the Ukrainians, the deculakization and bad harvests caused by the weather . Estimates of the number of victims in Ukraine vary widely, ranging from 2.4 million to 14.5 million deaths from starvation. Since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine has been trying to achieve international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide.
The Great Terror (1936–1938) in the Soviet Union was directed against politically “unreliable” and oppositional persons in cadres and elites, against “socially harmful” and “socially dangerous elements” such as the kulaks , against so-called enemies of the people and against ethnic minorities such as Volga Germans , Crimean Tatars , or some peoples of the Caucasus region . The number of victims reported in research varies between 400,000 and 22 million dead. Scientists such as Robert Conquest , Norman Naimark and others call the terror and especially the actions against the ethnic minorities genocide. Other genocide researchers and Eastern European historians expressly reject the application of the term to the Great Terror. The American political scientist Rudolph Joseph Rummel describes the events as democide .
The mass murder of Indonesia's communists in 1965 and 1966 is also a special case, in which, depending on the estimate, between 500,000 and 3 million people were murdered. Although no religious, ethnic or national group was specifically murdered here, the aim was nonetheless to murder a clearly defined (namely political) population group as a whole. Because of this, and because the Chinese minority became the victim of these mass murders, some authors, including Yves Ternon, are in favor of viewing it as genocide. The term autogenocide could also be used in this case.
The events during the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 are also a special case. Since the genocide in Cambodia was directed against the people of their own country, the term " autogenocide " (literally "genocide") was used here . When the Khmer Rouge approached definable groups such as B. the Muslim Cham, however, applies the definition of genocide.
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- International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR): Prosecutor v. Jean Kambanda , judgment of September 4, 1998 ( Memento of January 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 110 kB), Case No. 97-23-S, § 16: "The crime of genocide is unique because of its element of dolus specialis (special intent) which requires that the crime be committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such, as stipulated in Article 2 of the Statute; hence the Chamber is of the opinion that genocide constitutes the crime of crimes, which must be taken into account when deciding the sentence ”
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- Power: A Problem from Hell. P. 43, quote: "a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. [...] Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain, or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and colonization of the area by the oppressor's own nationals. "
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Adam Hochschild: Shadows over the Congo. The story of one of the great, almost forgotten crimes of humanity. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-608-91973-2 , p. 320
f.Boris Barth : Genozid. Genocide in the 20th Century. History, theories, controversies. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-406-52865-1 , p. 314.
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- Robert Conquest: Stalin's Genocide. Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Caucasians . Europa-Verlag, Vienna 1974; Norman Naimark: Stalin and the Genocide. Suhrkamp, Berlin 2010, p. 113 and other; with some reservations also Eric Weitz: A Century of Genocide. Utopias of Race and Nation. Updated edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton 2015, ISBN 978-1-4008-6622-9 , pp. 100 f. (Accessed via De Gruyter Online).
- Boris Barth : Genocide. Genocide in the 20th Century. History, theories, controversies (= Beck'sche Reihe 1672), CH Beck, Munich 2006. ISBN 3-406-52865-1 , pp. 136-148; Bernd Bonwetsch: The GULAG and the question of genocide. In: Jörg Baberowski (Ed.): Modern times? War, revolution and violence in the 20th century. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-525-36735-X , pp. 111-144.
- Boris Barth: Genocide. Genocide in the 20th Century. History, theories, controversies. Beck, Munich 2006 (Beck'sche Reihe, vol. 1672), ISBN 3-406-52865-1 .