Genocide (genos-race/nation + cide-killing) is a nomenclature coined by Raphael Lemkin, a jurist who served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of War during the Second World War. The term helped describe the six million Jews murdered and the near extinction of the Roma people during the Nazi reign.
But this was not the first Holocaust. Such mass killings can be traced to the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). In modern times, we can also include the 1915 massacre of the Armenians, and the Tutsi killings of the 1990s.
Genocide, for Lemkin, was defined as “the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. . . [It] signifies 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.”
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