A genocide is described as an act committed with intent to destroy a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. While genocides are not something that we approve of, they occur in our society and sometimes, have alarming results.
Here are 10 of the greatest genocides in history.
10. Srebrenica Massacre
In 1995, about 8,000 people, mainly men and boys, were slaughtered in a massacre in Srebrenica, Bosnia during the Bosnian War. Units of the Army of Republika Srpska initiated the massacre, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time described this massacre as the worst crime on European soil since World War II. In 2010, the Serbian Parliament passed a resolution condemning the massacre and apologizing to the families of the victims. This massacre is the most recent genocide to hit Europe.
9. Dersim Massacre
Also in Europe, between 15,000 and 70,000 people were murdered in the Dersim Massacre in Dersim, Turkey from 1937 to 1938. The genocide was the result of a Turkish military campaign against the Dersim Rebellion, which was brought about by local ethnic minority groups in response to Turkey’s Resettlement Law of 1934. Thousands of Alevi Kurds and Zazas died and many others were displaced, depopulating the province.
8. Dictatorship and political repression in Equatorial Guinea
Over the course of ten years, between 20,000 and 80,000 citizens were murdered at the hand of dictator Francisco Macías Nguema. Nguema mainly targeted the minority group, the Bubi. Starting in 1969, his regime killed at least 20,000 people while another 100,000 fled the country to avoid slaughter. In trial, Nguema was found guilty of the genocide and crimes against humanity, and his regime came to an end when he was executed in 1979.
7. 1971 Bangladesh Atrocities
In 1971, nearly three million citizens were slaughtered in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. The genocide began with the launch of Operation Searchlight, a planned military operation to curb the Bengali nationalist movement. To achieve ethnic cleansing, millions of people were murdered and nearly half a million women were raped, then killed. The genocide also displaced hundreds of thousands of people and murdered at least 26,000 people.
6. Nanking Massacre
The Nanking Massacre occurred from 1937 to 1938 and resulted in the murder of almost 300,000 citizens. Many women were also raped and killed. Japanese troops committed this massacre during the Second Sino-Japanese War to rid Nanking of Chinese civilians.
During the Russian Civil War, the Cossacks found themselves on both sides of the conflict. Many Cossacks fought for the White Army, while others fought for the Red Army. Following the defeat of the White Army, the policy of Decossackization took place on the surviving Cossacks. This aimed to eliminate the Cossacks as a separate ethnic, political, and economic entity. Many historians agree that Decossackization was a genocide of the Cossacks, while others do not. Some historians believe the Decossackization was an attempt to eliminate undesirable social groups, which showed the Soviet regime’s dedication to social engineering, and was not a show of genocide. Either way, hundreds of thousands of citizens were murdered in mass.
4. Armenian Genocide
Most commonly known as the First Genocide of the 20th Century, the Armenian Genocide resulted in 1.5 million deaths. This genocide was the Ottoman government’s way of exterminating the minority Armenian subjects from their homeland, which is the present-day Republic of Turkey. This attack spanned from 1915 to 1923. As of 2011, twenty-one countries in Europe and forty-three states in the United States recognized this massacre as a genocide, while the countries of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny it.
In 1932, Holodomor struck the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Holodomor, a severe famine, was caused by the government of Joseph Stalin. It was a man-made famine designed to kill up to seven million Ukrainians. The exact number of deaths is hard to estimate due to lack of records, but the number increases significantly when the deaths inside heavily Ukrainian-populated Kuban are added. In 2006, Holodomor was recognized by the independent Ukraine and several other European countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.
One of the most famous genocides is the the slaughter of the Jews by Adolph Hitler during World War II, known as the Holocaust. More than five millions Jews, homosexuals, and mixed-race citizens were slaughtered in Hitler’s aim to create a perfect society. Millions of people were murdered, and millions were displaced from their homes, never to be found. Hitler ran concentration camps, where his soldiers, the Nazis, tortured millions of people in a variety of ways: starvation, beatings, hangings, and suffocation in gas chambers. The Holocaust has been the focus for several decades, calling for memorials and museums to honor the victims and educate others. The Holocaust has also spawned books and movies. Night by Elie Wiesel is a journal of Wiesel’s experiences in the Holocaust and how he survived. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a short novel by John Boyne, in which a young boy’s curiosity about a nearby concentration camp leads to deadly results. The Holocaust is seen as one of the worst events to ever grace history.
1. European Colonization of the Americas
The idea of whether the introduction of white Europeans to North and South America was a genocide is highly disputed amongst historians, but most view it as a genocide. Starting in 1492, the mass murder was brought about by the settlement of the white Europeans, who brought new diseases to the indigenous people already living in North and South America. The indigenous people who lived there are the time had no medicine to combat the diseases and perished as a result. In turn, the majority of white settlers perished from North and South American diseases that they had no treatment for. Also, the white settlers often fought with the indigenous people, resulting in bloodshed and death. Over both groups of people, anywhere from two million to one hundred million people perished.
Whether we like it or not, genocides occur due to ethnic differences between groups. Historians disagree over which events are genocides and which are not, but either way, large amounts of citizens perish with each event.