Teaching About Genocide
When the Genocide
Convention was passed by the United Nations in 1948, the
world said, "Never again."
But the history of the
twentieth century instead proved that "never again"
became "again and again." The promise the United Nations
made was broken, as again and again, genocides and other
forms of mass murder killed 170 million people, more
than all the international wars of the twentieth century
In order to prevent
genocide, we must first understand it. We must study and
compare genocides and develop a working theory about the
The Armenian Genocide in
1915, considered by many historians the prototype for
the genocides which followed in the 20th century, proved
that ignoring genocides is disastrous.
In August 1939, in
preparation for the invasion of Poland, Hitler stated to
his commanding generals "Genghis Khan led millions of
women and children to slaughter – with premeditation and
a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of
a state. It's a matter of indifference to me what a weak
western European civilization will say about me...
Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in
readiness – for the present only in the East – with
orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without
compassion, men, women, and children of Polish
derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the
living space (Lebensraum) which we need.
all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
As we know, the Nazis went
on to annihilate 6 million Jews and countless others, and
later in the century, millions died in other
genocides like those in Cambodia, Bosnia/Herzegovina,
Rwanda, and Sudan.
It is only through
learning and remembering past atrocities and fighting
genocide denial and revisionism that we are able to work
toward prevention and become a more just and humane
* Excerpted from "How We
Can Prevent Genocide", Building An International
Campaign to End Genocide, By Dr. Gregory H. Stanton,
President, Genocide Watch