What Was



Why Teach the Holocaust which Happened 80
Years Ago?

36 Q and A
Nazi Persecution

Jews in
Prewar Germany

How Big
Six Million?


on an
Industrial Scale

What Was the
Jewish Response?

Jewish Spiritual Resistance
the Holocaust

Rescuers Who
Defied the Nazis

Memorial Day


Holocaust Reparations


Nazi Plunder

Videos - Nazi Plunder

Nazi Plunder - Effects

Nazi Plunder - Recovery

Nazi Plunder -
Help and Restitution

Reparations - FAQ

Reparations -
the Future

Reparations -
Contacts and Links


Nazi Economy

The Nazi
Racist State

Nazi Party

SS and Gestapo

Nuremberg Laws



Kindertransport -

Museums and Memorials

and Unemployment

and Geography

The Final Solution


SS Paramilitary
Death Squads


Nazi Camps

Death Transport
Holocaust Camps

The Judenrite

Judenrite Stories

Ghetto (Jewish) Police

Red Cross
Holocaust Inspection Tour to Terezin


Deffiant Requiem
- The Documentary


World Attention
Concentration Camps During WW2

Nazis and Medicine

Nazis and Medicine

for the

Research Project

of the
Jewish Holocaust

Why do the Arabs Deny
the Holocaust?

Holocaust Survivors

Surviving Survival

Voices of the Holocaust
and the
Yad Vashem
Video Toolbox




Holocaust Links



I  S  R  A  E  L

Videos -

Maps -

Mogan David
(Flag of Israel)

Statistics  and Information

4,000 YEARS OF

of the Jews  
Arab Countries,


Leaving the
Middle East


and Story

Why do People
Hate the Jews



Who is a Jew?

The Jewish Law


Shulchan Aruch

Daf Yomi

The Hebrew Bible


The Temples

The Synagogues

Jewish Messiah

Jewish Conversion

Jewish Women
in Judaism


Jewish Culture  


Jewish Diaspora

Jewish Festivals

Survival of Hebrew

Jewish Calendar

Lost Tribes

Jewish-Roman  Wars

Understanding the
Middle Ages


Jewish Pirates

Why has Christendom
Attacked the Jews?


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United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, ID cards were death warrants for many Tutsi stopped at checkpoints. USHMM, Jerry FowlerA study of genocide should consider what the steps toward genocide in a society have been or could be. Analyze the factors and patterns that may play a role in the early stages: political considerations, economic difficulties, local history and context, etc. How are targeted groups defined, dehumanized, marginalized, and/or segregated before mass killing begins? As students learn of the early phases of a genocide, ask them to consider how steps and causal conditions may have been deflected or minimized. Ask them to think about scope, intent, and tactics. Be mindful that there is no one set pattern or list of preliminary steps that always lead to mass murder.


Hungarian Jews get off a deportation train and assemble on the ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in late May 1944. Yad Vashem.Each genocide has its own unique characteristics of time, place, people, and methods. Students are likely to try to make facile comparisons to other genocides, particularly the Holocaust; however, it is up to the teacher to redirect students to the specifics of a particular community at a particular time and place. Some parallels do indeed exist between the Holocaust and other genocides: the use of trains to transport victims, camps for detention and killing, etc. However, genocide has also occurred without these two tactics. Thus, you could make careful comparisons between the tactics or procedures used by oppressors to destroy communities, but you should avoid comparing the pain and suffering of individuals.


In August 2006, activists rallied in New York City in response to the genocide in Darfur. Credit: Save Darfur Coalition.The world community is very different and far more complicated in the aftermath of the Holocaust. An important goal in studying all aspects of genocide is to learn from mistakes and apply these lessons to the future. To do this, students must strive to understand not only what was done, or not done, in the past but also why action was or was not taken. As with any historical event, it is important to present the facts. Students need to be aware of the various choices that the global community had available before, during, and after the mass killing. It is important to begin at home, with the choices available to the United States. It is also important to discuss all of the stakeholders involved—political leaders, religious leaders, and private citizens. Next, it is critical to discuss the range of choices seemingly available to the rest of the global community. How did international and regional authorities respond? What is the role of nongovernmental organizations? When is diplomacy, negotiation, isolation, or military involvement appropriate or effective?

Students may become frustrated when they learn of governmental inaction in the face of genocide. While there are certainly cynical reasons for not intervening, teachers can lead students to understand the complexity of responding to genocide—that it is usually not a simple matter to step into another country and tell one group to stop killing another group. In addressing what might cause genocide and how to prevent it, consider these questions:


Damas Gisimba, director of a small orphanage in Rwanda that was besieged by militias during the 1994 genocide. With the help of American aid worker Carl Wilkens, Gisimba managed to protect, care for, and save some 400 people. USHMM, Elizabeth Powley.One reason that genocide occurs is the complicity of bystanders within the nation and around the world. However, in each genocide, there have been individuals—both persons at risk inside the country as well as external observers or stakeholders—who have spoken out against the oppressive regime and/or rescued threatened people. There are always a few who stand up to face evil with tremendous acts of courage—and sometimes very small acts of courage, of no less importance. Teachers should discuss these responses without exaggerating their numbers or their frequency.

When teaching and learning about genocide, individuals may fall prey to helplessness or acceptance of inevitability because the event is imminent or in progress. The magnitude of the event and seeming inertia in the world community and its policymakers can be daunting, but actions of any size have potential impact. Numerous episodes from the Holocaust and other genocides illustrate this point.


Infoplease, Borgna Brunner

 Genocide: from the Greek genos, meaning race; and the Latin suffix -cidium, meaning killing

After learning the extent of Nazi atrocities against the Jews in World War II, Winston Churchill called it "a crime that has no name."  Despite history's numerous precedents, the word genocide did not exist until legal scholar Raphael Lemkin originated the term in 1943. As as an internationally sanctioned, legal definition, genocide was not accepted until 1951.


As a consequence of the Nuremberg trials, in which top Nazi leaders were tried for "crimes against humanity," the United Nations drew up a treaty defining and criminalizing genocide. Called The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, it was adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1948, and came into effect on January 12, 1951.


The treaty defines genocide as the destruction of "a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group." Whereas the Nuremberg trials were conducted by an international military tribunal and specified that "crimes against humanity" related to war crimes, the 1951 U.N. Treaty encompasses war and peace:

Article I

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article II

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

a.  Killing members of the group;

b.  Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c.  Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

d.  Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e.  Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


The Pyramid shows biased behaviors, growing in complexity from the bottom to the top. Although the behaviors at each level negatively impact individuals and groups, as one moves up the pyramid, the behaviors have more life-threatening consequences. Like a pyramid, the upper levels are supported by the lower levels. If people or institutions treat behaviors on the lower levels as being acceptable or “normal,” it results in the behaviors at the next level becoming more accepted. In response to the questions of the world community about where the hate of genocide comes from, the Pyramid of Hate demonstrates that the hate of genocide is built upon the acceptance of behaviors described in the low levels of the pyramid.



This classroom exercise is designed to help educators teach students ages 14-18 about the effects and consequences of bigotry and intolerance. The exercise integrates first-person video testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive with the Pyramid of Hate, a curricular tool developed by the Anti-Defamation League that provides students with an opportunity to explore the ways in which hate can escalate in society. Through this exercise, students will explore their own attitudes about, and experiences with, prejudice and bigotry; examine the individual’s roles and responsibilities regarding ethnic, racial, and religious bias; and think critically about examples of prejudiced attitudes, acts of prejudice, discrimination, violence, and genocide.


History provides examples of the ways in which stereotyping, scapegoating, dehumanization, and discrimination can escalate to mass murders that have, in some instances, resulted in genocide. This activity provides participants with the opportunity to understand the pain caused by bias and the ways in which prejudice can escalate. It is designed to promote recognition of the value of interrupting that progression.


• Examine how discrimination based on bias can escalate into acts of violence.

• Discuss the impact of prejudice on individuals and on society.

• Recognize the role of individuals in interrupting the escalation of hate.

Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

 On 10. May 1933, 20.000 books were burnt in the then Opernplatz, later Bebel Platz, adjacent to the Berlin Opera House. Among the authors whose books were burnt were Thomas Mann, Stefan Zweig, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Mann, Albert Einstein, H.G. Wells, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, Andre Gide, Marcel Proust, Emil Zola, and Sigmund Freud.

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings“ - Heinrich Heine

The term holocaust originally derived from the Greek word holokauston, meaning a "completely holos burnt kaustos" sacrificial offering to a god. Since the late 19th century, "holocaust" has primarily been used to refer to disasters or catastrophes. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was first used to describe Hitler's treatment of the Jews from as early as 1942, though it did not become a standard reference until the 1950s. By the late 1970s, however, the conventional meaning of the word became the Nazi genocide. The term is also used by many in a narrower sense, to refer specifically to the unprecedented destruction of European Jews in particular. Some historians credited Elie Wiesel with giving the term 'Holocaust' its present meaning.

The biblical word Shoa (שואה), also spelled Shoah and Sho'ah, meaning "calamity" in Hebrew, became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the early 1940s. Shoa is preferred by many Jews and a growing number of others for a number of reasons, including the potentially theologically offensive nature of the original meaning of the word holocaust.


The Holocaust was the most infamous expression of racial and religious hatred of modern times. The systematic, state-run persecution and murder of millions of people (six million of them Jews) by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, is an event that stands alone in history.

Efforts to understand the Holocaust begin with the origins of the Jewish people and their history in Europe going back as far as the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, continuing on through the middle-ages and the rise of religious anti-Semitism with its deep-seated roots in Christianity, to modern, racially-based anti-Semitism. Religious anti-Semitic sentiment was followed by the reformist doctrines of racial hatred, and the ensuing violent episodes, or pogroms that then spread throughout the continent laid the groundwork for the heinous and barbarous acts perpetrated by the Nazi’s in the 20th century.

Germany’s persecution of Jews began almost immediately after Hitler assumed power in 1933, and escalated without pause until the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945. Nazi efforts to safeguard the "purity of blood" by classifying racial distinction affected Jewish life in Germany at every turn. The precise terminology of the Nürnberg Laws defined "degrees of Jewishness" based on one's number of Jewish grandparents. Intensified Nazi propaganda about the evils of race defilement poisoned relations between "Aryans" and Jews.

German children also became caught up in the newly defined racial distinctions and "Aryan" children were quick to brutalize their Jewish counterparts.

The foundation for genocide in the Nazi-controlled “sphere of influence” began long before the infamous Wannsee Conference was held in January 1942, when the plan to implement the “Final Solution” was finalised. There was already a complex machinery of death that encompassed removing Jews and other so-called “undesirables” from the framework of society.  As early as 1933, the Nazis began an extensive propaganda campaign with the object of acquainting the German people with the benefits of “euthanasia.”

This led to the secret killing of the mentally and physically disabled by the use of lethal injection and carbon monoxide gas taking many thousands of lives; it was followed by mass deportation and transport to ghettos or concentration and slave-labour camps which in turn resulted in the death of countless others.

With the invasion of the Soviet Union, the scale of killing was multiplied many fold as the Einsatzgruppen scoured the conquered territories for victims.

But the Nazis learned that the effects of hundreds of thousands of victims shot to death and buried half alive in mass graves left the inevitable psychological scars on the killers who had to perform the grisly work of murder. So new methods had to be found and from this need for greater efficiency in the implementation of the “Final Solution”, arose the death factories of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka.

No documentation exists or has yet been discovered with a signed order from Hitler regarding the “Final Solution” but his words prophesied his intent and that intent was carried out by those who followed the tenet of National Socialism which joyously sang:

“When Jewish blood spurts from the knife, things go twice as well”.

-SA celebratory chant


The Holocaust was the single-most traumatic event for the
Jewish people in the 20th century, but there is some disagreement
over the exact date on which it started.

Haaretz Feb 17, 2014


The term Holocaust (with a capital H) is commonly used to refer to the systematic murder by Nazi Germany of approximately six million Jews and the destruction of their communities, representing one-third of world Jewry at the time. In this use, it is analogous to the Hebrew word Shoah, also used to refer to the genocide committed against the Jews. Sometimes Holocaust is also used in a broader sense, to refer to all of the victims of
Nazi state-organized murder, including the Roma, gay people and others.

The Nazi genocide and ethnic cleansing efforts did not begin as a specific plan to gas Jews and others in concentration camps, but rather evolved over time, beginning with systematic persecution aimed in part at encouraging Jewish emigration from Germany to other countries. It grew from spontaneous murders to planned massacres of Jewish communities, to the establishment of an industrial apparatus for the
efficient, wholesale slaughter of a people.

In recognition of the evolving nature of the genocide, the date most frequently associated with the start of the Holocaust is January 30, 1933: when Adolf Hitler was appointed German chancellor, setting in motion what would become the Nazi genocide against the Jews.  (Editors Note - Other dates used are Kristalnacht (the Night of Broken Glass, 1938)  and the Wansee Conference which issued ‘the Final Solution)

The end of the Holocaust is usually thought to be May 8, 1945, or VE (Victory in Europe) Day, when the Allies formally accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender, ending World War II on the Continent, although fighting continued in the Far East.


A major turning point in Nazi policy toward Jews was the coordinated attacks by the Sturmabteilung (or SA, the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party) against Jews and Jewish institutions and businesses throughout Germany and Austria on November 9-10, 1938 – an event known as Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass, due to the large amount of shattered windows at Jewish properties in its aftermath. At least 91 Jews were killed in the violence, and 30,000 were arrested and interned in concentration camps (but not extermination camps). Over 900 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish businesses were severely damaged or destroyed.

Kristallnacht marked the transition of the Nazi policy vis-a-vis Jews from social ostracism, abrogation of legal rights and economic boycotts, to organized physical violence including murder. As such, some consider the November ‘38 pogrom as marking the actual beginning of the Holocaust – the date when anti-Jewish persecution in Germany began moving toward genocide.

Mass killings of Jews became commonplace following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Death squads called Einsatzgruppen, formed at the order of Reinhard Heydrich, director of the Reich Main Security Office at the time, were tasked with murdering Jewish civilians and Communist Party officials with the help of local citizens. Historians estimate that between June 1941 and May 1943, these roaming death squads killed over 1 million Jews.

Industrial-scale murder of Jews, known as the Final Solution, was approved by the senior Nazi leadership on January 20, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference, held just outside Berlin. At the meeting, called by Heydrich, he presented the plan to transport Jews from Eastern and Western Europe to extermination camps located in Poland.

While the fall of the Nazi regime and its surrender on May 8, 1945 is usually the date given as the end of the Holocaust – it did not mark the end of organized killings of Jews in Europe. Hundreds of Jews were killed across Poland by Polish locals after the war had ended. In the most of infamous of these events, on July 4, 1946, over 40 Jews were killed in the Polish city of Kielce, in a massacre incited by Polish communist authorities
with elements among the local population participating.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The law is one way to seek justice after genocide. After World War II, international, domestic, and military courts conducted trials of accused war criminals. Unfortunately, many perpetrators of Nazi-era crimes have never been tried or punished. Trials continue today, but in many cases, perpetrators simply returned to their normal lives
and professions in society.


1   24 Nazi diplomatic, economic, political, and military leaders were tried before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), held in Nuremberg, Germany.
The IMT is the best known of the postwar trials.

2   While the IMT tried leading German officials, the overwhelming majority of post-1945 war crimes trials involved lower-level officials and functionaries.

3   Many nations which Germany occupied during World War II, or who collaborated with the Germans in the persecution of civilian populations, also held national trials
in the years following World War II.

The law is one way to seek justice after genocide. After World War II, both international and domestic courts conducted trials of accused war criminals. Beginning in the winter of 1942, the governments of the Allied powers announced their determination to punish Axis war criminals.

Signed by the foreign secretaries of the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, the October 1943 Moscow Declaration stated that at the time of an armistice persons deemed responsible for war crimes would be sent back to those countries in which the crimes had been committed and judged according to the laws of the nation concerned. “Major” war criminals, whose crimes could be assigned no particular geographic location, would be punished by joint decisions of the Allied governments. The trials of leading German officials before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), the best known of the postwar war crimes trials, took place in Nuremberg, Germany, before judges representing the Allied powers.

 Between October 18, 1945, and October 1, 1946, the IMT tried 22 "major" war criminals on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to commit such crimes. The IMT defined crimes against humanity as "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation...or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds." Twelve of those convicted were sentenced to death, among them Reich Marshall Hermann Göring, Hans Frank, Alfred Rosenberg, and Julius Streicher. The IMT sentenced three defendants to life imprisonment and four to prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years. It acquitted three of the defendants.

The overwhelming majority of post-1945 war crimes trials involved lower-level officials and functionaries. In the immediate postwar years, the four Allied powers occupying Germany (and Austria)—the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union—held trials in their zones of occupation and tried a variety of perpetrators for wartime offenses. Many of the earliest zonal trials, especially in the US zone, involved the murder of Allied military personnel who had been captured by German or Axis troops. In time, however, Allied occupiers expanded their juridical mandate to try concentration camp guards and commandants and others who had committed crimes against Jews and others who suffered persecution in areas the Allies now occupied. Much of our early knowledge of the German concentration camp system comes from the evidence and eyewitness testimonies at these trials.

Allied occupation officials were interested in a denazification of Germany and saw the reconstruction of the German court system as an important step in this direction. Allied Control Council Law No. 10 of December 1945 authorized German courts of law to pass sentence on crimes committed during the war years by German citizens against other German nationals or against stateless persons. For this reason, occupation officials left Euthanasia crimes—where both victims and perpetrators had been predominantly German nationals—to newly reconstructed German tribunals.

These proceedings represented the first German national trials in the early postwar period. Both the German Federal Republic (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) continued to hold trials against Nazi-era defendants in the decades following their establishment as independent states. To date, the Federal Republic (in its old manifestation as West Germany and in its current status as a united Germany) has held a total of 925 proceedings trying defendants of National Socialist era crimes. Many detractors have criticized German proceedings, particularly those held in the 1960s and 1970s, for doling out acquittals or light sentences to aging defendants or defendants who claimed superior orders.

Many nations which Germany occupied during World War II or who collaborated with the Germans in the persecution of civilian populations, especially Jews, have also held national trials in the years following World War II.

Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania, and France, among others, have tried thousands of defendants—both Germans and indigenous collaborators, in the decades since 1945. The Soviet Union held its first trial, the Krasnodar Trial, against local collaborators in 1943, long before World War II had ended.  Rudolf Hoess, the longest serving Auschwitz commandant, was tried by the Polish Supreme National  Tribunal in Warsaw. Sentenced to death, he was taken to Auschwitz, near Krakow, for his execution by hanging in April 1947. (Auschwitz trials were also carried out by the US).  Perhaps Poland's most famous postwar national trial was held in 1947 in Krakow. These proceedings tried a number of functionaries of the Auschwitz camp and sentenced Auschwitz camp commandant Arthur Liebehenschel and others to death. One of the most famous national trials of German perpetrators was held in Jerusalem: the trial of Adolf Eichmann, chief architect in the deportation of European Jews, before an Israeli court in 1961 captured worldwide attention and is thought to have interested a new postwar generation in the crimes of the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, many perpetrators of Nazi-era criminality have never been tried or punished. In many cases, German perpetrators of National Socialist crimes simply returned to their normal lives and professions in German society. The hunt for German and Axis war criminals still goes on today.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum  

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the world was faced with a challenge—how to seek justice for an almost unimaginable scale of criminal behavior, including the annihilation of European Jewry. Even as a vocabulary emerged to describe the atrocities that would come to be known as the Holocaust, legal experts sought to establish a new body of law to address the unprecedented crimes perpetrated by the Axis powers. A series of war crimes trials convened by the Allied powers and European governments sought to answer tangled questions of guilt, punish the perpetrators, and deter future crimes on this scale.

Defendant Julius Streicher, editor of the antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer, on the stand at the International Military Tribunal ... [LCID: 14459]

National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD

The trial of leading German officials before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), the best known of the postwar war crimes trials, formally opened in Nuremberg on November 20, 1945, only six and a half months after Germany surrendered. Among the 24 defendants was Julius Streicher, publisher of the antisemitic German weekly Der Stürmer. On October 1, 1946, the IMT convicted Streicher of crimes against humanity in connection with his incitement to the mass murder of Europe's Jewish population. Streicher was executed for his crimes. At the time of the IMT, incitement to murder and extermination was considered a form of persecution on political and racial grounds, punishable as a crime against humanity. By holding one of Nazi Germany’s chief propagandists responsible as an accomplice for the destruction of the European Jews, Streicher’s conviction established a precedent-setting link between inflammatory speech and criminal action in international law. Soon after the IMT had completed its mission, direct and public incitement to commit genocide became a crime under international law.


The term “genocide” had been coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer who had fled to the United States. After the war, Lemkin and others lobbied at early sessions of the United Nations for the crime of genocide to become part of the emerging field of international law. On December 9, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” (commonly referred to as the Genocide Convention). Building on the intellectual and legal foundation laid by the IMT in the Streicher decision, Article III (c) of the Genocide Convention declares that “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” is a crime.

Generally speaking, “incitement” means encouraging or persuading another to commit an offense by way of communication, for example by employing broadcasts, publications, drawings, images, or speeches. It is “public” under international law if it is communicated to a number of individuals in a public place or to members of a population at large by such means as the mass media. Among other things, its "public" nature distinguishes it from an act of private incitement (which could be punishable under the Genocide Convention as “complicity in genocide” or possibly not punishable at all). Incitement to genocide must also be proven to be “direct,” meaning that both the speaker and the listener understand the speech to be a call to action. Prosecutors have found it challenging to prove what “direct” may mean in different cultures, as well as its meaning to a given speaker. Moreover, public incitement to genocide can be prosecuted even if genocide is never perpetrated. Lawyers therefore classify the infraction an “inchoate crime”: a proof of result is not necessary for the crime to have been committed, only that it had the potential to spur genocidal violence. It is intent of the speaker that matters, not the effectiveness of the speech in causing criminal action. This distinction helps to make the law preventative, rather than reactive.


The incitement provision of the Genocide Convention took on new importance in the wake of genocide in the Central African nation of Rwanda. Between April and July 1994, members of the Hutu majority, wielding machetes, firearms, and other weapons, killed at least 500,000 people. The vast majority of the victims were members of the Tutsi minority.

In 1997, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicted three Rwandans for “incitement to genocide”: Hassan Ngeze who founded, published, and edited Kangura (Wake Others Up!), a Hutu-owned tabloid that in the months preceding the genocide published vitriolic articles dehumanizing the Tutsi as inyenzi (cockroaches) though never called directly for killing them; and Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, founders of a radio station called Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) that indirectly and directly called for murder, even at times to the point of providing the names and locations of people to be killed. In the days leading to and during the massacres, RTLM received help from Radio Rwanda, the government-owned station, and programs were relayed to villages and towns throughout the country by a network of transmitters operated by Radio Rwanda. At the heart of the Rwanda “Media Trial” that opened on October 23, 2000, was the issue of free speech rights. “A key question is what kind of speech is protected and where the limits lie,” said American lawyer Stephen Rapp, the case's senior prosecutor for the Tribunal. “It is important to draw that line. We hope the judgment will give the world some guidance.”

In December 2003, the ICTR handed down its verdict. The three judges (a South African, a Sri Lankan, and a Norwegian) convicted Ngeze, Nahimana, and Barayagwiza for direct and public incitement to genocide. The judges declared: “Without a firearm, machete or any physical weapon, you caused the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.” In framing their verdict, the judges noted: “This case raises important principles concerning the role of the media, which have not been addressed at the level of international criminal justice since Nuremberg. The power of the media to create and destroy fundamental human values comes with great responsibility. Those who control the media are accountable for its consequences.” The prosecutors’ burden involved the interpretation of euphemisms (in order to prove the “direct” nature of the incitement), such as the phrase “go to work” as a call to kill the Tutsi and the Hutu who opposed the Rwandan regime. That an individual or group killed someone in response to the radio broadcasts or newspaper articles was not required to prove the incitement to genocide charge.

In January 2007, the lawyers for the defendants in the Rwanda “Media Trial” appealed the tribunal’s decisions on numerous grounds. Issuing a decision on November 28, 2007, the Tribunal affirmed the charge of “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” for Ngeze and Nahimana. The judges reversed the finding of guilt on this charge against Barayagwiza, ruling that only RTLM broadcasts made after April 6, 1994 (when the genocide began), constituted “direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” and that Barayagwiza no longer exercised control over the employees of the radio station at that time. (The Tribunal did affirm the findings of guilt against Barayagwiza on different grounds, for instigating the perpetration of acts of genocide and crimes against humanity.) Because of the reversal of some charges against the three defendants, the judges lowered the defendants’ sentences: Nahimana’s from life to 30 years, Negeze’s from life to 35 years, and Barayagwiza’s from 35 to 32 years.


What is the difference between hate speech and direct and public incitement to commit genocide? The Rwanda Media Case emphasized that incitement to commit genocide required a calling on the audience (be they listeners or readers) to take action of some kind. Absent such a call, inflammatory language may qualify as hate speech but does not constitute incitement. In many jurisdictions hate speech itself has been criminalized.

Demonstrating that speech meets the legal threshold for the “direct” element of the incitement charge can be extremely complex. Proving such directness often involves a careful parsing of metaphors, allusions, double entendres, and other linguistic nuances: a mode of speech may be perceived as direct in one culture, but not in another. Consider, for example, the Trial Judgment in the case of Prosecutor v. Simon Bikindi, handed down by the ICTR on December 2, 2008. Simon Bikindi was a famous composer and singer from Rwanda who distinguished himself in the run-up to the 1994 genocide by using his music and fame to drum up support for the Hutu-led regime, and by fostering ethnic hatred throughout the carnage. He was also held accused of incitement for composing and performing songs like Nanga Abahutu (“I Hate These Hutu,” an anti-Tutsi song). According to prosecution witnesses who appeared before the ICTR, Bikindi’s song was not only an invitation to hate Tutsi, but given the context of the ongoing civil war, to be ready to kill them as well.

The ICTR Trial Chamber was not in the end persuaded that Bikindi’s songs amounted to incitement to commit genocide. Instead, the judges convicted Bikindi for statements that he made—via loudspeaker—in the Rwandan countryside during the genocide (where he asked his audiences, among other things, “Have you killed the Tutsi here?” and referred to Tutsis as “snakes.”). The Bikindi case illustrates that a sophisticated understanding of cultural context—notably linguistic usage and subtlety—is critical for the legal determination of the directness of any alleged incitement to genocide.

In contrast to the Rwanda Tribunal, the international crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide has played virtually no role in the prosecution of genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. There the prosecution of atrocities other than genocide has predominated the proceedings. Most experts believe that mass communication in the former Yugoslavia was employed chiefly for spewing hate propaganda, rather than incitement to commit genocide as defined in strictly legal terms.


The crime of incitement remains firmly in place on the international legal stage. In 1998, an incitement provision was included in Article 25(3)(e) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (in conjunction with Article 6—Genocide). And on November 28, 2008, after seven years of negotiations, the European Union (EU) adopted a Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia. The document’s principal contribution is the EU-wide prohibition of public incitement and hatred against persons of a different race, color, religion, or national or ethnic origin, punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years. This document also prohibits public approval, denial, or gross trivialization of international crimes, notably genocide, and is an outgrowth of pre-existing European laws prohibiting Holocaust denial.

The Genocide Convention’s Article III (c) has recently been invoked in the spirit of genocide prevention. On October 26, 2005, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the “World Without Zionism” conference in Tehran, called for the State of Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Ahmadinejad has continued to make public speeches either directly or indirectly calling for Israel's destruction. In 2006, Israeli diplomats proposed to charge Ahmadinejad with direct and public incitement to genocide before the International Criminal Court. Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian Minister of Justice and currently Member of the Canadian Parliament, has also argued that the Iranian president is guilty of state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, incitement that is both “direct and public” as defined in the Genocide Convention. Additionally, in June 2007, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling upon the United Nations Security Council to charge Ahmadinejad with violating the Genocide Convention by his repeated calls for Israel to be annihilated. Government officials in the United Kingdom and Australia have adopted similar stances to that of the Americans. To date, no international legal proceedings for incitement to genocide have moved forward against Ahmadinejad.


Since the end of the Holocaust in 1945, 55 million civilians have perished
in more than 89 major genocides around the world
click here to see ALL the list

Genocide    Wikipedia

ICD Program for Human Rights and Global Peace   Acts of Genocide Committed Since the Adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1951
Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for Human Rights and Global Peace

Life of Raphael Lemkin     Lemkin House
Internationally acclaimed as the man who coined the term ‘genocide’   

The Holocaust in Comparitive and Historical Perspective   R.J. Rummel  1995

Learn About the Holocaust and Genocides, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

International Criminal Court (external link)

Council of Europe's Framework Decision to Combat Racism and Xenophobia

United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum 2016 (13.18)

United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum 2016 (6.56)

United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum 2016 (7.28)

United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum 2016 (13.54)

TEDxFoggyBottom 2017 (20.22)
Witnessing the aftermath of the Cambodian Genocide in 1980, Greg Stanton felt called to make it his life's work to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. That calling grew into the Rwanda Tribunal and founding of Genocide Watch, a global movement to prevent future genocides.

Dr. Gregory H. Stanton is the founding chairman of Genocide Watch, the founder of the Cambodian Genocide Project, and Founder of the Alliance Against Genocide. Dr. Stanton is Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University. He was the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Dr. Stanton served in the State Department, where he drafted the United Nations Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He wrote the State Department plan on ways to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice, and drafted the rules of procedure for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a J.D. in Law from Yale Law School, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School,
and a B.A. in Government from Oberlin College.

eugen kunstmann 2016 (1.36.08)

Yehuda Bauer
Radboud Reflects, 2013 (1.55.18)


Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust


Pyramid of Hate

to Genocide





See Also

How Did
Ordinary Citizens Become Murderers?

 PBS  2010  (1.54.16)
This film is also available at Watch Daniel Goldhagen's ground-breaking documentary focused on the worldwide phenomenon of genocide, which premiered on PBS on April 14, 2010.
To see this and other full-length PBS videos go to Please support your local PBS station at

"By the most fundamental measure -- the number of people killed -- the perpetrators of mass murder since the beginning of the twentieth century have taken the lives of more people than have died in military conflict. So genocide is worse than war," reiterates Goldhagen. "This is a little-known fact that should be a central focus of international politics, because once you know it, the world, international politics, and what we need to do all begin to look substantially different from how they are typically conceived."

WORSE THAN WAR documents Goldhagen¹s travels, teachings, and interviews in nine countries around the world, bringing viewers on an unprecedented journey of insight and analysis. In a film that is highly cinematic and evocative throughout, he speaks with victims, perpetrators, witnesses, politicians, diplomats, historians, humanitarian aid workers, and journalists, all with the purpose of explaining and understanding the critical features of genocide
and how to finally stop it.

When Did the Holocaust Begin?
A Genesis of Genocide

War Crimes

to Genocide
International Law


MISS NOBLE RMPS  2014 (13.05)
e was the BBC's war correspondent who accompanied the British 11th Armoured Division to the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and described the scene in a report so graphic that the BBC declined to broadcast it for four days, relenting only when he threatened to resign:

...Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which... The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them ... Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live ... A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days.

This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.   Wikipedia