Mankind has suffered a lot over the years from dramatic climatic conditions, landslides, earthquakes, etc., but none of them is comparable to a genocide. People killing people in masses, just for the sake of proving a point or for their own gain has happened a lot in the last 500 years. Lets take a look at the six worst genocides in history of mankind.
Six Worst Genocides In History
6. The Rwandan Massacre (1994):
Genocides are politically motivated generally speaking, Rwanda is a classic example where it was the result of tribal in-discrimination. The short mass killing spree resulted in 6,00,000 and 10,00,000 dead and was the climax of long-standing ethnic tension and competition between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis.
Supposedly the Tutsi had control over Rwanda for centuries dominating with their powerful position over the Hutu majority until they had been over thrown in the Hutu rebellion of 1962. Tension between the two tribal communities remained high and eventually escalated into war when in April 1994, Hutu
President Juvénal Habyarimana died under suspicious circumstances in a plane crash. This resulted in bloody reprisals by Hutus against their Tutsi neighbors in retaliatory attacks.
While not orchestrated by Hutu government, experts maintain that violent and spontaneous reaction to the assassination was instigated by Rwandan armed forces and carried out by Hutu militia groups with the full approval and knowledge of government thus making it directly accountable.
Besides this, another reason for the massacre was the non-willingness of other western powers or United Nations to take any decisive action early. The United Nations went so far as to evacuate the remaining troops it had in Rwanda to take them away from harm’s way.
President Bill Clinton has since admitted that lack of timely action in Rwanda on his part is the greatest blunder of his presidency. How things might have been different had only world nations had the back bone to do something and prevent the genocide.
5. The Armenian Genocide (1915-1923):
While they shy away from discussing it today, Ottoman Turks with the leadership of Enver Pasha, War Minister from 1881-1922 might have conducted the very first organized 20th century’s large scale genocide.
Immediately after and during the 1st World War, Turkey killed, starved to death, deported nearly 2 million Armenians along with thousands of other nonturks. The Ottoman Turks may also be the first to introduce the idea of concentration camps although most of the camps were short-lived.
Turks of the modern age refuse to recognize what occurred as a genocide, considering it as a deportation en masse of people who had allied themselves with Russia, Turkey was at war with Russia at that time, who had largely died from neglect or exhaustion during forceful marches.
Majority of genocide experts consider it as a planned effort at terminating an unwanted ethnic minority group that lived inside the borders of a disintegrating Ottoman Empire for many centuries. It remains a delicate subject among modern-day Turks not to mention the embittered Armenians to this day.
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4. The Killing Fields of Cambodia (1975-1978):
When Khmer Rouge over threw the Cambodian government in 1976 and established a communist rule in it’s place, the first act was to exterminate any one it deemed to be an enemy of state. This included not only ex-members of the old rule and military, but Buddhists, intellectuals, journalists, businessmen, teachers, and even people who wore glasses.
While the final death toll in this short-lived, but gruesome cleansing will never be known for sure, it is estimated that no fewer than 2.5 million people (nearly 25% of Cambodia’s population) died by the hands of Khmer Rouge. Had it not been for the 1979 Vietnamese invasion that overthrew Khmer Rouge and sent them in to hiding, the death figure would have been higher.
3. The Holocaust (1939-1945):
No other genocide is as carefully documented or widely known as the effort of the Nazi regime to terminate not only Jews from European continent, but countless others it deemed undesirable and unfit to live.
By the time Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker in April of 1945, some 12 million people, more than half of them Jews had been terminated either through deportation, mass extermination or starvation and/or over work in its prison camps.
This was all part of a merciless policy that much of the world either refused to believe was happening until the first camps were liberated by Allies forces in 1945.
What’s interesting in this case is that unlike China and Russia, Germany had no prior history of such cruelty or at least on such a big scale and was considered to be one of the most cultured and educated societies in the world at the time it came under Hitler’s rule.
This would serve as warning that no country is immune from becoming a killing ground with the right leader and under the right circumstances as millions of Germans were forced to learn the hard-way in World War 2.
2. The Stalinist Era in the USSR (1929-1953):
While the majority believe Hitler to be the most prolific murderer of the 20th century, the top prize goes to another man, Joseph Stalin, who turned his nation into 1 massive extermination camp and prison.
The number of people who had died under his direct involvement or as an outcome of his sloppy agricultural policies will never be known for sure, but some estimates place it as high as 22 million.
The Soviet extermination of the social class, Kulaks and the subsequent killer famine among Ukrainian peasants killed at least 3 million, while Stalin’s notorious order 00446 in 1937 that authorized exile of socially harmful segments of society deemed as enemies of state and mass executions decimated the intelligent and military class of USSR leaving thousands dead and millions more suffering in Stalin’s massive prison camps.
Only if not the providential happening of his death in 1955 occurred before he could initialize another cleansing of Jews and other enemies of state, the final death toll would have been higher still. Despite all of this, the man was admired by people who lived outside Russia and the always benevolent and smiling Stalin even made it to the cover of Time Magazine no less than 10 times. Looks can be deceptive indeed.
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1. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in China (1949-1976):
While it is next to impossible to calculate exactly how many died at the merciless hands of communists when they took over power in 1950 and during the time that came after, official estimates range anywhere from 50 to 70 million. While some of this happened when communist forces defeated the Nationalist Army finally, most of them happened later and came in 2 primary waves.
The first was during the great leap on ward when Chinese leader, Mao Tse Dong’s attempt at social engineering and agricultural modernization led to mass starvation between 1960 and 1961 and death of land owners.
While not a specific endeavour to exterminate a population, what made it genocidal was the fact that Tse Dong continued his policy long after they had proven to be disastrous there by sealing the destruction of millions of peasants through starvation.
These are the six worst genocides happened in the history of mankind. Do you think that we could have avoided these genocides in any way?