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Comparing Rwanda - Holocaust

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Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  762 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,928 Views

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Genocide is a powerful word. International law requires intervention if something is deemed genocide. There is no doubt that the Holocaust is the most famous and most studied case of genocide, although there have been numerous throughout history. One of the more recent is the Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed (United Human Rights). The two have several similarities and differences in their origins, exterminations and aftermath.

The origin of the Holocaust can be attributed to Adolph Hitler coming to power and imposing his ideals on everyone. In his book, Mein Kampf, Hitler expresses hatred for Jews and his plans to rid Germany of them. Once he came to power, Germans started to boycott stores owned by Jews, restrict them from certain jobs, and expel Jewish students from schools. Many consider the official start of the Holocaust to be November 9, 1938, where Nazis destroyed synagogues, Jewish businesses and homes (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2). It became known as the "Night of Broken Glass" because of the shattered windows that littered the streets. About 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps on that night alone (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2).

In Rwanda, ethnic tensions were already high with the power struggle between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Since its independence from Belgium, the Hutus suppressed the Tutsis increasingly until the Tutsi rebel army forced the President to sign an agreement that equalized power. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying the Rwandan President was shot down and resulted in an outbreak of violence by the Hutus, who began killing all Tutsis and moderate Hutus (United Human Rights).

In 1941, the Nazis began initiating the "Final Solution" which ordered the systematic killing of all Jews (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 4). Einsatzgruppe or "deployment groups" would go into a Jewish community, gather the entire population, take them to the outskirts of town and shoot them; it is suggested that the Einsatzgruppe killed about one million people (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 5). In 1942, Germans began to set up extermination camps (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 6). Jews were taken there by train, and upon arrival they were forced to give up their possessions. They were then herded in to gas chambers, or "showers" as the Nazis called them to avoid panic, where poisonous gas was released until everyone had died.

The killing was not as organized in Rwanda. Hutu militia spread throughout the country, executing Tutsi families with machetes, guns and clubs. The radio controlled by Hutus broadcasted the exact locations of Tutsis in hiding, and further encouraged the killing. In some villages, Hutu militia would force other Hutus to kill Tutsis in their neighborhood, or be killed themselves. Tutsis were also forced to kill their families.

After World War II had ended, between 9 million to 11 million people had been victims of the Holocaust (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 8). About 9 million had moved to other countries at the end of the war, and about 6 million returned when it was over (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 8). Most found that they had no homes left in their native countries;


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