The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1995/01/31

Following is a paper that I have just completed for the conference 
noted below. Because of the general interest in genocide and mass murder I have 
prepared an ASCII version and am disseminating it on the internet. 

Professor of Political Science, 
University of Hawaii at Manoa
President, Haiku Institute of Peace Research
46-393 Holopu Place
Kaneohe Hawaii 96744
Phone: (808) 235-8866
Fax: (808) 956-6877



By R.J.Rummel

(Paper to be Delivered to the Conference on "The 'Other' as 
Threat-Demonization and Antisemitism," June 12-15, 1995, at the Hebrew 
University of Jerusalem) 

        A massive amount of research has been done on the Holocaust, the most 
extensive, best organized, thorough, and unlimited case of genocide in the 
modern age. The second most studied genocide has been that of the Armenians in 
Turkey. But little research has been done on other genocides per se, and 
virtually no systematic historical or comparative research has been done on 
genocide in general. There are collections of  studies on different 
genocides.[1] There are exemplary lists of genocides.[2] But until the 
publication of my Death By Government[3] and availability of its auxiliary 
work, Statistics of Democide [4], the field has been lacking a comprehensive 
collection of all the genocides and mass murders to have occurred.[5] Moreover, 
there are few attempts to compare the occurrence of genocide to other forms of 
mass murder or to fit genocide within a larger context of mass killing. 
Finally, there has been virtually no systematic attempt to assess the 
underlying conditions and causes of genocide.[6] Here I will present and 
describe results as yet unpublished that may help fill this void.[7] And in the 
process I will try to save the idea of genocide to mean that for which we badly 
need an exclusive concept-the murder of individuals by virtue of their 
ethnicity, race, religion, language, or nationality.
        At its the core there is no doubt as to what genocide is-all recognize 
that the Nazi program to kill all Jews was genocide. Nor is there any doubt 
that the Bosnian Serb massacre of Bosnian Moslems and vice versa, or the 
slaughter of Hutu by Tutsi and Tutsi by Hutu in Rwanda was genocide. But was 
genocide also the recent massacre of helpless villagers in the Sudan by 
government forces fighting a rebellion, the 1965-1966 Indonesian army purge of 
communists, the 1948 assassination of political opponents by the Nationalist 
government on Formosa, the 1949-1953 "land-reform" executions of landlords in 
communist China, or the 1975-1980 rapid death of inmates in Vietnamese 
re-education camps? What about non-killing which has been called genocide, such 
as the absorption of one culture by another, the disease spread to natives by 
contact with colonists, the forced deportation of a people, or African slavery? 
        Let me remind the reader that in international conventions and the 
professional literature, genocide was initially defined in part as the 
intentional destruction of a people because of their race, religion, ethnicity, 
or some other indelible group membership. As now well known, the origin of the 
concept is the 1944 work by Raphael Lemkin on Axis Rule in Occupied Europe:

        [OPEN QUOTE] New conceptions require new terms. By "genocide" we mean 
the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. This new word, coined by the 
author to denote an old practice in its modern development, is made from the 
ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing), thus 
corresponding in its formation to such words a tyrannicide, homicide [sic], 
infanticide, etc. Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the 
immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of 
all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of 
different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the 
life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. 
The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and 
social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the 
economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal 
security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals 
belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an 
entity, and the actions involved are directed against the individuals, not in 
their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.[CLOSE QUOTE][8]

        Of course this was written at the height of the Jewish Holocaust, a 
clear case of a regime trying to exterminate a whole group, its intellectual 
contributions, its culture, and the very lives of all its people. There was an 
immediate need for some way of conceptualizing this horror and "genocide" did 
it. During the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi war criminals and in the post-war 
discussion and debate over how to prevent such killing in the future, 
"genocide" became commonly used. And in incredible little time, it passed from 
Lemkin's pages into international law. In 1946 the United Nations General 
Assembly recognized that "genocide is a crime under international law which the 
civilized world condemns, and for the commission of which principles and 
accomplices are punishable." Then two years later the General Assembly made 
this concrete. It passed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the 
Crime of Genocide. This international treaty, eventually signed by well over a 
majority of states, affirms that genocide is a punishable crime under 
international law, and stipulates  the meaning of genocide to be

[BEGIN QUOTE] 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.

        Note that the Convention is consistent with Lemkin's definition and 
elaboration. Relevant here, the gravity of both is that genocide is the intent 
to destroy in whole or part a group. One way of doing this is to kill  members 
of the group, but also genocide includes the intent to destroy a group in whole 
or in part by other means, such as by preventing births in the group or causing 
serious mental harm. That is, by both definitions, genocide does not 
necessarily include killing group members. 
        In the early years of its use "genocide" was applied almost entirely 
to the Jewish Holocaust and then, especially through the work of Armenian 
scholars, to the mass murder of Armenians by the Young Turk regime during World 
War I. However, scholars increasingly have come to realize that restricting the 
killing aspect of the concept to those murdered by virtue of their group 
membership does not even account for the millions of non-Jewish Poles, 
Ukrainians, Yugoslavs, Czechs, Frenchmen, and others, the Nazis wiped out. How 
then do we conceptualize the purposive government killing of protesters or 
dissidents, the reprisal shooting of innocent villagers, the beating to death 
of peasants for hiding rice, or the indiscriminate bombing of civilians? How do 
we conceptualize torturing people to death in prison, working them to death in 
concentration camps, or letting starving them to death, when such killing is 
done out of revenge, for an ideology, or for reasons of state having nothing to 
do with the social groups to which these people belong? 
        Because of such questions some scholars have generalized the meaning 
of "genocide." In some cases it has been extended to include the intentional 
killing of people because of their politics or for political reasons,[9] even 
though this has been explicitly excluded from the Genocide Convention. Some 
scholars also have extended the definition of genocide to cover any mass murder 
by government whatsoever;[10] some have even stretched the concept much 
further, such as to characterize the unintentional spread of disease to 
indigenous populations during European colonization, including that in the 
American West.[11] To all these scholars the critical aspect of "genocide" is 
intentional government killing.
        All this is confusing. Because of the non-killing aspect of "genocide" 
and the need to have a concept covering other kinds of government murder, all 
the following have been called genocide: the denial of ethnic Hawaiian culture 
by the American run public school system in Hawaii, government policies letting 
one race adopt the children of another race, African slavery by Whites, South 
African Apartheid, any murder of women by men, death squad murders in 
Guatemala, deaths in the Soviet gulag, and, of course, the Jewish Holocaust. 
The linking of all such diverse acts or deaths together under one label has 
created an acute conceptual problem that begs for the invention of new concepts 
to cover and be limited to intentional government murder. Thus, both Barbara 
Harff[12] and I have independently developed the concept of politicide for a 
government's premeditated killing of people because of their politics or for 
political reasons. But this new concept is still not sufficient, since many 
mass murders by government cannot be so labeled either, such as the working of 
POWs to death by the Japanese army in World War II or the killing of Black 
Africans that resisted enslavement.
Clearly, a concept is needed that includes all intentional government killing 
in cold blood and that is comparable to the concept of murder for private 
        The killing of one person by another is murder whether done because 
the victim was Black or White, refused to repay a loan, or hurled an insult. It 
is murder if the killing was a premeditated act or the victim died because of a 
reckless and wanton disregard for their life. Nor does it matter whether the 
killing is done for high moral ends, for altruistic reasons, or for any other 
purpose, it is murder under Western and most other legal codes (unless 
officially authorized by government, as for judicial executions or military 
combat). And as a crime murder is limited by definition to intentionally taking 
the life of another in some way. Although we use murder metaphorically, as in 
someone "murdering" the language, it is not the crime of murder to hurt someone 
psychologically, to steal their child, or to rob them of their culture.
        As an analogous concept for public murder, that intentionally done by 
government agents acting authoritatively, I offer the concept of democide. Its 
one root is the Greek demos or people; the other is the same as for genocide, 
which is from the Latin caedere, to kill. Democide's necessary and sufficient 
meaning is that of the intentional government killing of an unarmed person or 
people. Unlike the concept of genocide, it is restricted to intentional 
killing, and does not extend to attempts to eliminate nations, races, or 
religions by means other than killing members of the group. Moreover, democide 
is not limited to genocide (that aspect involving the killing of group 
members), nor to politicide, mass murder or massacre, or terror. It includes 
them all and also what they exclude, as long as such killing is a purposive 
act, policy, process, or institution of government. In short democide is 
government murder. 
        Since much killing takes place during wartime, I must be absolutely 
clear  on what then constitutes democide. War related killing by military 
forces that international agreements and treaties directly or by implication 
prohibit is democide, whether the parties are signatories or not. That killing 
explicitly permitted is not democide. Thus, the death of civilians during the 
bombing of munitions plants in World War II is not democide. Nor is the death 
of civilians when through navigation or bombing errors, or the malfunction of 
equipment, bombs land on a school or hospital, unless it is clear that the 
bombing was carried out recklessly in spite of a high risk to such civilian 
buildings. Nor is the death of civilians in a bombed village democide when 
beneath it has been built enemy bunkers. Nor is the death of civilians caught 
in a cross fire between enemy soldiers democide, or those civilians killed 
while willingly helping troops haul supplies or weapons. Seldom is it easy to 
make these distinctions, but the aim here must be clear. In the findings to be 
described below I discriminate between democide in time of war and war-deaths. 
The latter are those of the military and civilians from battle or battle 
related disease and famine. The former are those victims (which may include the 
military, as when POWs are massacred) of internationally prohibited war-time 
killing, what may be called war-crimes or crimes against humanity. Such was the 
        Pulling all this together, a death constitutes democide if it is the 
intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents 
acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or 
high command (as in the Nazi gassing of the Jews). It is also democide if these 
deaths were the result of such authoritative government actions carried out 
with reckless and wanton disregard for the lives of those affected (as putting 
people in concentration camps in which the forced labor and starvation rations 
were such as to cause the death of inmates). It is democide if government 
promoted or turned a blind eye to these deaths even though they were murders 
carried out "unofficially" or by private groups (as by death squads in 
Guatemala or El Salvador). And these deaths also may be democide if high 
government officials knowingly and purposely allowed conditions to continue 
that were causing mass deaths and issued no public warning (as in the Ethiopian 
famines of the 1970s). All extra-judicial or summary executions comprise 
democide. Even judicial executions may be democide, as in the Soviet show 
trials of the late 1930s. Judicial executions for "crimes" internationally 
considered trivial or non-capital, as of peasants picking up grain at the edge 
of a collective's fields, of a worker for telling an anti-government joke, or 
of an engineer for a miscalculation, are also democide.
        Genocide (in its killing aspect) is then a type of democide that 
involves the government murder of people because of their ethnicity, race, 
religion, language, or nationality.
        With the understanding of both genocide and democide, what can we 
empirically say about their general occurrence, patterns, causes and 
        I have collected data on this century's democide by all state regimes, 
quasi-state regimes (e.g., the communist soviet enclaves in Nationalist China 
or the White army territories in Russia during the civil war in 1920), and 
group regimes (such as the Palestine Liberation Organization). The largest of 
the resulting estimates, including that for genocide, are listed in Table 1. 


(In Table 1 the first column gives the names of the regimes committing 
democide. The numbers following this define for each regime its years of 
existence, the total democide in thousands [a], the total domestic democide in 
thousands, the genocide in thousands, and the annual domestic rate of democide 
in percent [b]. Footnotes in brackets are given at the bottom of the table. All 
figures are from Rummel (1994))

U.S.S.R.                1917-87 61,911  54,769  10,000  0.42    
China (PRC)     1949-87 35,236  35,236  375     0.12    
Germany         1933-45 20,946  762     16,315  0.09    
China (KMT)     1928-49 10,075  10,075  Nil     0.07    [e]
Japan           1936-45 5,964   Nil     Nil     Nil     
China (Mao Soviets) [c] 1923-49 3,466   3,466   Nil     0.05[e]
Cambodia                1975-79 2,035   2,000   541     8.16    
Turkey          1909-18 1,883   1,752   1,883   0.96    
Vietnam         1945-87 1,670   944     Nil     0.1     
North Korea [f]         1948-87 1,663   1,293   Nil     0.25    
Poland          1945-48 1,585   1,585   1,585   1.99    
Pakistan                1958-87 1,503   1,503   1,500   0.06    
Mexico [f]              1900-20 1,417   1,417   100     0.45    
Yugoslavia (Tito)       1944-87 1,072   987     675     0.12    
Russia [f]              1900-17 1,066   591     502     0.02    

TOTAL MEGAMURDERS       1900-87 151,491 116,380 33,476  0.92    [d]
LESSER MURDERERS        1900-87 17,707  13,529  5,090   0.26    
WORLD TOTAL     1900-87 169,198 129,909 38,566          0.09[g]
TABLE NOTES                                                     
a. Includes genocide, politicide, and mass murder; excludes war-dead. These 
are most probable mid-estimates in low to high ranges.                          
b. The percent of a population killed in democide per year of the regime       
c. Guerrilla period.                                                    
d. Average.                                                     
e. The rate is the average of that for three successive periods.               
f. Suspected megamurderer: data insufficient for a final judgment.             
g. The world annual rate is calculated for the mid-century 1944 global 


        The figures in Table 1 are for this century's megamurderers-those 
states killing in cold blood, aside from warfare, 1,000,000 or more men, women, 
and children. These fifteen megamurderers alone have murdered over 151,000,000 
people, almost four times the almost 38,500,000 war-dead for all this century's 
international and civil wars up to 1987.[13] The most totalitarian regimes, 
that is the communist U.S.S.R., China and preceding Mao guerrillas, Khmer Rouge 
Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, and Yugoslavia, as well as Nazi Germany, 
account for nearly 128,000,000 of them, or 84 percent. In addition to this 
democide by these megamurderers, 203 lesser murderers have killed near 
17,700,000 more people. 
        These figures on democide are new to students of the Holocaust and 
genocide. They are based on almost 8,200 estimates of genocide, politicide, 
massacres, terrorism, extrajudicial executions, and other relevant types of 
killing. These estimates were recorded from over a thousand sources, which 
include general works, specialized studies, human rights reports, journal 
articles, and news sources.[14] 
        Of course estimates of democide are very uncertain[15] and often 
propagandistic. Therefore I generally calculated a low to high range of 
probable democide, the low being the sum of the lowest estimates across events 
for a regime and the high being a similar sum. In this way I tried to bracket 
the most probable figure, which I then judged or calculated based on the 
central thrust, objectivity, and quality of the estimates. However, many of the 
figures in Table 1 will seem so precise as to belie this cautious approach. The 
reason for this apparent over precision lies in the method by which they were 
determined, which often involved calculations on dozens and sometime hundreds 
of estimates. The democide I give here for, say Cambodia, was then the outcome 
of all these calculations, including polynomial regressions of estimates of her 
population for each year from the early 60s to late 1980s.       
        In addition, much of this democide occurred during wartime and may 
appear to be confused with war-deaths. I have tried to separate battle-dead or 
those dying in the wake of war from genocide and mass murder. The Holocaust 
during the Second and genocide of the Armenians during the First World War are 
easy cases of this separation. So is the reprisal killings of Czechs or 
Yugoslavs by the Nazis, or those who died in Soviet labor camps during the 
Second World War. Some cases are not so easy, as of American and British 
indiscriminate bombing of urban populations during the Second World War, 
American bombing in Vietnam and Cambodia, or the British food blockade of the 
Levant in the First World War which caused many deaths from starvation and 
malnutrition. I have followed this approach in classifying those killed or 
dying in war as either war-dead or democide. If these deaths would be 
considered a crime against humanity or a war crime, if they are now 
internationally outlawed by the Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Protocols, 
they are counted as democide.
        Finally, to make sure I understood the democide estimates and could 
qualitatively evaluate them, I did case studies on democide by the Soviet 
Union,[16] Chinese regimes 1900-1987,[17] Nazi Germany,[18] Cambodian regimes, 
Vietnamese regimes, Turkey's regimes 1900-1923, North Korea, Russia 1900-1917, 
Mexico 1900-1920, Pakistan, Yugoslavian regimes 1941-1987, and Japan 
        With this in mind consider again the total democide of near 
170,000,000 given in Table 1. This figure is incredible, indigestible, and 
unimaginable. One simply cannot comprehend how many people these are. It 
surpasses the 1987 population of all but six nations in the world. If without 
stopping one were to have this many people come in one door, walk at three 
miles per hour across a room with three feet between them (assume generously 
that each person is also one foot thick, naval to spine), and exit an opposite 
door, the time it would take for all to pass through the room would be over 
four years and ten months. If all these dead were laid out head to toe, and 
assuming each is an average five feet tall because of the many children, they 
would reach from Honolulu, Hawaii, across the vast Pacific and then the huge 
continental United States to Washington D.C. on the East coast, and then back 
again over sixteen times.[20]
        What about genocide deaths? As can be seen from Table 1, near 
39,000,000 people have been killed in genocide, or near 23 percent of this 
toll. This itself is more than all the war-dead of all this century's 
international and civil wars, including World Wars I and II, the Korean and 
Vietnam Wars, the Russian and Mexican Revolutions, and the Spanish and Chinese 
Civil Wars. These genocides not only involved the Holocaust and the killing of 
the Armenians, the best known of this century's genocides, but also the lesser 
known genocide of Gypsies by the Nazis and of Greeks by the Turks. But then 
there were also the many genocides by other regimes, such as Stalin's deadly 
deportations of the Volga Germans, Greeks, Koreans, Chechens, and Crimean 
Tatars, and other nations groups; Kaiser Germany's almost total annihilation of 
the Herero in Namibia ; Pre-Revolutionary Mexico's genocide against its 
Indians; post-World War II Poland's, Yugoslavia's, and Czechoslovakia's killing 
deportation and genocidal treatment of their ethic and Reich Germans; Croatia's 
World War II genocide of their Jews, Gypsies and Serbians and the subsequent 
genocidal treatment of Croatians by the Tito partisans and then new post war 
Tito regime; Indonesia's post-coup 1965-1967 slaughter of ethnic Chinese (as a 
side-show to their massacre of communists) and in later years of East Timorese 
after their invasion of the country; Communist Chinese genocide of Tibetans and 
Nationalist Chinese of Formosans and both of Muslims; Rwanda's genocide of 
Tutsi and Burundi's of Hutu; East Pakistan's mass genocide of Bengalis in 
former West Pakistan (now Bangladesh); the Cambodian Khmer Rouge genocide of 
Buddhists, Chan (Muslims), ethnic Vietnamese, and ethnic Chinese; and on and on 
for a total of 141 regimes committing genocide.  In no way, however, does 
listing these genocides or lamenting over their toll demean the importance, 
horror, and uniqueness of the Holocaust. For of all these genocides, the 
Holocaust is the only one in which a regime, as a matter of public policy, 
aimed to exterminate all members of a specific religious group-the Jews-root 
and branch, where ever they could be found, whether in Germany or some occupied 
country, and the Nazis even prepared plans to kill them all in countries not 
yet defeated, such as in Great Britain. In this sense the Holocaust is 
unparalleled among genocides.
        What now can be said about the conditions and patterns of genocide 
(again, understood as the killing aspect), including the Holocaust? How does 
genocide empirically relate to other forms of democide? How does it correlate 
with socio-economic, cultural, and geographical conditions and assumed causes? 
What are the best predictors of genocide? In order to answer these questions, I 
will present in summary fashion the results of a multivariate analysis of 214 
state-regimes, including all 141 of them committing some kind of democide in 
this century, 1900-1987. A state-regime is a particular kind of government, 
such as a military dictatorship, a monarchy, or communist system. A country may 
have had several regimes during the century. Russia, for example has had three 
up to 1987, that of the Czar, then the brief Kerensky government, followed by 
the Bolshevik coup and communist rule. The Czar and communist regimes are two 
that were analyzed among the 214 regimes. For Germany there were the regimes of 
the Kaiser, Weimar Republic, Hitler, communist East Germany and democratic West 
Germany. All, with the exception of the Weimar Republic, were included in the 
analysis. Some countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Great Britain 
had only one regime through this century. In total 432 regimes have existed 
1900-1987. The focus is on the regime rather than the state, since it is the 
regime that commits democide and at issue is whether certain types of regimes 
are more or less disposed to murder their citizens or foreigners. As to the 
analysis, this is not the conference within which to present the actual 
methods, correlations, coefficients, and the like; and they are given 
elsewhere.[21] Technical material, where possibly useful, will be confined to 
the footnotes. Now for the results.
        The first question has to do with whether genocide correlates with 
other forms of democide. That is, does genocide comprise a general empirical 
pattern in state murder? Now such an empirical pattern would be a distinct and 
observable intercorrelation among different kinds of killing, such as genocidal 
murders and nongenocidal massacres, extrajudicial executions, and 
assassinations. And intercorrelation means (if positive) that when a regime 
commits genocide it also commits such other killing, and when it does not 
commit genocide it also does not commit these other kinds of killing. Many 
would argue, I am sure, that genocide is a basic and pervasive pattern among 
regimes, that genocide reflects wide-scale murder by regimes and is a central 
indicator that general democide is occurring. And that therefore to focus on 
genocide is to deal with the central and most basic state murder.
        Yet, surprisingly, I have found that this is not so. Rather, Genocide 
is a pattern of democide independent of other empirical democide patterns. That 
is, genocide is largely uncorrelated with other kinds of democide. For all 432 
state regimes in this century, 1900-1987,[22] I determined the empirical 
patterns among fourteen different types of democide, including those killed in 
genocide, deportations, massacres, terror, forced labor, concentration camps 
and prisons, man-made intentional famines, indiscriminate bombing, and the 
killing of POWs; and also including total democide, domestic democide, foreign 
democide, and the annual rate of domestic democide.[23] The major and 
statistically independent patterns comprise domestic democide, foreign 
democide, the annual rate of domestic democide, indiscriminate bombing, and 
genocide (which is highly intercorrelated only with massacres).
        Genocide itself is therefore a distinct empirical pattern of democide 
. This means that in the history of a regime it may or may not have committed 
genocide and massacres regardless of what other types of democide it has 
engaged in. Moreover, one cannot predict from the amount of democide that has 
been committed or the lethality of regime, as measured by the annual domestic 
democide rate, that genocide or massacres will or will not occur. Nor will the 
extent of a regime's foreign democide indicate that it will commit genocide. 
All this means that the IMMEDIATE causes and conditions of genocide are 
different than those for other types of democide or democide overall. 
Nonetheless, at a higher and more basic level there still may be causes and 
conditions that encompass genocide and other patterns of democide. And there is 
one that I will now point out.
        The more totalitarian and less democratic a regime the more democide, 
the more genocide, and the greater the annual rate of democide that it commits. 
That is, although the independent patterns of domestic democide, foreign 
democide, genocide, and the others, are not correlated, together they are 
accounted for by a regime's totalitarian power.[24] Power is the means through 
which a regime can accomplish its goals or whims. When a regime's power is 
magnified through its forceful intervention in all aspects of society, 
including its control over religion, the economy, and even the family, then 
when conjoined with an absolutist ideology or religion, mass killing becomes a 
practical means of achieving its ends. Thus we have the megamurderers shown in 
Table 1, such as the totalitarian USSR, communist China, Nazi Germany, and 
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. And thus, when the regime finds for whatever 
reason that the continued existence of a social group is incompatible with its 
beliefs or goals, totalitarian power enables it to destroy that group. Genocide 
follows. On the other hand, democratic elites generally lack the power to, and 
democratic culture anyway opposes, the outright extermination of people or 
social groups for whatever reason. 
        Power is the basic explanation and empirical correlate of genocide and 
other kinds of murder by the state. But there is also a related characteristic 
that is intrinsic to power. The more power a regime has the more it is likely 
to commit foreign violence and to have rebellions against it. The empirical 
evidence on this is overwhelming.[26] The least warlike regimes are democratic, 
the most are totalitarian. Indeed, democratic regimes do not make war on each 
other at all while warfare between totalitarian regimes, such as the Soviet 
Union and Nazi Germany, are the most deadly of all. Using the number killed in 
war or rebellion as the indicator of such violence and connecting this now to 
genocide, I find that the likelihood of genocide by a regime increases 
significantly the greater the characteristic number of its people killed in war 
and rebellion. The more a regime has or will suffer dead from involvement in 
war or rebellion, the greater its foreign democide and genocide.[27] Clearly, 
war or rebellion provide an excuse and cover in the fog of war for a regime to 
eliminate those social groups it finds objectionable. But also, the results 
show that over the life of a regime the more disposed it is to be involved in 
deadly foreign and domestic wars, the more likely it will commit democide, 
whether or not carried out during these wars. This is because totalitarian 
power not only underlies democide and genocide, but also because such power 
underlies as well the occurrence and intensity of war.
        But, many would ask, what about racial, ethnic, and religious 
diversity and accompanying hostility? What about antisemitism and Nazi Germany? 
Turkey and the Armenians? Pakistan and India and the Hindus and Moslems. Rwanda 
and Burundi and Hutu and Tutsi. And all the other ethnically, racially, or 
religiously diverse societies in which their regimes have systematically 
carried out genocide. Surely such diversity is correlated with genocide.
        But it is not. The social diversity of a nation is not correlated with 
nor does it predict its regime's overall domestic or foreign democide or in 
particular the regime's genocide. This is the most difficult to accept but the 
case studies and quantitative analyses are consistent. A nation's ethnic, 
religious, racial, linguistic, or national divisions, the relative size of such 
minorities or the nation's overall social diversity are uncorrelated with its 
domestic or foreign democide or its genocide. This is true even when various 
controls are introduced for the level of power, involvement in war or 
rebellion, education and level of economic development, or the nature of its 
culture.[28] In other words, some regimes whose societies are riven with social 
diversity will commit little genocide and some regimes with little diversity 
will commit much genocide; and some with much diversity will also commit much 
genocide and those with little diversity will have little genocide. And this 
lack of correlation is apparently not caused by any intervening or masking 
        For domestic genocide to occur, of course, there must be some social 
diversity and such usually will exist even in apparently homogenous nations. 
For example, Japan is looked at as highly homogenous, yet its pre-militarist 
regime allowed 2,600 to 11,000 Korean residents to be massacred in Japan after 
the 1923 Yokohama earthquake (they were accused of poisoning public water, 
hoarding food, and starting fires). It is not diversity that predicts to 
genocide, but a regime's power. Minorities have been massacred in authoritarian 
or totalitarian states while in  democracies very large minorities usually are 
secure in their lives, as in Switzerland or Belgium.[30]
        Perhaps it is not a question of diversity but of culture. Possibly 
some cultures are more disposed to genocide than others and there are those 
that would pin such infamy on Western cultures; others might point to African 
cultures or Asian. Still we might even be more specific and say that Christians 
are less disposed to genocide than non-Christian or Moslem societies. Many 
other cultural distinctions might be made and I have tried to include measures 
of them in my analyses. 
        No matter. Whatever the cultural distinction, the nature of a regime's 
culture is uncorrelated with and does not predict to its overall foreign or 
domestic democide or its genocide. This is almost as hard to accept as the lack 
of correlation with diversity, but the analyses are consistent for this 
also.[31] The variation among regimes in the degree to which they are Christian 
or Moslem, or influenced by English culture, or anti-women, or even whether 
they are located in Africa, Europe, Asia, and so forth, does not predict to a 
regime's overall domestic or foreign democide or its genocide. As with 
diversity this is generally true for genocide even if one introduces various 
socio-economic controls.
        Aside from diversity, perhaps the most popular solution to genocide 
has been education. It is often assumed that the more educated a population, 
the less likely its regime will commit, or be allowed to commit, genocide. This 
is the belief that with greater education comes a greater understanding of 
other groups, of the horror of genocide, and of a willingness to compromise. In 
line with this some add to this that economic development is also necessary. 
They assume that an educated and prosperous society has no reason to destroy 
minorities-that the mass frustrations and deprivation attendant upon poverty 
and that can be organized and unleashed upon out groups by elites no longer 
exists. I wish it were true, especially about education, but the data deny it. 
The level of education or economic development of a nation is uncorrelated with 
and does not predict to the foreign or domestic democide or the genocide of its 
        This finding may be no surprise to those who realize that just before 
World War II Germany was considered one of the most developed and educated 
nations in the world. Moreover, Japan was the most educated and developed 
nation in Asia at the same time it was carrying out mass extermination 
campaigns in China. The megamurders by Nazi Germany and militarist Japan alone 
should caution those who believe that improving national education and wealth 
will decrease the likelihood of genocide and mass murder. The results for all 
democides confirm this in general. There is no meaningful correlation of these 
socio-economic characteristics and regime's overall democide, or genocide 
specifically. This is also true even when various political controls or a 
regime's involvement in war and rebellion is taken into account.[32] 
        What does this say in particular about the "other" as a threat and 
demonization, a central topic of this conference. I have not done systematic 
comparative research on this question, but the various case studies I have 
published are helpful in answering this. First, demonization and perception of 
the other as a threat appears a general process in war, whether international 
or domestic. We all know that in war enemies dehumanize each other, publicize 
each other as threats to humanity, civilization, and the Good, and thus justify 
their mutual destruction. Thus in World War II the Japanese were treated in the 
American media as monkeys, unfeeling and inscrutable, savage and barbaric, and 
a threat not only to Asia and the United States, but to Western civilization. 
        But aside from national enemies in time of war, what about internal 
groups? Is there a relationship between demonization, the perception of threat, 
and genocide. Here I must deal with elite opinion, particularly that of those 
in power, for there is little information on what the mass of people perceived 
preceding one or another democide. Now, we do know well that in some genocides 
the victims have been perceived by the regime as a threat and publicly 
characterized as less than human, as apes, pigs, cockroaches, vermin, and the 
like. The Nazi view of the Jews well exemplifies this. Not only were they the 
lowest of humanity, if at all seen as human, but they were believed to be a 
direct genetic threat to the master race of Aryans and a pollutant of the good 
German society and culture. 
        The Armenians genocide by the Young Turk regime is another example. In 
build up to this genocide during World War I the Armenians were treated as 
bloodsuckers, aliens, greedy, unpatriotic, anti-Turk, Pro-Russian, and a direct 
threat to the security of Turkey in the East where its forces confronted massed 
Russian armies. That the Armenians were a distinct ethnic, national and 
Christian subgroup in Muslim Turkey and dominated commerce, crafts, and 
professions, gave substance to these claims. However, the real threat of the 
Armenians was to the desire of the Young Turks to purify Turkey of non-Turks 
and to recreate the ancient glory of the Turk. In particular, the Armenians had 
been protected in the past by the intervention of Britain, Germany, and Russia, 
and thus were perceived as a continual threat to true Turkish independence. 
Once the Armenian protectors were engaged in war with each other and turkey 
allied with Germany, then this alien group and threat to Young Turk designs 
could be exterminated.
        Another example is of the Bengalis in East Pakistan. They were already 
ethnically, linguistically, and geographically separated from the governing 
majority in West Pakistan, and although also Moslem, their beliefs were 
considered by Moslems in the West as vulgar. They were not a threat, however, 
until they won a majority in the national legislature were thus in position to 
achieve the desired political independence of East Pakistan. The dehumanization 
of the Bengalis by the governing military elite and the resulting genocide soon 
        Indeed, I am sure that demonization and the elite perception of threat 
from the outgroup was a general part of the process of genocide in this 
century. But this seems almost axiomatic. After all, genocide is by definition 
(again, in its killing aspect) the attempt to eliminate a social group. By 
definition, therefore, the concept of genocide only applies to those who a 
regime has killed by virtue of their membership in a distinct group. For such 
killing to take place, therefore, a group as such must be singled out for the 
killing. And it hardly conceivable that , as in war, such killing would not be 
preceded by a media blitz dehumanizing and demonizing the group and its members.
        A broader question is whether democide in general involves such 
demonization. And I believe the answer is no. Much of the nongenocidal killing 
took place because the victims opposed a regime, criticized it, were killed as 
examples to deter others from opposition or sabotage (as in hanging ten 
subjects selected at random in retaliation), were of the wrong class (as of a 
landowner), did not work hard enough, violated a minor rule, were disrespectful 
(as in hanging one's coat on a bust of Lenin), or were worked to death. Many 
were simply worked to death, as in the German, Soviet, and Chinese forced labor 
camps, and had done nothing more, if anything (and people were often arrested 
for nothing but to supply slave labor) than violate a petty law or rule, or 
come under suspicion of being an enemy of the state or people. Tens of millions 
of people were killed simply as expendable bricks and lumber in the building of 
a utopia, as in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, Vietnam, or communist China. 
        Near 40,000,000 people died or were killed in the Soviet slave-labor 
system alone, a number that exceeds all the genocides of this century. And 
although once within the system political prisoners were systematically 
dehumanized as "enemies of the people" and were treated by guards and true 
criminals (those that had committed murder, burglary, and the like) as worse 
than scum, they may have been before imprisonment highly respected members of 
society. Many, in fact, were former communist party members themselves. 
Therefore, I argue, demonization and seeing or treating the other as a threat 
is not a necessary preliminary to democide in general. It is, however, an 
intrinsic part of the process of genocide.
        In any case, demonization is an handmaiden of power. Where civil 
liberties and political rights exist, where regimes are democratic, where power 
is thus balanced, checked, and accountable, some demonization of outgroups may 
exist, but genocide is most unlikely. Where the opposite it true. Where a few 
or one dictator holds all power and such power is arbitrary, neither controlled 
by law or publicly responsible, then demonization is a technique, a means of 
eradicating some group that may be perceived as a threat to power, an evil 
presence, or a block to creating utopia.
        In sum, the bottom line of this research is that power kills and the 
more power the more killing. The degree of a regime's power along a democratic 
to totalitarian scale is a direct underlying cause of domestic democide, 
including genocide. Moreover, acting through war and rebellion it is an 
indirect cause of foreign democide as well. The more power a government has, 
the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the 
elite, the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic 
subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more it is 
diffused, checked and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit 
democide. At the extremes of power, totalitarian governments have slaughtered 
their people by the tens of millions, while many democracies can barely bring 
themselves to execute even serial murderers.


1. There are of course many collections of case studies and qualitative 
analyses, such as Charny (1984),  Fein (1992), Porter (1982b), Veenhoven 
(1975-1976), and Wallimann and Dobkowski (1987). There are also excellent 
overviews and analyses of genocide and mass murder. See in particular Chalk and 
Jonassohn (1988), Kuper (1981, 1985), and Glaser and Possony (1979). For 
bibliographic reviews, see Charny (1988, 1991a).

2. See, for example, Porter (1982a).

3. Rummel (1994).

4. Rummel (1995). So far a publisher for this volume has not been found. 
Because of its importance to this and other papers and to Death By Government, 
I have deposited a manuscript copy with The Vidal Sassoon International Center 
For The Study of Antisemitism, the sponsor of the conference at which this 
paper will be given.

5. Harff and Gurr (1988) presents a list of genocides and politicides since 
World War II; Rummel (1987, 1988 ) gives a preliminary list of genocides and 
mass murder in this century. These are the only two lists of which I am aware 
that are meant to be comprehensive and are presented in a comparative context, 
but neither focuses on or presents a list of genocides per se and which is 
genocide versus politicide or mass murder is not always clear.

6. The only application of quantitative analysis to genocide that I have seen 
is FeinUs (1979) use of multiple regression. 

7. These are mainly presented in Rummel (1995). See footnote 4.

8. Lemkin (1944, p. 79).

9. See, for example, Fein (1984); Kuper (1981) and Porter (1982a).

10. See, for example, Chalk and Jonassohn (1988); Charny (1991b).

11. See Stannard (1992).

12. See Harff and Gurr (1988).

13. Battle-dead up to 1980 is from Small and SingerUs (1982) compilation of 
foreign and domestic war battle-dead. I added to this my own estimate for the 
years 1981-1987).

14. The estimates, sources, and calculations for the Soviet Union are given in 
Rummel (1990); for the Chinese Warlords, Nationalist regime, communist 
guerrillas, and communist regime, see in Rummel (1991); and for Nazi Germany, 
see Rummel (1992). All other sources and estimates are given in Rummel (1995).

15. After decades of scholarly research in the German archives, study of 
reports and official documents of other involved countries, and interviews with 
participants and survivors, the best estimates of the Holocaust dead still vary 
by over 40  percent.

16. Rummel (1990).

17. Rummel (1991).

18. Rummel (1992).

19. Those case studies not footnoted are published in Rummel (1994).

20. Back and forth, over 4,838 miles one way, near sixteen times? This is so 
incredible that I would not believe the calculation and had to redo it several 

21. Rummel (1995).

22. For only this analysis I was able to do it on all the 432 regimes; all 
other analyses had to be limited to 214 regimes.

23. This was done through component analyses with varimax orthogonal and 
oblique rotation of all 432 state regimes existing during 1900-1987. What I am 
calling an empirical pattern is a dimension (component, factor) defined by 
orthogonal rotation.

24. This is based on many different canonical, regression, and component 
analyses of various subsets of variables from a set of over eighty democide, 
political, socio-economic, cultural, and geographic variables for 214 state 

25. [footnote omitted].

26. This is not the place to go into this evidence in detail. See Ray (1993, 
1995), Russett (1993),  and Weart (1994, 1995).

27. This is clear from a regression analysis of genocide on a variety of 
characteristics, including a regimeUs war dead and rebellion dead. 

28. In this context, RcontrolsS means that these variables were held constant. 
Their influences were partialled out of the correlations between diversity and 
democide, and still the correlations between these two, or with genocide, were 
near zero.

29. Because of the importance of this finding, a variety of data were analyzed 
in many ways. For example, various component analyses were done with genocide 
and other types of democide and a variety of measures of diversity, and redone 
with indicators of diversity and various political, socio-economic, cultural 
and geographic indicators. Genocide also was regressed alone on diversity 
measures and then on diversity indicators plus the other indicators and several 
interaction terms. The multiple R was .52, with only the political indicators 
and war and rebellion-dead being significant. 

30. Note that Rwanda and Burundi are not really diverse, less so than the 
United States, Canada, Great Britain, or many other European, Latin American, 
or Asian countries. In Rwanda and Burundi the majority Hutu comprise about 85 
percent of the population and around 70 percent of the population are Christian 
in Rwanda and over 60 percent in Burundi. 

31. This is based on component, canonical, and regression analyses.

32. This is based on component, canonical, and regression analyses.


Chalk, Frank, and Jonassohn, Kurt (1988). The History and Sociology of 
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Charny, Israel W. (Ed.) (1984) Toward the Understanding and Prevention of 
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Genocide. Boulder: Westview Press.

Charny, Israel W. (Ed.) (1988) Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review. New 
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Charny, Israel W. (Ed.) (1991a) Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review: 
Vol. 2, London: Mansell.

Charny, Israel (1991b). "A Proposal of a New Encompassing Definition of 
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Genocide as a Result of Ecological Destruction and Abuse." Invited Address to 
the first Raphael Lemkin Symposium on Genocide, Yale University Law School, 

Fein, Helen (1979).  Accounting for Genocide: National Responses and Jewish 
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Fein, Helen (1984). "Scenarios of Genocide: Models of Genocide and Critical 
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of the International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide, [edited] by 
Israel W. Charny. Boulder: Westview Press, pp. 3-31.

 Fein, Helen (Ed.) (1992). Genocide Watch. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Glaser, Kurt and Stefan T. Possony (1979). Victims of Politics: The State of 
Human Rights. New York: Columbia University Press.

Harff, Barbara and Ted Robert Gurr (1988). "Toward Empirical Theory of 
Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases since 1945." 
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Kuper, Leo. (1981). Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century. New 
Haven: Yale University Press.

Kuper, Leo. (1985). The Prevention of Genocide. New Haven: Yale University 

Lemkin, Raphael (1944). Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, 
Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie 
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Porter, Jack Nusan (1982a) "Introduction: What is Genocide? Notes toward a 
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Nusan Porter. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, pp. 2-32.

Porter, Jack Nusan (Ed.) (1982b). Genocide and Human Rights: A Global 
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Ray, James Lee. "Wars between democracies: rare, or nonexistent?" 
International Interactions 18 (No. 3, 1993): 251-276.

Ray, James Lee. Democracy and International Politics: An Evaluation of the 
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Rummel, R.J. (1988). "As Though a Nuclear War: The Death Toll of Absolutism." 
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Rummel, R. J. (1990). Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder. New 
Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Rummel, R.J. (1991) China's Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder since 
1900. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Rummel, R. J. (1992) Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder. New Brunswick, 
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Rummel, R.J. (1994) Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900. 
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Rummel, R.J. (1995). Statistics of Democide. New Brunswick, New Jersey: 
Transaction Publishers, Forthcoming.

Russett, Bruce. (1993). Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a 
Post-Cold War World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Small, Melvin and J. David Singer (1982). Resort to Arms: International and 
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Stannard, David E. (1992). American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of 
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Veenhoven, Willem A., and Crum Ewing, Winifred (Eds.) (1975-1976). Case 
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Wallimann, Isidor and Michael N. Dobkowski (Eds.) (1987). Genocide and the 
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Weart, Spencer. "Peace among democratic and oligarchic republics." Journal of 
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Weart, Spencer. Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another. 
Forthcoming, 1995.

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