We learn about the stages leading to genocide, speaking to Professor Michael Berenbaum.
Ben and Jedd, High School students in New York, spoke to renowned scholar of genocide, Professor Michael Berenbaum, about the ‘Ten Stages of Genocide.’
Professor Berenbaum began by telling us that ‘how we recognize genocide may be a most essential step in preventing genocide.’ Genocide scholar Gregory Stanton has provided us a useful tool in for understanding the evolution of genocide by identifying ten stages. Prof Berenbaum went on to say that ‘Stanton warns that it is not inevitable that one move from one stage to another, in fact, there are effective tools to prevent such a movement, but each stage has been present in each genocide.’ Professor Berenbaum then went on to summarise the stages of genocide and his thoughts on them:
1. CLASSIFICATION: Dividing the society into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality.
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. Examples about such as Yellow Stars for Jews.
3. DISCRIMINATION: Denying a powerless group full civil rights, voting rights, even, perhaps especially citizenship.
4. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Names are often used, calling another animals is a simple example.
5. ORGANIZATION: Stanton argues that “Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deni- ability of state responsibility.”
6. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Social cohesion is lost, forces that unite are weakened, isolated, lost.
7. PREPARATION: Plans are made for genocidal killings. In Nazi Germany the policy was called “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.” It was implemented by the Nazi State using its laws, bureaucracy, including the army, the police, the courts. The SS became an essential instrument.
8. PERSECUTION: Discrimination leads to active persecuted. Stanton argues: “Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up.”
9. EXTERMINATION: mass killing. The means vary. In Nazi Germany mobile killing units began the process and then death camps were created to depersonalize and use the assembly line killing. The victims were made mobile, shipping them on trains to death camps, which were factories of death, uniting Charles Darwin and Henry Ford.
10. DENIAL is the final stage that lasts during the killing process and follows it as well. Denying the crime enables its repetition. It exonerates the killers. The opposite of denial is admission. Post-war Germany is a prime example of a society that overtime came to terms with its past and continues to do so. Turkey has not yet admitted to the Armenian Genocide even though it was conducted by an earlier and long displace regime. It has marshalled all sort of efforts to deny that the murder of the Armenians was genocide. Today, we also see with regard to the Holocaust that there are those who try to deny that the Holocaust oc- curred while others, who desire its repetition, even completion, have now come forth to say that Six Million wasn’t enough.
If we are aware of the dangers of each stage, we can prevent going from one stage to another, but that is the subject of anoth- er article.