Mass crimes against humanity and genocides
A list of atrocities from 1904
until the end of World War II
The descriptions below, of mass crimes against humanity, are sorted by the
starting date of the atrocity.
The numbers of victims are not particularly
accurate; often records are very incomplete.
||Number of victims
|1904 to 1907
Namibia, formerly German South-West Africa
||German government, (Christian)
||35,000 to 105,000
This was the first genocide of the 20th century. Some Hereros have
suggested that the Nazi Holocaust was patterned after this genocide some
three and a half decades later.
Germany ruled Namibia from 1880 to 1915.
In 1904, Herero warriors were angered at the German settlers who had
enslaved their people, lynched their men, and stolen their land, cattle and
women. On JAN-12, they massacred about 200 German civilians. Although the
uprising ended on 1904-AUG-11, the German army continued to exterminate the
Hereros until 1907, resulting in the deaths of perhaps 65,000 persons. As is
usual in these mass slaughters, the number of victims is unknown. The Herero
population alive at the time range from 50,000 to 120,000. About 15, 000
On 2004-JAN-12, the 100th anniversary of the Hereros uprising, Wolfgang
Massing, Germany's ambassador to Namibia, expressed his regrets. He said
that while history could not be undone, "we can give back to the victims
and their descendants the dignity and honor of which they were robbed...I
also wish to express how deeply we regret this unfortunate past."
Later in 2004, German Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
finally gave the Hereros what they have been asking repeatedly: her
country's apology. She said: ""We Germans accept our historical and moral
responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time....The
atrocities committed at that time would have been termed genocide." She
promised continuing economic assistance, but ruled out financial
compensation for the descendents of the victims.
Namibia-travel.net describes Herero present-day spirituality: "The
ancestral cult still plays an important role in the lives of many Herero
people. In the evenings, they often sit in front of the 'Okuruo'; the holy
fire, which may never be allowed to burn out. The chief establishes contact
with the ancestors and in a loud self-talk, asks for advice and help or
confesses mistakes and sins."
||Number of victims
|1915 to 1922
||Armenian and other Christians
||1.5 million Armenian Christians; unknown number of
Greek Christians and Assyrians
"The [Christian] Armenian
genocide of 1915-1916 effectively wiped out the Armenian population of
Turkey, claiming some 1.5 million victims. Perhaps 75,000 Armenians
endure in Turkey today, most of them in Istanbul." 4 The current government of Turkey denies that the genocide ever happened.
A full description of this genocide is located in two essays. Part 1 Part 2
||Number of victims
|1928 to 1953
20 million 5
There was tremendous loss of life during the Communist era,
1917 to 1987. The death toll peaked during the Stalin era, 1928 to 1953,
when the Communist government systematically exterminated millions
of its citizens. A minority died from being worked to death in the camps of the
gulag. The government employed additional methods such as: terrorizing the public by random
executions, purges, show trials, and artificially induced famines. An
additional 21 million died during the civil war and during World War II.
||Number of victims
|1935 to 1936
||Ethiopian army & population
||No reliable data
During 1935-OCT, the Italian government attacked Ethiopia from neighboring Eritrea without a declaration of war. The Ethiopian Army resorted to execution by castration of Italian POWs and the use of illegal "dumdum" bullets. In retaliation, the Italians carried out a systematic extermination campaign in Ethiopia by spraying two poison gasses --phosgene, and iprite (a.k.a. mustard gas) -- from airplanes and committing other horrific atrocities. According to a statement by Ethiopia's emperor Haile Selassie:
"Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory, a fine, death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as from the end of January 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes, and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain. To systematically kill all living creatures, to more surely poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare."
One result of the aggression by Italy was that the League of Nations' credibility was seriously undermined, and Italy was encouraged to form an alliance with Nazi Germany. 25,26
||Number of victims
This is a relatively little known massacre -- perhaps because memories of it
a few years later by stories of many other World War II atrocities. There were many
incidents of mass crimes against humanity during the 1930's perpetrated by the
Japanese army. Of these, perhaps the most serious was the "Nanking
Massacre." On 1937-DEC-9, the Japanese invading army launched a massive
attack on the city of Nanking -- then the capital of China. Three days later,
the Chinese defense forces retreated across the Yangtze River. Then began "an
orgy of looting and mass execution." 300,000 to
340,000 civilians died; 20,000 to 80,000 women were raped. "The war left a legacy
of distrust, which even today, tarnishes relations between Japan and the other
countries of East Asia." The Japanese government
has maintained that the death toll is greatly exaggerated; some politicians have
even claimed that it never happened. Fortunately, many army personnel took
snapshots of their victims, thus documenting the atrocity. 7,8
||Number of victims
|1940 to 1945
||German army volunteers
||Jews, Roma, etc.
On the order of 11 to 15 million 5
This has been called the Shoah in Hebrew, the Holocaust in
English, and the Devouring among the Roma. Some 11 million people were first declared sub-human and then murdered.
Some were killed when the towns and cities in which they lived were captured by
German troops. Others were rounded up, and transported to extermination camps, mainly
in Poland where the gas ovens waited.
Jews: About 6 million were killed, mostly in death camps. Hitler's
goal was to completely clear all Europe of Jews. Jews refer to this as the "Shoa."
Poles: About 3 million were killed. This represented about 10% of
the population, and one third of the Catholic priests in the country. 9.10
Roma: (Roma are still often called by the derogatory term, Gypsies).
At first, the Nazis thought that they could be
"re-educated." About 1940, the Nazis decided to exterminate
them. Approximately 400,000 Roma were killed. Roma
survivors refer to this tragedy as Porajmos (the devouring).
Homosexuals: Estimates of the number executed or worked to death
range from 50,000 to half a million. 11,12,13
It is an interesting fact of history that when the death camps were
liberated at the end of World War II, most of the inmates were freed, while homosexuals were generally transferred to other prisons.
Jehovah's Witnesses: About 10,000 Witnesses
were imprisoned in concentration camps during the Nazi period, mainly
because they were conscientious objectors. An estimated
2,500 to 5,000 died. 14
Disabled persons: About 150,000 Germans who were crippled or
mentally ill were murdered. They were considered "life not worthy of
Others: This included millions of Slavs, Russians, socialists, and
various types of dissenters.
Adding the loss of life due to World War II to the above deliberate,
methodical exterminations gives a total death toll of about 34 million which
can be attributed to Hitler.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been involved in over 100 successful legal actions against Nazi war criminals since 2001. They will soon run out of suspects. In mid-2014, 69 years will have passed since the end of World War II. An suspect who was 18 year old at the end of the war reaches 87 years of age in 2014 -- well beyond the average life expectancy in Germany. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office said sardonically: "I’m one Jew who prays for good health for these fugitives." 27
||Number of victims
|1941 to 1945
||Jews, Roma, Serbian Orthodox Christians, anti-fascist
Unknown; estimates range up to one million 15
These atrocities were perpetrated by the Ustaša
regime, the Independent State of Croatia, which was established in power
by the Nazi government of Germany during World War II. They fiercely hated
Serbs, Jews, Communists and all other non-Catholics. Their goals were to convert
Croatia into a pure Croatian and Roman Catholic independent state. On
1941-JUL-22, Dr. Mile Budak, the Ustaša
Minister of Education and Cults, said: "The movement of the Ustashi is based on
religion. For minorities-Serbs, Jews and Gypsies, we have three million bullets.
We shall kill one part of the Serbs. We shall transport another, and the rest of
them will be forced to embrace the Roman Catholic religion. Thus, our new
Croatia will get rid of all Serbs in our midst in order to become one hundred
percent Catholic within ten years." 15
During 1941 to 1943, the regime slaughtered at least 250,000 Serb residents
of Croatia and Bosnia, and more than 20,000 Jews. Most were systematically
exterminated at the Jasenovac concentration camp, and similar facilities. "Ustaša
units, often encouraged by Catholic clergy, carried out a program of compulsory
conversion of Orthodox Serbs to Catholicism; resistance often resulted in
murder. Some Serbs, particularly members of the elite, were not even offered the
option of conversion to avoid being killed." 16 "Conditions
in the Jasenovac camps were horrendous. Prisoners received minimal food. Shelter
and sanitary facilities were totally inadequate. Worse still, the Ustaša guards
cruelly tortured, terrorized, and murdered prisoners at will."
17After mid-1942, a further 7,000 Jews were dispatched to Auschwitz-Birkenau
in Poland for slaughter. "The Usta?a government was dissolved in May 1945.
After the war, most of the Usta?a leaders escaped to South America or Spain."
"Since the end of World War II, political and ideological
conflicts in the area have made the documentation and verification of victim
statistics extremely difficult. To cover the trail of terror and murder,
authorities of the Independent State of Croatia burned official records from the
Jasenovac camps first in early 1943 and again upon evacuation in 1945."
On 1945-MAY-12, 600 inmates attempted to break out of the camp; only 70
succeeded. Former inmates meet on the site of the concentration camp annually on
the anniversary of the event. In 2003, for the first time, a Croatian head of
state joined in the remembrance. President Stipe Mesic expressed his "deepest
regret for the innocent victims of those who tarnished Croatia's name."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Regret for slaughter of Hereros," Daily Dispatch,
"Namibia: Germany apologizes for colonial genocide," The
Toronto Star, 2005-AUG-15, Page A8.
"Okakarara Namibia," Namibia-travel.net, at:
"Genocide history brief," at: http://www.maxpages.com/genocide/Genocide_History
"Question: Who was the Bloodiest Tyrant of the 20th Century?
Answer: We don't know," Twentieth Century Atlast, at:
"20th Century Democide," at: http://www.mega.nu:8080/ampp/rummel/20th.htm
"Nanking, 1937," at: http://www.princeton.edu/~nanking/html/main.html
"Nanjing Massacre: 300,000 Chinese people killed; 20,000 women
raped," at: http://www.cnd.org/njmassacre/index.html
Includes descriptions of biological warfare, treatment of POWs, and
Y.F. Edeiken, "Non-Jewish survivors and victims,"
The Holocaust History Project, at: http://www.holocaust-history.org/questions/
Richard C. Lucas, "Forgotten Holocaust: How could 5,000,000
be killed and forgotten?," at: http://www.holocaustforgotten.com/
"Excerpts from Vera Laska," at: http://www.mtsu.edu/~baustin/laska.html
Eugen Kogon, "The Theory and Practice of Hell,"
Ferrar, Straus, New York, (1950), Page 38.
Frank Rector, "The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals,"
Stein and Day, New York, (1981), Page 116.
"Jehovah's Witnesses and Nazi Germany Index," at: http://jehovah.to/general/nazi/
"The embodied devils: Who was who in NDH?," Balkan Repository
Jasenovac," Jewish Virtual Library, at:
"Jasenovac," Holocaust Learning Center, at:
"Croatian President Mesic Apologizes for Croatian Crimes Against
the Jews during the Holocaust," Yad Vashem, at:
Peter Popham, "Croatians gather to mourn victims of 1945
atrocities," Independent.co.uk, 2003-MAY-12, at:
"The Armenian Genocide," at: http://www.hr-action.org/armenia/
Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos, "Before the Silence," at:
"Memories from Smyrni - 1900 - 1922," at:
Roberto Lopes, "The Hellenic Genocide," at:
Bernhard Zand, "Armenian Genocide Plagues Ankara 90 Years On,"
Der Spiegel, 2005-APR-25. at:
"The fascist genocide of the Ethiopian people 1935-1941," Global Alliance for Justice, at: http://www.globalallianceforethiopia.org/
"Second Italo-Abyssinian War," Wikipedia, as at 2010-DEC-25, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Editorial board, "Why Nazi hunting remains critical," New York Times, 2014-JAN-10, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
Copyright © 2001 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-JAN-1
Latest update: 2014-JAN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson