Difference Between Genocide and Holocaust

Genocide of Tamils

Genocide vs Holocaust

As one sets out to contrast genocides and holocausts, it is difficult to remain objective. Yes, there are differences, mainly semantic, between these two horrible acts. However, the fact remains that both terms are used to describe massive killings done with the intention of destroying an entire race of people. Genocides and holocausts are nauseating both in motivation and in the scale of their destruction. Both should never, ever happen again.

Definition of Genocide and Holocaust
Genocide ‘“ refers to the systematic destruction of a certain group of people based on their race, religion, or citizenship. Destruction can take place through outright murder, creating intolerable living conditions, imposing birth control and/or sterilization methods, or removing all children from that group and bringing them up in another group.
Holocaust ‘“ comes from the Greek meaning ‘whole burnt.’ It was first used in conjunction with a mass killing of Jewish people in the Middle Ages. It continued to be used synonymously with genocide until World War II when Hilter’s unprecedented extermination of Jews let the word holocaust to be used as proper noun to describe that specific atrocity.

A Brief History of Genocide and Holocaust
Genocide ‘“ was finally codified by the United Nations in 1948. Systematic killings of specific ethnic groups had been going on for thousands of years, but only when the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was codified did it become an international law subject to punishment by international tribunal, no matter who perpetrated the crime. It wasn’t until early in this century, however, that the International Criminal Court was set up to try perpetrators of genocide.

Holocaust ‘“ is an ancient word that refers to an ancient crime. Today, the Holocaust is used to describe the mechanized killing of 6 million European Jews as well as 10 million other ‘undesirable’ peoples including Poles, the Roma, and homosexuals. What distinguishes the Holocaust from previous genocides was its efficiency. The Nazis employed engineers to figure out how they could maximize their hourly body count. This horrific idea progressed from shooting people into open graves they dug themselves to asphyxiating people in moving trucks and finally culminated in the vile gas chambers at Buchenwald, the Nazi’s premiere death camp.

The Future of Genocide and Holocaust
Genocide ‘“ unfortunately, there are still genocides going on in the world today. Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and East Timor are some of the areas that immediately spring to mind. However, with the prevalence of electronic media able to send images of these horrors immediately to a worldwide audience, awareness is being raised and people are standing up to stop the atrocities.
Holocaust ‘“ since this term is no inexorably linked to Nazism, the world at large is ready to stamp out any breath of a future Holocaust. The fear is that the fanatical intolerance that led an entire nation to support mass murder will rise in a different form, in a different place.

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1.Both genocide and holocaust are the most heinous crimes against humanity that can be perpetrated.
2.They both involved the mass extermination of a group of people because of racial or religious characteristics.
3.Genocide is the general term for this atrocity whereas holocaust specifically refers to Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.