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Genocide and the Holocaust (October 2023): Introduction to Genocide

By Claudene Sproles

Introduction to Genocide

Polish lawyer and Holocaust survivor Raphaël Lemkin coined the term genocide after World War II in an attempt to define the atrocities and mass murders committed by the Nazis against the Jews. For a biography of Lemkin, his work on drafting the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,4 and the evolution of genocide as an area of academic study, see Douglas Irvin-Erickson’s Raphaël Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide. Often considered the seminal work in genocide studies, Leo Kuper’s 1981 book Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century examines the major genocides, global response, and the rationale of the perpetrators behind the massacres.

Adam Jones’s textbook Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction provides an excellent multidisciplinary, in-depth examination of all aspects of genocide. Jones offers historical, legal, sociological, anthropological, psychological, and political perspectives. Readers should consult the third edition, which is the most up-to-date. The collection Genocide: Key Themes, edited by Donald Bloxham and A. Dirk Moses, offers a multifaceted introduction to the current climate of genocide studies. Some of the themes addressed include context, prosecution, ideology, and problems.

4. Full text of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is available at

Works Cited