"The aggressor ... retaliates by the most frightful cruelties.
As his Armies advance, whole districts are being exterminated. Scores
of thousands - literally scores of thousands - of executions in cold
blood are being perpetrated by the German Police-troops upon the Russian
patriots who defend their native soil. Since the Mongol invasions of
Europe in the Sixteenth Century, there has never been methodical, merciless
butchery on such a scale, or approaching such a scale.
And this is but the beginning. Famine and pestilence have
yet to follow in the bloody ruts of Hitler's tanks.
We are in the presence of a crime without a name. "
Churchill's information about the mass executions which
followed the German invasion came directly from a German source. Six
weeks before on July 9 British cryptographers broke the "enigma" code
used by Berlin to communicate with the Eastern Front. Regular reports
from mobile killing squads (the Einsatzgruppen which Churchill
called "Police-troops") gave detailed accounts and specific numbers
of 'Jews' and 'Jewish Bolshevists' killed in mass at locations throughout
the occupied territory of the Soviet Union.
Therefore when Churchill spoke of whole districts being
exterminated and "methodical, merciless butchery," he had specific detailed
knowledge of locations and magnitude of the ongoing crime being committed
by Germany in Ukraine and Russia. Churchill could not reveal the extent
of his detailed knowledge without undermining British intelligence,
yet he had to say something about a crime being committed.
the United States, one man who heard Churchill's speech by radio was
Raphael Lemkin, a refugee Polish-Jewish legal scholar who had arrived
from Europe only five months before in April 1941. Prior to coming to
America, Lemkin lived in neutral Sweden where he closely monitored German
occupation policies in his native Poland where his parents and family
remained, as well policies in neighboring Norway and all of occupied
Europe. Swedish travelers coming and going from Stockholm helped Lemkin
to assemble a collection of publicly available German occupation laws
and decrees which Lemkin analyzed in an effort to understand the pattern
of the policies being implemented in Hitler's New Order in Europe.
From these documents Lemkin concluded that alongside the
traditional war of armies, Germany was engaged in a war against peoples.
To Lemkin the collection of occupation decrees demonstrated a Nazi policy
aimed at nothing less than a demographic restructuring of the European
population. Following the design set out in Mein Kampf, some
groups would be encouraged to thrive, others to decline through depopulation
over time and others would be targeted for destruction.
In Lemkin's native Poland, for example, the German occupiers
had created a racial hierarchy in which so called "Aryan" peoples (ethnic
German Volkesdeutshe) received the full food rations and were
encouraged to have more children, even out of wedlock. Ethnic Poles
and other Slavic groups were forcefully subjugated, their leadership
and intellectuals sent to concentration camps or killed outright. The
remander of the Slavic population was to survive on minimal rations
only to the extent that their labor was needed by the dominant "Aryan"
population group. The Jewish population, two million people including
Lemkin's own family, was being exterminated. Extermination was accomplished
by forcibly resettling the population in ghettos or camps where people
died rapidly through slave labor, starvation, exposure and contagious
diseases such as typhus - living conditions designed to cause their
destruction through attrition.
From his collection of documents Lemkin did not have evidence
of mobile killing squads or death camps. But he did not need such evidence
to reach his conclusion. Direct killing as a method of causing mass
death only began to be practiced by the Nazi occupiers in the latter
half of 1941. At that time Lemkin was already beginning to understand
that extermination was occurring through policies of systematic attrition.
Nazi mass killing by means of gas chambers would only be a more rapid
way of accomplishing what they had already been doing through such policies
as forcible resettlement and discriminatory food rationing.
In the United States, Lemkin explained German
occupation policies in lectures and later in his book, Axis
Rule in Occupied Europe . In the book's preface dated November
15, 1943, Lemkin introduced his new word paralleling homicide, for the
offense of exterminating human groups. Winston Churchill had called
the offense, "a crime without a name. " Raphael Lemkin called it "genocide."