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Key writings of 
Raphael Lemkin
on Genocide

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Chapter IX: "Genocide" (Section II)

from Raphael Lemkin's Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Analysis, Proposals for Redress, (Washington, D.C.:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), p, 79 to 95.




I. Genocide - A New Term and New Conception for Destruction of Nations

II. Techniques of Genocide in Various Fields







1. Racial Discrimination in Feeding

2. Endangering of Health

3. Mass Killing



III. Recommendations for the Future

Prohibition of Genocide in War and Peace

International Control of Occupation Practices




Key writings of 
Raphael Lemkin
on Genocide

Quick Guide to the Series


1933: 'General (Transnational) Danger'
1944: Axis Rule in Occupied Europe
1945: 'Genocide: A Modern Crime'
1946: 'The Crime of Genocide'
1947: 'Genocide as a Crime under International Law'


In the incorporated areas, such as western Poland, Eupen, Malmedy, Moresnet, Luxemburg, and Alsace-Lorraine, local institutions of self-government were destroyed and a German pattern of administration imposed. Every reminder of former national character was obliterated. Even commercial signs and inscriptions on buildings, roads, and streets, as well as names of communities and of localities, were changed to a German form. (12) Nationals of Luxemburg having foreign or non-German first names were required to assume in lieu thereof the corresponding German first names; or, if that is impossible, they must select German first names. As to their family names, if they were of German origin and their names have been changed to a non-German form, they must be changed again to the original German. Persons who have not complied with these requirements within the prescribed period are liable to a penalty, and in addition German names may be imposed on them. (13) Analogous provisions as to changing of names made for Lorraine. (14)

Special Commissioners for the Strengthening of Germanism are attached to the administration, and their task consists in coordinating all actions promoting Germanism in a given area. An especially active rôle in this respect is played by inhabitants of German origin who were living in the occupied [p. 83] countries before the occupation. After having accomplished their task as members of the so-called fifth column, they formed the nucleus of Germanism. A register of Germans (Volksliste) (15) was established and special cards entitled them to special privileges and favors, particularly in the fields of rationing, employment, supervising enterprises of local inhabitants, and so on. In order to disrupt the national unity of the local population, it was declared that non-Germans, married to Germans, may upon their application be put on the Volksliste.

In order further to disrupt national unity, Nazi party organizations were established, such as the Nasjonal Samling Party in Norway and the Mussert Party in the Netherlands, and their members from the local population given political privileges. Other political parties were dissolved. (16) These Nazi parties in occupied countries were also given special protection by courts.

In line with this policy of imposing the German national pattern, particularly in the incorporated territories, the occupant has organized a system of colonization of these areas. In western Poland, especially, this has been done on a large scale. The Polish population have been removed from their homes in order to make place for German settlers who were brought in from the Baltic States, the central and eastern districts of Poland, Bessarabia, and from the Reich itself. The properties and homes of the Poles are being allocated to German settlers; and to induce them to reside in these areas the settlers receive many privileges, especially in the way of tax exemptions. (17)


The destruction of the national pattern in the social field has been accomplished in part by the abolition of local law and local courts and the imposition of German law and courts, and also by Germanization of the judicial language and of the bar.(18) The social structure of a nation being vital to its national development, the occupant also endeavors to bring about such changes as may weaken the national, spiritual resources. The focal point of this attack has been the intelligentsia, because this group largely provides the national leadership and organizes resistance against Nazification. This is especially true in Poland and Slovenia (Slovene part of Yugoslavia), where the intelligentsia and the clergy were in great part removed from the rest of the population and deported for forced labor in Germany. The tendency of the occupant is to retain in Poland only the laboring and peasant class, while in the western occupied countries the industrialist class is also allowed to remain, since it can aid in integrating the local industries with the German economy. [p. 84]


In the incorporated areas the local population is forbidden to use its own language in schools and in printing. According to the decree of August 6, 1940, (19) the language of instruction in all Luxemburg schools was made exclusively German. The French language was not permitted to be taught in primary schools; only in secondary schools could courses in that language continue to be given. German teachers were introduced into the schools and they were compelled to teach according to the principles of National Socialism. (20) In Lorraine general compulsory education to assure the upbringing of youth in the spirit of National Socialism begins at the age of six. (21) It continues for eight years, or to the completion of the grammar school (Volksschule), and then for three more years, or to the completion of a vocational school. Moreover, in the Polish areas Polish youths were excluded from the benefit of liberal arts studies and were channeled predominantly into the trade schools. The occupant apparently believes that the study of the liberal arts may develop independent national Polish thinking, and therefore he tends to prepare Polish youths for the role of skilled labor, to be employed in German industries.

In order to prevent the expression of the national spirit through artistic media, a rigid control of all cultural activities has been introduced. All persons engaged in painting, drawing, sculpture, music, literature, and the theater are required to obtain a license for the continuation of their activities. Control in these fields is exercised through German authorities. In Luxemburg this control is exercised through the Public Relations Section of the Reich Propaganda Office and embraces music, painting, theater, architecture, literature, press, radio, and cinema. Every one of these activities is controlled through a special chamber and all these chambers are controlled by one chamber, which is called the Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer). (22) The local chambers of culture are presided over by the propaganda chief of the National Socialist Party in the given area. Not only have national creative activities in the cultural and artistic field been rendered impossible by regimentation, but the population has also been deprived inspiration from the existing cultural and artistic values. Thus, especially in Poland, were national monuments destroyed and libraries, archives, museums, and galleries of art carried away. (23) In 1939 the Germans burned [p. 85] the great library of the Jewish Theological Seminary at Lublin, Poland. This was reported by the Germans as follows:

For us it was a matter of special pride to destroy the Talmudic Academy which was known as the greatest in Poland. . . . We threw out of the building the great Talmudic library, and carted it to market. There we set fire t the books. The fire lasted for twenty hours. The Jews of Lublin were assembled around and cried bitterly. Their cried almost silenced us. Then we summoned the military band and the joyful shouts of the soldiers silenced the sound of the Jewish cries. (34)


The destruction of the foundations of the economic existence of a national group necessarily brings about a crippling of its development, even a retrogression. The lowering of the standards of living creates difficulties in fulfilling cultural-spiritual requirements. Furthermore, a daily fight literally for bread and for physical survival may handicap thinking in both general and national terms.

It was the purpose of the occupant to create such conditions as these among the peoples of the occupied countries, especially those peoples embraced in the first plans of genocide elaborated by him - the Poles, the Slovenes and the Jews.

The Jews were immediately deprived of the elemental means of existence. As to the Poles in incorporated Poland, the purpose of the occupant was to shift the economic resources from the Polish national group to the German national group. Thus the Polish national group had to be impoverished and the German enriched. This was achieved primarily by confiscation of Polish property under the authority of the Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism. But the process was likewise furthered by the policy of regimenting trade and handicrafts, since licences for such activity were issued to Germans, and only exceptionally to Poles. In this way, the Poles were expelled from trade, and the Germans entered that field.

As the Occupant took over the banks a special policy for handling bank deposits was established in order to strengthen the German element. One of the most widely patronized Polish banks, called the Post Office Savings Bank (P.K.O.), possessed on the day of the occupation, deposits of millions of Polish citizens. The deposits however, were paid by the occupant only to the German depositors on production by them of a certificate of their German origin. Thus the German element in Poland was immediately made financially stronger than the Polish. In Slovenia the Germans have liquidated the financial cooperatives and agricultural associations which had for decades proved to be a most efficient instrumentality in raising the standard of living and in promoting national and social progress. [p. 86]

In other countries, especially in Alsace-Lorraine and Luxemburg, genocide in the economic field is carried out in a different manner. As the Luxemburgers are considered of related blood, opportunity is given them to recognize the Germanic elements in themselves, and work for the strengthening of Germanism. If they do not take advantage of this "opportunity" their properties are taken from them and given to others are eager to promote Germanism. (27)

Participation in economic life is thus made dependent upon one's being German or being devoted to the cause of Germanism. Consequently, promoting a national ideology other than German is made difficult and dangerous.


In the occupied countries of "people of non-related blood," a policy of depopulation is pursued. Foremost among the methods employed for this purpose is the adoption of measures calculated to decrease the birthrate the national groups of non-related blood, while at the same time steps are taken to encourage the birthrate of the Volksdeutsche living in these countries. Thus in incorporated Poland marriages between Poles are forbidden without special permission of the Governor (Reichsstatthalter) of the district; the latter, as a matter of principle, does not permit marriages between Poles. (28)

The birthrate of the undesired group is being further decreased as a result of the separation of males from females (29) by deporting them for forced labor elsewhere. Moreover, the under nourishment of the parents, because of discrimination in rationing, brings about not only a lowering of the birthrate, but a lowering of the survival capacity of children born of underfed parents.

As mentioned above, the occupant is endeavoring to encourage the birthrate of the Germans. Different methods are adopted to that end. Special subsidies are provided in Poland for German families having at least minor children. (30) Because the Dutch and Norwegians are considered of [p. 87] related blood, the bearing, by Dutch and Norwegian women, of illegitimate children begotten by German military men is encouraged by subsidy. (31)

Other measures adopted are along the same lines. Thus the Reich Commissioner has vested in himself the right to act as a guardian or parent to a minor Dutch girl if she intends to marry a German. (32) The special care for legitimization of children in Luxemburg, as revealed in the order concerning changes in family law of March 22, 1941, (33) is dictated by the desire to encourage extramarital procreation with Germans.

The physical debilitation and even annihilation of national groups in occupied countries is carried out mainly in the following ways:

I. Racial Discrimination in Feeding. Rationing of food is organized according to racial principles throughout the occupied countries. "The German people come before all other peoples for food," declared Reich Minister Göring on October 4, 1942. (34) In accordance with this program, the German population is getting 93 per cent of its pre-war diet, while those in the occupied territories receive much less: in Warsaw, for example, the Poles receive 66 per cent of the pre-war rations and the Jews only 20 per cent.(35) The following shows the difference in the percentage of meat rations received by the Germans and the population of the occupied countries: Germans, 100 per cent; Czechs, 86 per cent; Dutch, 71 per cent; Poles (Incorporated Poland), 71 per cent; Lithuanians, 57 per cent; French, 51 per cent; Belgians, 66 per cent; Serbs, 36 per cent; Poles (General Government), 36 per cent; Slovenes, 29 per cent; Jews, 0 per cent.(36)

The percentage of pre-war food received under present rations (in calories unit) is the following: (37) Germans, 9.3 per cent; Czechs, 8.3 per cent; Poles (incorporated Poland), 78 per cent; Dutch, 70 per cent; Belgians, 66 per cent; Poles (General Government), 66 per cent; Norwegians, 54 per percent; Jews, 20 per cent.

As to the composition of food, the percentages of required basic nutrients received under present rations (per consumer unit) are as follows: (38) [p. 88]

Consumer Unit
Poles (Incorportated Poland)
Poles (General Government)


The result of racial feeding is a decline in health of the nations involved and an increase in the deathrate. In Warsaw, anemia rose 113 per cent among Poles and 435 among Jews. (39) The deathrate per thousand in 1941 amounted in the Netherlands to 10 per cent; in Belgium to 14.5 per cent; in Bohemia and Moravia to 13.4 (40) The Polish mortality in Warsaw in 1941 amounted in July to 1,316 (41) in August to 1,729; (42) and in September to 2,160. (43)

2. Endangering of Health. The undesired national groups, particularly in Poland, are deprived of elemental necessities for preserving health and life. This latter method consists, for example, of requisitioning warm clothing and blankets in the winter and withholding firewood and medicine. During the winter of 1940-41, only a single room in a house could in the Warsaw ghetto, and children had to take turns in warming there. No fuel at all has been received since then by the Jews in the ghetto. (44)

Moreover, the Jews in the ghetto are crowded together under conditions of housing inimical to health, and in being denied the use of public parks they are even deprived of the right to fresh air. Such measures, especially pernicious to the health of children, have caused the development of various diseases. The transfer, in unheated cattle trucks and freight cars, of hundreds of thousands of Poles from Incorporated Poland to the Government General, which took place in the midst of a severe winter, resulted in a decimation of the expelled Poles.

3. Mass Killing. The technique of mass killings is employed mainly against Poles, Russians, and Jews, as well as against leading personalities from among the non-collaborationist groups in all the occupied countries. In Poland, Bohemia-Moravia, and Slovenia, the intellectuals are being "liquidated" because they have always been considered as the main bearers of [p. 89] national ideals and at the time of occupation they were especially suspected of being the organizers of resistance. The Jews for the most part are liquidated within the ghettos, (45) or in special trains in which they are transported to a so-called "unknown" destination. The number of Jews who have been killed by organized murder in all the occupied countries, according to the Institute of Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress in New York, amounts to 1,702,500. (46)


In Luxemburg, where the population is predominantly Catholic and religion plays an important role in national life, especially in the field of education, the occupant has tried to disrupt these national and religious influences. Children over fourteen years of age were permitted by legislation to renounce their religious affiliations, (47) for the occupant was eager to enroll such children exclusively in pro-Nazi youth organizations. Moreover, in order to protect such children from public criticism, another law was issued at the same time imposing penalties ranging up to 15,000 Reichsmarks for any publication of names or any general announcement as to resignations from religious congregations. (48) Likewise in Poland, through the systematic pillage and destruction of church property and persecution of the clergy, the German occupying authorities have sought to destroy the religious leadership of the Polish nation.


In order to weaken the spiritual resistance of the national group, the occupant attempts to create an atmosphere of moral debasement within this [p. 90] group. According to this plan, the mental energy of the group should be concentrated upon base instincts and should be diverted from moral and national thinking. It is important for the realization of such a plan that the desire for cheap individual pleasure be substituted for the desire for collective feelings and ideals based upon a higher morality. Therefore, the occupant made an effort in Poland to impose upon the Poles pornographic publications and movies. The consumption of alcohol was encouraged, for while food prices have soared, the Germans have kept down the price of alcohol, and the peasants are compelled by the authorities to take spirits in pay agricultural produce. The curfew law, enforced very strictly against Poles is relaxed if they can show the authorities a ticket to one of the gambling houses which the Germans have allowed to come into existence. (49)





12. For Luxemburg, see order of August 6, 1940, below, p. 440.

13. See order concerning the change of first and family names in Luxemburg, of January 31, 1941, below, p. 441.

14. Verordnungsblatt, 1940, p. 1940.

15. As to Poland, see order of October 29, 1941, below, p. 552.

16. As to Norway, see order of September 25,1940, below, p. 499.

17. See above, chapter on "Finance."

18. See above, chapters on "Law" and "Courts."

19. See below, p. 440.

20. "It is the task of the director to orient and conduct the school systematically accordial to National Socialist principles." - See announceinent for execution of the order concerning the elementary school system, February 14, 1941, promulgated in Lorraine by the Chief of Civil Administration, below, p. 388.

21. Verordnungsblatt, 1941, p. 100. See below, p. 386.

22. As to organization of the Reich Chamber of Culture, see law of November 1, 1933, Reichsgesetzblatt, I, p. 979.

23. See note of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Polish Government-in-Exile to the Allied and Neutral Powers of May 3, 1941, in Polish White Book: Republic of Poland, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, German Occupation of Poland - Extract of Note Addressed to the Alllied and Neutral Powers (New York: The Greystone Press, 1942). pp. 36

24. Frankfurter Zeitung, Wochen-Ausgabe, March 28, 1941.

25. See above, chapter on "Legal Status of the Jews."

26. See ordinance promulgated by the German Trustee of the Polish Savings Bank published in Thorner Freiheit of December 11, 1940

27. See "Property" above, p.38

28. See Report of Primate of Poznan to Pius XII, The Black Book of Poland (New York: G. P. Putnamís Sons, 1942), p. 383.

29. That the separation of males from females was preconceived by Hitler as an element of genocide is obvious from his statement:

"'We are obliged to depopulate,' he went on emphatically, 'as part of our mission of preserving the German population. We shall have to develop a technique of depopulation. If you ask me what I mean by depopulation, I mean the removal of entire racial units. And that is what I intend to carry out - that, roughly, is my task. Nature is cruel, therefore we, too, may be cruel. If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the spilling of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin! And by "remove" I don't necessarily mean destroy; I shall simply take the systematic measures to dam their great natural fertility.  For example, I shall keep their men and women separated for years. Do you remember the falling birthrate of the world war? Why should we not do quite consciously and through a number of years what was at that time merely the inevitable consequence of the long war? There are many ways, systematical and comparatively painless, or at any rate bloodless, of causing undesirable races to die out.'" - Rauschning, op.cit., pp.137-38, by courtesy of G.P Putnam's Sons.

30. See order concerning the granting of child subsidies to Germans in the Government, of March 10, 1942, below, p.553.

31. See order of July 28, 1942, concerning the subsidizing of children of members of the German armed forces in occupied territories, Reichsgesetzblatt, 1942, I, p. 488:

"To maintain and promote a racially valuable German heritage, children begotten by members of the German armed forces in the occupied Norwegian and Dutch territories and born of Norwegian or Dutch women will upon the application of the mother be granted a special subsidy and benefit through the offices of the Reich Commissioners for the occupied Norwegian and Dutch territories."

32. See order of February 28, 1941, below, p.474

33. See below, p.428

34. See New York Times, October 5, 1942, p.4, col.6.

35. The figures quoted in this and the following two paragraphs have been taken, with the permission of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, from its publication entitles Starvation over Europe (Made in Germany); A Documented Record 1943 (New York, 1943), pp.37, 47, 52.

36. Ibid., p.37

37. Ibid., p.47

38. Ibid., p.52. For further details, see League of Nations, World Economic Survey (Geneva, 1942), pp.90-91

39. See Hitter's Ten-Year War on the Jews (Institute of Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress, World Jewish Congr ess, New York, 1943), p. 144.

40. League of Nations, Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (Geneva, 1942), Nos. 4, 5, 6.

41. Nowy Kurjer Warszawski (Warsaw), August 29, 1941. 

42. Die Nation (Bern), August 13, 1942.

43. Poland Fights (New York), May 16, 1942.

44.  Hitlerís Ten-Year War on the Jews, p. 144..

45. See the Joint Declaration by members of the United Nations, issued simultaneously in Washington and in London, on December 17, 1943:

 "The attention of the Belgian, Czechoslovak, G reek, Jugoslav, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norwegian, Polish, Soviet, United Kingdom and United States Governments and also of the French National Committee has been drawn to numerous reports from Europe that the German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule has been extended, the most elementary human rights, are now carrying into effect Hitlerís oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.

"From all the occupied countries Jews are being transported in conditions of appalling horror and brutality to Eastern Europe. In Poland, which has been made the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, the ghettos established by the German invader are being systematically emptied of all Jews except a few highly skilled workers required for war industries. None of those taken away are ever heard of again. The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labor camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children. 

"The above-mentioned governments and the French National Committee condemn in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination. They declare that such events can only strengthen the resolve of all freedom-loving peoples to overthrow the barbarous Hitlerite tyranny. They reaffirm their solemn resolution to insure that those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution, and to press on with the necessary practical measures to this end. "-The United Nations Review, Vol. III (1943), No. I, p. I.

46. Hitlerís Ten-Year War on the Jews, p. 307.

47. See order of December 9, 1940, below, p. 438.

48. Ibid.

49. Under Polish law, 1919-39, gambling houses were prohibited; nor did they exist on Polish soil when it was under Russian, German, and Austrian rule before 1914, See The Black Book of Poland, pp. 513, 514.


Next section:
III. Recommendations for the Future


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