Comparing Genocides and Mass Killings
Oral History Item Type Metadata
I think that Rummel's figure -- which I mentioned before, of the 169 million civilians that were killed in the twentieth century until 1987 -- I think that is a continuum, a development. Murder can become mass murder, mass murder can become a genocidal attack, genocidal attacks can become genocides. They can develop. They have to treated, each one of them, in their own right. You cannot treat the case of Ireland in the same way that you can treat the case of the Arab/Israeli conflict. You cannot treat that in the same way that you'd treat, let us say, the India/Pakistani problem around Kashmir. All these are specific cases that have to be dealt with in specific ways. Therefore, we have to have some kind of a differentiation.
We can group them in categories, and this is very important. But even within the categories, we have to be very careful not to use the same medicine for different illnesses. And so, when you have a situation where a leadership groups on both sides of a conflict are ready to talk -- and we just read in the papers that Armenians and Azeris, Azerbaijan, are beginning to talk in order to solve a conflict of a border area in between them which cost tremendous suffering, and I think 2 million refugees, or something of that order. It's an encouraging sign. And there, you have the positive influence of the great powers, because they brought the two sides together, and then they talk. Now, it's better to talk then to kill, you see. But Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan are two completely different situations.
So, these are national quarrels over pieces of land, basically: who controls what land. That's the quarrel between the Serbs and the Croats, between the Serbs and the Bosnians, between the Serbs today and the Albanians: a quarrel about who controls a piece of land. That's the quarrel between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East: who controls that piece of land. That is different from genocide, completely different, because all these fights are realistic fights over some material value -- land, property, and so on and so forth -- whereas genocide is the attempt to annihilate a whole group of people in order to attain a certain goal. There is no intention in Northern Ireland, as far as I know, to annihilate all the Protestants or all the Catholics. It's a quarrel who will rule, you see. Now, this is a different, conceptually completely different, situation. This is a matter of politics.
And I very much value the attempt by the Swedish government in the last few years to collect all the countries, all the civilized countries of the world, increasingly all the civilized countries; some of the civilized countries are not yet part of this process, such as Japan and India and so on. They should be. A process that leads through education -- and the symbol there again is the Holocaust. This is a Swedish initiative to spread this all over the world in order to try to educate people of the dangers and of the ways to combat them.
And you can do education because we have that opposite instinct within us as well, to rescue and to save and to help and so on. And the Holocaust is an excellent example of that, because on the margins of the Holocaust, just as much as on the margins of the genocide of the Armenians or of the Tutsis, there were those who opposed the genocide -- in the perpetrator group, but opposed the genocide and helped the others. And this is crucially important, because you cannot educate young people without giving them some hope, and there you have the element of hope.