University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Why Study Comparative Genocides?

    Why Study Comparative Genocides?

    • The word "genocide" as applied to the destruction of the Jews actually preceded the word "Holocaust."
    • "Genocide" is a legal word accepted by the United Nations and codified in the UN Convention.
    • Acceptance of the word "genocide" allows an academic and legal comparison of similar events.
    • Using the word "genocide" is not a comparison of pain but a means of analyzing historical events.
    • Using other genocidal events does not necessarily detract from the uniqueness of the Holocaust as an interpretation. Other genocides may show similarities and differences.
    • Use of the word "genocide" following the UN guidelines, allows for some precision of language, although not total precision.
    • Study of other genocides also allows for the study of the techniques of denial literature.
    • Study of genocide suggests that racism is not confined to Euro-centric culture.
    • The study of other genocides is important for understanding the role of perpetrators, victims and bystanders, as well as the international press.
    • Study of genocide allows for the study of non-European civilizations and suggests the universality of the potential for genocide.
    • Study of comparative genocide ends the cliché of "never again," as "never again" has occurred many times since the victimization of Jews and others by the Nazis.
    • Genocide may have occurred in ancient cultures and is worth keeping in mind even if modern genocide studies usually begins with the Enlightenment, the concept of equality, the idea of progress for civilization, and legal procedures to settle dispute