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What to call the genocides of the Second World War and why?

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  1. Introduction.
    1. The controversy about the proper name to give to the genocides perpetrated by the Nazis.
    2. The sensitivity of the name's issue
  2. Genocide/Genocides.
    1. The official definition of the term 'genocide'.
    2. The beginning of the 'Genocide studies'.
    3. The path to the juridical recognition of 'genocide'.
    4. LEMKIN's definition nor UNO's.
    5. Entanglement of notions.
  3. 'Memorial' words.
    1. The general 'inclusive' trend to accept a certain amount of collective murders as genocides, politicides or genocidarian massacres.
    2. 'Competition' with the highly famous 'Holocaust'.
    3. The problem with all those terms.
    4. Names are nor transparent, neither neutral.
    5. The impossibility of compare massacres.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

?Historians are not always trustful guides when we have to reconstitute past?. Those words, of Lucy DAWIDOWICZ -an American historian who wrote quite a lot of books about the historiography of genocides- directly aimed at criticizing historians of genocides, who treated the murder by the Nazis as a ?normal? historical object, that is, comparing it with other historical phenomena, and categorizing it. Categorizing involves, among other things, to give precise and adapted definition of the genocides, and, at first, a relevant name for this historical event. Thus, we can say that the controversy about the proper name to give to the genocides perpetrated by the Nazis during the Second World War is a sensitive subject. Many historians have been, and are still today for some of them, arguing about this. Indeed, this field of the Holocaust studies is particularly interesting, because it started much earlier than the main stream of Holocaust studies. Indeed, after the Second World War, the public attention, and the historians' interest too, was mainly focused on the Resistance and the survivors.

[...] Hence, according to LEMKIN, the creator of the notion, the murder of the Jews was not the only genocide, and maybe this is something some should remember when they claim the uniqueness of the Jewish genocide. LEMKIN explained that the Nazis had committed two types of genocide: one with immediate physical destruction, like those of the Jews or of the Gypsies, and one progressive and socio-cultural, that of the Slavic population. The famous Nuremberg's trial did not take after this notion, and preferred the more general notion of ?crime against mankind?. [...]


[...] For instance, the terms Holocaust and Shoah, have in common that they put forwards the singularity of the genocides of the Second World War, and even maybe that of the Jews. It is even truer with the use of capital letters. We already talked about his as far as Holocaust is concerned; it is the same for Shoah. In some Israeli writings, the word is referring to the ?Armenian shoah?, that is, the genocides of the Armenians by the Turks. [...]


[...] Since, meanwhile was also emerging a claim for uniqueness, capital letters were used, to differentiate the genocides perpetrated by the Nazis from other banal massacres (it is necessary to notice here that the capital letter is required for the slaughter of both the Jews and the Roma, but not for the Armenians, even though this is considered to be one of the major collective massacres ever). This term is said to be used rather in the United States (we can think here of the TV movie ?Holocaust?). [...]

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