Within the fifth chapter of Genocide: A World History by Norman Naimark, the author compares the Armenian Genocide, massacre of the Herero people in Africa, and the Holocaust as three examples of modern genocides. This chapter was very straightforward and easy to understand. Since we are currently reading They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else alongside this chapter, I understood the Armenian Genocide portion of this chapter to a better extent because I have been reading about it elsewhere. Naimark mentions at the start of the chapter that modern genocide is unlike settler genocide or genocide that took place in ancient history because it is helped along by technology and killing is made easier. Yet, that overall theme was not discussed at all during the rest of the chapter. The author discussed the history of three main genocides that took place in 20th century history, but apart from being modern in their time frame, Naimark made no connections to how technology played a part. This was one small issue that I picked up on while reading this chapter.
One topic that the author brought up while discussing both the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust was that witnesses to genocide were not necessarily as guilty as the perpetrators. Yet, I disagree with this wholeheartedly. Knowing that innocent people are being massacred and doing nothing is just as bad as carrying out the killings. Regardless of problems that I had with Naimark’s presentation of facts within this chapter, I have to remind myself that this book is not analytical or argumentative; it is a book that presents the history of genocide. This chapter forced me to contemplate how nationalism was able to brainwash people into supporting and aiding in genocide. While reading this chapter, I struggled with understanding how propaganda and a desire for national prowess was able to urge people to hate certain groups within their nation to the extent that they became victims of massacre. Although the author was merely presenting facts about genocides during the 20th century, I took the information and ran with it. Now, I have been left thinking about the processes by which national pride was able to turn into murder within the three instances presented in this chapter.
1. On page 70, Naimark claims that the Germans were not the “perpetrators in the case of the Armenian genocide…even if [they] knew about the persecution and killing of the Armenians.” Is knowing about a massacre and standing by just as morally wrong as killing?
2. The bringing forth of the Armenian issue to the international level made conditions for the Armenians worse. Why was this the case?
3. How did the German people fail to recognize that Hitler’s intentions to exterminate Jews were wrong?