Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I just finished watching The Devil Came On Horseback, a documentary about the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Truly it is a horrendous situation; where more than 450,000 people have been killed. It is extremely sad that history keeps repeating itself.

Watching this, I feel it is of utmost importance that we be aware of what our history actually is. What was the greatest genocide of the last century?

If you said that perpetrated by Nazi Germany, you'd be wrong. While terrible, it only ranks third--just in the last century.

Civilians Killed by Governments in the Twentieth Century: Top Twenty Regimes
Location (Regime) Deaths Era
Soviet Union (Communists) 61,900,000 1917-1990
China (Communists) 35,200,000 1949-present
Germany (Nazi Third Reich) 20,900,000 1933-1945
China (Kuomintang) 10,400,000 1928-1949
Japan (Imperial-Fascist) 6,000,000 1936-1945
China (Communist Guerrillas) 3,500,000 1923-1948
Cambodia (Communists) 2,000,000 1975-1979
Turkey ("Young Turks") 1,900,000 1909-1917
Vietnam (Communists) 1,700,000 1945-present
North Korea (Communists) 1,700,000 1948-present
Poland (Communists) 1,600,000 1945-1948
Pakistan (Yahya Khan) 1,500,000 1971
Mexico (Porfiriato) 1,400,000 1900-1920
Yugoslavia (Communists) 1,100,000 1944-1990
Russia (Czarist) 1,100,000 1900-1917
Turkey (Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk") 900,000 1918-1923
United Kingdom (Constitutional) 800,000 1900-present
Portugal (Fascist) 700,000 1926-1975
Croatia (Fascists) 700,000 1941-1945
Indonesia (Suharto) 600,000 1965-present

And this is to say nothing of the 19th century. 8-10 million people died at the hands of King Leopold of the Netherlands in the Congo, 400,000 Circassians were killed by the Russians, ...and I could go on.

Sadly, we continually seem to be reminded that people are evil. As German philosopher Friedrich Hegel said, "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history." Oh that instead we would heed the words of George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."


Robby said...


Chairman said...

Westy, let's give the Germans some credit. They did all of their work in only 12 years.

In any case,we're really behind, aren't we? Robby's link isn't really our kills, but total kills. It's cheating if you take credit for all of them. That said, I think that we should get more credit for the folks that died from the radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That alone would take our count past 400K.

Westy said...

While some might argue the lives lost in Iraq since Saddam's fall are the United States' fault, I do not think it meets the definition of genocide.

That said, it is worth noting that if this list were expanded, the former leader of Iraq would be prominently featured:
Saddam Hussein (Iran 1980-1990 and Kurdistan 1987-88) 600,000