Apr 2, 2019 in History

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Wars are usually associated with massive abuse of human rights through the attack on non-combatants as well as the systematic elimination of unwanted groups of people based on their culture, race, or religious beliefs. The worst affected by these crimes are women and children, and thus, the whole world needs to join hands and eliminate such scenarios from the social fabric. The paper intends to examine World War II through a library research study to unearth the violation of the principles of humanity and the warfare regulations. The area of concern is the involvement of different countries in crimes such as the killing of Jews, Romani, Poles on their soil, the Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals, Polish prisoners of war, civilians in China, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the mind as well as the physically disabled people. The paper also seeks to establish how the world failed to take control of the issue as well as the possible intervention measures in the modern world, which include asylum and humanitarian aid, sanctions, and prosecution, and direct foreign intervention.


The Second World War was a battle fought on the global level between 1939 and 1945, but earlier conflicts prepared the ground for it. The war involved the major countries through two rival military camps known as the Allies and the Axis. The Allies included France, Poland, Great Britain, and the Common Wealth countries like Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand as well as other affiliates of small countries. The United States played an indirect role by providing monetary and military hardware until 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in its territory and thus forcing it to engage in direct military operations. China also joined the Allies due to its sour relations with France. The Axis powers consisted of Germany, Japan, and Italy. The other minor countries affiliating themselves to either of the camps made the war an affair of more than 30 countries and the involvement of more than 100 million people (Fitzgerald, 2011). The war resulted from selfish territorial expansion and the race for colonies. It was a very regretful event that led to the death of many people comprising of soldiers as well as civilians. The war further led to the destruction of property and the wastage of monetary resources of the countries through military expenditure. However, the worst impact was the killing of civilians as well as the manifestation of social evils such as racism and the discrimination against physically challenged people among other vices.

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Genocide and Human Right Concerns in the War Era

Nazi Execution of Jews

The German Nazi Regime under the leadership of Adolf Hitler engaged in racial cleansing that was a move to eliminate unwanted races from Europe. The campaign led to the execution of approximately 6 million Jews in the German State as well as other occupied territories such as Austria and Poland among others (Snyder, 2010). The genocide traces back to 1933 when the government began enacting laws that discriminated against the unwanted races by barring them from civil society, denying them the right to vote among other privileges as well as labeling them as enemies. The government established 425,000 points in the country and its occupied states as well as a group of more than 200,000 soldiers who orchestrated the murders (Stone, 2011). In 1941, the government used militarized groups known as Einsatzgruppen that killed the Jews through mass shooting as well as by use of gas poisoning. All the arms of the German government were used to organize the executions and the transport of the victims in trains to the death camps such as Auschwitz, Chelmno, and Treblinka among others. The Jews were also used as the specimen in medical experiments as they had no worth in the country. The allies of German such as Finland and Bulgaria did nothing to stop the vice, while the United States prevented a group of 930 Jews from entering its territory while they fled the genocide.

The Katyn Forest Massacre

The Russian police department known as the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs executed the Prisoners of War, who were Polish nationals, in March 1940. The number of the victims was about 22,000 and these comprised of police officers, businessmen, and landowners among others, who were captured during the Russian invasion of Poland. The government had established reception centers and camps such as Kozelsk, Starobelsk, Ostashkov, etc. The Soviet authorities tried to indoctrinate the Polish people and upon refusal, they were killed. The victims were executed and buried in mass graves in Katyn Forest, and the grave was discovered by the German troops in 1943. A group of Polish government officials, who had fled to London, urged the International Red Cross to carry out investigations but the Russian President Stalin vehemently denied the offense and kept on blaming the Germans until 1990 when Russian authorities acknowledged the offense (BBC News, 2010). The rest of the world kept silent on the issue and let the Russian authorities do the inquiry and despite owning up, Russia never classified the act as genocide.

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Romani Genocide

It was a war crime during World War II orchestrated by the German Nazi Regime towards the Romani/Gypsies in Europe. Hitler established a law in 1935 that profiled the Gypsies as the enemies of the German State. The law denied them the right to vote and their persecution began in 1936 and extended to the War period. Poland refused to accommodate a group of 30,000 deported gypsies, while Slovakian State killed the Gypsies in its territory. Bulgaria and Finland watched the episode in silence (Rom-Rymer, 2011). It is estimated that the execution claimed about half a million through the actions of Germany and some of its allies.

The Genocide of Poles

In 1939, Nazis under the leadership of Hitler invaded the Polish Nation and committed atrocities on its soil. The aggression was inspired by the territorial expansion that was based on racial hatred (Gushee, 2012). Hitler wanted to eliminate the Polish population to pave the way for German expansion, and thus, he ordered his troops to kill Polish nationals mercilessly including women and children (Lucas, 2013). The forces used bombing and massive airstrikes to destroy not only the infrastructure but also human lives. Some of the affected Polish cities were Grodno, Chelm, Brodnica, and Puck among others. The German troops also conducted a "cultural genocide" that involved looting and destruction of the Polish legacy such as laboratories, museums, monuments, treasury, and institutes of science among others. The forces also shut down schools and killed the staff to cripple the education system. The troops were very ruthless as they never spared bedridden patients in hospitals. The Allied forces never saved the Polish state from evil despite being one of their own.

The Genocide of the Soviet Prisoners of War

After the invasion of the Soviets by the Axis powers as well as the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, Hitler's troops captured millions of Soviet nationals and ferried them into concentration camps for execution that claimed over 3 million lives (Applebaum, 2010). The deaths occurred as a result of killings as well as poor living conditions in the camps that were fenced portions of land with no shelter. The captives were stripped during the cold weather, and they were also subjected to starvation that saw cannibalizing themselves.

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The killing of German Homosexuals

The Nazi Regime profiled gays and lesbians and in 1933, there were laws to outlaw their organizations as well as their literal materials. The government officials forced the groups to conform to the German traditional norms of heterosexual relations and those who appeared to defy were killed. Between the period 1933 and 1945 when World War II ended, about 15,000 gays had been killed while others were castrated. The groups were denied the right to vote and declared as enemies of Germans (Spurlin, 2009). The international organizations, as well as other countries, did not stop Hitler's administration from perpetuating the vice.

Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

After declining to conduct a military service, enrolling in Nazi Organizations as well as pledging their allegiance to the Nazi Regime, Hitler imprisoned 10,000 followers and also placed an additional 2,000 into concentration camps. The government officials killed 250 members while 1200 died in custody. Hitler banned religion, and the members were dismissed from jobs and schools as well as lost their salaries and other associated earnings. Others were imprisoned and clobbered to death (Garbe, 2008), and the only condition for mercy was abandoning the faith.

The Genocide of the Physically and Mentally Disadvantaged People

Adolf Hitler signed a law in 1939 that ordered involuntary euthanasia, and between 1939 and 1941 it led to 70,273 killings in various hospitals in Austria and Germany. Among the justifications for the ruthless act was mercy, reducing the monetary burden, and racial cleansing or hygiene. The move targeted the physically and the mentally disabled people, especially from the unwanted races. By 1945, the crime had led to a loss of over 200,000 lives. Hitler further ordered hospitals to register all births of children with disabilities for "cleansing." The campaign started in Poland where the Nazi regime had an interest in expanding its territories (Hojan & Munro, 2015). The Allies never saved Poland from the foreign perpetrated genocide, and thus they failed one of their own at the hour of need.

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The Nanking Massacre

It was a scene in the war between Japan and China shortly before the outbreak of World War II. The Japanese army invaded China and captured Nanjing City killing approximately 300,000 Chinese non-combatants. Additionally, the forces orchestrated other crimes such as rape and looting (Lee, 2010). The Allies had earlier granted Prince Asaka of Japan immunity from prosecution, and thus it was impossible to deal with him after he largely contributed to organizing the massacre of the Chinese civilians. The killing of non-combatants was unacceptable, and it violated the principles of humanity.

Possible Contemporary World Reaction to the Issue of Genocide

In the modern world, there are some options for confronting the issue of genocide and human rights abuse by rogue administrations. These involve the collective actions of states under the umbrella of international non-governmental organizations or treaties signed by governments of several countries. These alternatives are described further.

Sanctions and Prosecution

International organizations, as well as individual governments, can impose sanctions on the countries accused of genocide and other related crimes. The sanctions include travel advisories and bans, trade restrictions, and the membership of international organizations. It is also possible to sue the perpetrators in cross-boundary courts such as the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.

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Direct Foreign Intervention

When the crimes exceed the tolerable level, it is possible for international organizations, such as the United Nations, as well as the treaties, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to act. Direct action involves mobilizing their military for direct attacks in the form of the naval blockade, airstrikes, and ground campaigns to overthrow the inhumane governments that perpetrate crimes against humanity even if the intervention may violate the sovereignty of the country.

Asylum and Humanitarian Aid

Individual governments or a group of governments under the international organizations and treaties can open their boundaries for victims of war crimes and offer them refuge at designated camps. It is also possible for such countries and organizations to provide social services and basic needs to the affected people in their homeland or even in their refugee camps located in foreign countries.

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In conclusion, it is true that in World War II there was a massive violation of human rights and orchestration of war crimes such as genocide. The worst perpetrator of the crimes was Germany under the Leadership of Hitler, and this was through the killing of Jews, Romani, Poles, the Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the mind as well as the physically disabled. Russia also played a role in the killing of Polish prisoners of war while Japan also contributed to the crimes through the slaughtering of civilians in China. It is also true that the world did nothing to prevent the crimes because most of the countries never accommodated the victims of persecution. Some of the contemporary means of dealing with the problem are asylum and humanitarian aid, sanctions, prosecution, and direct foreign intervention.

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