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Genocide by Raphael Lemkin

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Uploaded on Sep 23, 2009

Raphael Lemkin born on June 24, 1900 was a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent. Before World War II, Lemkin studied the Armenian Genocide in depth and campaigned in the League of Nations to ban what he called "barbarity" and "vandalism". He is best known for his work against genocide, a word he coined in 1943 from the root words genos (Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin for killing). He first used the word in print in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress (1944).

Lemkin was born Rafał Lemkin in the village of Bezwodne in Imperial Russia, now the Vawkavysk district of Belarus. Not much is known of Lemkin's early life. He grew up in a Jewish family and was one of three children born to Joseph and Bella (Pomerantz) Lemkin. His father was a farmer and his mother a highly intellectual woman who was a painter, linguist, and philosophy student with a large collection of books on literature and history. With his mother as an influence, Lemkin mastered ten languages by the age of 14, including French, Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian.


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