8 Stages of Genocide

Criteria for the Development of a Genocide

First, how did the term Genocide even come about?

A man by the name of Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish Lawyer from Poland, lobbied the United Nations to recognized the word he coined "genocide", which is defined as the destruction of a nation or ethnic group.

So, what are the 8 Stages of a Genocide?

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Stage One: Classification

All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi.

Stage Two: Symbolization

We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups.

Stage Three: Dehumanization

One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder.


Stage Four: Organization

Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.)

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Stage Five: Polarization

Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center.

Stage Six: Preparation

Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps.

Stage Seven: Extermination

It begins quckly and becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing.

Stage Eight: Denial

The stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims.