We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with or families – Part 1

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We just started reading the book We Wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch. This story was very informal because the only time I had learned about the Rwandan genocide was brief and through the movie “Hotel Rwanda”. I enjoyed this first half of the book and I find this genocide slightly different therefore more intuguing to learn about.

This story focuses on the Rwandan genocide between the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s. It begins with some background and slowly begins with explaining the genocide. There are some stories from interviews with survivors, Tutsi survivors, explaining how much hiding and lying had to happen in order to survive. One story that caught my attention was about a girl, Odette, who is now a very successful doctor but survived as a child during the fighting. Odette had to travel miles, even getting rejected from her step uncle because she was a Tutsi. She saw her house burned down and hid in bushes for months to survive. It amazes me how she has managed to put that part of her life behind her and move along to such an extent. She became an extremely positive and successful pediatrician and tells her past to whoever asks, embracing it yet also pushing it behind her.

Another point made in this book that surprised me was the labeling of Hutu or Tutsi through physical appearance. Both looked incredibly similar but people still found any way to label them. The main physical difference was straight or frizzy hair, and people would be accused of lying about their identity if their hair didn’t fit into the norm of Hutu or Tutsi. What surprised me the most about this was how important physical appearances are in society. Even the smallest thing, such as hair, was enough to label somebody. Overall, I believe all genocides that have occurred definitely reflect on how human societies are, and how they shouldn’t be.

Questions:

In Rwanda today how are the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s? Are the names still used, or are they ignored? How many memorials are there? Is this history taught?

What is the mental and physical consequences of survivors from this genocide? Have there ever been any pyscological or biological studies on the survivors?

What was the impact on tourists during this event? Were they able to evacuate? How many were killed, if any?

Bloodlands – Chapters 6 to Conclusion

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After fishing Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder, I found it interesting but slightly repetitive, although I enjoyed the personal narrations and stories that were placed throughout the book. I have mentioned that I like personal stories before, yet still some of the ones I read always surprise me and help me connect to the events I’m researching.

I found that the last half of this book wasn’t as entertaining as the first half, but after finishing it I definitely know a lot about Hitler and Stalin. The one thing that got me thinking after reading this book was other political leaders, and the war crimes and murders they committed. I know that Mao killed just as many people as Hitler and Stalin and it would be interesting to see a comparison of all three leaders.

The most intriguing fact I learned was about the gradual decline in deaths that occurred as the power and control the leaders had also declined. It was a linear slope, both declining with less power and inclining when there was more power. Although, both leaders also used killing to gain control which in turn can gain them power. Stalin found himself ordering, instead of asking, for orders both related and unrelated to killing at the end of his rule. Also, thousands of deaths per month only turned into a couple deaths per months years later. This point, although somewhat predictable, interested me because I had never thought of it before.

Overall, this book was very powerful and Snyder is an intelligent and well-worded man. His statement at the end of the conclusion was brilliant.                                                                                                                                                                    “The Nazi and Soviet regimes turned people into numbers, some of which we can only estimate, some of which we can reconstruct with fair precision. It is for us scholars to seek these numbers and put them into perspective. It is for us as humanists to tun the numbers back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity.” (406)

Questions:

Which other political leaders committed crimes and murders to the extent that Stalin and Hitler did? How do these leaders all compare?

Overall, which cultures were impacted the most from these events and how did they change these cultures? Which ones have recovered to this day?

What happened to the people that worked for Stalin and Hitler after the axis powers lost the war? Was there punishments for these people? How were they emotionally impacted form their actions?

 

Abstract – Final Paper

 

What occurred during Japanese war crimes in World War II towards medical experiments, what experiments were conducted and what was found? Were the Japanese doctors being medically ethic and did the conclusions that they reached from these experiments have any effect on current medical knowledge? This paper will be exploring these different experiments conducted in Japan, and exploring specific case studies about people experimented on. The results of these studies will be analyzed, the reasoning for these experiments will also be analyzed, discovering who was experimented on and what the Japanese did during these experiments. Medical ethics will be discussed; this references towards what a doctor is and what his responsibility is as a doctor. If a doctor supports and works for a political system are they still breaking the ethic medical codes by performing inhumane work? It will also be assessed whether the work they performed followed ethical doctor regulations, and if it strayed from the regulations then how many regulations were broken. Doctors in Japan during World War II performed medical experiments, mainly on POW’s, these experiments happened in a location named Unit 731 with some experiments occurring in Unit 100 (Yuki Tanaka, Hidden Horrors, Westviewpress, 1996, p.138). The POW’s were usually allied powers soldiers, but also Soviet’s, Mongolian, and Korean POW’s were also tested (Hal Gold, Unit 731 Testimony, 2003, p. 109). These experiments are know about, but not well know; this is because of the many doctors conducting experiments in concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Although, these experiments were equally as inhumane and should also be discussed, they are controversial but also found some small medical discoveries. The patients would be referred to as “logs”, and were granted immunity for being in these experiments, unless they died during them which many did (Harris, S.H. (2002) Factories of Death. Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932—1945, ). The Japanese would test vivisection, frostbite, syphilis, and more, all performed no anesthesia. These experiments were conducted throughout all of World War II, and this paper will be examining the doctor’s, experiments, patient’s, reasoning, and details of these gruesome events.  

 

Survival In Auschwitz

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My class just read Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, an extremely emotional read that conveyed its point in simply 17 short chapters.  In the book you follow the story of a man, Primo Levi, as he survives over a year in a concentration camp. The book was so well written that I felt as though I was transported to Auschwitz and living Levi’s life in the camp as I read it, feeling and understanding his emotions.

This book truly helps understand the events that occur in concentration camps; the struggles that the workers went through. Learning about the small details, they all added up making their life as hard it was. Some of these details include having to carry the piss full bucket to the bathroom at night, having to carry all belongings with you at all times in order for things to not get stolen, and having to ration out and sell bread or soup in order to have enough food or purchase new items to survive. They had to deal with the small situations to survive while also eating a minimum amount of food and working until they almost passed out from exhaustion, but if they stopped working they would get beat.

One thing that surprised me about the book was the medical help. Despite the help being insufficient, there was more medical help than I expected. I always figured that when a worker at the camps got sick or wounded then they would be shot and killed, but Primo went to the Ka-Be twice while he was at the camp and spent an upwards of four months there. The other thing that surprised me was the chemistry examination and Primo’s second job as a chemist, I didn’t think that important jobs were offered. The last surprising thing to me was that the workers building rubber plants in the end never produced a single ounce of rubber.

I highly enjoyed this read and I believe that it helped me understand the Holocaust more. It left me emotionally affected and stunned after the read, despite the underwhelming conclusion. I am glad about my new view and knowledge towards the holocaust.

The aims of life are the best defense against death”

 

Questions:

What type of jobs were offered in concentration camps and how did these jobs affect status and life of the workers? Did people manage to survive because of finding the right job in camp?

Are there many other books similar to this one that Primo Levi wrote? How do all these stories compare?

What were the social classes in power that were common for each concentration camp? How hard was it to gain social status and how did this affect survival in the camps?

 

Genocide A World History – Chapter 6

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This chapter of Genocide A World History focused on communist genocides. It discussed three main situations related to this topic, Stalin’s rule, Mao’s rule, and the situations in Cambodia. The most interesting  part of this chapter was the controversy over these events and which could be considered genocides or not. Genocides are not defined as killings towards a political or social group, therefore these communist genocides focusing on multitudes of social and political groups have not been as focused in history and still have questions towards them being genocides or not.

The first section of this book reminded me of the arguments imposed in the book Bloodlands that our class is also currently reading. This section focused on Stalin and all the different groups he murdered, making his death count worse, if not more, than Hitlers. But, because Stalin killed many different groups, not just the Jewish like Hitler, these killings are not always considered genocides. Stalin committed the worst death tolls through his five year plan and collectivization, killing many through starvation and famine. Stalin even denied that these situations were his fault, at one point pushing aside the fact that his citizens were becoming cannibals from hunger. All Stalin cared about was slowly killing off the less powerful and less favorable social groups to create a strong state.

Mao was not much better than Stalin, he committed a communist rule but refused to work Stalin and ruled on his own. Mao also used collective farming and forced many of his citizens into communes, these had the focus of agriculture and steel production. This also lead to huge problems with starvation, famine, and cannibalism. One reported stated that there was accounts of cannibals in almost every commune, brother eating brother, all for the reason of survival.

Both Stalin and Mao used their power in their communist rule to murder many different social groups that they believed were limiting the success of their societies. Some of these groups they would shot, and others they would shove onto collective farms or communes and work them to death as an attempt to keep the murders more quiet. Either way, despite the large numbers killed there will always be controversy about these being genocides at all.

Questions:

What exactly happened in Cambodia? How has it been possible for so many violent communist powers to rule?

Has the definition of a genocide changed or been considered to get changed in order to define genocides as also relating to murders of social or political groups? Why would it not get changed?

How bad was Mao’s rule and deaths he caused in consideration to Stalin and Hitler’s rule?

 

Bloodlands – Chapters 1-5

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The book Bloodlands ; Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Synder has so far been my favorite book we have read in this class. Timothy has an easy to understand writing style and interesting inputs of personal accounts from people suffering through the bloodlands area in 1930-1940’s. As mentioned before, personal anecdotes are what interest me the most.

The story mentioned in chapter one, referencing a small orphanage, stood out to me the most. I gasped when I read it and could not stop thinking about it for hours. On page 51 it states ” One day the children suddenly fell silent…. they were eating the smallest child Petrus… and Petrus was doing the same, tearing strips from himself and eating them”. This chapter discussed cannibalism and during Stalin’s rule in the Soviet Union hunger became so bad that cannibalism was almost a common occurrence. Mothers would tell their children to eat them if they died, to save the children’s life. Reading about this was hard, but hearing the story about Petrus really made me emotionally feel the situation. This was my first account of hearing about cannibalism during this era, and despite it’s gruesomeness I’m glad I learned about it.

Another focus of this book was to explain that Stalin did as much, if not more, killing as Hitler. This fact was not new to me, I have researched and discovered about the mass amounts of killing that Stalin has done. It does bring up a question about why the Holocaust is much more well know about that Stalin’s actions. It is an interesting conspiracy, and I believe it may be because of the Holocaust targeting one group of people while Stalin killed many. Either way there is an equal amount of deaths on both sides and Stalin’s actions should be focused on as well.

Lastly, this book really helped me grasp an understanding of the Soviet Union and the build up to World War One much better. The many events leading up to war are interesting to be able to examine the cause and effect of these actions. I enjoy learning about Stalin and Hitler’s temporary alliance before Hitler believed he could take on the Soviet Union to become a superpower. Hitler was a little full of himself, but everyone knows that. He suffered the consequences when his soldiers froze to death and he began to loose the war.

Questions:

Why is the Holocaust much more widely know and discussed than Stalin’s actions that were just as bad, and possibly worse?

How common was cannibalism in Europe during this time? What happens to cause a person to commit cannibalism? How hungry must you get, and what other circumstances may cause this?

What are the physiological effects of starvation? What are the physiological effects of freezing to death?

“They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else” A History of the Armenian Genocide – Chapters 7 to conclusion

As I finished this book “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else” A History of the Armenian Genocides, I fond myself in a repeat of the same information I read about again and again. It is a tragedy to read about genocides, but these readings do not impact me as much as they used to. I have become accustomed to reading about the violence at this point. It seems as though every culture follows a similar pattern to these killings, there’s the rape, the gradual start with increasingly more violence, then the mass murders and graves full of stick thin bodies that were shot or starved to death.

Despite this repetitiveness, the quotes that each book has always grips me the most. Also, each genocide always has something somewhat different from the last that was read about. But, in this book the quote that struck me the most was on page 235. This quote described the treatment of some Armenians, it stated “kicked me in the face and shot my husband with six bullets… ordered that the corpses be spread with excrement. In the following days the dogs ate the corpses”. The disrespect of deceased people will always surprise me, and these personal accounts and wittiness of the violence make me think about the situation more and understand the victims pain.

I believe that the Armenian genocide was one of the more interesting genocides to read about. The extremely gradual occurrence, taking place through years of race and religious conflicts, is fascinating. Also, the support from the Young Turks, and the belief that some people have today of this genocide as a “military necessity” also make it more interesting to learn about. This genocide, with both its similarities and uniqueness, was a very page turning historical event to discover. I couldn’t help but to compare this “military necessity” to the actions of the USA in Hiroshima.

I want to end this blog post on a quote in the conclusion of the book that I believe represents genocides, or even represents events that occur today. “The people is like a garden. We are supposed to be its gardeners! First the bad shoots are to be cut. And then the scion is to be grafted” (357).

Questions:

How many genocides have occurred through not direct killing, but through isolation, starving, dehydration, etc? Do cultures view this as more moral?

Why has the man always been viewed differently, more independently, as women and children? Why do men always get targeted, and sometimes even shot in isolation? How does this change the extent of the violence and killing?

Is the class system in the Ottoman Empire equivalent to separation of races today?

The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz – Movie Screening

 

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For the first movie screening we watched a documentary on a family that included seven Jewish dwarfs that made a living by preforming in show business during the holocaust. This movie was called “The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz” and was made by the Smithsonian which  had an interesting focus on some of the people targeted by the Nazi’s.

The doctor, Mengele, that took the dwarfs to study them further preformed inhumane tests, comparing them to tall people. This doctor had a collection of disfigured people that he considered his “zoo”. Some of the things he would do was pulling teeth, drawing blood everyday, and pouring freezing cold or boiling water into their ears. But, these test were not enough to survive and this dwarf family had to begin preforming again to keep themselves alive. This doctor was extremely creepy looking, scary, and every time they showed a picture of him I shivered.

Some facts were mentioned in the movie that related to Auschwitz, new facts that struck me. One was that they would usually have 5,000 people gassed a day in Auschwitz. Another is that they would have “doctors” pick out people in the crowds leaving the trains to get gassed that day, within thirty minutes. I was also surprised that the Nazi’s had performers and concerts on Sunday’s in Auschwitz. I wondered if these performers were allowed because of some sympathy they had for the Jewish people getting sent to their deaths. But, maybe the performers were to help the sanity of Nazi’s, to calm them down while they sent people to gas chambers. Overall, this movie was very interesting but also kind of strange.

 

Genocide A World History – Chapter 5

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This chapter of Genocide A World History focused on modern genocides, starting in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s with the German killings in South West Africa, then continuing down the timeline to the Armenian Genocides and The Holocaust. The beginning of the chapter had a quote that stuck out to me, stating about “when nationalism began to hate” (65). I believe this quote resonates the main belief cultures have when starting “reforms” and “cleanses”.

The German killings in South West Africa was something I hadn’t read about or learned yet. The reasoning for murdering the African natives was simply to gain more land and demonstrate the power that Germany had to the French and British. The more genocides I read about, then the more frequently I hear about similar situations and reasoning for the genocides. Two other things that overlapped was the forced deportation of the native Africans into the desert and the careless killing of women, children, and even some German’s even when directed to be careful.

The second part of the book discussed the Armenian Genocides, which gave a brief description of what I am in detail reading about in “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”. Although, one quote that surprised me was the statement from the Turkish ruler where he states the title of that mentioned book. Another statement that angered me was how the Turkish ruler justified the killings with three small reasons (p. 75) and seemed completely nonchalant towards his actions.

Lastly, this book discussed the Holocaust, following the chronological order of these modern genocides. There was a quote from an author that we will read a book from in the future, this quote was emotional in it statement of “non-men who march and labor in silence, the divine spark dead within them” (83). This quote caused me grief but also interested me in my future reading. Most of what I read about the holocaust was not new information to me, except for the point that the holocaust had the first use of industrial killing in a genocide. Although important to note is that the Holocaust buried the dead in mass graves, “a method that characterized genocides from the very beginning” (85).

Questions:

What was the point in time when fighting and killing moved from tradition to industrial? What did this change in terms of amounts of deaths and amounts of violence?

Why is the German killings in South West Africa not commonly discussed? What other genocides have occurred in Africa?

How did the burial of people in mass graves become a “method that characterized genocides from the very beginning” and does this still remain true for current genocides?

“They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else” A History of the Armenian Genocides – Chapter 1-6

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In “They can live in the Desert but Nowhere Else” A History of the Armenian Genocide there is detailed explanations of the Armenia Genocide, in terms of the different cultures, the gradual start of the genocides, and the reasoning for the violence. Most of this violence occurred from envy of different classes, especially when the lower class started to have a better organized and thriving society than the upper class. This cause doesn’t surprise me, because arguments over classes (or races) occur today.

One quote that describes where these arguments and beginnings of violence occurs relates the empires, on page 8 it states “Empires were almost always built on principles of hierarchy, inequality, and institutionalized difference”.  It could be inferred that these inequalities between the Ottoman’s and Armenians would build up to an violent end, especially after envy caused the Ottoman’s to view the Armenians as “loyal and commercially endowed” to “dangerous and disloyal” (49).

As the build up to the genocide occurred there were moments of false hope, such as the changing and renewing of the constitution, but still a continuous feeling of doubt. Also, hate towards the Armenians grew as they were framed to be the true cause of their own deaths. The news would lie about Armenian’s actions, such as stating they blew up a mosque, to justify the killings. This lengthy process building up to the Armenian genocide surprised me, but also amazed me about how much jealousy and envy impact humans actions.

Lastly, the first six chapters of the book concludes with the idea that the Turks will now start “Turkification”. This decision was made after years of differences in reform, politics, and power with almost every country being somewhat involved with the empire and the situations in the empire at that time. The Turks decided “Turkish race is the foundation stone of the Ottoman Empire…. In its origins the Ottoman Empire is a Turkish creation” (207). I am excited to continue learning about this topic, despite the violence and genocide that I will be reading about next, this topic is fairly new to me and I like learning about the deep roots that end up leading to this genocide.

Questions:

What causes humans to be competitive? Is this competitive nature related to violence?

If the Armenians never rebelled would the Armenian genocide still have occurred?

What caused the rise of empires? What caused the fall of empires?