In between 1930 and 1945, an event took place that changed the world in many ways. The Holocaust was a genocide that consisted of the decimation of one single race, the Jews. This solemn event is very similar (and also quite different) to another event that took place only four thousand miles away. Like the Holocaust, this event is was a genocide and it took place at Rwanda in 1994. This genocide was between the Hutus and Tutsis. These two groups have a long background with each other that consisted of civil wars, switches in power and superiority, and tension. It began when the Europeans put the Tutsis in a superior position because they were the ones that closely resembled them, the Europeans, in physical appearance. It was the death of the President, however, that lit the spark to the killings and decimation of the Tutsis. As Gourevitch puts it, “… The genocide had been meticulously planned by the Hutu extremists who set it in motion within an hour of the President’s death.” So the killings and terrible acts began. “Decimation means the killing of every tenth person in a population, and in the spring and early summer of 1994 a program of massacres decimated the Republic of Rwanda.”
A genocide, as defined in the Genocide convention in 1948, is when certain acts such as killing, inflicting physical and mental harm, and imposing measures to prevent birth is done to a specific nation, race ethnic group, or religious group. This definition was created a while before the Rwandan genocide was even thought of, but this definition is what could have caused further involvement in Rwanda. People found that if they simply did not call it a genocide, then they didn’t need to help. The government would use phrases such as “possible genocide” or “acts of genocide may have occurred” to prevent any involvement .
Gourevitch brings up the Holocaust multiple times in his book. He talks about an experience being at the Holocaust museum. He said while waiting in line at the museum, “I tried to read a local newspaper. But I couldn’t get past a photograph on the front page: bodies swirling in water, dead bodies, bloated and colorless, bodies so numerous that they jammed up against each other and clogged the stream.”4 He mentioned seeing pins that said “Never again” and “Remember”, and a quote from President Clinton saying the museum was “an investment in a secure future against whatever insanity lurks ahead.”4 Somehow, all of this just didn’t make sense. Gourevitch also uses the Holocaust to explain the idea that man is the weapon and technology has nothing to do with the killings. Like in Auschwitz, someone turned on the gas chamber, and in Rwanda, someone swings the machetes. “The people were the weapon, and that meant everybody: the entire Hutu population had to kill the entire Tutsi population.”
It seems to me that Gourevitch used the Holocaust in his book to compare. Everyone knows how bad the Holocaust was and the horrible consequences that it...