Genocide's contribution

N. Lygeros

Translated from the Greek by Evi Charitidou

Tout notre héritage culturel est le fruit des apports de toutes les nations. Nous comprenons ceci d’autant mieux lorsque nous pensons combien appauvrie eût été notre culture si les peuples condamnés par l’Allemagne n’eussent point été capables, tels les Juifs, de créer la Bible ou de donner le jour à un Einstein, à un Spinoza; si les Polonais n’eussent été à même d’offrir au monde un Copernic, un Chopin, une Curie; si les Tchèques n’eussent produit un Huss, un Dvorak; si les Grecs n’eussent donné un Platon ni un Socrate; si les Russes n’avaient offert au monde un Tolstoï et un Rimski-Korsakov; les Français un Voltaire, un Montesquieu, un Pasteur; les Hollandais un Erasme, un Grotius et un Rembrandt; les Belges un Rubens et Maeterlinck; les Norvégiens un Grieg; les Yougoslaves un Negosti; les Danois un Kierkegaard.:

Raphaël Lemkin

If genocide contributes to something, this, undoubtedly, is to becoming conscious of loss. However, such a loss should be conceptualized and its tangible depiction imagined, in case it has really taken place. Even in the context of our struggle to recognize genocide we often forget to realize the absence of those who have never been born due to their ancestors’ death. We are thinking of the victims and even of certain people, especially if we know their work and their contribution to humanity’s evolution. But, who’s thinking of those who didn’t have this possibility? The answer is simple: Raphael Lemkin. It’s him who conceived the notion of the word ‘genocide’. But, he goes deeper than this. It’s through his writings that he shows us the human path deprived of voice in society’s oblivion. He detaches from the nations their fruit to donate it then as a gift to whole humanity. Thus, the humans are gifts for humanity. In this new framework, the notion of genocide obtains a new dimension which in parallel concerns the negation of genocide. Genocides are not any longer isolated events within time with a local impact, despite their horror. They constitute crimes perpetuated in the course of time, as long as they are not recognized as such. And this is the reason why such a crime against humanity becomes so abominable. For, it doesn’t cease hurting humanity; with the latter one being again in the position of a mother gutted by the barbarian who snatched her child to decapitate it. The crime is conceived by leaving an indelible stigma in time and by the child’s inability to preserve in its memory its gutted mother. Thus, the murder committed is double. It doesn’t pursue the wound only, but also its permanence. It doesn’t limit itself only to symbolism; it desires stigmatization, as well. Crucifixion is not enough for the executioner, because he’s afraid of resurrection. The whole problematic regarding genocide finds itself in the duration of the action, as long as we tend to consider it as a simple fact. For, we forget the victims’ descendants; and mainly their possible contribution to the evolution of humanity. This is what Raphael Lemkin’s text reminds us of. By giving us the names of humans who have assisted humanity, he makes us tangibly comprehend the loss represented by genocide for humanity. Moreover, it allows us realize that not only does this concern current humanity, but also the future one which will never have the possibility to be born, to live, and create. Raphael Lemkin insists on this fact, so that we grasp the importance of condemning this crime against humanity. Moreover, this indicates us that we cannot limit ourselves to recognition. It’s necessary to pass to the penalization phase to condemn those who wanted to decapitate the child, even if the mother was already gutted. So, recognition cannot constitute but the first step in the reparation process, since the crime was committed through time. So, in human dimensions, the real problem of genocide is not its historicity, since this is unquestionable, but its diachronic character through the genocide of memory. The crime against humanity does not take place only against the ones who passed away, but certainly also against those to come. This is what we should always bear in mind, when we examine genocide; and this is its contribution.

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