15344 - The etymology of genocide

N. Lygeros
Translated from the Greek by Vicky Baklessi

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Many in the area of Greece believe that the word genocide is greek. If they examine though its etymology, they will realize that the innovation of Raphaël Lemkin was based on two roots in order to develop this international terminology through english. The way he explains it himself, he chose a greek root and a latin one in order to create the word genocide. Even more important is that he was inspired by the facts that by now are characterized as genocide of the Armenians and of the Greeks. In other words the word genocide owes its existence to these and not to the genocide of the Jews which is subsequent and was applied to it later on. Unfortunately this mental scheme is rarely known even within the legal field. In any case this approach means practically that each time someone uses the word genocide even at a deductive level he recognizes indirectly the genocide of the Armenians and of the Greeks. This distinctive element has not been utilized sufficiently, while the source is in Lemkin’s records in the Library of the Congress in Washington and itis accessible through the internet. If we all realize this, it will provide us with data in order to establish a more effective strategy for recognition and it will facilitate our relations when we try to convince other countries to recognize us. In reality, all we need is to show Lemkin’s documents for us and for them to see that the genocide’ s definition itself helps our efforts, since the etymology itself justifies in essence our position on this issue of historical recognition. But it also provides a context where we can think about even more actions that are based on the work of Lemkin.