21 Jun 2019

Text & Translation: Corinna

#Types of Mass Murder

Much criticism has been levelled at the definition of genocide since the Convention was ratified, particularly with regard to the restrictive definition of victim groups. For example, by definition, the murder of social, cultural and political groups is not a crime of genocide. Many social and political scientists have therefore created different terms to describe the mass murder of different groups.


Here you will find a non-exhaustive list of some terms:


Classicide refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of a social class (in whole or in part) by persecution and violence. The term was coined by the sociologist Michael Mann.


Democide describes the deliberate mass murder of certain groups of people by one’s own government and also includes the terms genocide, political assassination and mass murder. The term was coined by the political scientist R.J. Rummel and actually includes all mass murders of the 20th and 21st century by totalitarian regimes.


An Ecocide is the deliberate destruction of habitats and ecosystems to the extent that the population can no longer provide for itself. This form of mass murder can be triggered by pollution, ecological destruction and military action.

KZ SachsenhausenKZ Sachsenhausen


During an Eliticide the socio-economic elite of the victim group is killed. These could be politicians, military officers, businessmen, clergy, cultural and intellectual leaders.

#Ethnic cleansing

The two terms ethnic cleansing and genocide overlap and cannot be clearly separated, as the violence and measures used are the same. The term ethnic cleansing is often used instead of genocide. The term is present in some UN documents, but has neither a clear and formal definition nor a legal status. Here you can read why it is an inhuman euphemism.

#Ethnocide (or Cultural Genocide)

Raphael Lemkin introduced the term as a synonym for genocide. Today it is used to describe cultural genocide which does not necessarily involve an act of killing, but can also be carried out by extinguishing a language, culture or livelihood of a group. The term is often used in connection with indigenous peoples.

Massenmord 2Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, Berlin


Femicide is the systematic killing of women based on their sex. The best known example is the abortion or killing of female fetuses and babies. This term is very closely associated with the term gendercide.


A fratricide kills all (alleged) enemies within a political movement. The sociologist Michael Mann also coined this term.


Gendercide consists of the terms gender and genocide. It describes the selective and systematic killing of members of a specific gender. Also sexual minorities like homo-, trans-, inter- and bisexuals, as well as transgender or queer people can be affected. Mary Ann Warren was the first to coin this term. Well-known examples of gendercides are the mass murder of Srebrenica and Iraq’s attacks on Kurdish boys and men. The targeted abortion and killing of girls is also referred to as gendercide (see femicide).

Massenmord 3KZ Sachsenhausen


The word genocide is composed of the Greek word genos (race/people) and the Latin word caedere (to kill). Genocide is an act “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such”. Such acts include not only murder, but also causing serious physical or psychological harm, imposing living conditions that are untenable to the survival of the group, preventing birth or forcibly transferring children to another group. The term was created by Raphael Lemkin. The Holocaust and Rwanda are among the most undisputed examples of genocide.


The term omnicide, created by John Somerville, describes the destruction of all humanity and other forms of life by weapons of mass destruction.


Politicide is a form of mass murder where the victims are killed because of their political affiliation. It is irrelevant whether the victims actually belong to a political party or movement or whether the perpetrators only suspect that they belong to it. The social scientists Barbara Harff and Ted Gurr coined this term.

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