The Biggest Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing and Mass Ethnic Persecution by Death Toll

10. Native American Genocide 1492 – onward (500 years)

The determination of whether a historical event should be considered genocide can be a matter of scholarly debate. Historians often draw on broader definitions such as Lemkin’s, which sees colonialist violence against indigenous peoples as inherently genocidal. For example, in the case of the colonization of the Americas, where 90% of the indigenous people of the Americas was wiped out in 500 years of European colonization, it can be debatable whether genocide occurs when disease was the main cause of population decline as not all instances of the introduction of disease were deliberate. Some scholars argue that intent of genocide is not necessary, since genocide may be the cumulative result of minor conflicts in which settlers, or colonial or state agents, perpetrate violence against minority groups. Others argue that the dire consequences of European diseases among many New World populations were exacerbated by different forms of genocidal violence, and that intentional and unintentional deaths cannot easily be separated. Some scholars regard the colonization of the Americas as genocide, since they argue it was largely achieved through systematically exploiting, removing and destroying specific ethnic groups, even when most deaths were caused by disease and not direct violence from colonizers. In this view, the concept of “manifest destiny” in the westward expansion from the eastern United States can be seen as contributing to genocide. While the overall death toll of man made deaths of Native Americans (from both Americas) is unknown, a few events in which many Native Americans (from both Americas and across all centuries) perished. The combined highest but roughly put death toll of natives in the Americas is put at around 1.3 million dead and thousands to millions more dead from forced labor and unnumbered wars and massacres in Latin America. This could be on top of the list from sheer estimation of the number of the dead but the correct number of the dead is unknown and so the numbers are taken from all accounts of known wars and forced work and labor where there was a possible estimation of the death toll.

9. Turkish and Kurdish massacres by the Russian Empire 1941-1916

Hundreds of thousands to over a million Turkish and Kurdish civilians are alleged to have been massacred by forces loyal to the Russian Empire during World War I including half a million in Central Asia according to Arnold Toynbee and another 128 to 600 thousand perished during the Caucasus Campaign.


8. Population transfer in the Soviet Union  1920-1951

Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of “anti-Soviet” categories of population, often classified as “enemies of workers,” deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories. In most cases their destinations were underpopulated remote areas (see Forced settlements in the Soviet Union). This includes deportations to the Soviet Union of non-Soviet citizens from countries outside the USSR. It has been estimated that, in their entirety, internal forced migrations affected some 6 million people. Some 1 to 1.5 million perished as a result of the deportations and of those deaths the deportation of Crimean Tatars and the deportation of Chechens were recognized as genocides by Ukraine and the European Parliament respectively.

7. The Rwandan genocide 1959-1997

The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994,  constituting as many as 70% of the Tutsi population. Additionally, 30% of the Pygmy Batwa were killed. The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended when the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front  led by Paul Kagame took control of the country. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees.

6. Ottoman Empire Holocaust 1913-1922

A collective term to refer to the various genocides and Ethnic cleansings the Ottoman Empire committed under the administration of the Young Turks. Death toll is the combined death tolls of the Armenian Genocide (800,000 to 1,500,000), Assyrian Genocide (150,000 to 300,000), and Greek Genocide(289,000 to 750,000), and other death toll is the genocides combined with the Great Famine of Mount Lebanon which some also consider part of the same genocidal policy.The best estimation of the number of dead collectively ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 million.


5. Khmer Rouge Killing Fields 1975-1979

The arbitrary torture, execution, starvation and enslavement of the population Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge for the sake of achieving Agrarian socialism, and the genocide of religious and ethnic minorities by the Khmer Rouge. The death toll ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 million dead. The minimum death toll (1.5 million) represents the number of corpses found in the Killing Fields.

4. Nazi Holocaust against ethnic Poles 1941-1945

Nazi crimes against the Polish nation claimed the lives of 2.77 million ethnic Poles and 2.7 to 2.9 million Polish Jews, according to estimates of the Polish government-affiliated Institute of National Remembrance . Historians outside Poland put the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in occupied Poland at 3.0 million. The original assumptions of Generalplan Ost were based on Nazi plans to exterminate around 85% (over 20 million) of ethnically Polish citizens of Poland, with the remaining 15% to be used as slaves. The dissemination of knowledge on the subject of Nazi German crimes in World War II was entrusted by an Act of the Polish Parliament in 2000 to the nstitute,  which replaced the former Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes against the Polish Nation.

3. The Holodomor (Ukrainian Genocide) 1932-1947

Ukrainian Genocide usually refers to the man made famine of 1932 through 1933 called the Holodomor in which the grain of Ukrainians were confiscated to the point where Ukrainians could not survive off the amount of grain they had and were also restricted from fleeing their villages to find food under threat of execution or deportation into a Gulag camp. The term also refers to the killing of Ukrainian intelligentsia during the Great Purge especially the Orthodox Church. The main advocate for this view was Raphael Lemkin creator of the word genocide. First death toll is famine and second death toll is combined body count of famine and executions of Ukrainians and uses data from after the opening of the soviet archives. 2.4 to 7.5 million in famine, 0.3 million during the purge and 0.011 million from Law of Spikelets (a law in the Soviet Union to protect state property of kolkhozes (Soviet collective farms) especially the grain they produced from theft.) Rough estimates of the death toll ranges from 4 up to as high as 10 million.

2. Holocaust against European Jews 1941-1945

The main systematic and bureaucratic genocide against European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its puppet states. The victims included 1.5 million children, and constituted about two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Continental Europe. Estimated death toll ranges from 4 to 6 million dead Jews.

1.  Nazi Genocide of Soviet Slavs 1939-1945

World War II casualties of the Soviet Union from all related causes numbered over 20,000,000, both civilians and military, although the exact figures are disputed. The number of 20 million was considered official during Soviet era. In 1993 a study by the Russian Academy of Sciences estimated total Soviet population losses due to the war at 26.6 million, including military dead of 8.7 million calculated by the Russian Ministry of Defense. These figures have been accepted by most historians outside of Russia. However the official figure of 8.7 million military dead has been disputed by some Russian historians who believe the number of POW dead and missing is understated. Officials at the Russian Central Defense Ministry Archive maintain that their database lists the names of roughly 14 million dead and missing service personnel. Some critics in Russia put total losses in the war, both civilians and military, at over 40 million.

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