Sunday, September 28, 2008
Next semester I will be teaching a course on genocide. The current emphasis on "intent" or even worse "specific intent" in both international law and scholarship on genocide seems to me to be misplaced. Instead, I think the consequences of state policies are far more important. Whether Stalin intended to kill off a portion of the deported nationalities by his actions is really not important. Rather, what is important is the fact that his regime deliberately deported entire nationalities to barren wastelands and as a result large numbers of them perished. The inevitable consequences of this action differed only from shooting or gassing a fifth of the deported peoples in only one real sense. Those that died in the special settlements from exposure, malnutrition, typhus, malaria and other diseases had much more agonizing deaths than direct execution would have entailed. Yet, revisionists like Stephen G. Wheatcroft and others claim that these deaths caused by Stalin were not only not genocide, but not even murder, but merely manslaughter. Of course they would never claim that Jews that died of typhus in ghettos and concentration camps under the Nazis were not victims of genocide, but merely of manslaughter. Because that would be Holocaust denial.