The Bystander Effect in Genocides

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Many times we ask why nobody did anything to stop such horrific events from happening. Actually, many people said that this would never happen again but this is not the case. Since the Holocaust we have seen several examples of how the general public sometimes refuses to acknowledge the occurrence of events and how the government often has little political will to stop mass murders until it is too late. One example of this that occurred not too long ago is the Rwandan Genocide. In 1994, between half a million to a million Rwandan Tutsi as well as thousands of moderate Hutu, were exterminated in the clearest mass murder case since the Holocaust. The world stood back and observed as the murders took place. Samantha Power, in the book she wrote, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide1,and her article The Atlantic Monthly, “Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United States Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen,” Power writes “The story of U.S. policy during the genocide in Rwanda is not a story of willful complicity with evil. U.S. officials did not sit around and conspire to allow genocide to happen. But whatever their convictions about ‘never again,’ many of them did sit around, and they most certainly did allow genocide to happen.”2 Samantha Power's writing shows that the U.S. government knew enough about the genocide through early warnings but nevertheless because they lacked political will to do anything about it they passed up many opportunities to end the rain of terror.3 The United States was unwilling to support the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda(UNAMIR) both militarily or financially. Even when there was a Ghanaian offer to order its troops to remain in Rwanda, as well as other offers made by numerous ... ... middle of paper ... ... extreme work conditions and workloads given to those imprisoned in Mauthausen. There are many reports of the Nazi regime using this spread of knowledge to their advantage in order to instill fear into the public making them easily submissive. Death camps were the only camps that were kept in secrecy but because Mauthausen was a concentration camp, it was not kept secret from the surrounding population but instead it was used to force the civilians into compliance. Altuough there are tons of American reports of angered soldiers who observed denial fom the Austrian population about the existance or knowledge of the existance of concentration camps, they did not take into account the horrors the Austrians were faced up against as well. In many cases if the Austrians did not keep quiet they would be held accountable and be taken to be work slaves in these camps as well.
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