The 10 Stages of Genocide

July 11th 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the mass murder of 8000 Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica and January 27th 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. 2020 is a critical year for remembrance, but equally, it has to be a year of action.

In living memory, mass murder has occurred in a world we live in on multiple occasions. Calls of #NeverAgain and #NotInMyName are numerous and frequent but is this enough? 

What is genocide, and how do first stop contributing to it? Yes, you read that correctly, we, the people, do not need to kill people to contribute to genocide.


IMAGE FROM: Holocaust Memorial Day 

1. Classification

The differences between the community are no longer embraced and celebrated. In and out-groups are created. Stereotypes and familiar tropes are used to exclude.

2. Symbolisation

How many times do we label each other on artefacts? 

Those [insert group] with their [insert artefacts]coming here doing [insert harmful trope].

3. Discrimination

When those in power utilise their advantage to prejudice those in the out-group. In employment, in academia and everyday life.

4. Dehumanisation – 

The language here is imperative; Often, out-groups are referred to as cockroaches, animals, vermin, etc. This language makes the dehumanising step to denying people fundamental human rights easier.

5. Organisation –

Training of those who are tasked with the murder and to destroy the out-group. Mass murder is always a deliberate act.

6. Polarisation –

Like dehumanisation, this is propaganda which is accepted to swallow the atrocities around them. In the modern age, this will almost always include the use of social media.

7. Preparation –

Genocides are malicious and organised, a fear of the other is fostered, armies and weapon are collected. Euphemisms (language again) are utilised here to cover the scale of hate i.e. the final solution, (ethnic) cleansing, freedom from [insert group].

8. Persecution –

People are round up into areas, deported, their property is taken, and murder and massacre begin.

9. Extermination –

The act of mass systemic murder.

10. Denial

This is the denial of the severity or existence of the mass murder.


I would advocate the ten stages being incorporated into behaviour policies used in all hate incidents; often, the broader context is an excellent tool for pupils to reflect upon their actions. 

Stages 1-3 often occurs in schools, and if pupils at school learn that the idea that to take part for genocides to happen you don’t even have to think about killing people, that is a massive step towards to prevention.

The essential thing here is that mass is not the final stage of genocide, it’s denial, minimisation and hero-worship of those involved. I have heard various conspiracy theories around the denial of the holocaust in schools over the years, 

‘it wasn’t that bad.’ 

‘where’s the evidence?’ 

‘it was made worse by the media’. 

In Belgrade, remember Slobodan Milošević caused the deaths of around 100000 people; these are some of the recent views (2018). 

“We are a divided nation – 50% say we should go right and 50% say left,” 

“Many people in Serbia are still loving the idea of Slobodan Milosevic.”

From the actors and staff of a theatre show based on the former leader’s life, I know.

Click here for the link.

One thought on “The 10 Stages of Genocide

  1. With Holocaust Memorial Day tomorrow, this is a timely reminder of Gregory Stanton’s important work. This can work very powerfully in school and alerts us all to the fact that, tragically, genocide is not just historical. Thank you.

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