About Raphael Lemkin
Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), a Polish Jewish lawyer, dedicated his life to creating legal protections for ethnic, national, religious, and cultural groups.
In his memoirs, Lemkin stated that learning about "contemporary examples of genocide ... such as the slaughter of the Armenians" made him understand "that the diversity of nations, religious groups, and races is essential to civilization." In 1933, he unsuccessfully proposed that the League of Nations create international laws to protect groups.
When the Nazi German army invaded Poland in 1939, he fled to the United States.
Writing that "new conceptions require new terms," Lemkin introduced the word genocide in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944). After World War II, he learned that some 40 members of his family, including his parents, had been killed in the Holocaust.
Thereafter, Lemkin focused all his efforts on lobbying for the creation of a convention against genocide at the United Nations.
His efforts culminated in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Lemkin committed the rest of his life to urging nations to pass legislation supporting the Convention.