Skip to main content

Timeline Browse

1944: The Crime Is Named

1944: The Crime Is Named

Raphael Lemkin prepares for a talk on UN radio, probably between 1947 and 1951.

Before 1944, no word existed to describe a coordinated assault on civilian populations. That year Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish legal scholar who had fled Nazi-occupied Poland and arrived in the United States in 1941, introduced the word “genocide” to give the crime a name.

Photo:  US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of United Nations.