Genocides and Mass Murders Since 1900

JB Shreve
August 30, 2021 8 mins to read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Our list and summary of genocides and mass murders since 1900 – constantly being updated.

Throughout our research for the podcast series Never Again, Again – The Ongoing History of Genocide we encountered difficulty finding a comprehensive list of genocides. Part of the problem is that the word genocide is a highly contested word filled with all sorts of political implications. For example, Turkey denies the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century. Most of the rest of the world calls it a genocide. In many instances, a mass murder or killing is not the same as a genocide. Then there are events like the Taliban destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan that are called cultural genocide but frankly don’t meet the same standard as the Cambodian Genocide.

To remedy the problem we made our own list below. Please note, this is not exhaustive. If you see something we missed shoot us a message at Facebook or Twitter and include some resources so we can research it and add the item to the list. Also, not all of the events in this list are universally agreed to as genocide. That is why we call a list of genocides and mass murders since 1900. Hopefully, this will be a helpful resource to people researching this area of history. We will be adding to the list as we identify for events that should be included.

Genocides and Mass Murders Since 1900

1886-1908 Congo Free State – 8 million killed

King Leopold II of Belgium ran the Congo like a private slave plantation.

1904-08 Herero and Nama – 100,000 killed

Under the umbrella of imperialism, Germany pursued a policy of genocide against the Herero and Nama people. Nearly 50% of the Nama people were destroyed and as much as 80% of the Herero.

[Listen to a podcast about this genocide here.]

1914-22 Greek Genocide – 500,000 killed

Leaders of the Ottoman Empire carried out a systematic killing of Christian Ottoman Greek population of Anatolia based on their religion and ethnicity.

1915-23 Assyrrian Genocide – 250,000 killed

Leaders of the Ottoman Empire carried out mass killing and deportations of Christians in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire.

1915-20 Armenian Genocide – 1.5 million killed

Under the cover of World War I, the Turks of the dying Ottoman Empire murdered the Christian Armenians.

[Listen to a podcast about this genocide here.]

1932-33 Holodomor – 4 million killed

Holodomor translates to “death by hunger” or “killing by starvation.” The Holodomor was the mass murder of millions of Ukrainians, Kazakhs and Russians that resulted from Joseph Stalin’s inhumane policies.

[Learn more about the Holodomor here.]

1935-45 Romani – 1 million killed

Hitler and the Nazis killed nearly 50% of the Roma population in Europe at the time.

1937-38 Poland – 111,000 killed

During the period of the Great Purge, Stalin’s security service carried a mass murder of Polish people living in the Soviet Union who Stalin labeled as spies

1937-39 Asian Holocaust – 5 million killed

The crimes committed against civilians during the period of Japanese imperial expansion is sometimes called the Asian Holocaust. These brutal killings occurred in China, the Pacific, and Southeast Asia.

1939-45 Ethnic Poles – 2.8 million killed

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded and split Poland between them. Both powers south to eradicate Polish culture and enslave its people.

1941-45 Jewish Holocaust – 6 million killed

Two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population was systematically destroyed in Nazi-controlled Europe. Three million of these deaths were in Poland alone.

[Listen to a podcast about this genocide here.]

1941-45 Bosniaks – 65,000 killed

A Serbian nationalist group known as Chetniks carried out a host of massacres and murders against Croats, Muslims, Jews, and Albanians in the Balkans during World War II.

[Learn more about the Bosniak Ethnic Cleansing here.]

1941-45 Ustase – 500,000 killed

The Croatian fascist party killed Jews, Gypsies and Serbs. Along with the mass murders 250,000 people were expelled from the country and forced conversions to Catholicism were implemented throughout The Independent State of Croatia.

[Learn more about the Ustase Ethnic Cleansing here.]

1944-48 Aardakh Genocide – 170,000 killed

Stalin’s Soviet Union carried out a systematic subjugation and mass murder among the Chechen and Ingush peoples.

1944-48 Crimean Tatars Genocide – 45,000 killed

As part of the massive population transfer in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union nearly 200,000 Crimean Tatars, including women and children were transported by boxcar throughout the Soviet Union. The act was intended as a collective punishment for perceived collaboration of the Crimean Tatars with Nazi Germany.

1947 The Great Partition – 200,000 to 2 million killed

When India and Pakistan declared their independence in 1947 Hindus and Muslims surged across the new borders. A wave of violence ensued that included a death count of up to 2 million people

1958-61 The Great Leap Forward – 45 million killed

Mao Zedong triggered a massive famine in China through incompetent policies meant to modernize the Communist nation. When leaders within the Chinese party questions the effectiveness of the policy they were executed as counter-revolutionaries.

[Learn more about the Great Leap Forward here.]

1966-76 The Cultural Revolution – 2 million killed 

Nearly 20 years of incompetence and brutality under Mao Zedong China remained a backward nation. Mao presumed the problem was counter-revolutionaries within the Chinese Communist Party itself.

[Learn more about the Cultural Revolution here.]

1965-66 Indonesia – 1 million killed

After a coup supported by the US, anti-Communist forces committed large-scale killings of communists in the country. The killings soon spread to ethnic groups in Indonesia.

1966-70  Biafra Genocide – 2 million killed

After the Igbo declared the independent nation of Biafra, the Nigerian Civil War was unleashed. Using famine as a weapon, along with many massacres the Nigerian federal government defeated the Biafrans. Many other minority ethnic groups were included in the violence and sometimes Biafrans themselves carried out violence against minority groups.

[Learn more about the Biafra Genocide here.]

1971 Bangladesh – 500,000 to 3 million

living in Bangladesh (then called East Pakistan). Mass murders, rapes and destruction followed and led to the Indian military driving west Pakistan out of Bangladesh.

[Learn more about the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide here.]

1972  Burundi – 150,000 killed

The Tutsi dominated army and government and military committed a series of mass killings against Hutu elite within the country.

[Read more about the killings in Burundi here.]

1972-78 Uganda – 500,000 killed

Under the brutal and erratic leadership of Idi Amin Uganda murdered people from a variety of ethnic groups and political parties to maintain his hold on power.

1975-79 Cambodian Genocide – 2 million killed

When the Marxist organization Khmer Rouge took over the nation of Cambodia, they sought to take the country back to the middle ages. They targeted anyone they believed to be an enemy of the state including men, women, and children. The Cambodian genocide killed nearly one-quarter of the country’s population.

[Learn more about the Cambodian Genocide here.]

1975-79 East Timor – 150,000 killed

After the Portuguese left East Timor, Indonesia invaded. The initial Indonesian invasion of East Timor, supported by the US, killed around 100,000 civilians. A guerilla insurgency developed and did not end for several years.

[Learn more about the East Timor Genocide here.]

1981-83 Guatemala’s Silent Holocaust – 200,000 killed

As part of the Guatemalan Civil War, the government carried out a genocide against the Mayan people believed to be allied with leftist and Communist guerillas.

[Learn more about Guatemala’s Silent Holocaust here.]

1986-89 Anfal Genocide – 150,000 killed

Under the orders of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Baathists and the military sought to eliminate Kurds from Arab areas of Iraq.

1988-91 Isaaq Genocide – 100,000 killed

During the Somaliland War for Independence, Siad Barre pursued the systematic destruction of the Isaaq people.

[Read more about the Isaaq Genocide here.]

1992-95 Bonia-Hercegovinva Ethnic Cleansing – 200,000 killed

Serbian nationalists pursued an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Balkans.

[Learn more about the Bosnian Ethnic Cleansing here.]

 1993 Burundi – 116,000 killed

Mass killings of Tutsis by the majority Hutu population in Burundi.

[Read more about the killings in Burundi here.]

1994 Rwanda – 800,000 killed

Armed Hutu militias the destructions of Tutsi minorities.

1996-97 First Congolese War – Hutu Massacres – 200,000 killed

Rwandan-backed AFDL troops carried out the mass killing of Hutu, Congolese, and Burundian Hutu men women, and children in villages and refugee camps.

2002-03 Bambuti Genocide – 70,000 killed

Rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo sought the systematic destruction of Bambuti Pygmies.

[Read more about the Bambuti Genocide.]

2003 and Ongoing, Darfur – 500,000 killed

The systemic killing of ethnic Darfuri people in Western Sudan.

2012 and Ongoing, Central African Republic – total killed unknown

Against the backdrop of the CAR’s civil war ethnic and religious cleansing has ravaged the civilian population.

[Learn more about the crisis in the Central African Republic here.]

2013 and Ongoing, South Sudan – total killed unknown

Conflict in South Sudan has resulted in the targeting and massacre of civilians

2014 Yazidi – 5,000 killed

Beginning in 2014 ISIS carried out a campaign of genocide against the Yazidi Christians of northern Iraq. Along with brutal murders, thousands of Yazidi women and girls were sold into slavery.

2017 and Ongoing, Rohingya – 40,000 killed

The Myanmar military has participated in the ongoing murder and oppression of Rohingya Muslims.

[Learn more about the Rohingya Genocide here.]

2017 and Ongoing, Uighurs – total killed unknown

The Chinese government cracked down and seeks to eliminate Uighur culture and identity in Xinjiang province. Through concentration camps, reeducation programs, and forced sterilization, China has pursued an aggressive policy against the Uighurs.

[Learn more about the Uighur crisis here.]

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