In several states, April is designated Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we have compiled a collection of resources relevant to each of the genocides that have commemorative dates this month.
Genocide Resource Collection
Early April 1945: Buchenwald
As US forces approached Buchenwald concentration camp, thousands of prisoners were forced to join the evacuation marches. Approximately one third of these prisoners died from exhaustion en route or shortly after arrival, or were shot by the SS.
April 11, 1945
In expectation of liberation, organized prisoners seized control of the camp. Later that afternoon, US forces entered Buchenwald. By April 12, 1945, journalists, including Edward R Morrow arrived at the camp.
Between July 1937 and April 1945, the SS imprisoned some 250,000 persons from all countries of Europe in Buchenwald.
April 5, 1992: Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
As Yugoslavia began to unravel in the late 1980s, ethnic tensions and nationalist attitudes grew. The Serb leader Slobodan Milošević went on an offensive in an attempt to keep its republics together and to unite Serb communities in the region.
When Bosnia and Herzegovina defied Milošević and declared independence on April 5, 1992 Bosnian Serb leaders began a military campaign to clear all the Muslim communities that stood in the way of this vision of a “Greater Serbia.” The violence reached its tragic peak in the summer of 1995 in Srebrenica, where Serbs massacred over 8,000 Muslim men. After three years of indecisive actions, NATO forces finally began an aerial bombing campaign that halted the violence. All told, the Serbs were responsible for the deaths of as many as 100,000 Bosnians.
April 7, 1994: Rwanda
In the 1980s a group of Tutsi (and some Hutu) formed an army—the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA)—which invaded Rwanda in 1990 with the hope of repatriating refugees who escaped the Hutu dominant regime to nearby countries. This led to a civil war and then to a power-sharing agreement in 1993. The next year, the plane of the Hutu president of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana, was shot down. Hutu extremists seized control of the government and use this opportunity launch a genocidal campaign against the Tutsi. Between April and July 1994, Hutu extremists brutally murdered as many as 800,000 of their fellow Rwandans.
The Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia and immediately began to expel to the countryside hundreds of thousands of people suspected of connections with the former government or with the West. As many as 1.7 million of them died in agrarian camps (commonly known as the “killing fields”) and in prisons and interrogation centers. The genocide ended in 1979 after Vietnam invaded Cambodia.
April 19, 2012: Yom Ha'Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day
Facing History observes Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, by encouraging schools and communities to engage in conversations about the importance of memory and the legacy of difficult histories in today's society. In the words of Facing History executive director Margot Stern Strom, “The stories of our survivors are not lost in their passing...We hear their voices and we will honor them as we look to future generations take up her mantle. We need young people to be interested in their community and to not be bystanders in a world that needs the strong voices of upstanders.” Learn more about Yom HaShoah and Facing History in your community.
April 19, 1943: Warsaw Ghetto uprising begins.
April 24, 1915 - Armenia
Armenian Genocide begins. On this one day, Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. By 1923, more than one million ethnic Armenians had been killed.
April 2003 – Darfur
In 2003 violence broke out in Darfur, a region in western Sudan, between local tribes and government-backed militia. In April, Sudanese refugees begin arriving in eastern Chad to escape the fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
April 25, 2003 - Rebels, later becoming the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), attack a Sudanese government airfield, destroying multiple Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships, and seizing a large amount of ammunition and heavy weapons. In retaliation, the Sudanese government began a systematic campaign to destroy the people of the western region of Sudan and their livelihood. It is estimated that by 2005, the Sudanese government and its forces had contributed to the death of more than 300,000 Darfuris and to the rape, torture, and displacement of more than 2.5 million people.
April 29, 1945: American forces liberate the Dachau concentration camp