This paper puts forth the hypothesis that the degree of social distance between perpetrator and vic- tim groups prior to the outbreak of genocide is inversely related to the degree of severity of dehu- manization employed by the perpetrator group during genocide. Derived from psychological theory, this hypothesis is illustrated by using a primarily literature-based method of analysis combined with a vignette-designed severity of dehumanization scale. Three genocides are compared: the Rwandan Genocide, the Holocaust as it occurred in Western Europe, and the Holocaust as it occurred in East- ern Europe. The findings for Rwanda and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe show a negative correla- tion between the two variables, confirming the hypothesis. The results for Western Europe, however, present somewhat of an anomaly; variations in the extermination policies of the German perpetra- tors in Eastern and Western Europe correspond to this difference and can, in this case, provide a possible explanation for the incongruity.
Haagensen, Lisa and Croes, Marnix
"Thy Brother’s Keeper? The Relationship between Social Distance and Intensity of Dehumanization during Genocide,"
Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal:
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/gsp/vol7/iss2/7