The Worst Genocides In History

The Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany. The Jewish Holocaust was the worst genocide of all time by total death toll. Editorial credit: Noppasin Wongchum /

10. Bangladesh Genocide (1971), 300,000 to 3 million

After the British left India in 1947, the county was divided on the basis of religion into Pakistan and India. Pakistan included both Western Pakistan, bordering Jammu and Kashmir to the north of India and Eastern Pakistan which is now the independent country of Bangladesh. In 1971, the people of Eastern Pakistan revolted against their government demanding a separate, independent state for themselves. In the nine month Bangladeshi War of Independence fought by the Bengalis of the region, nearly 300,000 to 3,000,000 people were brutally killed by the military force of Western Pakistan. The genocide was launched on March 26, 1971, deemed as Operation Searchlight. A large number of women were also raped during this event. Clashes also broke out between Urdu-speaking Bihari Muslims and Bengali speaking Muslims in the region. The war ended with the formation of the newly independent nation of Bangladesh.

9. Croatian Ustasha Genocide (1941 to 1945), 357,000 to 600,000

The Croatian Ustasha Genocide, also known as the Holocaust in Croatia, was an episode of massacre of the Jews inhabiting the region between 1941 to 1945 during the Second World War. It was committed by the fascist Ustaše regime of the Independent State of Croatia, comprising what is today modern day Croatia, Herzegovina, Bosnia and parts of Serbia. The Jews were killed in both Ustaše run concentration camps or handed over to Nazi-run concentration camps for execution.

8. Circassian Genocide (1941-1945), 357,000 to 600,000

The Circassian Genocide occurred between 1941 and 1945. During this time, anywhere between 357,000 to 600,000 Circassians, people native to the Circassia region of the North Caucasus, lost their lives in the Russo-Circassian War. The genocide was an example of ethnic cleansing.

7. Zunghar Genocide (1755 to 1758)

The Zunghar Genocide took place in the 18th Century when the ruling Manchu Qing dynasty of China, supported by the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang, ordered the mass killing of the Zunghars, a Tibetan Muslim Oirat who were considered to be the members of the last nomadic kingdom of Zunghars Khanate. The massacre was initiated in 1755, after a section of the of the Zunghars rebelled against the rule of the Qing dynasty. The Manchu Generals then suppressed the rebellion by killing off nearly 80% of the Zunghars population in the region, accounting for nearly 500,000 to 800,000 people.

6. Rwandan Genocide (1994), 500,000 to 1 million

The Rwandan genocide witnessed the death of nearly 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans, accounting for nearly 20% of the country’s population and 70% of the country’s Tutsi populace. The genocide took place over a period of 100 days from April 7th through mid-July of 1994. The massacre was initiated by the Rwandan Government comprising of a Hutu-led government against the Tutsis during the Rwandan Civil War in response to the rebellion by the Tutsi led Rwandan Patriotic Front. Moderate Hutu leaders were also executed during the Rwandan genocide. In the aftermath of the genocide, the economy of Rwanda was in despair, many households of the Tutsis were headed by only women or orphaned children and the ravages of genocidal rape led to a spike in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases in the country. Today, Rwanda mourns the death of the genocide victims on two public holidays, April 7th and July 4th.

5. Armenian Genocide (1915-1922), 700,000 to 1.5 million ​​

The Armenian genocide occurred between 1915 and 1922 in what was then known as the Ottoman Empire. During this time, as many as 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were brutally murdered by the actions of the Ottoman government, who were acting upon a strong anti-Armenian sentiment.

4. Kazakh Genocide (1931 to 1933) - 1.3 million to 1.75 million

The Kazakh Genocide saw between 1.3 million to 1.75 ethnic Kazakhs losing their lives to famine and food shortage. Due to the involvement of the Soviet government, scholars have referred to this planned starvation as a genocide.

3. Khmer Rouge Cambodian Genocide (1975 to 1979) - 1.3 million to 3 million

In the Cambodian Genocide between 1975 and 1979, between 1.5 and 3 million people were killed by the brutal policies of the Khmer Rouge regime. People were forced to relocate, forced into labor, subjected to inhumane torture and other forms of atrocities. Many people were by killed by mass executions while others died from disease, starvation and malnutrition. This killing spree by the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot was undertaken with an objective of establishing a form of agrarian socialism in Cambodia. The invasion of the country by Vietnamese forces finally ended the genocide and brought respite to the people of the country.

2. Holodomor (1932 to 1933) - 1.8 million to 7.5 million

The number of people killed in the brutal manmade starvation in Ukraine, known as the Holodomor, is estimated at anywhere between 1.8 million individuals to 7.5 million. The majority of those who lost their loves were ethnic Ukrainians, a fact that has led to accusations that the government of the Soviet Union, which was at the time led by Joseph Stalin, intentionally orchestrated the genocide in order to reduce the risk of an uprising from Ukraine.

1. Nazi Holocaust (1933 to 1945) - 5 million to 17 million

The Nazi Holocaust was the deadliest and most infamous genocide of the 20th Century. Over 6 million Jews were massacred between 1933 and 1945 by German state sponsored policies headed by Adolf Hitler. The genocide was carried out initially in German occupied Europe and later, with Hitler’s growing power, spread to other European countries. The Jews were shown no mercy and without any justification, they were brought to extermination camps where they were either shot by paramilitary death squads or killed by exposure to toxic gases. Nearly 78% of European Jews were killed in this genocide. Apart from 6 million Jews, it is estimated that around the same number of non-Jewish peoples were also killed over the course of the Nazi Holocaust, including various Slavic groups, Poles, Roma, Serbs, prisoners of war taken from the Soviet Union, African-Europeans, Middle Eastern peoples, homosexuals, mentally and physically disabled persons, political prisoners (especially Communists and Spanish Republicans taken from France), Jehovah's Witnesses, and Free Masons.

Most Horrific Genocides In Human History By Death Toll

RankGenocideYear(s)LocationDeath Toll (Estimated)
1The Holocaust 1939-1945Nazi Europe5 million to 17 million
2Holodomor1932-1933Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic1.8 million to 7.5 million
3Cambodian Genocide1975-1979Democratic Kampuchea 1.3 million to 3 million
4Kazakh Genocide1931-1933Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic1.3 million to 1.75 million
5Armenian Genocide1915-1922Ottoman Empire700,000 to 1.5 million
6Rwandan Genocide1994Rwanda500,000 to 1 million
7Zunghar Genocide1775-1758 Qing Dynasty480,000 to 600,000
8Circassian Genocide1864-1867Circassia400,000 to 1.5 million
9Genocide by the Ustashe1941-1945Independent State of Croatia357,000 to 600,000
10Bangladesh Genocide1971Bangladesh300,000 to 3 million
11Greek Genocide1914-1922Ottoman Empire289,000 to 750,000
12Assyrian Genocide1915-1923Ottoman Empire275,000 to 750,000
13Indigenous Brazilian Genocide1900-1985Brazil235,000 to 800,000
14Punic Genocide149 BC Carthage150,000
15Porajmos1935-1945Nazi Europe130,000 to 500,000

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