Winston Churchill declared during the Second World War in late 1941 that the Nazis committed a “nameless crime”. The jurist and humanist Raphael Lemkin devoted himself to the search for an appropriate term for this act of human barbarism. Thanks to his studies in philosophy, philology and law, Lemkin was able to coin the neologism “genocide” in 1943 and through his personal commitment he contributed to the genocide convention of the United Nations of 1948
Without a mission. The Autobiography of Raphael Lemkin (Ohne Auftrag. Die Autobiografie von Raphael Lemkin) tells of the life of this extraordinary personality in the history of the 20th century, of a man with moral intuition and civic conviction, who proved to us that the search for justice and the protection of human rights are not entelechia. Raphael Lemkin’s intense, unusual life story reflects the history of Europe under the earthquakes of the 20th century and shows the pursuit of a spirit of universal humanity. True to Tolstoy’s maxim “to believe in an idea requires to live it”, Lemkin made the realization of his idea his purpose in life.
“Lemkin was one of those spoilage prophets who wanted to warn the Allies, especially the democratic powers, that the military expansion into Eastern Europe included a program to destroy human peoples of unprecedented dimensions in history. (…) Since man will continue to succumb to the temptations of despotism, the search for scapegoats and the criminalization of entire communities, his concern is our concern. Unfortunately, there is little danger that the word invented by Raphael Lemkin will be forgotten.”
Antonio Muñoz Molina