Lemkin Essay Awards, 1995-  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Pacific Lutheran University
Lemkin Essay Awards
1995- (inclusive)
2 boxes
Collection Number
Records documenting the annual essay awards given to first and second place student winners.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
Access Restrictions

The collection is available for research.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Through the efforts of PLU Alumnus and Regent, Donald R. Morken, and a colleague, Mr. Bruce Littman, Pacific Lutheran University has been added to a list of prestigious schools which sponsor prizes and scholarships in honor of Raphael Lemkin. Dr. Lemkin coined the term "genocide" and labored for passage of the United Nations' genocide convention which outlaws destruction of races and groups. The Raphael Lemkin Trust, founded by Mr. Irving Young of Haifa, Israel, helps support the prizes and scholarships. Currently offered at Yale Law School, Duke University Law School, Hamilton College, and others, the prizes serve to inspire young people to reflect upon the issue of genocide.

Pacific Lutheran University invites its students to write essays on the topic of genocide. A panel of faculty and board members judge the essays and awards the first and second prize winners in the amounts of $750 and $250 respectively.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Raphael Lemkin was once asked, "What good will it do to write mass murder down as a crime; will a piece of paper stop a new Hitler or Stalin? He replied: "Only man has law. Law must be built, do you understand me? You must build the law!" --Recounted by A.M. Rosenthal in his column, "On My Mind," New York Times, October 18, 1988, at A31, col. 1.

Dr. Lemkin was born on June 24, 1901 near Bezwodene, Poland, which at that time was part of Western Russia. His parents, both Jewish, owned a farm where Dr. Lemkin received his early education from his mother. He later studied in France, Italy, and in Germany at the University of Heidelberg, and received a doctorate degree in philology from the University of Lwow in 1926. Dr. Lemkin spoke nine languages and was able to read fourteen.

His first position in law was that of secretary for the Court of Appeals in Warsaw, and he later became a public prosecutor in that city. From 1929 to 1935 Dr. Lemkin served as secretary of the Committee on Codification of the Laws of the Polish Republic. It was during that time that he represented Poland at numerous international conferences. Two cases of mass persecution in 1933 set the course of his life's work: the destruction of 600 Christians in Iraq and the developing scheme of Hitler to annihilate European Jews and other minorities. It was at the 1933 League of Nations' Fifth International Conference for the Unification of Criminal Law in Madrid that Dr. Lemkin first proposed an international document to outlaw "acts of barbarism and vandalism" as an instrument to protect minority populations. At that time his proposal was dismissed, and his efforts brought him into disfavor with the Polish government, which was attempting conciliation with Nazi Germany. Forced to resign his government posts, Dr. Lemkin went into private practice in 1935 and renewed his efforts on codification of Polish law.

Germany invaded Poland in 1939, and Dr. Lemkin took to the forests as a guerrilla fighter. Of his family, only his brother Elias survived the invasion. In 1940 Dr. Lemkin escaped to Sweden where he accepted a position at Stockholm University teaching international law (international payments, foreign exchange, banking laws). It was there that he began compiling documents on Nazi rule in the occupied countries of Europe. In 1941 he left Sweden and traveled to the United States by way of the Soviet Union. Shortly after arriving in the U.S., Dr. Lemkin gave an address before the ABA annual meeting in Indianapolis entitled, "The Legal Framework of Totalitarian Control over Foreign Economies." With the assistance of Prof. Malcolm McDermott of Duke University Law School with whom he had completed an English translation of the Polish Penal Code in 1938, Dr. Lemkin obtained a position at Duke teaching international law.

While at Duke he was appointed to the United States Board of Economic Warfare and later became a special adviser on foreign affairs at the War Department. He completed his compilation and analysis of Axis occupation legal documents in 1943 and entitled it: Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress. The book was published in 1944 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace through the International Document Service of Columbia University.

Prof. Merle Fainsod's review of the book 58 Harv. L. Rev.. 74 (1945), states: Dr. Lemkin . . . has accomplished a monumental task in gathering together and distilling the essence of the witches' brew [Axis rule] . . . . . . . [W]hat he has provided is not so much a history of the Axis occupation, as a source material for it. Much of the story is irretrievably lost in the flames of a score of Lidices and in the ashes of the murder-chambers that blackened Hitler's Europe . . . . Dr. Lemkin's collection will provide an invaluable sourcebook from which to document that unctuous and peculiarly distasteful structure of pseudo-legality with which the Nazis and their collaborations sought to make death and slavery palatable to the world.

It was in Axis Rule that the term "genocide" first appeared in print. Dr. Lemkin coined the phrase after hearing Winston Churchill refer to Nazi atrocities as "a crime without a name." "Genocide" is derived from the Greek word "genos" (race, clan) and the Latin suffix "cide" (killing). He defined the concept as a state sponsored, coordinated plan aimed at the physical annihilation of a national group or groups. Such destruction may include disintegration of the political, social, economic, religious, and cultural institutions--the essential foundations of nationality. Axis Rule became a valuable source of information at the Nuremberg trials, where Lemkin became an adviser to Justice Robert Jackson. In response to critics of the trials who argued that it was an application of ex post facto laws, Dr. Lemkin wrote: International law is a body of flexible and un-codified rules of behavior among nations, based upon precedents, customs, treaties, and ethical concepts . . . . . . . The principle of ex post facto in criminal law tends to protect the individual's liberty. A person should not be oppressed by the state when he commits an act which seems to him fair and decent and which becomes a crime only through subsequent legislation . . . . Murders and atrocities as such were prohibited also in Germany. Hitler simply exempted his henchmen and himself of responsibility for such crimes. Is the restoration of such responsibility for crime an ex post facto law? Is it a destruction of the guaranties of individual liberty? Do we not adhere to the principle that no liberty can justify crime, oppression, and cruelty? "The Legal Case Against Hitler," The Nation, Feb. 24, 1945, at 205.

Because of his desire to prevent future genocidal attacks from going unchecked, and because the Nuremberg trials did not attempt to assign individual responsibility for atrocities which occurred under Hitler before the outbreak of the war, Dr. Lemkin continued to work for the establishment of an international treaty prohibiting crimes against a nation. He continued writing (see attached bibliography) and advocating for such a document, and he became a permanent fixture at the fledgling United Nations Organization, where he walked the corridors prodding and persuading hesitant delegates.

In order to retain his independence as an advocate, he accepted no titles or financial assistance from any government, and he himself wrote the initial draft of what was to become the Genocide Convention. During the days of his intense lobbying efforts, he was known by some as a "dreamer" and a "fanatic," but by others as an "exceedingly patient" and "totally unofficial man." It has been said that when the U.N. General Assembly approved the Convention of December 9, 1948 reporters who went looking for him to share in his triumph found him in a darkened assembly hall, weeping in solitude.

Between 1948 and his death, Dr. Lemkin continued to travel to state capitals to eloquently speak for ratification of the Convention for which he was responsible. Between March 1948 and June 1951 he was an instructor in international law at Yale, where he taught a course on United Nations Law. He later taught at the Newark Law School of Rutgers where he held the rank of professor; his last teaching post was at Princeton University.

In recognition of his life's work, Winston Churchill nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, and he was again nominated in 1952. Dr. Lemkin also received the Grand Cross of Cespedes from Cuba in 1950, the Stephen wise Award of the American Jewish Congress in 1951, and on October 13, 1989 was awarded posthumously the Roosevelt Freedom Medal for his life-long contribution to the principle of the freedom of worship. He died on August 28, 1959. Just before his death he was working on his autobiography entitled, "Unofficial Man." --Christopher P. Gilkerson Fall, 1989 Orville H. Schell, Jr., Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School


Books and articles by Raphael Lemkin

Prawo karne, Krakow: 1938, (Polish internal revenue laws and tax evasion)

Polish Penal Code of 1932 and the Law of Minor Offenses, USA and UK: 1939 (with Malcolm McDermott of Duke Law School)

La Reglementation des Paiments Internationaux, Paris: 1939

Valutareglering och Clearing, Stockholm: 1941 (compilation of lectures)

Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals of Redress, Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1944.

"The Legal Case Against Hitler," The Nation, Feb. 24, 1945, at 205; (part two) March 10, 1945, at 268.

Genocide, 15 American Scholar 227 (1946).

Genocide as a Crime Under International Law, 41 The American Journal of International Law 145 (1947).

Review of Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Fainsod, Book Review, 58 Harv. L. Rev. 744.

Articles about Lemkin:

New York Post Magazine: Jan 10, 1947, at 43; June 17, 1948, at 33; Dec. 13, 1948.

Samuels, U.N. Portrait, New York Times Magazine, March 20, 1949, sec. VI at 20.

Rogers, The U.N.'s Most Persistent Salesman, New York Herald Tribune, April 9, 1950, sec. II at 5.

Current Biography 1950, at 336.

New York Times, Aug. 30, 1959, at 82 (obituary).

Rosenthal, On My Mind, "A Man Called Lemkin," New York Times, Oct. 18, 1988 at A31, col.1

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection includes essays of the first and second place winners as well as 3 1/2" floppy discs or CD's for some of the essays. A few banquet invitations and programs are also included.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Archives and Special Collections Department at Pacific Lutheran University. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish or quote from (the collection) must be submitted to the University Archivist. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

The essays of 2009-2010 may be digitized since FERPA forms to allow public access are available. Others may not be digitized until FERPA permissions have been obtained..

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], The Lemkin Essay Awards, OPVARCH 24.8, Archives and Special Collections, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Avenue South, Tacoma, WA 98447

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Raphael Lemkin Essay Awards, 1995-Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Anneliese Gorne
“Genocide Strikes Again”
Molly Loberg
"Reporting Genocide: A Comparison of the American Media's Treatment of Annihilation of the Jews during the Nuremberg Trial and the Eichman Trials"
File includes essays of the winners
Kristen Kehayas
“Nurturing an Environment for Genocide: A Reflection on the Holocaust and Applications towards Prevention of Genocide in the Future”
Erin L. Hess
“The Crime Without a Name”
File includes essays of the winners; an invitation to the Banquet and the Awards Banquet program; an issue of Campus Voice where the winners are pictured.
David Warren
"All the News That’s Fit to Print’: The New York Times and the Final Solution in 1942”
Bryce R. Nelson
"Too Little Too Late: The United States Government’s Rescue Efforts for European Jews during World War II”
File includes essays of the winners
Robert C. Heinzman
“The Archetypal Genocide: A Study of the Uniqueness of the Holocaust”
Jason Hanson
"The Kasztner Case: The "Avoidable Holocaust"
File includes essays of the winners and a program for the banquet
April Reitan
“Genocide: The American Way”
Brita Willis
“Nazi Racial Ideology: The Sterilization Law of 1933”
File includes essays of the winners
Erin Dressel
“Organized Death: Genocide in Riga, Latvia”
Hugh O’Connell
“The Nazi Party and Homosexuals: Two Antithetical Views”
Brad Powell
“The Serbian Holocaust: An Untold Story”
Christopher Tavern
“Peace Be With You: The Role of Religion in the Holocaust”
File includes essays of the winners
Deborah Hamilton
“What’s in a Name? How the Term Genocide Hindered the United States’ Involvement in Rwanda”
File includes essay of the winner and a 3 1/2" floppy dics
Elizabeth Jerabek
“The Stateless Condition of the Jews as an Explanation for the Inadequate U.S. Rescue Policy during the Holocaust”
Thea Petersen
“How Grundtvigianism Saved the Danish Jews”E
File includes essays of the winners including 3 1/2" floppy discs
Meggan Johnson
“Antipathy, Anguish, and Annihilation: The Nazi Genocide of the Gypsies”
Michael Fyfe
“Reinhard Heydrich and the Term ‘Genocide’”
File includes essays of the winners including 3 1/2" floppy discs , also a banquet program
Meggan Johnson
“The Rwanda Genocide: Colonialism, Historical Misinterpretation, and the Language of Murder”
Chenda Minn
“Living in the Wake of Genocide: 30 Years After the Cambodian Killing Fields
File includes essays of the winners including 3 1/2" floppy discs , also a banquet program
Tyler W. Hildebrand
“Philosophical Issues of Genocide: A New Paradigm”
Meggan Johnson
“Truth, Creation, and Genocide: The Flaws of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda”
Essays of the winners including a 3 1/2" floppy disc and a CD. Brief correspondence
Meggan Johnson
“Fertility and Femininity during the Holocaust: The Experiences of Jewish Women”
Ethan Jennings
“The Popes, the Church, and Nazi Germany”
Essays of the winners including a 3 1/2" floppy disc. Banquet invitation and program with essay abstracts . List of all entrants
Ethan Jennings
"Ironic Propaganda: Marxist Ideology in Der Giftpilz"
Kristen McCabe
"Blunder’ or ‘A Policy of Extermination’? Intent, Effects, and Genocide in the Second Anglo-Boer War”
Essays of the winners including CD's. Banquet script and banquet invitation and program with essay abstracts. List of all entrants
Emily Marks
“Identity and Genocide: The Armenian Genocide and the Role of Turkish National Identity”
Adam Griffith
“Bringing Adolf Eichmann to Justice: Would Dr. Raphael Lemkin have Approved”
Essays of the winners including CDs. Raphael Lemkin. A Brief Biographical Sketch. Banquet Invitation. List of all entrants
Megan Moyers
“Ignore Thy Neighbor: Christian Apathy and the Holocaust”
Jeff Rud
“A Slight Case of Overbombing: America’s Forgotten Genocide over North Korea”
Essays of the winners including CDs. FERPA forms to allow public access to Lemkin Student Essays. List of all entrants
Abigail Pishaw
“Branded by the Pink Triangle: Homosexuals During the Holocaust”
Lorna Rodriguez
“The British Portrayal of the Kindertransport”
Essays of the winners including CDs. Correspondence congratulating winners
Cole Peterson
"Guilt by Association"
Julia Reynolds-Walsh
"Letters Written in Blood: the Holocaust in Poetry"
Essays of the winners. List of all entrants
Julia Walsh
"If you speak for the Wolf: Solzhenitsyn and Arendt on Evil and the Totalitarian State"
Kathryn Perkins
"Apathy and Prejudice: How America was Compliant in the Holocaust".
Essays of the winners with CDs. List of all entrants

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Genocide
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
  • Laws and Legislation
  • Personal Names :
  • Browning, Christopher R.
  • Lemkin, Raphael, 1900-1959
  • Ericksen, Robert P.
  • Littman, Bruce H., 1944-
  • Morken, Donald R.
  • Young, Irving
  • Corporate Names :
  • Lemkin Essay Awards--Archives (creator)
  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • Titles within the Collection :
  • Lemkin Essay Awards