Genocide (New Zealand) #1

So, what you probably didn’t realize was that genocide is nothing new. All right, you’re probably smart enough to realize that; I take it back. What is new about genocide is the massive scale that modern times allow.

Anyway, what you probably also didn’t know is that genocide is not a uniquely Western thing. Yes, the Westerners have definitely been the most famous and proficient in it, but allow me to take you to a small corner of the world where genocide once took place: New Zealand.

You’re probably scratching your head right now, I know. New Zealand’s the one famed for not wiping out the native population. But this isn’t a story of modern New Zealand, or colonial New Zealand; this is before the Westerners came.

There’s this place called the Chatham Islands, just off of New Zealand. A long time ago (hundreds of years, in fact), a group of people (who may have been Maori themselves) left the main New Zealand Islands, and settled on these islands. They also intermarried with the people already living there. They became the Moriori.

Now, these people were fairly unique: they lived by a law of peace, called Nunuku’s Law. And, since they were fairly cut off from other groups, this worked out well for a while. Whaling and fishing ships used this area for their livelihoods, and mostly ignored the Moriori (and their rules about not hunting in breeding areas).

Come 1835, however, the law of peace was about to be put to the test.

Maori from New Zealand, who had been pushed South, decided to invade and take the Chatham Islands for themselves.

When the invasion happened, the Moriori didn’t fight back. They stayed pacifistic, and despite outnumbering the invaders two to one, were quickly killed and enslaved.

They came very close to becoming extinct altogether, until the New Zealand government intervened 28 years later (see, by then the colony had been established). Nowadays, there are no ‘full-blooded’ Moriori, but there is still a Moriori culture and presence. They are recognized as the indigenous people of the Chatham Islands.

WWII (Poland & Nazi Germany) #4

As you’ve probably noticed, the Nazi beliefs were incredibly brutal and outright evil.  There’s a reason the swastika is outlawed in Germany (barring historical reasons). There’s a reason the Nazi is always the bad guy in movies.

And here’s the fact that’s probably been drilled into your head since the first mention of WWII in your history classes: The Nazis hated the Jews.

Here’s the thing; the Nazis hated a lot of people, based mainly on race. The disabled, African-Germans, the Roma, homosexual men, and Slavs, in particular, Poles. Basically, anyone besides ‘Aryans’ and the Japanese (allies and all).

If you were to compare on a scale of 1-10, one being least desirable and ten being most, Jews would get 0 and Poles would get a 1 in the Nazi mindset.

Poland was Hell on earth during WWII; the Germans put in charge of them were instructed to shoot on sight if a Pole was caught helping a Jew, and Poles were considered second-class citizens, if even that.

But see, what the big difference was between the treatment of the Jews and the Poles was that the Jews were meant to be eliminated immediately, as soon as possible. The Poles, however, were meant to be eventually eliminated, used up as slave labor gradually and then have their lands taken over by Aryans. They attempted to eliminate Polish culture entirely.

And to get rid of the Poles, they were used up in several ways: kidnapping of ‘racially superior’ children; slave labor in Germany and Poland; killings, especially of soldiers, priests, teachers, officials and anyone deemed ‘intelligentsia‘.

Essentially, it was a really bad time to be a Pole.

In spite of this, the Poles number among the largest group of Righteous Among the Nations.

Despite it all, the Poles emerged from World War II with a passion for their country and a will to survive. There’s a reason that Poland is referred to as the Phoenix country; it’s always risen from the ashes, alive again.

WWI (Australia, Turkey, and New Zealand) #1

So if there’s any historical event involving Australia and New Zealand that you’ve heard of, it’s probably Gallipoli. If you haven’t, then you’re missing a key piece of Australian and New Zealander history.

Before WWI, Australia had seen pretty much no major battles (happens when you’re off at the far away corner of a map). New Zealand had the occasional battle during the 19th century, but it was nothing like WWI. There’s a good reason for that; WWI was like nothing the world had ever seen.

Anyway, so when WWI came around, Britain was in need of troops. Conveniently, they had a number of colonies that they could put to use. There were Indian troops pulled in, Canadians, Irish, folks from every corner of Britain, and of course, Australia and New Zealand, among others.

Thing was, of course, none of the Anzac (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) troops were prepared for warfare. So they had to hop on ships and go over to Egypt to train.

Meantime, there’s a problem that Britain and its allies have encountered, and its name is the Ottoman Empire (aka Turkey and its holdings). The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of Germany and the Austria-Hungarian Empire (a number of empires were still around at this point) plus their allies.

Attacks towards Germany weren’t doing so hot. Britain and its allies reached the conclusion that attacking Germany’s allies (who were weaker, generally speaking) was a good way to get to Germany and cause a lot of problems for it.

So the plan to take the Gallipoli (which is in Turkey) peninsula was born. The Anzacs were to land at Gallipoli, and the British-French troops at another point.

Course, this plan had several flaws in the actual doing of it.

For one thing, the landing was missed. It was done at night, which caused some confusion.

More importantly, there were Turkish troops who were ready and willing to fight back.

The landing became mass chaos, with men fighting just to get to the shore. Many of the men in charge were shot, which led to another problem: the spots they were going to reach originally were not reasonable goals anymore. So, the few remaining in charge chose a different line to hold.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be communicated to many troops, who valiantly tried to push out to the old points, and were lost.

So you’ve got a smaller amount of men than was planned on, holding a tenuous line against an enemy in the dark.

But hold it they did. Despite large losses and general confusion, the Anzacs took the beach. Several days after the bloodbath was over, there was a sort of truce between the two sides: they could leave their posts without fear of getting shot in order to bury the dead.

The Anzacs held Gallipoli for almost a year before the higher-ups decide to pull out.

While the Gallipoli campaign was mostly a bust, it’s a point of pride for Australians and New Zealanders; it’s the first time both countries truly stepped onto the world stage, and it is sort of the marking point of when they became countries of their own. The Anzacs were unbelievably brave, and this is why the campaign is looked at as a good legacy in both countries’ histories.

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