Earliest use of "ethnic cleansing"

Paul McFedries mailinglists at LOGOPHILIA.COM
Fri Nov 8 19:37:17 UTC 2002

> > I no longer need the post mentioned below. The Foreign Affairs article
> > which it quotes (which is what I really wanted) is available via
> If it sheds any light on the term's use, would you care to share it
> with us?

I'd be happy to. The article, just to be clear, is called "A Brief History
of Ethnic Cleansing" and it appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of _Foreign
Affairs_. Here are some excerpts that may or may not be light-shedding:

In 1530 the Confession of Augsburg had explicitly laid down the principle of
religious homogeneity as the basis of political order. Cuius regio, eius
religio meant in effect that medieval states had begun to shape an orthodox
citizenry. Thus by revoking the Edict of Nantes in 1685, France indeed
initiated a process of "self-cleansing," as thousands of Protestant
Huguenots fled once denied freedom of worship. In this way, the Confession
can be considered the ideological cornerstone of modern cleansing, a process
only possible in centralized, absolutist states capable of enforcing
Twentieth-century communist ideology introduced yet another type of
cleansing, that of economic class. The destruction of propertied classes in
Stalinist Russia or Maoist China bore all the markings, including
vocabulary, of an "ethnic" cleansing. Marx applied Christian rejection of
the Jew, once based on religion but during his time transformed into
racialism, to class analysis and the elimination of certain "parasitic"
groups. In this way, the patterns of "self-cleansing" established in the
Middle Ages had returned yet again, this time manifested in the modern
totalitarian state's own mechanism for ensuring "purity," the purge.
Only about fifty years ago -- that is within the lifetime of an
individual -- Croatian nationalists carried out massacres of Serb civilians
in a Nazi puppet state comprising most of today's Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Ustashi, as these nationalists were known, regarded
Croatia's more than two million Serbs as a threat to national integrity. The
Croatian minister of education, for example, speaking at a banquet in June
1941, remarked that "one-third of the Serbs we shall kill, another we shall
deport and the last we shall force to embrace the Roman Catholic religion
and thus meld them into Croats." This policy was officially enunciated later
the same month by the governor of western Bosnia, Viktor Gutich. In a speech
at Banya Luka, Gutich urged that the city, and all of Croatia, be
"thoroughly cleansed of Serbian dirt."

More information about the Ads-l mailing list