21/08/2019 30/08/2019
New York

Exhibition on Polish-born author of 'genocide' concept opens in UN HQ.

Rafał Lemkin became pivotal in helping set up the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Public domain

An exhibition about Rafał Lemkin, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent and the author of the "genocide" concept and the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, opened at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

The exhibition "Lemkin. Witness to the Age of Genocide," has been prepared by the Pilecki Institute.

"Delegates from 200 world nations will have the opportunity to see this exhibition until the day of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII. Rafał Lemkin's life story as well as his work are connected with the fate of Poland during this war. Lemkin's message continues to be topical for the entire international community, and we are glad that we could show it at this prestigious and most appropriate place," the director of the Pilecki Institute Wojciech Kozłowski said.

The exhibition features photographs, documents and items from WWII which give an insight into Lemkin's life and work.

Lemkin was born in 1900 in Poland's pre-war eastern region. He graduated from the law faculty in Lviv, where he also wrote his PhD thesis. He managed to escape from Poland in 1939, reach Sweden in 1940, and the US a year later. He used the term 'genocide' for the first time in his book "Axis rule in occupied Europe" published in 1944 in order to describe mass-scale and planned extermination of a nation or ethnic group.

Lemkin was also the main author of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the UN on December 9, 1948.