Yet, as Brockmeier shows, they used the word to describe the extent of the killings rather than to describe the intended destruction of Rwanda’s Tutsi population.
The genocide in 1994 was perhaps the most clear-cut case of genocide since the Holocaust: as certain actors made clear the intent to destroy the Tutsi population, hundreds of thousands were killed.
Hardliners –i.e., those who had most resisted partnership with the rebels – maneuvered to gain control of the government, not least by assassinating the incumbent, Agatha Uwilingiyimana, a Hutu who had favored the implementation of the accord.
Soon, government forces (including the army and the presidential guard), along with non-governmental allies (generally affiliated with political parties, such as the infamous – the youth wing of MRNDD) were targeting both political rivals and Tutsi civilians.The official language used in Germany at the time to describe the situation in Rwanda is also telling of Germany’s stance.The German government and German political parties began using the word genocide” in mid-May.The extermination effort took place within the context of a renewed civil war, but much of the carnage involved civilians far away from the front lines.Indeed, the government of Rwanda appeared to have diverted substantial military resources from the front lines to the effort to slaughter civilians. A three-year civil war pitting the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) against the predominantly Hutu government (the Rwandese National Movement for Democracy and Development, or MRNDD) and its forces had ended in a peace agreement, The Arusha Accord, in August of 1993.However, after months of negotiations and false starts, the parties failed to agree on the specific make-up of the transitional regime.When a plane carrying the president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down from the sky as it returned from negotiations over the transitional government on April 6, 1994, organized street violence quickly ensued.The German parliament did not even schedule a debate on the issue.Helmut Kohl, chancellor of Germany at the time, only addressed the situation in Rwanda once: A week after the beginning of the killings, Kohl announced that German citizens had been successfully evacuated from the country.When the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate proposed to take in only Rwandan refugees, the conference of German interior ministers decided against the request.Despite numerous media reports describing the brutality of the killings, there was no public debate in Germany.