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Parent Article: Through a Glass Darkly: The US Holocaust in Central America
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Re: Through a Glass Darkly: The US Holocaust in Central America
11 Apr 2006
From the American Heritage Dictionary:

holocaust:
1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire
2. a) The genocide of European Jews by the Nazis during World War II
b) A massive slaughter
3. A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames

"Holocaust" does not universally refer to genocide or always specifically to the Shoah. When the capitalized phrase "The Holocaust" is used alone, yes, general usage determines that is a reference to the Shoah (which term, an anglicization of a Hebrew word meaning "catastrophe," predates usage of The Holocaust in reference to the Nazi genocide by 3-4 years), but large numbers of people accept its usage, when properly modified (as it is in the subtitle to this book) to describe such events as the Rwandan genocide, the slaughter of Chinese by the Japanese in the '30's and '40's, the massacres of Native Americans by the Spanish, English, and U.S., the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Stalin's forced collectivization of the Ukraine, the transatlantic trade in African slaves, and Pol Pot's crimes in Cambodia.

Note my very specific use of the term "genocide" above. Some of those holocausts were genocides, the purposeful elimination of an ethnicity, race, or culture, some were not.

Certainly, the death of 200,000 Guatemalans described in this book meets the definition above in 1. and 2. b). Whether it could be called a genocide is neither here nor there, but the book's subtitle is not a particularly controversial statement to mainstream historians.