Human history is basically one giant advertisement for both atheism and alcoholism (alcotheism?). But if you look closely, you can always find something inspiring: like Oskar Schindler saving thousands of Jews or a Nazi pilot risking a firing squad to help out an American bomber pilot. Unfortunately, that's not what this article is about. This one is about events you already thought were awful and the lesser-known details that make them even worse. We tried writing a 2,000-word essay using only the words "screw" and "you," but the editor rejected it. So instead you get ...
Sure, North Korea is a clown car driven by Asian Hitler. But South Korea hasn't always been much better: At the start of the Korean War, they were the ones responsible for an atrocity called the Bodo League Massacre.
Major Abbott/U.S. Army
Not to be confused with the fantasy football loss of the same name.
By 1950, the U.S.-backed Syngman Rhee government in Seoul frowned on communism. And by "frowned on," we mean they imprisoned 30,000 people and sent 10 times as many into re-education camps, called the Bodo League. At one point the North managed to advance the front, and the Rhee government had to retreat. That left one problem (or, like, a quarter million problems, depending): the prisoners. The Rhee didn't have time to relocate them or money to feed them, so they took the Metallica route and decided to just kill 'em all.
Prisoners were taken out of the camps en masse and executed without trial. In Busan, about 10,000 were bussed out to the city limits and machine-gunned. One admiral told the Associated Press that he had authorized ships to take prisoners out to sea, execute them, and dump the bodies. He described the killings as "common practice."
Major Abbott/U.S. Army
We don't have info on blimp executions, but we wouldn't be surprised.
The U.S. knew all too well about these atrocities, and while they weren't exactly handing out high-fives, they also didn't do anything to stop them. Worse, they reportedly helped with the cover up. It wasn't until 2005 that the truth finally came out, but by then modern North Korea's antics had stolen the limelight, claimed they invented the limelight, accused the limelight of treason, and had the limelight fed to wolves.
During the French Revolution, they had to chop off a few heads in order to achieve ... order. But most of those belonged to overfed, callous royals who were so disconnected from the common people that it's only fitting they became a bit disconnected themselves.
"You could have given us a heads-up."
But it wasn't just corrupt royalty on the proverbial, sometimes literal chopping block: In 1793, the city of Nantes started an uprising against the revolutionary government, who, sort of forgetting why they got into the whole revolution business in the first place, decided to respond in the most brutal way possible.
First, they sent an army to massacre the rebels. Once they were all good and massacred out, they tied the survivors to special boats, henceforth known as murderboats, sailed them down the Loire, and then sunk them. The murderboat killings were known as the noyades and, all told, 5,000 men, women, and children -- yep, children -- were drowned horribly, because the revolutionary government was presumably bored with the guillotine by this point.
It was totally in Seine.
The drownings were just one part of a larger campaign of brutality: Over 170,000 non-royal dissidents lost their lives in the crackdown. One of the Revolutionary generals, Francois Joseph Westermann, once boasted that he had "trampled children under horses' feet and massacred women who will no longer give birth to brigands."
Kinda hard to root for a guy that openly brags about how good he is at crushing children.
During WWII, the fighting between the Allies and Imperial Japan was especially brutal. Adding to the body count: Japanese soldiers almost always chose suicide over surrender, effectively inventing the rage-quit. But as the war slowly came to an end, they actually managed to step up their game by encouraging thousands of civilians to also take their own lives.
At the Battle of Saipan, which marked the beginning of the end for Japan, civilians committed suicide by flinging themselves off of cliffs. During the Battle of Okinawa, on the island of Zamami, 180 civilian deaths (a quarter of their population) were from suicide. On the Kerama islets, that number was 700.
It actually gets worse! (Spoiler: It always gets worse.) Most of the dead were women and children. Japanese soldiers told them, in very graphic detail, that American forces would rape and torture them if they were captured. The soldiers also took a more active part, actually passing out grenades to civilians for use in self-detonation. Why? Mainly because they didn't want civilians spilling any military secrets they might accidentally be privy to -- or worse, finding out firsthand that the invading Americans were no worse than any other army. Can you imagine if that horrible bit of propaganda got spread around? Why, suicides would drop drastically!
Takejiro Nakamura vividly remembers his sister begging their mother to kill her during the U.S. invasion of Okinawa. The horrific Americans were quickly approaching, so of course the mother threw a rope around her daughter's neck and strangled her to death. Once the Americans arrived, instead of rape and murder, they handed out candy and cigarettes. And this is how we got the first draft of The Mist.
via Wiki Commons
The Holocaust caused a hundred times more deaths than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings combined. Or, in freedom terms: Over 3,000 9/11s. And we didn't even learn a lesson from it: In the years immediately following the Holocaust, Poland -- the one place voted most likely to wedgie Hitler if the opportunity should arise -- was home to several country-wide attacks on its Jewish citizens. The worst instance of anti-Semitic violence occurred in the town of Kielce in 1946.
The Kielce Pogrom began when a Polish boy stayed out too late and tried to avoid punishment by saying that local Jews kidnapped him. The most gullible mob in history quickly formed around the local Jewish Committee building, someone fired a gun, and when the dust settled, 42 innocent Jews were dead. One person received a one-year sentence for the murder. All others were acquitted.
"I think we've all learned a valuable lesson ... you know, again."
The Kielce Pogrom was not an isolated incident: There were about 1,500 instances of murder and violence inflicted on the returning Jews, who survived the goddamn Holocaust only to be killed by their own countrymen, who apparently hadn't been paying attention to the entire world for the last few years.
In 1988, British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses, a novel where he possibly criticizes Islam, if you squint real hard and maybe turn the book sideways while reading. But some were certain that the story is blasphemous, so Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie, ordering Muslims to kill the author.
Late-20th-century Islamist extremists were the early-21st-century internet.
The fatwa is technically still in effect, but Iran no longer supports it. Plus, it didn't work anyway -- apparently Rushdie is a Highlander, who knew? Anyway, no harm, no foul. Except for all the other murders.
The Japanese translator of the novel, Hitoshi Igarashi was murdered outside his university office. Italian translator Ettore Capriolo was stabbed in his apartment, but he survived. An angry mob in Turkey even burned down a hotel, killing 35 people who had nothing to do with the book, all in an attempt to kill Turkish translator Aziz Nesin (who escaped).
Writing about Muslims is un-Islamic. Killing Muslims is A-OK.
Extremists also waged campaigns of mass violence against bookstores. In 1989, London bookshops Collets and Dillons were firebombed for carrying The Satanic Verses. Penguin bookshops were also routinely bombed, and many others, when searched, were discovered to have unexploded devices. Huh, we never thought we'd be happy that nobody reads books anymore, but here you go.
For terrible things that happened in the world that you probably never heard of, check out 5 Real-Life Horror Movies Deleted From Your History Books and 6 Real-Life Horror Movies Your History Teacher Skipped Over.
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