What does the word “assassination” bring to your mind? Probably famous people, snipers, poisons, and other dangerous sounding things. Well, today we’re going to look at some of the most high profile assassinations in history. Some are from really long ago, and some are more recent, but all of them changed the course of history. These are 25 Shocking Assassinations That Shook The World.
A former Russian FSB agent, Alexander defected to the UK with his family. In 2006, he mysteriously fell ill and ended up in the hospital. It turns out he had been drinking tea containing radioactive polonium-210. He died shortly thereafter.
Note: Alexander is the first confirmed victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.
Five years after his brother’s assassination, Robert was also assassinated while campaigning for the presidency. His death led to presidential candidates having Secret Service protection.
As the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir was shot when she stood up through the sunroof of her bulletproof vehicle. She died in the hospital one hour later.
James A Garfield
President Garfield was shot twice in the back while walking through the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station. It wasn’t actually the bullets that killed him though. The cause of death was most likely unsanitary surgical conditions that led to infection.
The 25th President was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz while giving a speech. After being shot twice, McKinley urged his aides to call off the crowd that was about to lynch his assassin. The President succumbed to his wounds 10 days later.
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The third Prime Minister of India, Indira was assassinated by two of her own bodyguards while she was walking through a garden. The assassins were sentenced to death.
Liaquat Ali Khan
One of the founding fathers of modern Pakistan, Liaquat was shot during a public meeting by an Afghani assassin. A motive for the shooting has never been determined as the assassin was gunned down instantly.
A high ranking Nazi officer and the architect of the Holocaust, Hitler once called him the “man with an iron heart.” Due to his cruel treatment of the Czechs (where he had jurisdiction), he was also known as the “Butcher of Prague.” The Czechs weren’t having it though, and during Operation Anthropoid, four Czech commandos pulled off the only successful assassination attempt of a high ranking Nazi officer during WWII. Of course, the German response was brutal, and entire villages were subsequently razed.
Just 5 days after the defeat of the Confederacy, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford Theatre by John Wilkes Booth, an actor who didn’t like Lincoln’s support of voting rights for black people. Although it was obvious that the president had enemies, the assassination was still quite shocking. Since then, however, Lincoln has consistently been ranked among the greatest US presidents.
Tsar Alexander II
Known as Alex the Liberator for freeing the serfs, Alexander was riding along in his carriage one Sunday afternoon when members of the left wing organization “The People’s Will” started throwing grenades at his vehicle. He got out and managed to dodge the first few, but he just wasn’t quick enough.
The first openly gay politician in California, Harvey was elected Supervisor of San Fransisco and served for 11 months before being assassinated by a disgruntled former employee.
The third president of Egypt wasn’t too popular with Islamists following the Sinai Treaty with Israel. This almost certainly led to his assassination during an annual victory parade held in Cairo.
The son of assassinated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (#20), Rajiv took office on the day of his mother’s murder. While visiting a village, he was greeted by a woman who then bent down and detonated a bomb she was wearing. Rajiv and at least 20 other people were killed.
Despite being known for his kindness (people called him “Good King Henry”), he survived numerous assassination attempts. His luck eventually ran out, however, and he was stabbed to death on the streets of Paris. Although his assassin was brutally executed (pulled apart by horses), it just goes to show, nice guys finish…well, you get the picture.
After leading a controversial life that sometimes divided even his followers, Malcolm X was assassinated by the same group in which he once held membership – The Nation of Islam. His legacy, however, is undeniable.
Philip II of Macedon
The father of Alexander the Great, Philip was killed by one of his own bodyguards during his daughter’s wedding ceremony. Three of his other bodyguards pursued and killed the rogue assassin.
When his nephew, Prince Faisal bin Musaid, returned to Saudi Arabia from the United States, King Faisal leaned in to greet him with the customary kiss. Right at that moment, however, the Prince drew a pistol and shot him twice in the head. The Prince was eventually executed by beheading.
Lennon was shot four times in the back while walking with Yoko Ono in downtown New York. Apparently, John had signed a copy of his latest album for his shooter, Mark David Chapman, just hours before.
John F Kennedy
Assassinated in broad daylight while sitting in the back of the presidential limousine, Kennedy’s assassination rocked the country.
The fifth Prime Minister of Israel was assassinated by an Israeli terrorist who was opposed to his signing of the Oslo Accords, which were meant to bring peace to the region.
We don’t really consider just how shocking this assassination would have been, primarily because it happened so long ago. But to be honest, Caesar himself may have been the most surprised of anybody. Hence the phrase “et tu Brute.”
Note: “et tu Brute” (even you Brutus) actually comes from the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Caesar’s last words cannot be known for certain.
Possibly the embodiment of peaceful resistance, Gandi’s legacy is hard to surpass. However, not everyone agreed with what he had to say. He was shot 3 times, point-blank range after his assassin stepped out right in front of him from behind a crowd.
Lee Harvey Oswald
One of the only things more shocking than JFK’s assassination was the assassination of his alleged assassin. Oswald was shot by local club owner Jack Ruby before he could be brought to trial.
As heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the level of shock following Franz’s assassination is hard to overstate. It was so shocking that it plunged humanity directly into World War I.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Just days after being fatally shot while standing on a hotel balcony, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Very few individuals have left a legacy more powerful than MLK.
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