While this might come across as a bit subjective, and it is, we had to make these judgments somehow. Therefore, to get it out of the way, this is our disclaimer: just because something isn’t on this list doesn’t mean that it wasn’t bad. And just because it isn’t on this list doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worse than the things that actually are on this list. “But why wouldn’t you just put the worse thing on the list then?” That is a good question, and the honest answer is because our research didn’t lead us to include it. Without a doubt, given human constraints and limitations, some of you will be aware of horrible events and tragedies that should certainly be on this list. And it is in honor of all tragedies, on this list and off of it, that this list was written. So, having said that, try not to think of this as some sort of dark competition. Any loss of life, friends, or family is a terrible event.
Also worth noting is that it is really hard to rank tragedies, so we didn’t. These are in no particular order. They are just all bad and that is why they made the list. These are the 25 Horrible Events Taken Place Throughout History.
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Teiping Rebellion (mid 1800's)
This civil war took place in China and led to the deaths of tens of millions of people. What made it worse was that it was a “total war.” This means that there were no civilians. Everybody was directly involved in the fight.
Pol Pot's Regime
Under Pol Pot’s rule, nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population was wiped out.
1971 Bangladesh genocide
During Bangladesh’s push for independence, the Pakistani military systematically killed up to 3 million people.
African World War
While it is not taught much outside of Africa, the Second Congo War was one of the most destructive armed conflicts in history.
Bhopal disaster (1984)
Considered the worst industrial disaster in history, over half a million people around the city of Bhopal in India were exposed to methyl isocyanate and various other chemicals during a leak in a plant. The exact death toll is unknown as many villages have no record keeping, but its effects are still being felt today.
Irish Potato Famine
After more than 150 years, Ireland’s population still hasn’t recovered.
Development of agriculture (~10,000 years ago)
While this one is controversial, there are some archeologists who view agriculture as humanity’s biggest mistake. Why? It lead to a population explosion which also led to the spread of disease, war, and inequality.
Nanking Massacre (1937)
Japanese soldiers allegedly had competitions to see how quickly they could slaughter one hundred Chinese people just using their swords. There were also accounts of families being forced to rape each other.
Agent Orange Program (1970's)
When the US dropped agent orange in the jungles of Vietnam, it was intended to destroy the foliage, which it did. Unfortunately the environment still hasn’t recovered, and many people are still born with birth defects to this day.
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1914)
Granted, if it weren’t for this, then it would have been something else, but as it stands, this is what directly triggered WWI and indirectly caused WWII.
The Great Leap Forward
Instituted by the Chinese Communist Party to modernize China, it instead lead to famine and millions of deaths.
Burning of the Library of Alexandria
Although we aren’t sure who burned it and when, there was a lot of knowledge lost in those fires. Historians don’t believe that this event set society back technologically. It was more the cultural and historical understanding that was lost.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Few things have had such a significant effect upon today’s society as the slave trade.
The Rwandan Genocide (1994)
More than a million people were murdered over the course of a few months. And what’s even worse is it was by their own neighbors brandishing machetes. Nearly 1/3 of the country was wiped out.
Conquests of Genghis Khan (~1200)
Although he is still seen as a hero in some places (Mongolia), his conquests were responsible for killing up to 40 million people (10 percent of the world population).
Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction (66 million years ago)
More accurately known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event, this is the famous potential asteroid strike that killed off most dinosaur life that weighed over 10kg.
Note: Some smaller dinosaurs survived, today they are known as Aves, or birds.
The Great Dying (252 million years ago)
Although most of us are familiar with the K-T Extinction that we just mentioned, the P-TR (Permian-Triassic) Extinction was significantly worse. It was at the start of the Mesozoic era (The Age of Reptiles/Dinosaurs) and close to 96% of marine species as well as 70% of terrestrial vertebrates died out. It is also the only known mass extinction of insects. So yes, the age of dinosaurs both started and ended with mass extinctions.
Unit 731 (1937-1945)
This was a “research facility” that was established in China during WWII by the Japanese. We won’t go into the gory details here, but if you think Nazi Germany was bad, you haven’t read about this place.
American Indian Genocide
Although there has been significant backlash to teaching this in schools, scholars rank the decimation of the native population in both North and South America at the hands of the English, Spanish, Portuguese, and later the Americans, as one of the longest lasting and most tragic genocides in history.
Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945)
These were part of a catastrophic ending to a catastrophic war.
The Black Death (mid 1300's)
In a matter of 5 to 6 years, up to 70% of Europe’s population was wiped out. It took almost 3 centuries for the population to return to pre-plague levels.
Armenian Genocide (~1915)
One of the first modern genocides, the Armenian Massacre was actually the event that led Raphael Lemkin to coin the term “genocide.” More than a million Armenians and other ethnic Christian groups were systemically murdered by the Ottoman Empire around the time of WWI.
Toba Eruption (~70,000 BC)
The Toba volcanic eruption in Indonesia has been hypothesized to have caused a human population bottleneck by wiping out a vast portion of humanity.
Note: this position is controversial. There was a population bottleneck (evident from genetic testing) but whether or not the Toba eruption was responsible is up in the air.
The Great Terror (1936-1938)
Also known as Stalin’s Great Purge, what made this period so bad was that almost everybody was a target – both enemies of the state and friends of the state. It almost seemed that people were chosen at random for execution. Death tolls are estimated into the millions.
Although lots of events on this list led to more total carnage, the systematic efficiency with which this genocide was carried out is quite terrifying.