One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is a pretty popular one called The Dollop.
On it, some insane story from (usually American) history is told and riffed on, but the comedy doesn’t always come easy in the face of how purely horrific so much of history really is.
I mean, see for yourself:
It should be noted that by their own admission many of the people who posted these summaries are not officially historians, and that you should look deeper into the stories mentioned if you want the real scoop.
Still, it’s pretty darkly fascinating stuff. Take it away, history buffs of Reddit.
1. The Victoria Hall Disaster
All because kids were being kids in a death trap:
“The disaster started when about 1,000 children in the audience of a variety show were told they could get free toys.
Kids began pouring down the aisles to get the toys, blocking the exits and piling on top of one another.
In the end, 183 of them were crushed to death.”
2. The Andijan Massacre of 2005
It is largest mass shooting in Asia since Tianmen Square, with over one thousand killed and even more wounded.
The Uzbek government forcefully “silenced” reform protests by firing into the crowd and then kicked out 90% of westerners in the country when the US gov and UN tried to investigate.
Terrible loss of life that rarely gets remembered because the Uzbek government tried so hard to cover it up.
3. The Bronze Age Collapse
It’s not as though nobody talks about it at all but considering how catastrophic it was, it doesn’t get nearly enough attention.
At this time civilisations were still pretty scarce but the eastern Mediterranean was full of them. We can’t pinpoint an exact reason but at some point it all fell apart.
The Myceneans? Gone!
The Hittites? Gone!
The Minoans? Gone!
The Egyptians? Barely clinging on and having serious problems.
There are many things that happened around that time in that general area that could be the culprit: Volcanoes, earthquakes, drought, famine, war and invasions from ‘foreigners that came by boat’ that historians have named the Sea People because we have basically no idea where they came from.
In reality, it was probably a combination of some or even all of them.
4. Pol Pot
His regime killed 25% of its population.
Let that sink in – one in four.
If you were educated, you were first killed.
5. The Johnstown Flood of 1889
The deadliest civil engineering disaster on US soil, it killed 2209 people.
After a dam collapsed it swept up rail cars, passengers, trees, an entire town of 10,000, then swirled it around and ejected the debris downriver into a bridge where it all caught fire.
Destruction beyond belief, and all so that some rich steel magnates up the mountain didn’t maintain the dam they used to keep their fishing reservoir.
6. The Year 536
That year marked several natural disasters and social upheaval that devastated multiple societies.
It’s thought that a volcanic eruption blocked out enough sun to cause crop failures across Europe and as far as China.
While this was happening terrible plagues were also afflicting the Middle East. Economies everywhere fell to ruin and stagnation in the years that followed because several other eruptions later made things worse.
7. Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan
Put simply, it was an upsurp Kingdom in 1850’s China that directly and indirectly led to the deaths of millions (maybe ten million+) of people through massacre and famine.
Hong Xiuquan believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and persuaded enough people to follow along and start a civil war.
Check out God’s Chinese Son by Jonathan Spence.
8. The Sixties Scoop
In Canada, from the late 1950s to 1980s, the government removed indigenous children from their homes and families and placed them up for adoption or in foster care.
Most remained in Canada but some were sent to the US or western Europe.
The majority were placed with white middle class families.
A number of them experienced abuse. This even furthered the loss of their culture.
9. Ten Tragic Days during the Mexican Revolution
US ambassador Henry Lane Wilson conspired with the nephew of the former Mexican president and Mexican army general in the US embassy in Mexico City to assassinate the newly elected president of Mexico.
Absolutely wild and tragic assassination that shook Mexico in 1913.
10. The School Bombing of Bath, Michigan
We talk a lot about Columbine and Sandy Hook, but few people nowadays remember the 1927 bombing of the school in Bath, Michigan, or the explosion of a school in New London, Texas in 1937 that in addition to killing almost 300 people, launched the career of a cub reporter named Walter Cronkite.
The Bath Massacre was mostly done with dynamite, wired into the school by a disgruntled janitor who also killed his wife and some of his livestock, and the New London disaster is why natural gas, which is odorless, has an unpleasant-smelling gas added to it. Some people who went to parts of the school in the days preceding the blast complained of headaches and dizziness, but nobody could figure out why.
11. Vietnamese Boat People.
Absolutely crazy and literally can’t believe this happened. And nobody f*cking ever talks about it.
Think about this, it’s the Vietnam war, and you are Vietnamese and obviously want nothing to do with it. Many saw their only way out was by sea, due to tensions with neighboring countries. So hordes of people tried to escape the country in little boats.
Now here’s the kicker, it’s estimated that up to 400,000 of them drowned. […] Everything got stolen. People got sick and starved. Pirates kidnapped people.
Absolutely horrible. That wiki page makes me feel bad for ever having complained about anything
12. The Khodynka Tragedy
Was supposed to be a celebration of the crowning of Nicholas II as emperor.
Around 500,000 people gathered in a field where they would receive free food.
Rumors spread that there wouldn’t be enough food for everyone leading to a panic and everyone rushing the field.
1,389 people were trampled to death. Nicholas II responded by going to a party that night.
13. The Balkan Conflict
Asked my history studying friend about this, she said there’s A LOT of events that people don’t talk about. For example, there was a lot of countries involved in the Balkan conflict who knew about the massacre of Srebrenica but still allowed it to happen.
So many historical events are just so grim and depressing when you read about it, we knew bad things were happening but didn’t stop until it was too late for many people.
14. The Outbreaks
The disease outbreaks that hit the Americas with the arrival of the Europeans.
You hear about a 90% death rate and it sounds made up, but whatever the actual number was, entire civilizations were literally wiped out. Cultures that had existed for thousands of years are just gone, with barely a record left. You have stories of people coming across whole villages of corpses. These people died never even having seen the Europeans, never knowing what was killing them and their loved ones and totally helpless to do anything about it.
15. The Leprosy Colonies of Hawaii
People who were diagnosed with leprosy were forcibly banished to Kalaupapa to live out the rest of their lives – they were dug graves, had to stand in them, while their families and friends basically had a “living funeral” for them where they had the dirt thrown on them; they were then pronounced dead to the world and no longer part of the community.
This continued through 1969 even after Hawaii officially became a state.
Well that’s all certainly…horrifying.
Have another horrifying historical tale to add?
Tell us in the comments.