Question 10 Of The Worst Moments in Human History

Dec 20, 2020
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So often we publish lists that praise events in human history – tales of victory over diseases, disastrous situations, and the like. But alas, history is also replete with events that we must remember so as to not repeat them, but we wish had never happened. This list looks at ten of the worst moments in history when man showed that he can act with utter contempt for the rest of man.
 
Nov 12, 2020
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Being a "Fumble Finger" I couldn't locate the list of the 10 worst events. However, in today's world, my gut felt disgust for human contempt of our shared humanity is the irresponsible, indifferent and paranoid manner in which the Chinese government does blame avoidance and shifting for the emergence of the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic virus. Note: the ChiComs are not uniquely despicable; they are simply humans with their political and cultural agendas acquired/evolved via History, just like all of us. Perhaps a shared humanity is a concept beyond the capacity of the majority of H. Sapiens.
 
Jan 27, 2020
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I cannot find the list, but I did see WWII and it was stated in the blurb that it all came down to one man, Adolf Hitler.

First of all, there were two protagonists, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.

First, let's look at Japan...

Nationalist leaders in Japan desired to unite all of Asia under one emperor, an ideology known as hakkô ichiu.

In order to execute this ideology and grow its military, Japan needed more natural resources to increase its industrial productivity and strength. Japan did not want to be reliant on other countries for these resources, so the Japanese military leaders who directed their still feudal society ordered the invasion of resource-rich colonies. Japan's leaders soon decided on invading neighboring China, specifically the province of Manchuria in 1931.

China was weak due to the civil war with Communists led by Mao Ze Dong. Due to the Nationalist Chinese forces, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, preoccupation with the Communists, they did not resist the invading Japanese at first. Instead, China turned to the League of Nations for help. The League of Nations set various deadlines for Japan to withdraw, which Japan ignored, showing the increasing erosion of the League's ability to halt or minimize aggression. The United States failed to retaliate with any military or economic action at this time. When Japan formed the puppet state Manchukuo in Manchuria, both the United States and the League of Nations refused to recognize it as a legitimate entity causing Japan to withdraw from the League in 1933, further weakening this paper tiger based in Geneva, Switzerland. That same year, Japan invaded and took control of Jehol a neighboring province.

By 1939, the United States finally started to challenge Japan's actions in China by pulling out of trade mutual agreements.

So WWII had its early roots in the far west of the Pacific Ocean Areas in 1931, two years before Adolf Hiltler assumed the Chancellorship of Germany in 1933.

Why did Imperial Japan attack the United States of America at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?

After Japanese forces invaded French Indochina (modern Vietnam and Cambodia) in June 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull implemented a ban on iron, steel and oil exports to Japan, jointly with Australia and the United Kingdom.

Japan’s Pacific-spanning Empire, and its oil guzzling navy and military, depended on oil—and Japan had been importing 80 percent of it from the United States. Tokyo did have fifty-three million gallons of oil in reserve—a supply which could sustain its Empire for roughly a year during normal operations.

However, Japan soon realized that it would have to withdraw from its Empire unless it could obtain more oil. There was a convenient supply of oil in the Dutch colonies of the East Indies. As the United Kingdom and its Royal Navy were tied down fighting Nazi Germany and the Netherlands was already occupied by Nazi Germany, Japanese forces could likely use their existing oil reserve to capture the vital oil wells—but with the likely consequence of drawing the United States into war.

Admiral Yamamoto, chief of the Imperial Navy and a Harvard graduate who was well aware of America's industrial might, warned the Japanese militarists that he could only guarantee Japan six months of victories—but he dutifully went ahead and planned the Pearl Harbor attack, which by any conventional military standard was an extraordinary success. Japan’s simultaneous amphibious invasions of the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, Burma, Hong Kong, Malaya and the eventual defeat of the US Army forces in the Philippines, commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, succeeded spectacularly.

While the Pearl Harbor attack destroyed the Pacific Fleet's battleships, it had failed to eliminate the most important elements of U.S. power projection—its force of aircraft carriers, each carrying a hundred fighters, torpedo planes and dive bombers which could attack targets up to two hundred miles away. And it narrowly missed the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CV-6, whose aircraft were flying into bases at Pearl Harbor as the Big E was returning from a patrol to the southwest. The Japanese had also failed to bomb the oil and fuel storage tanks allowing Pearl Harbor to operate as a forward base even as the damaged ships were repaired. Had these tanks been destroyed, the US Pacific Fleet would have had to retire to San Diego.

After the six months of Japanese victories which Admiral Yamamoto had promised, U.S. carriers sank four of the six Japanese carriers which had attacked Pearl Harbor in the Battle of Midway in June 1942—and subsequently embarked on an “island hopping” campaign that relentlessly dismantled the Japanese Empire over the next three years, beginning with Guadalcanal in August of 1942.

Thus we can see that the Pacific conflict was played out between the graduated response of President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull to Japanese aggression, forcing the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor, among other strategic targets, over the six month period foretold by Admiral Yamamoto.

The Japanese had simply failed to grasp the industrial base of the USA. The B-24 bomber became the most produced aircraft in the world, with over 18,500 manufactured and some 4,600 built at Ford's Willow Run Plant. The US built some 127 aircraft carriers of all sizes and types (big {Midway Class - CVB}, fleet, light, escort and paddle-wheel training carriers used in the Great Lakes) during WWII.

Yet, having heard that Japan had crushed the US Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Chancellor and Führer Adolf Hitler almost immediately declared war on America. With his troops freezing before Moscow and his half-tracks, trucks and tanks unable to start in the -30C temperatures, he felt that the Japanese would begin to exert pressure on the Soviet Far East thereby reducing pressure on him. However Stalin's STAVKA and General Zhukhov were able to mobilize some 182 rifle divisions, 43 militia rifle divisions, eight tank divisions, three mechanised divisions, 62 tank brigades, 50 cavalry divisions, 55 rifle brigades, 21 naval rifle brigades, 11 naval infantry brigades from June through October in what was the largest Soviet mobilization ever undertaken in war.

Had Hitler not ordered every German unit to stand and fight where they were in the frozen snow, this massive Soviet juggernaut might have steamrolled over them. The Nazis held, winter clothes and fresh replacements began to arrive and the front was stabilized.

See: https://www.operationbarbarossa.net/the-siberian-divisions-and-the-battle-for-moscow-in-1941-42/

Read:

"But Not In Shame: The Six Months After Pearl Harbor" by John Toland, Random House, 1961.
Dated but an excellent overview of the US and our Allies being beaten to the punch, over and over. - Hartmann352

"Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in WWII" by Arthur Herman, Random House, 2013.

"Resurrection: Salvaging the Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor" by Daniel Madsen, US Naval Institute Press, 2013.

FDR.jpg
President Franklin Roosevelt

cordell hull.jpg
Secy of State Cordell Hull

12:7:1941.jpg
Pearl Harbor, 7 Dec 1941, Battleship Row, the Battle Fleet is on fire and sinking.

USS_Enterprise_(CV-6).jpg
USS Enterprise CV-6, nicknamed 'The Big E' by her crew, was launched in 1936, commissioned in 1938, one of only three pre-war aircraft carriers to survive WWII. Her sister ships were lost in action: USS Yorktown CV-5 at Midway and USS Hornet CV-8, who carried The Doolittle Raiders*in April of 1942, was lost in the Battle of Santa Cruz in October of 1942.

speer, hitler, arno brecker.jpg
Hitler is shown here during his whirlwind tour of Paris, France, on June 23, 1940, following the Nazi Blitzkrieg which crushed France and Europe's largest army. He is shown here
with his personal architect and rare personal friend, Albert Speer, on the left and artist and sculptor, Arno Breker, on the right.
 
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I cannot find the list, but I did see WWII and that it all came down to one man, Adolf Hitler.

First of all, there were two protagonists, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.

Nationalist leaders in Japan desired to unite all of Asia under one emperor, an ideology known as hakkô ichiu.
In order to execute this ideology and grow its military, Japan needed more natural resources to increase its industrial productivity and strength. Japan did not want to be reliant on other countries for these resources, so Japanese leaders ordered the invasion of resource-rich colonies. Leaders soon decided on invading neighboring China, specifically the province of Manchuria in 1931.

China was already weak due to civil war with Communists. Due to the Nationalist Chinese forces preoccupation with these Communists, they did not resist the invading Japanese. Instead, China turned to the League of Nations for help. The League of Nations set various deadlines for Japan to withdraw, which Japan ignored. The United States failed to retaliate with any military or economic action. When Japan formed the puppet state Manchukuo in Manchuria, both the United States and the League of Nations refused to recognize it as a legitimate state causing Japan to withdraw from the League in 1933. That same year, Japan invaded and took control of Jehol a neighboring province. In 1939, the United States finally started to challenge Japan's actions in China by pulling out of trade agreements.

So WWII had its early roots in the far west Pacific Ocean Areas in 1931, two years before Adolf Hiltler assumed the Chancellorship of Germany in 1933.

Why did Imperial Japan attack the United States of America at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?

After Japanese forces invaded French Indochina (modern Vietnam and Cambodia) in June 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull implemented a ban on iron, steel and oil exports to Japan jointly with Australia and the United Kingdom.

Japan’s Pacific-spanning Empire, and its oil guzzling navy depended on oil—and Japan had been importing 80 percent of it from the United States. Tokyo did have fifty-three million gallons of oil in reserve—a supply which could sustain its Empire for roughly a year during normal operations.

However, Japan soon realized that it would have to withdraw from its Empire unless it could get more oil. There was a convenient supply of oil in the Dutch colonies of the East Indies. As the United Kingdom and its Royal Navy were tied down fighting Nazi Germany and the Netherlands was already occupied by Germany, Japanese forces could likely use their existing oil reserve to capture the vital oil wells—but with the likely consequence of drawing the United States into war.
The protaganists?
 
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The experimentation with the development and application of biological warfare agents was markedly done by the Soviets and the Japanese during WWII; concepts which continued post war by many nations. The U.S. developed nuclear weapons in WWII; a feat soon imitated by others. So just what does humanity have to anticipate in the next rapacious war(s)? Viruses, bacteria, radiation, slow Death? I.E. The new Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Sapiens is the remaining species of the genus Homo. We are all in this life together; it's shared humanity. Sadly, given our history and behavior towards each other, perhaps in the not to distant future, Evolution and Nature may just "reflect" upon an extinct H. Sapiens as "FUBAR" and an oxymoron.
 
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The protaganists?
From a quick googling :

"Protagonist and antagonist and are nouns that refer to characters in a story. The protagonist is the main character, often a hero. The antagonist is the character who opposes the protagonist, often a villain."

and

"The protagonist is defined by being the character whose story we are following, and even if the protagonist is a bad guy, he is still the protagonist and his opponents are still antagonists. ... Making the protagonist a bad guy is much more difficult, but can be done."

There are many protagonists and antagonists from WWII. Take your pick on which is which.

Surely we cannot rule out the U.S. (Roosevelt ) and the U,K. (Churchill) as being antagonists (Stalin gets a punt here since he was a bad guy). The protagonist designation at the start of this thread would require that the antagonists be Allied (and the protagonists Axis), recalling that making the protagonist a bad guy is much more difficult, but can be done. It is all relative to one's designation. But technically, the terms refer to characters rather than nations. However, literary license might allow for such designations.

Certainly the losers of WWII, mainly the Germans and Japanese, would consider the Allies antagonists.

(Note that Mussolini and the Italians have been left out due to their negligible role in the story.)
 
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I cannot find the list
Perhaps the OP was egging us on and forcing us to make up our own top 10 list of "worst-moments", which we will widely define as single events, spread out over some years. (Ancient plagues may not qualify as "moments".) WWII certainly is at the top, and we can bracket that with four other events which probably rank up there in the top 10 (who has 5 more to fill this out?).

1) First we have "The Great War" of 1914-1918, the one to end all others. (Who could have known?) It got its most infamous handle, World War I, after II came along. Estimated fatalities : 20 million.

2) As this war was ending, a flu pandemic swept the planet for ca. 2 years, with nasty results. Not again , please. Estimated fatalities : 50 million

3) Stalin's pogroms of the 1930s (+/-). Estimated fatalities : Difficult to calculate , top estimates 20 million

4) As already posted, there is the big one, World War II. Estimated fatalities : 75 million.

(It should be noted that the use of two nuclear combat bombs ending that war has likely prevented the continuation of this WW count (so far). But if it does happen, we might as well forget about these others as they will seem rather trivial, at least to any who survive # III.)

5) China - The Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Estimated fatalities : Difficult to calculate, top estimates 20 million.

It is probably not surprising that only one of these was a "natural event", but it should be noted that a viral pandemic ranks only second to WWII in fatalities. We can only hope that no such virus reappears, but with current events so irrefutable, there are certainly no guarantees.

And it should also be pointed out that MAD will not necessarily prevent WW III. The term "mutual assured destruction" does not mean it is a certain preventative. In this regard, one can only hope that sanity will always prevail over madness.
 
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From a quick googling :

"Protagonist and antagonist and are nouns that refer to characters in a story. The protagonist is the main character, often a hero. The antagonist is the character who opposes the protagonist, often a villain."

and

"The protagonist is defined by being the character whose story we are following, and even if the protagonist is a bad guy, he is still the protagonist and his opponents are still antagonists. ... Making the protagonist a bad guy is much more difficult, but can be done."

There are many protagonists and antagonists from WWII. Take your pick on which is which.

Surely we cannot rule out the U.S. (Roosevelt ) and the U,K. (Churchill) as being antagonists (Stalin gets a punt here since he was a bad guy). The protagonist designation at the start of this thread would require that the antagonists be Allied (and the protagonists Axis), recalling that making the protagonist a bad guy is much more difficult, but can be done. It is all relative to one's designation. But technically, the terms refer to characters rather than nations. However, literary license might allow for such designations.

Certainly the losers of WWII, mainly the Germans and Japanese, would consider the Allies antagonists.

(Note that Mussolini and the Italians have been left out due to their negligible role in the story.)

Don't forget that the USA, the UK and, following the German Blitzkrieg against the USSR, and Stalin were allies until the Cold War began to rear its ugly head around 1947.
 
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Don't forget that the USA, the UK and, following the German Blitzkrieg against the USSR, and Stalin were allies until the Cold War began to rear its ugly head around 1947.
The U.S. and the U.K. being "allied" with Stalin was more an illusion over reality - to defeat a common enemy. It would seem that a Cold War would not have developed between true "allies", or at least not so quickly. And there is evidence that Stalin had planned to invade western Europe in 1942-43. Operation Barbarossa put an end to those plans.

Further testing the notion of true allies, let's not forget the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact signed just days ahead of the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939. Hitler and Stalin had a secret protocol splitting up Poland between the two. It also included Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. On the last of this list, Finland, did not work out so well for the Soviets (see "Winter War").

Their pact only ended on June 22, 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. Uncle Joe was clearly not a nice guy. And the U.S. and U.K. were well aware of this. But we certainly helped them kill a lot of Germans.

And the Cold War likely was going on before WWII ended. Klaus Fuchs et al. would have probably agreed with this assessment.
 
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Don't forget that the USA, the UK and, following the German Blitzkrieg against the USSR, and Stalin were allies until the Cold War began to rear its ugly head around 1947.

I believe, following the Nazi absorption of France in such a short time, with the French Army then viewed as the supreme continental military power, that Nazi Germany became viewed as the primary world threat due to its proximity to Great Britain by virtue of its occupation of Britain's Channel Islands, France, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg, the Rheinland, the Polish Corridor and Poland.

Certainly, between June 22, 1941 and September 1941, the highpoint of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler's armies appeared to be in the ascendant and almost unstoppable. At the time, the then Allies had no idea of the costs, in casualties and equipment, that the Nazis had buried and abandoned in the field across Russia as they rolled toward Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov-on-the Don. These losses amounted to (from many sources) 174,000 dead, 36,000 missing and POWs and 604,000 wounded, injured and sick (this results in ca. 815,000 total casualties. 1942 would see more than a million. And on it went.

Japan, despite its surprise sinking and severely damaging of the US Battle Force at Pearl Harbor, was viewed as the lesser threat because we, like the USSR, could trade Pacific space for time, while still building our offensive and defensive weapons in the relative safety found within our land mass (with movies like "The Man in the High Castle" aside).

It has been stated, following the US-Filipino guerrilla activities which caused so much consternation among the Japanese occupiers, that invading the USA would've been a quagmire that none of their militarists wished to involve themselves in.

Hartmann352
 

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