The whole of human history is too much for any one person to memorize or learn, and most of us only get to study it for a handful of semesters out of our entire academic careers. It’s understandable that we won’t have time to learn everything, but some things seem as if they might have been left out on purpose.
History is written by the victors, and oftentimes, it’s taught by the descendants of those victors – or even by the oppressors. We have to be hyper-aware of our own prejudices in order to overcome them, and from the list below, it seems as if we’re still teaching the history we like, and not the hard stuff.
14. You can’t judge past people with a modern lens.
That you need to remove the whole “good guys” and “bad guys” mentality and actually learn to accept different moral standards of the past.
E.g. in UK schools when the empire is covered it’s from a perspective of how bad and evil it was, yet when it comes to Romans/Saxons/Vikings etc.. It’s more about what happened and the consequences without any direct judgement given. The Romans are covered for their historical impact to the British Isles, not condemned for their brutal suppression of the natives.
Vice versa, in WWII it’s all about how great the allies where in defeating the Axis, they would never cover stuff such as the Dresden bombings.
13. I’m learning there have been a stupid amount of genocides in the world.
The Holodomor (Ukrainian genocide) where millions of Ukrainians starved because of government control of farms.
12. It’s a really cool city.
For most of its history Wilmington was the biggest and richest city in North Carolina. During reconstruction, there was a terrible riot and mob that actually overthrew the democratically elected mayor and local government. This resulted in such a large scale migration, loss of life and loss of income that Charlotte permanently became the financial hub of the region.
The cause of the riot?the mayor had elected black city council members and refused to take back their seats.
Wilmington NC is the only city in the US that had it’s democratically elected government successfully overthrown by a coupe.
11. I love this story.
John Wilkes booth’s brother saved Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln.
Robert Lincoln was traveling by train from New York to Washington. He got off the train during a stop at Jersey City; He saw that the platform was extremely crowded. In order to be polite and wait his turn. he pressed his back to one of the train’s cars. about 30-60 seconds later the train started to move! The train wiped him down and dropped him into the space between the platform and train. Abe’s son would have died, if a stranger hadn’t yanked him out of the hole by his collar.
The stranger was Edwin Booth a Good actor in the 19th century and the brother of John Wilkes Booth. John Wilkes booth was the guy that killed Abe only a few years later.
10. I remember feeling the same way when I first learned about it.
Anything to do with Sumerian culture.
9. He probably wasn’t wrong.
Hitler gave his soldiers meth because it was “performance enhancing”.
Not only that, Hitler himself was claimed to be an amphetamine addict, with his personal physician giving him regular intravenous injections from 1942 until his death in 1945 (although he is said to have started occasional use of amphetamines in 1937). Albert Speer has said that this addiction played a large role in Hitler’s increasingly erratic behavior as the war dragged on, and worked to increase his paranoia and diminish his mental stability as his use continued.
Methamphetamine was sold under the trade name Pervitin in Germany, only becoming a controlled substance in 1986. It was especially popular with tank crews (who gave the drug the nickname “Panzerschokolade”, or “Tank Chocolates”) and Luftwaffe pilots (who alternately called them “Stuka-Tabletten”, or “Stuka Tablets”; and “Hermann-Göring-Pillen”, or “Hermann Göring Pills”). Millions of pills were manufactured in 1940 alone, but even early on, problems were being uncovered as soldiers became addicted to the drug, and were becoming erratic and combative in their operations, becoming difficult to discipline and control the more they used the drug. The Wehrmacht was so concerned by these side effects that they moved to restrict Pervitin’s usage with their troops as early as 1940, though the drug probably remained in use throughout the war by the other forces of Germany.
Germany was not the only Amphetamine user in WW2, Japan also manufactured Methamphetamine under the name Philipon and is estimated to have manufactured 1 billion pills through the course of the war. Finland was another user of Pervitin, though it seems their use was mostly restricted to special forces. Allied Forces, especially American Bomber Crews flying over Europe and Japan, were given Benzedrine, a different kind of amphetamine, in order to stave off fatigue on long combat sorties. Amphetamine use in the US Armed Forces and other armies actually continued long after the end of WW2, some of their last use in a military operation was during the Persian Gulf War, when Allied Pilots would again use them to stay awake and alert during long missions over Iraq. Because of problems with addiction and lack of focus and control with extended Amphetamine use, it has largely been replaced with Modafinil.
8. There’s not enough time to go into it all.
African history gets pretty crazy. I’m writing a paper right now about how the British handpicked Idi Amin to run Uganda after Uganda had been independent for almost 10 years. Idi Amin ended up being a brutal dictator who killed about 500,000 people in Uganda.
The British contributed and may have even facilitated the overthrow of Milton Obote in favor of Amin because Obote was introducing policies that would take away British companies that were being used to exploit Uganda for resources.
7. Thank goodness someone in the Oval had their head on straight.
The CIA proposed committing a false flag terror attack which included shooting down a fake passenger jet as an excuse to invade Cuba.
JFK rejected the operation.
6. That seems like a bullet dodged.
That Franklin Roosevelt supported Mussolini and said something along the lines of how he wished he could emulate him back home. Obviously, we can ignore the rest of the effort that the US put into helping the Nazis.
Both Roosevelt and Stalin wanted to execute every single captured German soldier. Winston Churchill nipped that in the bud and said something like “no. I will never execute somebody for fighting for their country”
The US was responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of rapes throughout Europe during World War II. The only people ever charged were black people.
The US tried to enforce racial segregation within the UK and Australia during World War II, even going as far as ensuring that they did not purchase from any shop that sold anything to black people. This resulted in countless fights between British and American soldiers. One American died in Australia as a result of these fights. The black Americans stayed hanging around with the British and Australian soliders which had minimal racism.
5. Straight up evil.
The Heart of Darkness is based in the Congo Free State, which was presided over by King Leopold II of Belgium.
Conrad wrote the story in part as a critique not just of European imperialism but also of the atrocities and crimes against humanity perpetuated during that time. It is estimated that between 5-10 million of a roughly 20 million population died during Belgian rule of the Congo Free State due to a combination of famine, disease, and forced labor. Belgium enriched itself through forced slavery and coercion, using strict quotas for the harvest of natural rubber, and an individual failing to meet a quota was punishable by death.
For me personally, we read the book in high school, but we never learned the historical context or about King Leopold’s part in all of this.
4. Hunger, not famine.
There was no famine in Ireland, it was genocide.
3. I hate that this is possible.
My Chinese tour guides who were in their mid-twenties did not know about the Tiananmen Square Massacre and Tank Man.
They looked at us time we had three heads when we asked about is during our visit.
2. We can never teach about this enough.
The population of the Native Americans when the first explorers arrived in North America was believed to have rivaled that of Europe at the time. In the tens of millions.
Those same explorers exterminated upwards of 95 percent of the Native Americans simply by showing up and sharing their infectious bugs with the natives. The intercommunication between tribes assured they spread across the continent. So, by the time more explorers, and colonists, returned years and years later, they found an almost pristine wilderness with sparse populations, ripe for colonizing.
1. So many crimes that will never be answered for.
That the UK caused a famine in Bengal India During WW2 killing over 2 million indigenous people.
I want to go and learn more about all of these things immediately.
Were any of these bits new to you? Do you have one to add? If so, please drop it in the comments!