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Evidence of atrocities at Meldola (1 of 2)
Picture from the collection of Dennis Burt
Original Caption: 1945-04 Meldola Atrocities (2) February-June 1945 Forli
Copyright Gary Burt 2013
Many thanks to Gary for providing us with these photos from his father's collection.
Atrocities in the First World War
During the First World War most countries publicized stories of enemy soldiers committing atrocities. It was believed that it would help persuade young men to join the armed forces. As one British general pointed out after the war: "to make armies go on killing one another it is necessary to invent lies about the enemy". These atrocity stories were then fed to newspapers who were quite willing to publish them. British newspapers accused German soldiers of a series of crimes including: gouging out the eyes of civilians, cutting off the hands of teenage boys, raping and sexually mutilating women, giving children hand grenades to play with, bayoneting babies and the crucifixion of captured soldiers. Wythe Williams, who worked for the New York Times, investigated some of these stories and reported "that none of the rumours of wanton killings and torture could be verified."
In December 1914 Herbert Asquith appointed a committee of lawyers and historians under the chairmanship of Lord Bryce to investigate alleged German atrocities in Belgium. The report, published in 30 different languages, claimed that there had been numerous examples of German brutality towards non-combatants, especially towards old men, women and children. Five days after the Bryce Report was issued, the German authorities published its White Book. This included accounts of atrocities committed by Belgians on German soldiers.
Norman Lindsay, The Bulletin (1916)
Although soldiers from all countries were guilty of individual brutalities, research after the war suggested that these were isolated incidents rather than any systematic attempt to terrorize and punish the enemy. However, others have suggested it was fairly common to kill prisoners of war. Robert Graves pointed out in Goodbye to All That (1929): "For true atrocities, meaning personal rather than military violations of the code of war, few opportunities occurred - except in the interval between the surrender of prisoners and their arrival (or non-arrival) at headquarters. Advantage was only too often taken of this opportunity. Nearly every instructor in the mess could quote specific instances of prisoners having been murdered on the way back. The commonest motives were, it seems, revenge for the death of friends or relatives, jealousy of the prisoner's trip to a comfortable prison camp in England, military enthusiasm, fear of being suddenly overpowered by the prisoners, or, more simply, impatience with the escorting job."
Brigadier-General Frank Percy Crozier argued in his book, A Brass Hat in No Man's Land (1930): "The British soldier is a kindly fellow and it is safe to say, despite the dope, seldom oversteps the mark of barbaric propriety in France, save occasionally to kill prisoners he cannot be bothered to escort back to his lines."
'Terrible Vengeance': The History Of Turkish Atrocities Against Armenians And Why Biden Has Called Them Genocide
It's April 24, 1915. Some 250 Armenian intellectuals are rounded up in Constantinople and imprisoned by Ottoman police. Known as “Red Sunday,” it is today a day of remembrance for a murderous yearslong campaign that would see the majority of the Ottoman Empire’s prewar Armenian population expelled or exterminated. According to estimates, between 664,000 and 1.2 million people lost their lives.
A century later, recognition of the killings as genocide is still a divisive diplomatic issue, with Turkey and Azerbaijan -- who share strong ethnic and cultural ties -- officially denying genocide took place. On April 24, a day commemorated in Armenia as Genocide Remembrance Day, U.S. President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise and officially recognized the mass killings as genocide. It was a move that had also been promised by President Barack Obama, but which failed to materialize.
“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring," Biden said in an April 24 statement.
Biden Recognizes WWI-Era Killings Of Armenians As Genocide
In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate both passed resolutions recognizing the massacres as genocide, but with the April 24 announcement, Biden has become the first U.S. president to adopt recognition of genocide as official policy.
What horrific events happened in Turkey beginning in 1915? And what informed Biden's historic move?
Did World War I lead to the killings?
A secret pact between Germany and the Ottoman Empire set the stage for the massacres. Agreeing on the eve of World War I to fight alongside Germany against Russia, the Ottomans received a promise that Germany would be responsible for rectifying their eastern borders “in a manner suitable for the establishment of a link with the Muslim peoples of Russia.”
The empire’s proclamation on entering the war stated that it would establish a new frontier, uniting “all branches of our race.”
Separating the Muslims of Russia from those of Turkey was a large swath of territory inhabited by Armenians, stretching from the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire into Russian territory in the South Caucasus. That population had lived there for hundreds of years, for the most part coexisting peacefully with the Muslim Ottomans and enjoying a significant degree of autonomy.
A number of prominent Armenian families performed important functions for the Ottoman elite, working as architects, gunpowder makers, and administrators of the imperial mint.
After a long period of coexistence, what prompted the Ottomans to embark on an anti-Armenian policy?
Relations between the Armenians and their imperial rulers were fraught before the outbreak of World War I. Emboldened by support from European powers and major Ottoman territorial losses in both the Caucasus and the Balkans, Armenian revolutionary groups were active both in the Ottoman Empire and across the border in Russia by the end of the 19th century.
Groups such as the Dashnaks and Hunchaks organized uprisings, terrorist attacks, and assassination attempts in the Ottoman Empire. Some 100,000 Armenians died at the hands of Ottoman Muslims in massacres in 1895 and 1896, foreshadowing what was to come two decades later.
With the Armenian population split between the Ottoman and Russian empires, the start of the war in 1914 saw tens of thousands of them fighting on both sides of the front in the Caucasus.
However, a significant proportion of Ottoman Armenians were supportive of Russia, and some had cooperated with Russian forces or greeted them as liberators in previous wars throughout the 19th century, such as the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, in which Russia annexed the regions of Kars and Batum, which both had large Armenian populations.
This contributed to the Ottoman leadership's perception of Armenians along the Russian front line as a risk, and their fear was not unjustified. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Sazonov, ordered that arms be smuggled to Ottoman Armenians in September 1914, ahead of the Ottoman Empire's expected entry into the war. A Russian diplomat leaving Erzerum in late 1914 wrote:
The Armenian population. is waiting impatiently for the arrival of Russian forces and their liberation from the Turkish yoke. They will hardly risk to stage an uprising before Russian forces arrive on their doorstep, fearing that the smallest delay of Russian assistance will lead to their complete destruction, because, even though they still have weapons hidden in various secret locations, they will not dare to take it because of the state of war proclaimed in the country and the threat of imminent massacres.
The Ottomans began to turn on their Armenian subjects after a major defeat on the Russian front, at Sarikamish, in January 1915. Caucasus expert Thomas de Waal writes that after the disastrous failure of this attempt to advance into the Russian-controlled Caucasus, War Minister Enver Pasha ordered the disarming of non-Muslims in the army, who would be drafted into labor battalions.
This was followed by British and French landings on the Dardanelles, threatening the Ottoman capital. Faced with catastrophe, the Ottomans began deporting and killing Armenians in regions near the Russian front line in February 1915, according to British historian Christopher J. Walker. The position of the Turkish government is that the Ottomans decided to relocate Armenians living in the war zone or areas near the advancing Russian Army, as well as Armenians in other regions who were suspected of collaborating.
The diplomat’s prediction of an uprising was not too far off.
With Russian forces in nearby Persia, Armenians in the city of Van in April 1915 prepared to defend themselves from the Ottomans, who had been searching nearby villages for weapons and arresting suspected rebels. These searches were accompanied by anti-Armenian pogroms.
Rafael de Nogales, a Venezuelan mercenary among the Turkish forces, described witnessing a massacre in the village of Adilcevaz. Confronting an Ottoman official over the killings, he was told that the Ottoman forces, assisted by local Kurds, were carrying out an order from the provincial governor “to exterminate all Armenian males of 12 years of age and over.”
About 55,000 Armenians were killed throughout the province.
Greatly outnumbered and outgunned, Armenian forces, totaling just 1,300 men, held parts of Van for about a month, weathering a siege by the Ottomans and taking in refugees from the surrounding countryside, until Russian forces arrived on May 19, 1915.
When did the killings turn systematic?
The clash over Van marked a tipping point in the Turkish policy, which became much more radical.
A week after Russian forces arrived in the city, the Ottoman government legalized the policy by adopting a Deportation Law. The deportations were conducted openly, with announcements giving local communities a few days to prepare.
According to American historian Eugene Rogan, mass murders of these same deportees were secretly ordered in parallel. Regional officials who did not comply, or who asked for written confirmation, could be removed from their posts or even killed:
"When one district governor in Diyarbakir Province demanded written notice before carrying out the massacre of Armenians from his district, he was removed from office, summoned to Diyarbakir, and murdered en route."
The U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau Sr., described the situation as follows in a July 1915 telegram:
"Persecution of Armenians assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate systematic attempts to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary arrests, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage, and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.
"These measures are not in response to popular or fanatical demand but are purely arbitrary and directed from Constantinople in the name of military necessity, often in districts where no military operations are likely to take place. The [Muslim] and Armenian populations have been living in harmony, but because Armenian volunteers, many of them Russian subjects, have joined [the] Russian Army in the Caucasus and because some have been implicated in armed revolutionary movements, and others have been helpful to Russians in their invasion of Van district, terrible vengeance is being taken.
"Most of the sufferers are innocent and have been loyal to [the] Ottoman government. Nearly all are old men, women, all the men from 20 to 45 are in Turkish Army. Untold misery, disease, starvation, and loss of life will go on unchecked."
That many of the sufferers were innocent was admitted at the time by the Ottoman interior minister and “architect” of the massacres, Talaat Pasha. In an interview with the Berliner Tageblatt, he said:
"We have been blamed for not making a distinction between guilty and innocent Armenians. [To do so] was impossible. Because of the nature of things, one who was still innocent today could be guilty tomorrow."
In the same interview, Talaat Pasha admitted that deportees were being killed -- although he put the blame on individual officials and claimed they had been punished. “We are no savages,” he told the newspaper.
The views Talaat Pasha expressed privately were quite different, however.
A German envoy wrote that Talaat Pasha was unambiguous about the Ottoman government’s intention to “use the world war to make a clean sweep of its internal enemies -- the indigenous Christians of all confessions -- without being hindered in doing so by diplomatic intervention from other countries.”
In the envoy’s words, Talaat Pasha intended to “annihilate the Armenians.”
This was echoed in a report from Germany’s ambassador to Constantinople, Baron Hans von Wangenheim. The expansion of the deportations to provinces far from the front line, he said, “and the manner in which the deportation is being carried out shows that, indeed, the government is pursuing the purpose of annihilating the Armenian race in the Turkish Empire.”
As suggested by the baron’s reference to the expansion of deportations and killings to new provinces, the policy was not carried out evenly throughout the empire. Nor were all parts of the Ottoman state willing participants. Some regional governors asked for their Armenians to be spared or took active measures to save them, and the Ottoman military’s role in the deportations has been described as minimal.
Instead of the military, the massacres were mainly carried out by the so-called Special Organization, an outfit of some 30,000 men that was mainly composed of ex-convicts. The German consul in Aleppo wrote that the Ottoman government had “released convicts from prison, put them in soldiers’ uniforms, and sent them to areas which the deportees are to pass.”
The killings followed the same general pattern, as described by Rogan: A few days after deportation notices were posted, armed men would drive Armenians from their homes. The males aged 12 and up would be separated from the rest and led out of town to be killed. The women, children, and elderly men would be marched from town to town in the blazing heat until they collapsed and died, or would be killed as they fell behind.
Most were marched toward Aleppo, from where the survivors were sent on to other cities along the Euphrates River. By some estimates, less than 10 percent of the prewar Armenian population was left in the Ottoman Empire when it finally collapsed in 1922.
Did the outside world know what was happening?
The atrocities were well-known to the outside world while they were occurring. In a joint diplomatic note protesting the killings, the Entente Powers -- Russia, France, and Britain -- were the first to use the phrase “crimes against…humanity.”
Besides diplomatic notes and reports home from envoys and ambassadors, the massacres were widely reported in the press. On July 12, 1915, The New York Times wrote: "Armenians have been pitilessly evicted by tens of thousands and driven off to die in the desert near Konia or to Upper Mesopotamia. It is safe to say that unless Turkey is beaten to its knees very speedily, there will soon be no more Christians in the Ottoman Empire."
A relief movement formed in the United States, and Ambassador Morgenthau was instructed to inform Constantinople that its policy toward the Armenians had “aroused general and unfavorable criticism among the American people, which is destroying the feeling of goodwill which the people of the United States have held towards Turkey.”
Publicity turned the massacres into a significant political issue in the United States and even featured in President Woodrow Wilson’s campaign for reelection in 1916. The U.S. Congress adopted a resolution in July 1916 urging Wilson to “designate a day on which the citizens of this country may give expression to their sympathy by contributing to the funds now being raised for the relief of the Armenians in the belligerent countries.”
In response, Wilson declared October 21-22, 1916, as Armenian (as well as Syrian) relief days.
What is the Turkish position on the killings and deportations?
Turkey does not deny that many Armenians were killed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, but the government’s official position is that the “Armenian deaths do not constitute genocide.”
Highlighting deaths among other nationalities of the empire, Turkey justifies the policy of deportations, with a Foreign Ministry website stating that the “Armenians took arms against their own government. Their violent political aims, not their race, ethnicity, or religion, rendered them subject to relocation.”
It also states that “no direct evidence has been discovered demonstrating that any Ottoman official sought the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians as such.”
After Biden's announcement on April 24, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu immediately criticized the decision.
"Words cannot change history or rewrite it," Cavusoglu said on Twitter. "We will not be given lessons on our history from anyone. Political opportunism is the biggest betrayal of peace and justice. We completely reject this statement that is based on populism. #1915Events."
And just before Biden’s announcement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the issue has been “politicized by third parties and turned into a tool of intervention against our country.”
The United States knew what the Ottomans were doing. Why wasn't it recognized as genocide back then?
The term “genocide” did not exist while the massacres were taking place. It would only be coined in 1944, before being recognized as a crime in international law with the adoption of the UN’s Genocide Convention in 1948.
This was at the beginning of the Cold War and just a year before NATO was created. Turkey joined the Western military alliance in 1952. Despite the American relief effort and diplomatic interventions on behalf of the Armenians, the killings -- until 2021 -- had remained unrecognized as genocide at the U.S. federal level for over a century -- although 49 out of 50 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, have adopted their own resolutions recognizing them as such.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first sitting U.S. president to refer to the killings as genocide. However, this was in the context of a proclamation issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day and was not a statement of policy.
What changed and made the United States finally recognize the killings as genocide?
The decision to recognize the killings as genocide comes amid a significant worsening of relations with Turkey in recent years, and after a pledge by Biden in his campaign to make "universal human rights a top priority."
Domestically, more than 100 House members signed a letter on April 21 calling on Biden to recognize the killings as genocide. The move had also long been demanded by the significant Armenian diaspora in the United States.
The United States now joins some 30 other countries, including Russia, with an official policy of genocide recognition, a move certain to anger Ankara and further strain an already uneasy relationship between the two NATO allies.
Nazi war crimes evidence comes to the Holocaust museum in Washington
The prisoner stood at attention in his striped concentration camp clothing just as the Nazi photographer snapped the picture.
He stood with other inmates who were lined up in formation, hands at their sides. All wore the same striped pants, shirt and hat. All had numbers sewed on their shirts. Almost all were facing front.
But this prisoner had glanced sideways at the camera, as if to history, and, with a click, he was captured with the fearful look of a man condemned.
The place was the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Germany, where the dead would soon be piled in heaps. The year was likely 1937, only at the start of the human catastrophe of the Holocaust. And the picture comes from a photo album compiled by the creators of the notorious camp to celebrate its opening.
The album is part of a huge batch of newly digitized evidence from the main Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg that has just been transferred to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington from the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands.
Historians wanted to preserve the record of the trials before the fragile evidence deteriorated. There are also 250,000 pages of documents, along with films and 775 recorded hours of the proceedings originally captured on 1,492 metal phonograph discs.
Together they make up a major new digital collection of Nuremberg material, as well as a firsthand account of the famous post-World War II trials that detailed the breadth and depravity of Nazi crimes, museum officials said.
“Now, you have not only the textual material, but you have the sound material, the photographic material, and you have the motion picture film,” said Henry Mayer, a veteran Holocaust researcher and senior archives adviser at the museum.
“It’s the first time that all of this material has been basically readily available,” he said. “It’s a major accomplishment.”
The Mémorial de la Shoah, the French Holocaust museum in Paris, which partnered on the project, has also received the digital trial evidence.
The idea to reproduce the evidence goes back a decade, said Radu Ioanid, director of the U.S. museum’s international archival programs. The project got underway about four years ago. A formal agreement was signed in July 2017 to reproduce the records, he said. The digitization took place over two years, and the museum received the final deliveries last month.
Some of the items are known to modern scholars from other sources and in older formats, but some have rarely been seen or heard, the museum said.
For example, “the vast majority of those photos [in the Buchenwald album] are unknown,” said Ioanid, an expert on Holocaust photographs. Most such Nazi photo albums did not show inmates, he said. “This album shows massively the inmates,” he said.
The evidence of cruelty
The Holocaust was the systematic slaughter by the Nazis and their allies of more than 6 million European Jews and others before and during World War II in Europe, roughly from the late 1930s to the war’s end in 1945.
After the war, the Americans, French, British and Russians rounded up all of the top Nazis they could find and put them on trial for war crimes in the bombed-out German town of Nuremberg, a former Nazi stronghold.
Ten would eventually be hanged. Others got long prison sentences. Three of the defendants, including the top surviving Nazi, Hermann Goering, killed themselves in their jail cells.
The trials, which lasted from Nov. 14, 1945, until Oct. 1, 1946, saw evidence of horrific cruelty introduced in court, especially via the American films taken of liberated concentration camps. Russian footage — actually a collection of captured Nazi still pictures — also became evidence.
The Russian film showed mass hangings by the Nazis, executions by firing squad and a beheading.
The audio recordings, which cover the whole trial, are also unsettling.
One former Nazi official, Rudolf Höss, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, gave an affidavit that was read in English while he was on the stand.
He stated that during his tenure, 2.5 million people were “exterminated” and 500,000 died of starvation and disease.
He explained how quickly people died in the gas chambers.
“It took from 3 to 15 minutes to kill the people in the death chamber, depending upon climatic conditions,” he said in his affidavit. “We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped. … After the bodies were removed our special kommandos took off the rings and extracted the gold from the teeth of the corpses.”
After the affidavit was read, Höss was asked if it was correct. “Jawohl,” he replied in German. Yes.
Another affidavit, given by a German civilian construction manager, Hermann Graebe, and read in English by British prosecutor Hartley Shawcross, recounted the massacre of Jews in the town of Dubno in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.
Graebe watched as men, women and children were forced to disrobe, and were then herded down the steps of an open pit that was already filled with 1,000 bodies. There they were shot by a Nazi executioner.
“Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells,” he said in his affidavit. “I watched a family of about 8 persons, a man and a woman, both about 50 with their children of about 1, 8 and 10, and two grownup daughters of about 20 to 24,” he said.
“An old woman with snow-white hair was holding the one-year old child in her arms and singing to it,” he said.
“I looked for the man who did the shooting,” Graebe related. “He … sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette.”
8 The Chinese &ldquoResettlement&rdquo
In 1950, the Empire had a problem. Armed Communist insurgents were trying to take over Malay and most of the population seemed willing to let them do so. Reasoning that their forces stood no chance against a hidden army that could call upon the peasants for supplies, the British hit upon an ingenious solution. Rather than fight, they&rsquod simply imprison all the peasants.
Known as &ldquoNew Villages,&rdquo the camps constructed to house Malay&rsquos poor were heavily fortified and watched over by trigger-happy guards. Inmates were forced to do hard labor in return for scraps of food, and contact with the outside world&mdashincluding family&mdashwas forbidden. Once in a village, you lost all right to freedom and privacy. At night, harsh floodlights flushed out the shadows to stop clandestine meetings. Expressing any political sentiment could get your rations docked.
But perhaps most uncomfortable of all was the racist nature of the camps. Of the 500,000 people detained during the decade-long Emergency, only a handful were anything other than ethnic Chinese. Outside the barbed wire walls, another half a million Chinese were meanwhile being deported, sent into exile, or forced from their homes. In short. it was a racist policy that harmed nearly a million people, all so the British could cut off supplies to a handful of rebels.
Massacre on St. Valentine’s Day
Chicago’s gang war reached its bloody climax in the so-called St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. One of Capone’s longtime enemies, the Irish gangster George 𠇋ugs” Moran, ran his bootlegging operations out of a garage at 2122 North Clark Street. On February 14, seven members of Moran’s operation were gunned down while standing lined up, facing the wall of the garage. Some 70 rounds of ammunition were fired. When police officers from Chicago’s 36th District arrived, they found one gang member, Frank Gusenberg, barely alive. In the few minutes before he died, they pressed him to reveal what had happened, but Gusenberg wouldn’t talk.
Police could find only a few eyewitnesses, but eventually concluded that gunmen dressed as police officers had entered the garage and pretended to be arresting the men. Though Moran and others immediately blamed the massacre on Capone’s gang, the famous gangster himself claimed to have been at his home in Florida at the time. No one was ever brought to trial for the murders. It remains one of the biggest unsolved crimes in history.
Is there secular evidence Herod killed babies under the age of two?
I have a question regarding the historical Jesus. First, I have heard that there are not any secular references to Herod killing all the babies under the age of two. They say that if this had really happened, then this would have been included in the other writings about Herod's life. This has really been troubling me.
The King Herod that is mentioned in the book of Matthew (Matthew 2) was made king of Judea by the Romans in 37 B.C. He died in 1 B.C. (see Fables of Christmas). History is not very kind to Herod as it records many of his atrocities including the killing of babies. It is well established in secular writings that Herod murdered the old and young and did not even spare his wives. Herod murdered many people. He was a bloody man.
Matthew 2:16 also reports he was a murderous man.
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Matthew 2:16 (NASB)
Everett Ferguson is a reliable author who writes the following.
Though it may be true that Herod was an extremely able ruler, it is also true that he was intensely jealous of his position. He killed the two sons of Mariamne when his suspicions were aroused that they might become the rallying point for Jewish patriotism. Mariamne herself was killed when his mind was poisoned against her by his sister. . . A man who killed a large part of his own family and arrested large numbers of the most prominent citizens with orders for their execution when he died so there would be mourning at his death (Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 17.6.5) . . . would not have caused much of a stir by liquidating a score of children in an obscure village. Knowing of Herod’s conduct and the Jewish scruples about pork, the emperor Augustus was reported to have said that he would rather be Herod’s very pig than Herod’s son. 
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus describes King Herod the Great as a very evil man.
[Herod] commanded that all the principal men of the entire Jewish nation wheresoever they lived, should be called to him. Accordingly, there were a great number that came, because the whole nation was called, and all men heard of this call, and death was the penalty of such as should despise the epistles that were sent to call them. And now the king was in a wild rage against them all, the innocent as well as those that had afforded him ground for accusations and when they were come, he ordered them all to be shut up in the hippodrome, and sent for his sister Salome, and her husband Alexas, and spoke thus to them: — “I shall die in a little time, so great are my pains which death ought to be cheerfully borne, and to be welcomed by all men but what principally troubles me is this, that I shall die without being lamented, and without such mourning as men usually expect at a king’s death.” For that he was not unacquainted with the temper of the Jews, that his death would be a thing very desirable, and exceedingly acceptable to them because during his lifetime they were ready to revolt from him, and to abuse the donations he had dedicated to God: that it therefore was their business to resolve to afford him some alleviation of his great sorrows on this occasion for that, if they do not refuse him their consent in what he desires, he shall have a great mourning at his funeral, and such as never any king had before him for then the whole nation would mourn from their very soul, which otherwise would be done in sport and mockery only. He desired therefore that as soon as they see he hath given up the ghost, they shall place soldiers round the hippodrome, while they do not know that he is dead and that they shall not declare his death to the multitude till this is done, but that they shall give orders to have those that are in custody shot with their darts and that this slaughter of them all will cause that he shall not miss to rejoice on a double account that as he is dying, they will make him secure that his will shall be executed in what he charges them to do and that he shall have the honor of a memorable mourning at his funeral. 
These quotes help us understand that King Herod the Great was wicked. So we should not be surprised that a non-Christian wrote the following about Herod’s massacre of children under the age of two that is mentioned in Matthew 2:16. The non-Christian writer is Macrobius (A.D. 395-423).
On hearing that the son of Herod, king of the Jews, had been slain when Herod ordered that all boys in Syria under the age of two to be killed, Augustus said, “It’s better to be Herod’s pig, than his son” (dicta 56 Malc.)
We can thank God that there is a secular reference to Herod’s massacre of the children under the age of two. History does not record every event found in the Bible. In truth, we do not need secular history to validate the Bible. We often forget that the Bible is accurate history. But many people do not want to accept the Bible as history because they would then need to submit to its authority. It is the Word of God.
1. Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Eerdmans Publishing. 1993. p. 390.
2. Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 17.6.5.
3. Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, Saturnalia, Book 2, section 4:11. p. 349.
Wounded Knee: Conflict breaks out
On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under Big Foot, a Lakota Sioux chief, near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated 150 Indians were killed (some historians put this number at twice as high), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men.
The conflict at Wounded Knee was originally referred to as a battle, but in reality it was a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it’s unlikely that Big Foot’s band would have intentionally started a fight. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment’s defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the last major confrontation in America’s deadly war against the Plains Indians.
Not Just Tulsa: Race Massacres That Devastated Black Communities In Rosewood, Atlanta, and Other American Cities
May 31, 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, race massacre, a horrific cover-up that has been brought to light in recent years by several documentaries and news stories about the crime that permanently altered the fate of a successful community known as "Black Wall Street."
On that shocking date, a 17-year-old white girl accused a Black teenager of assault in downtown Tulsa and white terrorism ensued. There have been countless reports, including from TulsaHistory.org, that 300 or more people were murdered in an act of bloody white terrorism. The media of the time downplayed the destruction of the prosperous community.
The death toll was originally reported as 36. However, you don’t have to be a forensic archaeologist to surmise that more than 36 people were killed.
The Washington Post reports, ”A team of forensic archaeologists who spent weeks using ground-penetrating radar at three sites in the city announced Monday night they found ‘anomalies’ consistent with mass graves that warrant further testing.”
The brutal massacre of 1921 and Black Wall Street was just one of many. Race massacres were commonplace and are blatantly (and purposefully) ignored in history books.
Here are five race massacres you should be aware of.
Despite some people claiming America was “great” for Black people seven years after the Civil War, Black men and women were being massacred in plain sight during Reconstruction. One of the most horrific incidents -- that we know of -- was April of 1873 in Colfax, Louisiana. Approximately 150 Black men were murdered by white men with guns and cannons for trying to freely assemble at a courthouse.
Sadly, the exact number of deaths is unknown because many Black bodies were thrown into what was called the Red River.
By 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina, was a thriving area with a majority Black population. There were also several Black elected public officials, forcing whites to share power. Of course, “the threat of Negro rule” created illogical white racial resentment.
The media frequently reported, erroneously, that "white womanhood" was threatened by Black men. A white Wilmington newspaper printed a speech by a Georgia feminist that read, "If it requires lynching to protect woman's dearest possession from ravening, drunken human beasts, then I say lynch a thousand negroes a week . if it is necessary."
By the election of 1898, Black men were prevented from voting to push out the Black elected officials. However, white supremacists could not stop the economic power that Blacks had already created. Therefore, they destroyed Black Wilmington with terrorism.
The day after the 1898 election, whites announced the “white declaration of independence.” They overthrew the Wilmington government, destroyed the printing press, forced out the mayor, and a mob of white men attacked Black residents.
There were reportedly 60 to 300 Black people killed by this act of domestic terrorism. For over 100 years, the powers that be in Wilmington tried to erase the massacre from its history. Until 2000, when “the General Assembly established the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission to develop a historical record of the event and to assess the economic impact of the riot on African Americans locally and across the region and state,” according to the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
The massacre is now in the state’s historical record.
Like many race massacres, the violence in Atlanta at the turn of the century began with white women accusing Black men of rape. On September 22, 1906, Atlanta newspapers reported that four white women alleged they were assaulted by Black men — a claim that was completely unfounded.
In reality, whites were threatened by upwardly mobile Black communities in Atlanta, which they believed were taking away their jobs. This bogus report of sexual assault drove as many as 2,000 white men to the streets. The terrorists went into Black communities to beat, stab and shoot any Black people in sight. PBS reports “a disabled man was chased down and beaten to death.”
Communities were destroyed and the unofficial death toll was up to 100.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas calls the Elaine Massacre “by far the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and possibly the bloodiest racial conflict in the history of the United States.”
Blacks outnumbered whites 10 to 1 and were demanding economic justice, as many of them were forced into sharecropping. A union was created to protect sharecroppers and whites were outraged at even the smallest move toward equality.
In September of 1919, there was a union meeting among Black workers, and whites showed up to riot. As a result, one white man was shot and killed. Whites convinced themselves there was a threat of a "Black insurrection” and, as usual, reacted with violence.
Hundreds of white men attacked Black residents but many fought back -- including Black veterans. Sadly, there were reports of over 200 Black people, including children, were killed.
Many who weren’t killed were arrested and tortured while in custody. They were forced to “confess” about an insurrection with 12 men receiving the death penalty. They eventually became known as the Elaine 12. With the help of the NAACP, their case went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1923, and they were exonerated.
This was one of the first times the NAACP won a case in front of the Supreme Court.
Similar to the massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, a Black community was burned to the ground two years later after a white woman named Fannie Taylor claimed she was assaulted by a Black man on January 1, 1923. The first person killed was Sam Carter, a local blacksmith. He was tortured and his mutilated body was hung from a tree.
Sam Carter was one of many. There are reports that up to 150 Black people were killed in Rosewood, Florida.
After Rosewood was destroyed, a grand jury and special prosecutor decided there was not enough evidence for prosecution of the white men who killed innocent American citizens.
In 1997, the late, great filmmaker John Singleton famously made the film Rosewood, starring Ving Rhames, based on the massacre.
See a clip of a documentary on Rosewood below:
Based on the various examples of violence perpetuated in Black communities, Tulsa wasn’t a rarity. History reminds us that although not popularly discussed, communities in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and so many others were victims of racist violence based on economic anxiety and threats to “white womanhood.”
These massacres are chilling reminders of how white terrorism of Black lives is consistently minimized in history.
Construction on Global Seed Vault begins
On June 15, 2006, on the remote island of Spitsbergen halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland lay the ceremonial first stone of the Global Seed Vault. The vault, which now has the capacity to hold 2.25 billion seeds, is intended to “provide insurance against both incremental and catastrophic loss of crop diversity.”
Managed jointly by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (the Crop Trust), the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen), and the Norwegian government, the Seed Vault grew out of several different efforts to preserve specimens of the world’s plants. Its location, deep within a high mountain on an island covered by permafrost, is ideal for cold storage and will protect the seeds even in the event of a major rise in sea levels. The enormous vault, where seeds can be stored in such a way that they remain viable for decades or even centuries, opened in 2008.
According to the Crop Trust, the seed vault is meant to preserve crop diversity and contribute to the global struggle to end hunger. As rising temperatures and other aspects of climate change threaten the Earth’s plants, there is risk of not only losing species but also becoming overly reliant on those that remain, making humanity more vulnerable and increasing food insecurity. Scientists also strive to create newer, more resilient varieties of crops that already exist, and the seed bank functions as a reserve from which they can draw for experimental purposes.