Every town, city, country and nation has a history. While we may choose to see the progress made overtime and dwell in the present and the future that may seem promising, we can’t escape that some of the past has shaped what we know today. For some towns, there were dark times; times where tragedy was experienced. These towns may or may not have risen from the ashes over the centuries. Let’s explore some of these towns in history that have faced tragic fates.
Herculaneum was an ancient town located in today’s community of Ercolano, Campania, Italy. The Roman town was at the base of Mount Vesuvius. In 79 AD, this mountain erupted and Herculaneum was buried under volcanic ash and pumice. Herculaneum is renowned for being one of the few ancient cities to have been almost completely preserved because the ash that covered the town shielded it from the elements and pillagers. Yes, this may sound a lot like the popular city of Pompeii, though there are several differences.
During the outbreak of the bubonic plague, Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, was one of the worst affected cities. The plague was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. At the time, Constantinople was the most significant political and cultural center of the West and the center of Christian culture. On average, about 10,000 people lost their lives every day from the plague when it was at its peak. When burial grounds were filled, city officials had to come up with other solutions. There was complete misery and devastation during that time. This decimated this town and it came to a standstill. There were food shortages, starvation and law and order was disrupted.
German soldiers surrounded the Soviet city of Leningrad on September 8, 1941, which began a siege that lasted almost 900 days and resulted in the loss of about 800,000 civilian lives. Germany’s Army Group North approached from the south while the Finnish army, a German ally, attacked from the north until they had a ring around the city. This was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history. Most of the imperial palaces and much of the infrastructure were destroyed. This siege caused extreme famine with disruptions in food supply and utilities. Civilians suffered from starvation. The economic devastation was also severe.
In 1258, Baghdad was the largest and most affluent city in the world. It was the hub of the Golden Age of Islam. For over five years, this city saw advancements in military technology, medicine, culture, art and many other aspects. That year, Hulagu Khan, a Mogul commander, sought to conquer Baghdad. Mogul soldiers caused such destruction and many of the people lost their lives at the hands of the soldiers. The looting left the city’s impressive infrastructure in the ruins. The devastation was so great that it took centuries for the city to be rebuilt.
Nanking, the capital of China, was invaded by Japanese forces in December, 1937. Japanese General Matsui Iwane gave the order to destroy Nanking in an effort to shatter the spirit of Chinese resistance. A large portion of the city was set on fire and Japanese troops began committing atrocities against residents. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost and many civilians’ rights were violated. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East convicted Matsui and found him guilty of war crimes shortly after World War II ended.
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