I’ve chosen to list these events in history because they represent a variety of ways in which the human race suffers. As we read about and hear about similar situations in the present time, we can be reminded to pray for all who suffer. Sometimes we suffer because of human violence and hatred; other times it’s a matter of human error or a natural disaster. Regardless of the root cause, these experiences are opportunities to turn to God and to show compassion toward one another.
The following information is from the History.com site, “This Day in History.”
April 11, 1945, the U.S. army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp.
“On this day in 1945, the American Third Army liberates the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, a camp that will be judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners.
“As American forces closed in on the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Gestapo headquarters at Weimar telephoned the camp administration to announce that it was sending explosives to blow up any evidence of the camp—including its inmates. What the Gestapo did not know was that the camp administrators had already fled in fear of the Allies. A prisoner answered the phone and informed headquarters that explosives would not be needed, as the camp had already been blown up, which, of course, was not true.
“The camp held thousands of prisoners, mostly slave laborers. There were no gas chambers, but hundreds, sometimes thousands, died monthly from disease, malnutrition, beatings, and executions. Doctors performed medical experiments on inmates, testing the effects of viral infections and vaccines.
“Among the camp’s most gruesome characters was Ilse Koch, wife of the camp commandant, who was infamous for her sadism. She often beat prisoners with a riding crop, and collected lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skin of camp victims.
“Among those saved by the Americans was Elie Wiesel, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.”
April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Thus followed the “bloodiest four years” in American history.
April 13, 1919, in “Amritsar, India’s holy city of the Sikh religion, British and Gurkha troops massacre at least 379 unarmed demonstrators meeting at the Jallianwala Bagh, a city park. Most of those killed were Indian nationalists meeting to protest the British government’s forced conscription of Indian soldiers and the heavy war tax imposed against the Indian people.”
April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
April 15, 1912, the great “unsinkable” cruise ship, the Titanic sank mere hours after it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
“Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. Most of the 700 or so survivors were women and children.”
April 16, 1947, a fertilizer explosion killed 581 people, injured 3500 and caused $100 million in damages in Texas City, Texas. The initial cause was a cigarette, but the situation was complicated by the highly flammable ammonium nitrate (used as an explosive during World War II) that was in the fertilizer being loaded onto a freighter.