We all think of February as the month of love, romance and the next round of holiday gift purchases after Christmas, but what we’ve got coming for you will give you a different taste of what the month is all about. After all, what is a heart without the blood it pumps? So here’s a list of tragic, violent and downright crazy historical events that happened in February.
10. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Love is difficult for everybody, but it’s particularly difficult for members of opposing gangs. In a bloody romantic gesture on February 14th , 1929, infamous gang leader Al Capone ordered his men to execute his rival “Bugs” Moran by luring him to a garage with the promise of bootleg whiskey. Alcohol was illegal back then, so it was the gangs and mafia who acted as booze dealers. They weren’t able to kill “Bugs” Moran because he woke up and showed up late – so there are advantages to being a bum! – but they did slaughter seven of his associates. Two of Capone’s thugs dressed up as police, and nobody knows how it went down, but when one of the victims, Frank Gusenberg, was taken to the hospital with 14 bullet-wounds and asked “Who shot you?”, he said “Nobody shot me”. Well, at least he could keep a secret.
9. Malcolm X Assassinated
Malcolm X was a defiant man. Born into the tense racial situation of 1920’s America, he would make a name for himself as a preacher of extreme ways of achieving justice for the prejudice and racism he grew up with. In his rejection of the establishment, and advocacy against his inequalities, he would join a religious group called the Nation of Islam until he felt disillusionment from the group after allegations of sexual misconduct by their leader, Elijah Muhammad, who argued it was a biblical prophetic way of behaving… not very romantic… anyway, tension grew, and sadly, the Nation of Islam followed through with their threats, and Malcolm was shot dead giving a speech on February 19, 1965.
8. Hugo Chavez Coup
Hugo Chavez was first elected President of Venezuela in 1998, and re-elected in 2000, but during this time, he developed weird friendships with some of the world’s worst dictators Fidel Castro, Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, as well as playing favorites among different social classes, which lead to strong disapproval from the people. In February, military generals called for Chavez to give up his title, which lead to mass protests by politically opposed civilians, and a coup d’etat which he quelled and went on to rule until 2013, when he died from cancer.
7. King Leopold Establishes Congo as Personal Possession
Perhaps one of the most horrific abuses of power the world has ever seen, on February 26th, 1885, King Leopold the II of Belgium was given the African Congo at the Berlin Conference. It is speculated that between 1,000,000 and 15,000,000 Congolese were killed by his terrifying reign. The Congolese were basically used as slaves to extract natural rubber, and they were gravely mistreated and punished. It is considered one of the most cruel reigns in history as the workers would be exploited for their labor, and even for the hands which would be chopped off at the sadistic whim of a guard because it was required of them to shoot anyone who misused equipment and to sever their hands as proof. We’re glad we’ve come to a point in history when this is no longer acceptable, but we find it strange that there is still a statue of Leopold in Brussels, to this day.
6. Riobamba Earthquake 1797
Still convinced February is the month of love? Well this next one isn’t about human cruelty, but it certainly claimed a lot of lives, and was one of the greatest natural disasters of all time. On February 4th, 1797 the Andean town of Riobamba in Ecuador suffered a massive Earthquake that killed an estimated of 40,000 people. It’s even said that the bodies formed little mountains due to the devastation suffered. The entire city was destroyed, but as a labor of love it was rebuilt 20km north and continues to exist to this day.
5. Last Emperor of China Abdicates
This wasn’t a bloody event in history as much as it was a crazy change to the order of things. China had long been one of the superpowers in the Eastern Asian region. While there has been a long history of division and war in China, it had been united by an emperor in one form or another for 2,000 years until a republican revolution lead to the last emperor of China abdicating his position on February 12th, 1912, at the age of six years old. How many of us can say we were emperors at six? Let alone the last emperor of something? While he was kicked off the stage, he was given a government pension to stay living, and would later act as the leader of a Japanese puppet government during World War II, until he was captured by the soviets in 1945.
4. Rafic Hariri Assassination
It’s usually crazy when a world leader is assassinated. Just as recent as 2005, Rafic Hariri — then prime minister of Lebanon –was murdered, along with 20 of his friends, body guards and personal assistants. Supposedly he had been murdered by Lebanese and Syrian operatives working to promote the policies of Syrian president Assad, who had threatened Mr. Hariri if he was not compliant. On February 14th, 2,200lbs of TNT were detonated as they were driving near the St George Hotel in Beirut.
3. 1525 Last Aztec Emperor Executed
Here’s another “last emperor” who had his throne taken from him, although in Cuauhtemoc’s case it was a much bloodier affair and another example of colonial brutality. Spanish had already devastated indigenous populations as they “discovered the new world” following Columbus’s voyage, and one of the greatest empires of all time, the Aztec empire, was brought to its knees by Eurasian diseases as well as the superior weaponry of the conquistadors. Strangely enough, Cuauhtemoc’s murderer, Cortes, actually liked the emperor, and injured himself wandering at night due to the immense guilt he felt for hanging him on February 27th, 1525. Sadly, the Aztec empire never recovered as most of the elite and cultural administrators had been slain, but the spirit of the people still lives in those lands.
2. February 28th Incident
We’re not sure why, but independence and self-determination always seem to be such bloody affairs. For the Taiwanese, the month of February has been immortalized as the month of independence because of the fervor and unspeakable actions that took place when revolting against the Chinese Republic government which had abused its powers. Starting over an incident between a government official and a cigarette vendor on February 27, the 2/28 – as it came to be known – was the beginning of Taiwanese rebellion during which between 10,000 and 40,000 mainlander Chinese were killed indiscriminately as the Taiwanese people felt the manic rush of freedom and subdued anger. The event was considered taboo until an official address by President Lee Teng-hui opened the discussion, and the date has officially been set as Peace Memorial Day. It seems like good things can come from bad moments after all.
1. Youtube Launch Feb 14 2005
We’ve talked about mob battles, emperors being deposed, earthquakes and assassinations, but we’ve saved the worst for last… You’re doing it right now, and you were probably here for an hour or two before… Youtube was also launched as a crazy event in February. Maybe one of the internet’s most romantic gestures to the user, Youtube was launched February 14th, 2005 by a group of three friends who worked for Paypal. I guess they didn’t have girlfriends at the time, or maybe they put the site up, and then quickly got ready for dinners later in the evening. Either way, the rest is history and speaks for itself.
Well that was a bloody mess. Still feeling the rosy glow of romance that is February? Maybe now you’re just pumped and you wanna watch more videos about gruesome events. Don’t worry about it, you’re not a freak… maybe you’re just a little different and have a morbid curiosity. Anyway! That’s it for our top ten list of crazy events in February. Do you feel the love?