I recently started a calendar of events in world history to help better shape the content on this site. I thought it’d be helpful if I knew when certain anniversaries were going to come up, and things like that.
And as I went through April, I noticed something really strange—April seemed to be historically a really “dark” month. A lot of significant—often violent and/or “dark”—events have happened in April, especially in the second half of the month. This falls in line with what I’ve heard of regarding April being the “cruelest” month.
For example, the Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, Oklahoma and Boston Marathon bombings, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Branch Davidian conflagration in Waco, and the Titanic sinking all happened in April. The Civil War started in April, as did the Bosnian war, the fall of Troy, the first so-called “Jack the Ripper” murder, and so on. There were also an unusual amount of deadly tornados, earthquakes, and other natural disasters during this month—including the deadliest tornado in world history and the historic San Francisco Earthquake.
But—there were also a surprising amount of scientific & technological advancements that took place during this month as well, such as the founding of Microsoft, Apple, and General Electric; the discovery of the electron, the description of DNA, the birth of the Internet; the launching of the first man in space.
And there were a lot of weird and notable things that occurred in April, such as the alleged suicides of Adolf Hitler and Kurt Cobain, the death of Jesse James, the birth of The Simpsons and Bugs Bunny, the discovery of LSD, and the transcription of The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley.
In addition, there is the historical crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is sometimes dated to the first week of the month. And at the end of the month is Walpurgisnacht—Walpurgis Night—a Germanic holiday that is translated as, “Witches’ Night”
What follows is a partial rundown of significant events in April. I have thrown in some events that might be considered quite flippant in the face of others—such as the Simpsons/Bugs Bunny thing—but I wanted to create as “full” a picture of the month historically as possible. History—especially as celebrated by the mainstream media and pop-culture—is both tragic and banal.
Decide for yourself if there are more than the usual dark, strange, and unusual events in this month—or if any month, so mapped out, would yield similar results. Also: note how some significant events seem to “cluster” on one day, or in a spread of days.
1873: The RMS Atlantic sinks, killing 547.
1941: Fântâna Albă massacre, with between 200-2000 Romanian civilians killed.
1971: The Pakistan Army kill over 1,000 people in Bangladesh.
1976: Apple founded.
1979: A Soviet bio-warfare laboratory accidentally releases anthrax, killing 66.
1982: Argentina invades Falkland Islands, starting Falklands War.
2006: 60 tornados hit United States; 29 die in Tennessee.
2012: Shooting at Oikos University in California, killing 7.
2014: Fort Hood spree shooting, 3 dead & 16 wounded.
2015: Gunmen attack Garissa University College in Kenya, killing 148.
1882: Robert Ford kills Jesse James.
1888: The first of the Whitechapel “Jack The Ripper” murders occurs.
1974: A tornado “Super Outbreak” occurs in U.S. & Canada, killing 315.
1996: Unabomber is captured.
2009: The Binghamton shootings kill 13.
2017: Bomb at St. Petersburg Metro, 14 killed.
1905: Earthquake in India kills 20,000.
1968: Martin Luther King assassinated.
1975: An Operation Babylift plane crashes in Vietnam, killing 155.
1975: Microsoft founded.
1991: Senator John Heinz dies in a mid-air collision over an elementary school.
1943: American bomber aircraft accidentally kill 900 civilians in Belgium.
1949: St. Anthony’s Hospital Fire kills 77.
1991: Flight 2311 crashes, killing 23 including Sen. John Tower and astronaut Sonny Carter.
1994: Kurt Cobain allegedly commits suicide.
1917: The United States declares war on Germany, starting WWI.
1992: Bosnian War begins.
1994: The Rwandan Genocide begins.
2009: L’Aquila earthquake in Italy kills 307.
2017: The United States bombs Syria (overall significance of which, TBD)
1943: Germans kill 1,100 Jews in Plebanivka, Ukraine.
1969: Internet’s symbolic birthdate.
1989: Soviet submarine Komsomolets sinks, killing 42.
1990: The MS Scandinavian Star is set on fire by an arsonist, killing 159.
1995: The Samashki massacre starts during the First Chechen War.
2017: Stockholm attack with truck kills at least 4.
1904: Aleister Crowley starts transcribing The Book Of The Law.
1945: After air raid accidentally destroys train carrying 4,000 concentration camp internees, the Nazis kill the survivors.
1961: The MV Dara sinks after explosion, killing 238.
1970: The The Bahr el-Baqar primary school is bombed by Israeli Air Force, killing 46.
1865: Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant, ending Cvil War.
1942: Bataan Death March begins, resulting between 5,650 to 18,000 POW deaths.
1947: Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes kill 181 across United States.
1959: First seven U.S. Astronauts announced.
2013: Earthquake in Iran kills 32 & injures 850.
2014: Mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School, injuring 20.
1912: RMS Titanic sets sail on maiden voyage.
1970: Paul McCartney announces he’s leaving Beatles.
1988: Ojhri Camp Disaster kills more than 1,000 people in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
1991: The MV Moby Prince collides with an oil tanker off Livorno, Italy killing 140.
2010: Polish Air Force Tu-154 crashes near Smolensk, Russia, killing 96 including Polish President Lech Kaczyński.
2016: Puttingal temple fire kills 111 after firework celebrations mishap.
1965: Palm Sunday tornado outbreak kills 256 across American Midwest.
1981: Massive riot in Brixton, south London results in 300 police injuries and 65 serious civilian injuries.
1993: Massive prison riot begins in Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
2007: Bombings in Algiers kills 33.
2011: Minsk Metro Bombing kills 15 and injures 204.
2012: Indian Ocean Earthquake kills 10.
1861: American Civil War begins.
1927: The Shanghai massacre results in 300–400 killed, 5,000 missing.
1927: Rocksprings, Texas hit by tornado, killing 72 and destroying 235 of its 247 buildings.
1945: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in office; Harry Truman becomes president.
1961: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes first man in space.
2007: Iraqi Parliament bombing injures 23 & kills two including the bomber.
1873: More than 60 African Americans are killed in the Colfax Massacre.
1919: British troops kill at least 379 unarmed demonstrators in Amritsar, India.
1945: Nazis kill more than 1,000 political and military prisoners in Gardelegen, Germany.
1948: In the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre, 78 Jewish doctors, nurses and medical students are killed.
1953: Allan Dulles begins Project MKUltra.
1970: An oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13 explodes, putting crew in danger.
1561: Celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg interpreted by some as “aerial battle.”
1865: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln shot by John Wilkes Booth.
1865: U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and family attacked in home by Lewis Powell (Lincoln assassination co-conspirator).
1912: RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
1944: Massive explosion in Bombay harbor kills 300.
1986: Heaviest hailstones on record kill 92 in Bangladesh.
1990: NATO accidentally bombs convoy of ethnic Albanian refugees, with possibly 75 killed.
1999: Hailstorm in Sydney the most costly natural disaster in Australian story.
2003: Human Genome Project is completed.
2010: Yushu Earthquake in China kills 2,700.
2014: Bombing in Abuja, Nigeria kills 75.
2014: 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
1865: President Abraham Lincoln dies.
1892: General Electric founded.
1912: The RMS Titanic sinks, killing between 1,490 and 1,635.
1920: Two security guards are murdered in Massachusetts, a crime for which anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti will be controversially executed for.
1969: North Korean aircraft shoots down United States Navy aircraft over sea of Japan, killing 31.
1970: In Cambodian Civil War, 800 massacred bodies of the Vietnamese minority flow down Mekong River.
1989: A human crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, England kills 96 fans.
1989: The Tiananmen Square protests begin in China.
2013: The Boston Marathon Bombing kills 3 and injures 264.
1457 BC: The Battle of Megiddo fought between Egyptian forces and Canaanite rebels. 4,000 Egyptians and 8,300 Canaanites were killed.
AD 73: Masada falls to the Romans; 960 of the 967 Jewish defenders within the stronghold had committed suicide.
1881: In Dodge City, Bat Masterson fights his last gun battle.
1925: 150 people are killed at the St Nedelya Church assault in Bulgaria.
1943: Albert Hoffmann accidentally discovers LSD.
1944: Allied forces bomb Belgrade, killing about 1,100 people.
1945: The Battle of the Seelow Weights begins in WW II, which will eventually see possibly as much as 45,000 people killed.
1945: The German refugee ship Goya is sunk by a Soviet submarine, resulting in 7,000 deaths.
1947: The event known as The Texas City Disaster results in almost 600 deaths.
1990: Dr. Jack Kevorkian participates in his first assisted suicide.
2007: 32 die in the Virginia Tech Shooting.
2014: The MV Sewol capsizes off North Korea, resulting in 295 passengers dead.
1961: The Bay Of Pigs invasion begins.
1969: Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of killing Robert F. Kennedy.
1970: Apollo 13 returns safely to Earth.
1975: The Cambodian Civil War ends.
2013: An explosion at the West Fertilizer Company, 18 miles North of Waco, Texas, kills 15 and injures 150.
2014: The first Earth-size planet orbiting a habitable star is discovered.
1902: Earthquake in Guatemala kills between 800-2000.
1906: The San Francisco Earthquake kills over 3,000.
1945: 1000 aircraft of the British Royal Air Force dropped about 7000 bombs on the German island of Helgoland.
1983: A suicide bomber kills 63 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
2007: A series of bombings across Baghdad result in 198 deaths.
1971: Salyut 1, the first space station, is launched.
1971: Charles Manson is sentenced to death.
1987: The Simpsons debut on The Tracey Ullman Show.
1989: A gun turret explosion on the U.S. Iowa kills 47.
1993: The siege on the Branch Davidian building outside Waco, Texas ends when an inferno breaks out; 81 dead.
1995: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is bombed, resulting in 198 dead.
2013: Boston Bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is shot dead; his brother Dzhokhar is later captured.
1914: 19 men, women and children are killed in the Ludlow Massacre during a Colorado coal-miner’s strike.
1961: The Bay of Pigs invasion fails.
1972: Apollo 16 lands on the moon.
1999: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 and injure 24 at Columbine High-School in Colorado.
2007: Two die in a shooting at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
2010: The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11.
2012: Bhoja Air Flight 213 crashes in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing 127.
2013: An earthquake in Lushan County, Ya’an, in China’s Sichuan province ends the lives of 150 people and injures thousands.
753 BC: Traditional date of the founding of Rome.
1506: The Lisbon Massacre comes to an end, killing over 1,900 suspected Jews.
1509: Henry VIII becomes king of England.
1802: The city of Karbala is invaded, resulting in over 3,000 deaths.
1989: Around 100,000 students gather in Tiananmen Square to continue protests.
2004: 74 people die in Basra as the result of suicide bombers.
2012: Two trains collide head-on near Sloterdijk, Amsterdam, injuring 116.
1945: 520 prisoners at the the Jasenovac concentration camp are killed during a revolt.
1945: Adolf Hitler admits defeat and makes the decision to commit suicide in his bunker.
1954: The Army–McCarthy hearings begins during the Red Scare.
1970: The first Earth Day is held.
1972: Massive anti-war protests are held in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
1992: Explosions in Guadalajara, Mexico kill 206.
2000: Six-year-old Elián González is seized from his Miami home during a pre-dawn raid.
2004: Two fuel trains in Ryongchon, North Korea, killing 150.
1661: King Charles II is crowned.
1971: About 3,000 Hindu emigrants massacred in Bangladesh Liberation War.
1985: New Coke introduced.
2013: Clashes break out in the city of Hawija, Iraq, killing at least 28.
1479 BC: Thutmose III ascends the throne of Egypt.
1184 BC: Troy falls.
1915: The Armenian Genocide begins.
1967: Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov is the first man to die during a space mission.
1990: The Hubble space telescope is launched.
2013: A building collapses near Dhaka, Bangladesh; 1,129 are killed.
1792: Highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier is the first man to be executed by guillotine.
1916: The United Kingdom declares martial law on Ireland.
1953: Francis Crick and James Watson publish a paper describing the double helix structure of DNA.
1965: Teenage sniper Michael Andrew Clark kills three and wounds six.
1983: Schoolgirl Samantha Smith is invited to visit the Soviet Union.
2015: Nepal earthquake kills almost 9,100.
2015: Riots break out in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.
1478: Lorenzo de’ Medici is attacked, and his brother killed.
1803: Thousands of meteor fragments fall from the sky in France.
1865: John Wilkes Booth is executed.
1933: The Gestapo is established.
1942: The Benxihu Colliery mining incident in Manchukuo results in 1549 dead.
1982: A former police officer kills 57 in a shooting spree in South Korea.
1986: The world’s worst nuclear disaster happens in Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
1989: The deadliest tornado in world history happens in Central Bangladesh, killing upwards of 1,300.
1991: 70 tornadoes break out in the Central United States.
1994: China Airlines Flight 140 crashes in Japan, killing 264.
2002: Robert Steinhäuser kills 16 at Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Germany.
1667: A poor and nearly blind John Milton sells Paradise Lost for £10.
1865: The steamboat Sultana sinks in the Mississippi River, killing 1,800.
1945: Benito Mussolini is arrested.
1974: Ten-thousand march on Washington D.C. for the impeachment of Richard Nixon.
2006: Construction begins on Freedom Tower in New York City.
2011: Two hundred five tornadoes touch down on the Southeastern United States, killing more than 300.
1789: Lieutenant William Bligh is set adrift in the Mutiny on the Bounty.
1945: Benito Mussolini and and his mistress are executed.
1970: President Richard Nixon authorizes American troops to fight communists in Cambodia.
1986: High levels of radiation from the Chernobyl disaster are detected in Sweden.
1996: President Bill Clinton records over 4 hours of testimony for the Whitewater investigation.
1945: Adolf Hitler marries Eva Braun.
1967: Muhammad Ali is stripped of his boxing title.
1974: Richard Nixon announces release of edited tapes in Watergate scandal.
1986: A fire in the Central library of the City of Los Angeles Public Library destroys/damages over 400,000 books.
1991: A cyclone in Bangladesh kills at least 138,000.
1992: Riots begin in Los Angeles after the acquittal of police officers in the Rodney King beating.
2004: Dick Cheney and George W. Bush testify before the 9/11 Commission.
1789: George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first President of the United States.
1897: The discovery of the electron is announced at a lecture at the Royal Institution in London by J. J. Thomson.
1938: Bugs Bunny debuts in the animated short Porky’s Hare Hunt.
1945: Adolf Hitler allegedly shoots himself in the head and dies.
1973: Richard Nixon announces that White House Counsel John Dean has been fired, and aides including H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman have resigned.
1975: Saigon falls.
2004: Photos documenting the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by American soldiers are released to the media.
The holiday of Walpurgisnacht is celebrated.