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PHOTOGRAPHY

30 photos of key episodes in world history every cultivated person should know

These 30 historical episodes have become key events in global history thanks to the harrowing images that have captured the most unsuspected and crude events of the past century.

The access to images and photography since its creation has given us a new perspective on history making it more vivid. Images are windows that allow us to look out on the world and with them, also on a history that is our own, the one that some eye had for better or worse to capture for posterity.

To know our history is to broaden our vision of the world and this allows us to see life differently. To see history as if it were already made is a false trick of the powerful: we forget that we, mere nobodies, are the ones who day by day build it with our steps, the historical facts of the future we can make now.

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These 30 historical episodes have become key events in global history thanks to the harrowing images that have captured the most unsuspected and crude events of the past century should make us more empathic towards the world. If we really want to avoid committing the same mistakes or if we want to be more understanding about our reality, we all should know about these events.

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The photographs we are going to show you have gone around the world, not only because of the strength of the image or the symbols they contain but also because of the impact they have had on humanity. Surely you know or identify them and with them, you will realize that the world has changed (or maybe not as we should).

This time, we’re inviting you on a journey to our past, our history; a journey to understand the present. The order of the photos is arbitrary; like a puzzle, it invites you to reassemble the pieces of the world we aspire to: free, fair, democratic, with peace and equality.

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1. 9/11, 2001.

Al Quaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center of New York City.

2. Black Power, 1968.

Two African-American athletes made the Black Power salute after winning the event at the Olympic Games in Mexico. Their medals were retrieved for their audacity.

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3. The fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989.

The wall dividing Germany finally fell leading to the end of Soviet socialism.

4. Martin Luther King in Memorial Park, 1963.

With a massive crowd on Washington, King recited his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on equal rights for black people.

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5. Virginia Tech massacre, 2007.

One of the worst attacks on a school in the US was perpetrated at this university. Many more shootings have been added to the list since.

6. The economic crisis of 1929.

The Wall Street stock market crashed leading to the Great Depression, one of America’s darkest periods.

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7. Missile Crisis, 1962.

The conflict between the US and Cuba put the world on the brink of nuclear war between the two powers, the US and the USSR.

8. Coup d’état in Chile, 1973.

It was sparked by the assassination of Salvador Allende by the forces of dictator Pinochet. Coincidentally (or not), many Latin American countries shifted to dictatorial governments.

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9. Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution in Managua, 1979.

The victory against the Somoza dictatorship gave countries sunk in dictatorships hope.

10. Occupy Wall Street movement, 2011.

This was a protest on the Brooklyn Bridge against the power of multinationals that spread around the world.

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11. Woodstock Festival, 1969.

As the most famous and important rock meeting that gathered the hippie population whose motto was “peace & love,” Woodstock revolutionized society all over the world.

12. Disappearance of students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, 2014.

The forced disappearance of 43 students by the state, outraged the world; the crime is still unsolved.

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13. Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, 1976.

Demonstrations of mothers of children disappeared by the Argentine dictatorship filed the Buenos Aires landmark. Today many are still trying to find their children and grandchildren.

14. The Assassination of the Archduke of Austria, 1914.

The event that triggered WWI.

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15. The Holocaust, 1941-1945.

This was the genocide of thousands of Jews, gypsies, and other targeted groups at the hands of Germany during WWII.

16. Chernobyl nuclear disaster, 1986.

This is considered the worst nuclear accident in history with radiation and health consequences having an impact even today.

17. Battle of Berlin, 1945.

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This battle resulted in the surrender of the German capital during WWII allowing the Soviet entry into Berlin.

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18. Attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941.

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Japan’s attack on the U.S. military base forced America to enter WWII.

19. The capture of Paris, 1940.

Germany’s military taking the French capital represented the beginning of the occupation of France by Axis forces.

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20. Russian Revolution, 1917.

Lenin and other socialist leaders managed to celebrate on Red Square the triumph over tsarism after terrible massacres. This gave birth to the USSR.

21. Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976.

This revolution was promoted by Mao Zedong to embrace and bring back China’s cultural roots.

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22. Rwandan genocide, 1994.

The horrific event attempted the extermination of 75% of the Tutsi population by the Hutu government.

23. Vietnam War, 1955 - 1975.

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A group of children flees after a napalm attack on their community. This war was one of America’s worst shames.

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24. Independence of India, 1947.

Mahatma Gandhi led the pacifist movement for independence. Although it was achieved it led to the violent times of the Partition, a conflict to divide the territory between India and Pakistan.

25. Migratory crisis in Spain, since 2004.

More than 28 thousand migrants have crossed the most unequal border: Melilla. The migration crisis in Europe and the world keeps increasing.

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26. Arab Spring, 2010-2013.

These were a set of demonstrations looking for democracy and social justice by the Arab people.

27. Bombing in Syria by Russia, 2015.

War started for the control of territories against the Islamic State. It is still a crisis.

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28. Bombing of Baghdad, 2003.

The war was initiated by the United States under the pretext of global terrorism.

29. Covid-19 pandemic, 2020.

This global health crisis has reduced life expectancy all over the world.

30. Russo-Ukrainian War, 2022.

The conflict between both Easter countries is far from over. Russia claims part of the Ukrainian territory while the latter broke a treaty made after WWII to stay away from NATO.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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