20 Facts that History Class Didn't Cover
20 Facts that History Class Didn’t Cover

20 Facts that History Class Didn’t Cover

Khalid Elhassan - April 3, 2019

20 Facts that History Class Didn’t Cover
Curved blade favored by the Sicarii. Medium

2. History’s First Terrorists Hailed From… The Holy Lands

The Zealots were 1st century AD Jewish radicals who sought to free the Holy Lands from Roman occupation. However, a splinter group known as the Sicarii thought the Zealots were too soft, so they upped the stakes and became history’s earliest identifiable terrorists. The Sicarii, named after their knives, or sicae, blended into crowds at public gatherings, then suddenly charged their victim, stabbed them, and vanished back into the crowd in the ensuing confusion. They primarily targeted the pro-Roman Jewish aristocracy, and their victims included a High Priest of the Jewish Temple, after whose killing they went on a terrifying assassination spree.

The Sicarii sought to provoke the Romans, who needed little provocation before resorting to massacres and collective punishment. That kept discontent smoldering, lit new flames of resentment, and furnished a steady stream of new recruits from the families and friends of Roman victims. The Sicarii also engaged in sabotage to worsen the public’s living conditions and keep it disgruntled. Gifted with an occupier ready to resort to indiscriminate violence, Sicarii invited massive Roman retaliation, to force the hands of fence sitters. They could do nothing and still end up massacred or enslaved by angry Romans in no mood to distinguish “good” natives from bad, or join the resistance in a bid to gain freedom, or at least the dignity of an honorable death.

20 Facts that History Class Didn’t Cover
Japanese troops shelling the German settlement in Tsingtao, China. David Doughty

1. Japan And Germany Were Enemies in WWI

Japan was WWII’s second main Axis power, but two decades early, in WWI, Japan had fought with the western democracies against Germany. It was not out of any philosophical affinity for democracy. In 1914, the Japanese government realized that its interests were best served by joining the Entente powers, so it approached Britain, with whom it had an alliance treaty, and proposed joining the war in exchange for Germany’s Pacific possessions. The British wanted Japan to counter German naval power in East Asia, so they accepted. Japan duly declared war against Germany on August 23rd, 1914, and against Austria-Hungary two days later.

Ten days later, Japanese forces besieged the German settlement in Tsingtao, China, and captured it on November 7th. Simultaneously, the Japanese Navy seized Germany’s Pacific possessions of the Marianas, Carolines, and Marshall islands. Having fulfilled its part of the bargain by suppressing the Germans in the Far East, and chasing the German East Asiatic Squadron out of the Pacific, Japan spent the rest of the war making the best of it. By 1917, millions had died in Europe, but in Japan, the conflict meant not hardship, but a wartime boom, as Japanese industry and factories went full blast in producing goods for her insatiable allies.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Baltimore Sun, March 25th, 2005 – English Civil War Led to Battle on Severn

Cracked – 6 Amazing Facts That’ll Change the Way You Look at History

Encyclopedia Britannica – Mariamne, Wife of Herod

GM Watch – Bayer and the Holocaust

International Encyclopedia of the First World War – High Voltage Fence (the Netherlands and Belgium)

Irish Times, May 8th, 2015 – Post-war Massacre Sparked Algerian Independence

Jacobin, August 28th, 2012 – Lincoln and Marx

Japan Times, May 9th, 2017 – Japan’s Little Known But Significant Role in World War I

MacIntyre, Ben – Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman, Lover, Betrayer, Hero, Spy (2007)

National Park Service – Domestic Sabotage: The Explosion at Black Tom Island

New York Times, July 3rd, 2010 – America’s Revolution: The Prequel

Sandburg, Carl – Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (1926)

Spartacus Educational – Ellen Rometsch

ThoughtCo – The Jewish Sicarii: First Century Terrorists

Vintage News – Eiffel Tower’s Cables Were Cut So That Hitler Would Have to Climb the Steps to the Top

Wikipedia – Qarmatians

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