Places of Pain

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

There are places in the world whose names bring to mind human pain and suffering caused by other people, nature, or both. Included here are some of these places and the horrors and disasters that caused their infamy.

Auschwitz was only one of the Nazi concentration camps. They were built in the 1930s to exterminate Jews by killing them in gas chambers. Auschwitz, in Poland, is now called Oswiecim.

Bangladesh, a small country next to India, is the site of a constant battle with nature and with environmental degradation made worse by humans. Over the years it has suffered from floods, tidal waves, cyclones, tornados, and famine.

Belfast, in Northern Ireland, was long the scene of frequent terrorist activities in the struggle between Catholics and Protestants.

The Black Hole of Calcutta, a small dungeon (18-by-14 feet) in Calcutta, India, is reputed to have held 146 British prisoners in 1756. On their first day in prison, 123 of the prisoners died from suffocation. The Black Hole of Calcutta became the name for that otherwise nameless jail.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: When the U.S. dropped atom bombs on these two Japanese cities to end World War II, millions died or were maimed, and the cities were destroyed.

Pearl Harbor: This U.S. naval base in Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941: 18 ships were sunk, 200 planes were destroyed, and 3,700 casualties suffered. This surprise attack propelled the U.S. into World War II.

Ring of Fire: This is where the land plates of Asia and the Americas meet the Pacific Ocean plate. Some 60 percent of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur along this line.

The Tower of London is a fortress in London, England. Inside, the Traitor's Gate and Bloody Tower were the site of many beheadings.

World Trade Center: In 1993 terrorists drove a truck packed with 1,100 lbs of explosives into the basement parking garage at the World Trade Center. Despite the size of the blast—it left a crater 22 ft wide and five stories deep—only six people were killed and 1,000 injured.

On September 11, 2001, two commercial planes, en route from Boston to Los Angeles, were hijacked and flown minutes apart into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. Both World Trade Center towers collapsed. In all, 2,995 people died in the terrorist attacks, including the 19 hijackers. It was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history.

Wounded Knee is the location of a battlefield in South Dakota where, in 1890, U.S. soldiers killed 200 Sioux women, children, and warriors.

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