10 wartime mass suicides

1. The 47 Ronin

After the assault, the ronin marched to the nearby Sengakuji Temple where Asano was buried and presented the head of Kira to their fallen master. By now, news of the assault had spread across the land, and the ronin were ordered to kill themselves. They complied, committing mass seppuku right there in the temple.

2. Masada

In the year A.D. 73, the Jewish community living there was surrounded by a Roman army. In what became known as an astounding act of Jewish defiance, commander of the Masada soldiers Elazar Ben-Yair ordered each man to kill his wife and children before turning their swords on one another—effectively ordering the execution of 960 citizens. Masada has such a place in Jewish folklore that it was still used as the place to swear in new soldiers for the Israeli army until recently.

3. Demmin

On May 1, 1945, about 1,000 residents of the town of Demmin in Germany committed mass suicide. The event came after the Russian army started to sack the town.

4. Dance Of Zalongo

The Souliote War of 1803 was a battle between the Souli and the Ottoman-Albanian army. After it become obvious that defeat was unavoidable, the Souli began to evacuate Souliote—but a small group of Souliot women and their children were pinned down in the mountain of Zalongo. In an act which has become known as the Dance of Zalongo, the women threw their children off the cliff first and then followed shortly after. The legend says that they jumped off the cliff singing and dancing.

5. The Numantines

The Numantines were a proud people and, rather than give up their bodies, they committed mass suicide.

6. Teutonic Women

By the time the Teutons arrived on the border of the Roman colonies, their pillaging had gone before them. Roman general Gaius Marius was there to meet them. Despite a hard-fought Battle of Aquae Sextiae, nearly 90,000 Tuetons were killed and their King Teutobod was taken captive. As a condition of the Teuton’s surrender, Marius ordered the king to hand over 300 married women, whom he intended to give to his Roman men. But the chosen women pleaded with Marius, begging him to release them to do service in the temples of Ceres and Venus. Marius denied them this right, and when the Romans went to wake their women the next morning they found every single one of them dead.

7. Puputan Of Badung

In September 20, 1906 when the Dutch army attacked Bali they met little resistance. When they arrived in Badung, they found that the people there had taken their fate into their own hands. The Balinese royal family had foreseen the arrival of the Dutch and, knowing they were going to lose the fight, the kings, their families, and hundreds of their followers all took their own lives.

8. The Fort of Chittorgarh

The most famous act of jauhar in Indian history happened in 1303. Chittorgarh was the capital of Rajput and a revered fort. But when Alauddin Khilji lay siege to the fort, he eventually broke down the resistance. His quarry was the beautiful Rajput queen, Rani Padmini of Chittorgarh. But once the battle was won, the queen, rather than fall into Khilji’s hands, committed suicide along with all the other women of Chittorgarh.

9. Saipan

Fearing the US troops would torture and murder them—mainly due to propaganda laid out by the Japanese army—the citizens of Saipan walked into the sea, or jumped off the cliffs and drowned themselves. The most notorious scene of the mass suicide was Marpi Point, a steep 250-meter precipice where American soldiers witnessed entire families fling themselves into the waves. An estimated 22,000 civilians died this way.

10. Pilenai

4,000 soldiers commit mass suicide, led by Duke Margiris after he realized that he could not win the war with the Teutonic Knights, on February 25, 1336. The opera above, Pilenai by Vytautas Klova tells the story of the tragic event.



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