Weird History
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12 Historically Heart-Tugging Moments That Restore Our Faith In Humanity

October 15, 2020 33.2k votes 4.8k voters 119k views12 items

List RulesVote up the moments from history that give you the wholesome power you need to get through another day.

There's some pretty icky stuff in history. Deaths, wars, betrayals, diseases, and atrocities litter the pages of our history books, and it's hard not to get a little bummed out as we thumb through them. But it's okay because we learn from those things to make our present day better, right? 

But as we look at history and learn its patterns, a heartening truth does emerge. The light of human kindness, ingenuity, and bravery in some individuals always finds a way to shine through even the darkest of times. In some cases, the darkest of times is when that human light shines the brightest. The historians of Reddit weighed in on what they believed to be the most wholesome moments from history.

  • Photo: RahimMngwaya / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    After 9/11 The Kenyan Masai Tribe Donated 14 Cows To The United States

    From Redditor u/Hangman_Matt:

    The African tribe that donated 14 cows to the US as relief aid after 9/11. The tribe viewed cows as a precious commodity so to willingly donate them was a huge gesture of good will. 

    Context: Kimeli Naiyomah returned to his tiny village in Kenya soon after witnessing the 9/11 while studying in America, he found that his fellow Masai people had very little understanding of what exactly happened. They had only heard a small bit on the radio, but Naiyomah went into great detail of the images he saw on TV and the stories coming forth. The entire tribe was sad for the US, glad Kimeli was okay, and felt an overwhelming need to contribute. In a solemn ceremony, the Masai blessed 14 cows then gave them to the people of the United States. Due to extreme shipping costs, the US arranged for a tribe to take care of “America’s” herd in perpetuity rather than bringing them to American soil. A scholarship fund was set up by the United States for Masai children to attend local schools.

    Wholesome enough?
  • Photo: FOTO:FORTEPAN/Teller Ferenc / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    During WWII A German Family Allowed A Group Of American And German Soldiers In Their Home For Christmas Dinner

    From Redditor u/sephstorm:

    I remember a story from Unsolved Mysteries. The Friends of Fritz Vincken

    In 1944, when Fritz Vincken was just twelve-years-old, he and his mother, Elisabeth, were moved by his father, Hubert, to a small cabin in the Ardennes. Hubert, a baker for the German army, had moved them there to be protected from the fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. On Christmas Eve in 1944, Hubert had still not returned, but Elisabeth tried to make the most of their situation. She made a Christmas meal of a few potatoes and a small rooster. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door; three American soldiers were outside. One of them explained that their friend had been shot and asked if they could come inside. Elisabeth agreed and she had them place the injured soldier on a bed. She knew that harboring the enemy was punishable by death, but she was willing to take that risk to help them. The injured soldier had been shot in the leg and had lost a great amount of blood. Elisabeth and Fritz did everything they could to help.

    Shortly after that, there was another knock at the door. This time, there were four German soldiers. One of the soldiers said that he had lost their unit and needed a place to stay. Elisabeth agreed to let them in on one condition: they had to accept her guests (the American soldiers) and leave their guns outside. She then took the guns from the Americans as well. That night, all seven soldiers, along with the Vinckens, sat and had Christmas dinner together. One of the German soldiers looked at the injured American soldier and gave him some first aid. Elisabeth said a prayer, asking for the war to end and for them all to be protected. By the end of the prayer, all of the soldiers had tears in their eyes.

    Later that night, the soldiers went outside to look at the stars; they each gave thanks in their own way. All of the soldiers slept together that night. The next morning, the German soldiers helped create a makeshift stretcher for the injured American. They also gave the American soldiers directions back to their unit. That same day, Fritz and Elisabeth left with the Germans and were soon reunited with Hubert.

    Context: After Fritz Vincken told his story on a 1995 episode of Unsolved Mysteries, one of the American soldiers from that night, Ralph Blank, who had served with the 121st Infantry, 8th Division, during World War II, reached out to thank him for his mother's actions. 

    Wholesome enough?
  • 3

    Three Men Dove Into Radioactive Water In Order To Avert Nuclear Disaster And Lived Long Lives After

    From Redditor u/bustead:

    The 3 men that dived into the highly radioactive pool beneath reactor no. 4 of Chernobyl power plant all survived.

    They were tasked to open a valve in the dark basement so that the radioactive waste water can be drained before the melting reactor core can chew through the concrete above the basement. If these men failed their mission, the molten core would come into contact with the water and instantly cause a steam explosion, contaminating all of Europe.

    In short, the 3 men charged in knowing that they most likely wouldn't survive in order to save the rest of Europe.

    Context: The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear reactor meltdown in the former Soviet Union caused by design flaws and human error, that killed and injured thousands over the ensuing decades. It's considered the worst nuclear disaster in history, but could have been worse if not for these three men. The initial explosions released 400 times as much radioactive fallout as the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The fires were put out within hours but it was then discovered that unit 4's reactor core was still melting down. Underneath was a pool of water, used as coolant for the power plant. If the approaching molten radioactive metal touched it, it would trigger a second steam explosion, destroying the entire power station, including the three other reactors. Three men entered the basement in only wetsuits with radioactive water up to their knees and in a needle in a haystack scenario, managed to find the release valve to drain the remaining water. One of the men died of a heart attack in 2005. The other two were in good health as of 2018.

    Wholesome enough?
  • Photo: homo mundi / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    WWI British And German Troops Left Their Trenches To Celebrate Christmas Together

    From Redditor u/anhedoniaman:

    The Christmas Day ceasefire during WWI. Not only did they stop fighting altogether, but they got out into No Man's Land, played footy all day, and then had supper together, shared stories, broke bread, so on and so forth. Extremely wholesome, but extremely sad as well as WWI was a definitive turning point in modern history which began the doctrine of "forever war."

    Context: The Christmas Truce of 1914 occurred five months after the outbreak of war in Europe. It never happened again as future attempts at holiday ceasefires were put down by threats of disciplinary action. It started with singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve and the next day, the men apprehensively left their fortifications to celebrate the holiday. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it thusly: “First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

    Wholesome enough?