Weird History
20.5k voters

The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century

Updated March 15, 2021 106.6k votes 20.5k voters 737.5k views147 items

It's easy to say the world wouldn't be where it is today without the significant events that transpired throughout the 20th century. These important historical events, such as World War II, Sputnik, and the invention of the internet, truly shaped our world and paved the way for the 21st century and beyond. While all these events changed the world, some can be seen as more important than others—but which ones?

Check out the list of 20th century historical events below and vote up the ones you feel are most significant, and vote down any that seem less important. Of course, you can also add any events that aren't already on the list. 

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  • 1
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    495
    World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, though related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the world's...  more
  • 2
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    World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war mostly centered in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million...  more
  • 3
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    Invention of the Internet

  • 4
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    1,312
    The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which approximately six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Some historians use a definition of the Holocaust...  more
  • 5
    In August 1945, during the final stage of the Second World War, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two bombings, which killed at least...  more
  • 6
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    Beginning of Aviation

  • 7
    3,027
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    The Rise to Power of Hitler

    In 1933
  • 8
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    Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar...  more
  • 9
    The African-American Civil Rights Movement or 1960s Civil Rights Movement encompasses social movements in the United States whose goals were to end racial segregation and discrimination against black...  more
  • 10
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    The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc and powers in the Eastern Bloc. Historians have not fully agreed on the dates, but...  more
  • 11
    The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the 1930s. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; however, in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until...  more
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    The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The...  more
  • 14
    The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years...  more
  • 15
    On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, one...  more
  • 16
    The dissolution of the Soviet Union was formally enacted on December 26, 1991, as a result of the declaration no. 142-Н of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, acknowledging the independence of...  more
  • 17
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    The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States, for supremacy in spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the missile-based...  more
  • 18
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    Vietnam War

    The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and also known in Vietnam as Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam,...  more
  • 19
    The Invasion of Normandy was the invasion by and establishment of Western Allied forces in Normandy, during Operation Overlord in 1944 during World War II; the largest amphibious invasion to ever...  more
  • 20
    The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two...  more
  • 21
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    Nelson Mandela Elected President of South Africa

  • 22
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was...  more
  • 23
    The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central...  more
  • 24
    The October Revolution, officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution, and commonly referred to as Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a seizure of state...  more
  • 25
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    In 1957
    Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was a 58 cm diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. The Soviet Union launched it into an...  more