Weird History The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century  

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110k votes 15.4k voters 617.6k views 116 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. 

1
924 182
World War II is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
eebass added 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
3,909 1,421
Invention of the Internet is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
jjohn6994 added Invention of the Internet

3
485 85
World War I is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
eebass added 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

4
2,978 1,198
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima a... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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

5
2,391 957
The Rise to Power of Hitler is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
leon-snyers added The Rise to Power of Hitler In 1933

6
1,361 532
Beginning of Aviation is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
leon-snyers added Beginning of Aviation

7
2,585 1,162
Apollo 11 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

8
3,361 1,637
Holocaust is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

9
1,958 946
Great Depression is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

10
2,042 1,074
Fall of the Berlin Wall is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century

11
2,151 1,184
Assassination of Archduke Fran... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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, ...more

12
1,635 930
Attack on Pearl Harbor is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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, ...more

13
875 452
Cold War is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
shewardethan added 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, ...more

14
767 414
Space Race is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
RobLein added 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 ...more

15
1,187 711
Treaty of Versailles is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

16
1,340 820
African-American Civil Rights ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
crbarbee45 added 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 ...more

17
1,331 833
Dissolution of the Soviet Unio... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

18
1,049 717
Vietnam War is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

19
1,090 751
John F. Kennedy assassination is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
RichardSeeger added 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

20
1,099 767
Invasion of Normandy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

21
493 340
Sputnik 1 is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
leon-snyers added 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 ...more

22
893 750
October Revolution is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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 ...more

23
749 617
Chernobyl disaster is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
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
728 598
Cuban missile crisis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis, The Missile Scare, or the Caribbean Crisis, was a 13-day confrontation in October 1962 between the United States and the Soviet Union ...more

25
834 708
Invasion of Poland is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign, or the 1939 Defensive War in Poland, and alternatively the Poland Campaign or Fall Weiß in Germany, was a joint invasion of ...more

26
687 569
Victory in Europe Day is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
KirkSaw added Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day, or simply V Day was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi ...more

27
588 487
Korean War is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Korean War was a war between North and South Korea, in which a United Nations force led by the United States of America fought for the South, and China fought for the North, which was also ...more

28
831 763
Sinking of the Titanic is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
the sinking of the RMS Titanic details the events of the night of Sunday 14 April 1912, and into the early hours of the following day, which saw the loss of the ocean liner Titanic, one of the ...more

29
625 558
Battle of Britain is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the Second World War air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940. The Battle of Britain ...more

30
545 484
Indian independence movement is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
Srinidhi S U added Indian Independence The term Indian Independence Movement encompasses activities and ideas aiming to end first East India Company rule, then the British Raj. The independence movement saw various national and ...more

31
520 480
Salt Satyagraha is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
Nishanth added Mahatma Gandhi of India started Dhandi march which paved a way for salt rvoultion in India against the British empire,........
The Salt March, also mainly known as the Salt Satyagraha, began with the Dandi March on 12 March 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a direct action ...more

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939 959
Declaration of the Establishme... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The term "foreign relations of Israel" refers to diplomatic, commercial and cultural ties between the State of Israel and other countries around the world. Israel joined the United ...more

33
1,145 1,208
Armenian Genocide is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern, was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its ...more

34
469 477
Chinese Civil War is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between forces loyal to the Kuomintang -led government of the Republic of China, and forces loyal to the Communist Party of China. The war ...more

35
1,176 1,307
Rwandan Genocide is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. During the approximate 100-day period from April 7, 1994, to mid-July, ...more

36
100 51
Nelson Mandela Elected Preside... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
MaryMcCabe1 added Nelson Mandela Elected President of South Africa

37
620 668
Nuremberg trials is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied forces after World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and ...more

38
224 199
AIDS pandemic is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
darren-bell added HIV/AIDS is a global pandemic. As of 2012, approximately 35.3 million people are living with HIV globally. Of these, approximately 17.2 million are men, 16.8 million are women and 3.4 million ...more

39
191 164
Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
michael-koebnick added Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy ...more

40
354 400
Nanking Massacre is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking or Rape of Nanjing, was an episode during the Second Sino-Japanese War of mass murder and mass rape by Japanese troops ...more

41
316 354
Robert F. Kennedy assassinatio... is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
phil-howe added The assassination of Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, a United States Senator and brother of assassinated President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, took place shortly after ...more

42
246 264
Watergate scandal is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
RobLein added The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters ...more

43
330 375
Battle of Berlin is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European theatre of World War II. Starting on 12 January 1945, ...more

44
326 370
Marshall Plan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
sebbzor added Marshall Plan

45
176 184
Gulf War is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
phil-howe added The Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Shield for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in its combat phase, was a war waged by ...more

46
277 324
Iranian Revolution is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
sebbzor added The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was supported by the United States and its eventual replacement with ...more

47
398 494
USS Liberty incident is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
Schlomo added The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty, by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats, on 8 June ...more

48
324 393
Industrialization of USSR is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
BrianCabrera added Industrialization of USSR Stalin industrializing the soviet union within various five year plans.

49
289 352
Soviet war in Afghanistan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
The Soviet–Afghan War lasted over nine years from December 1979 to February 1989. Part of the Cold War, it was fought between Soviet-led Afghan forces against multi-national insurgent groups ...more

50
290 369
Roswell UFO incident is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century
bjr24 added The Roswell UFO incident took place in the U.S. in June or July 1947, when an airborne object crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. Explanations of what took place are based on both ...more