War/Tear Jerker

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< War

  • This page is one of the links on the Real Life page, a fairly standard Wikipedia entry detailing the casualties of World War II, until you get to part where it states that the estimated death toll for all nations is seventy five million. SEVENTY. FIVE. MILLION. Reading such an utter tragedy spelled out so plainly is an enormous punch to gut to say the least.
    • Yeah, about that...
    • Well, imagine if you're one of the families of the unfortunate ones who died. What would you feel?
    • Adding onto that note, the Cold War's proxy count is only speculative. You don't even get the joy of a numeral finality. And the stories, fictional and real, are every bit as harrowing. (Spy Came In From The Cold for one.) By the way, for a world war 2 one shot in the general style of a cold war film, and one of the most incredible jerkers ever, try Black Book.
  • My very dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days ... [dead link]
    • The Sullivan Ballou letter is sad. This troper remembers reading it as an assignment in her American History class last year and finding it more moving than a lot of the books she had remembered reading in English, even some of the sad ones.
    • this troper first read the letter when she asked her father for help with finding a monologue for drama class. when she finally entered 11th grade, her father handed her a copy to give to her teacher the day they started learning about the civil war. her teacher is a very large, very masculine man. he was crying as he read the letter aloud to the class. there was a beat, and someone whispered, " that's..so..sad."
    • The Civil War was full of tear jerkers (and that Ken Burns documentary covered a lot of them).
      • This troper once read an account about a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was held several decades after the single, most terrible battle ever fought on North American soil. Veterans from both sides - now old men - recreated the climax of the battle, with the Confederate soldiers charging up towards a stone wall defended by Union soldiers. Only this time, rather than fighting each other, both sides reached out and shook hands.
    • When that part of the documentary came on the entire room full of college students in this troper's Civil War class was in tears by the end. Including a guy who does reenactments and whose arms are as thick as this troper's legs. Even the professor had to wipe his eyes, that's how sad it is.
    • No, seriously. This guy is a billion times sadder than Ugly. Do not click, unless you're prepared to do some serious manly crying.
    • For this troper, it is the end of that documentary talking about the Battle of Shiloh. After speaking about the length of the battle, the horrendous conditions, the fact that more men were killed in a few hours in that battle than in * all of the previous US Wars combined,* it ends with the words: "Shiloh is a Hebrew word. It means, 'Place of Peace.'" Sorry, I need a moment.
  • Elizabeth I of England was responsible for at least one, while waiting for the Armada with her troops on the shore. Can also be considered a Crowning Moment of Awesome:

My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

  • This Troper lives in Israel and grew up in a Jewish school, who studied World War II and the Holocaust every year when the 'Yom Hashoah' comes. Even in sixth grade, when this troper was told about some of the things that were done through a lecture by a teacher- so casually she told us that the people had been led to their doom thinking that they were being given some sort of freedom - she couldn't help but almost break down in tears because it's so painful and horrible to listen to.
    • Actually, let the entire freakin' Holocaust count as one big Tear Jerker. This troper listened to her father telling her about his own family and how his grandfather, my great-grandfather, was shot in the streets by the Nazis - which left quite a big impression on me, although I don't tear up easily. This troper also heard a survivor speak about it and got a lump in her throat after he talked about how the Nazis broke his grandfather mentally by forcing him to scrub an entire square. This same survivor also saw his little brother shot in front of his eyes, an event which he also talked about, and it took all this troper's reserves of willpower not to start crying.
      • There is no sadder place than Auschwitz. The Nazis attempted to destroy Judaism and the whole Jewish nation by extermination them, and Christianity by torture, humiliation, oppression and destroying socially. Fortunately they failed. But Auschwitz stands as a grim reminder on what happens when the humankind abandons God. And the afterworld must not let Hitler win in the end.
    • This tropers school would cover the Holocause every year in history, but every year they steadily revealed more footage and stories of it. So not only did we review the atrocities we'd learned the year before, we were given more information on top of it. It made hearing high school students dispassionately say that every year we learned the same thing especially frustrating.
    • The Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London will always get me, especially the part where one of the survivors talks about her mother's death in the ghettos and cannot keep it together, dissolving into tears. On my first visit, I heard a girl behind me singing under her breath, and was utterly white-hot furious about how anyone could sing while seeing this...then I recognised the song. 'Deliver Us' from The Prince of Egypt. Can no longer hear the song without breaking down, because of the associations.
      • On a similar note: No matter what your opinions on Jerry Springer are, his episode of the original BBC "Who Do You Think You Are?" is the single most heart-wrenching hour of Holocaust-related television in existence. Jerry Springer was born in a London underground (subway) station while his parents were hiding out during a bombing spree. They had escaped from Poland not long before because of Jewish persecution. Pretty much the entirety of the rest of the family was wiped out during the Holocaust, a fact that renders Springer into a puddle of tears. You really come to realize that without Britain's liberal policies regarding these Jewish refugees during the early 1940s, pretty much the entire Springer clan would've been wiped out and Jerry would've never been born.
  • Three Words: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    • Also, there's the unfortunate accident regarding the Lucky Dragon 5 boat. Long story short, the boat got too close to an atomic bomb site and was exposed to nuclear fallout. One of the fishermen died of radiation poisoning six months later. The event (as well as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) was so poignant in Japan that it the inspiration for, of all things, the 1954 film Gojira.
    • Also easily forgotten and ultimately even worse: the firebombing of Tokyo.
      • Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet wrote a beautiful poem about Lucky Dragon 5. It is called Japon Balıkçısı (Japanese Fisherman). Google it, maybe you can find a good translation. I am a translator but I can not trust myself with that beautiful poem. The poem itself is a huge tearjerker. Many of Nazim Hikmet's poems are, but this one is especially heartwrenching.
  • This troper remembers when a Vietnam vet and Medal of Honor recipient came to his school to talk. One point stuck out in his story. After he had returned home from Vietnam, he came to visit the Vietnam war memorial in D.C. It was the middle of the night, and he was all alone, so he took some time to find his best friend's name on the wall. He told us that when he found it, he sat down and played a song on the harmonica for his fallen friend. After a while, he noticed many other veterans standing there with him, listening to his song. The moment was so poignant, it still sticks in my mind months after hearing it. It was just him and the veterans, giving one last tribute to the ones who weren't so lucky.
  • Two instances from the Battle of Mogadishu: One, the stories of Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon. For those who don't know, they were the two Delta force snipers that were put onto the ground to protect the crew of the Super-64, the second Black Hawk to crash in the city. They asked to be put in three times before permission was granted for them to go in, because command thought it was too dangerous. These men knew that. They knew a large armed force of Somalis was moving towards the crash site. They knew that it would only be the two of them against hundreds of heavily armed, very angry enemy combatants. They knew that there was little to no chance of coming out of that site alive. They also knew that there were American soldiers down there, their brothers in arms, and that if they didn't go get them, nobody would. So they went, they fought, and they died, and saved the life of CW 3 Mike Durant. They were the only Soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Somalia.
    Two: After the capture of Mike Durant, American helicopters circled the city with loud-speakers, broadcasting "Mike Durant, we will not leave you." Poignant in the movie, gut-wrenching when you remember that this actually happened. The dedication that these men had to each other inspires Soldiers everywhere.
  • This troper was taken on a visit to the very bunker where the Battle of Britain had been organized even as it was going on and preserved more or less as it would have been at the time, complete with radios to keep in touch with the various pilots. We were then told that the girls manning the radios were often able to hear the German pilots as well, and inevitably were privy to their last moments. THEN we were told how one girl once reported a German plane shot down, and as the plane was falling from the air she could hear its young pilot, screaming for his mother.
  • This video is one of the saddest things I've seen.
  • The German scientist Fritz Haber was forced to leave Germany or face persecution from the Nazis because of his Judaism. The Nazis killed members of Haber's own family in Auschwitz using Haber's most famous creation: Zyklon B, which he had synthesized to be used as an insecticide.
    • Would that be the same Fritz Haber who is often considered the father of chemical warfare and who, in World War I, as a captain in the German army, personally oversaw the deployment of chlorine gas at the Second Battle of Ypres, at which over 6,000 allied troops died due to gas inhalation within the first fifteen minutes? Not the best example of a tearjerker you could have picked. One does not excuse the other.
      • Many young men die in war. Do you think the Imperial German Army should have given their opponents flowers?
      • The point is, chemical warfare was so horrific that all the European powers agreed to ban it when they signed the Treaty of Versailles. So this is Tear Jerker by way of Hoist by His Own Petard.
        • However, he must be given some slack because it was the first use of chemical warfare ever. No one knew exactly how horrific it would be. When innovative weapons are first used, no one is sure of what exactly will happen. A big example is the a-bomb. The US government saw a really big bomb that made a REALLY big explosion. Those were sort of useful in the days when aiming a bomb was hard. It wasn't until the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that everyone knew just how terrifying those weapons are. Agent Orange in Vietnam was also not expected to be as deadly as it actually was. That fact alone is another tearjerker: that weapons meant to simply end a war quickly can cause more suffering than was ever intended by anyone.
      • He is the very same Fritz Haber, Nobel laureate of 1918. Haber's wife committed suicide because of his husband's involvement on gas warfare.
      • Gas warfare is considered to manifest crossing the Moral Event Horizon. Adolf Hitler himself refused from using poison gas on battlefield, because of his painful memories in WW 1 from British gas attack.
      • From what I understand, he was a very "my country, right or wrong" patriot. And if my chemistry professor, whose grandfather (I think)was an Allied soldier at the gas attack, can have visible problems controlling tears while telling a lecture theatre about Haber, then, dammit, it is a tearjerker for no other reason than that it is.
    • And even more tragic is his story because the Nazis didn't persecute him for his Judaism but his Jewishness. He was a Lutheran Christian by his creed, although Jewish by his ethnicity.
  • The Siege Of Leningrad, the most disastrous siege in history. A Trope Codifier of Snow Means Death. Hitler himself ordered Leningrad to be besieged, knowing that the "glorious revolution's city" was going to be defended with tooth and nail. After the red army failed to hold off the Germano-Finnish advance, leningrad was nearly entirely encircled and cut off from the rest of the country. Sheer horror ensued. From 1941 to 44, summa summarum 1,1 – 4,5 million people died (so, statistically speaking, about one out of 18 people in the entire war died in Leningrad). Those who didn't die in the fighting, died during the evacuations. Those who didn't die in the evacuations, died in the German bombardment. Those who didn't die in the bombardment, died from the cold. Those who didn't die from the cold, starved to death. Those who didn't starve to death, died from bulimia. And those who didn't die from bulimia, lived on as shell-shocked, grieving, disillusioned and brutalized shadows of their former selves.
    • There is surviving film footage depicting the progressively decaying everyday life (All _ here).
    • Already the background of this event is hard to sit through: During the winter periods, the Ladoga lake would freeze over, opening a small and fragile path into the city, the Road Of Life. On this route, supplies could be brought into the city, and civilians out. Stalin, however, went out of his way to slow down this process as much as he could. He knew that with no supplies and no possible escape, the Leningrader citizens had no choice but to fight on, and so this personal agenda makes him directly responsible for a good portion of the resulting deaths.
    • There were reports of all possible bestialities that took place in the city during the blockade. For instance a little girl's diary recounts how her father ate his own, his wife's and his daughter's bread rations. When he died a short time later, the weakened girl was genuinely happy. She didn't survive either. With time, the methods of the survivors grew more and more abstract. This troper's great-grandfather (a high-ranking militia commander), for instance, once was forced to eat his own belt because there simply weren't even rations left. Another time, and his men were swatting rats and then quickly devouring them. Tanya Savicheva, a young girl, who was 11 when the siege began wrote these entries to her diary:

Zhenya [her sister] died on Dec. 28th at 12:00 P.M. 1941

Grandma died on Jan. 25th 3:00 P.M. 1942

Leka [her brother] died on March 5th at 5:00 A.M. 1942

Uncle Vasya died on Apr. 13th at 2:00 after midnight 1942

Uncle Lesha on May 10th at 4:00 P.M. 1942

Mother on May 13th at 7:30 A.M. 1942

Savichevs died.

Everyone died.
Only Tanya is left.

    • Tanya was rescued from Leningrad in August 1942, but died from tubercolosis in 1944. Her diary was used by the prosecutors during the Nuremberg Trials.
    • Then there also were reports of cannibalism. Yes, in fact people were kidnapped off the streets and murdered, people were also killed by their own relatives (sometimes Mercy Kill, sometimes not). These bodies were then ground into hamburgers, who were sold to passerby children in exchange for their bread rations (which were usually bigger than normal ones). In the end, the citizens had about enough power left to drag themselves and their childhood sleighs through the violently cold climate from their accommodations to any large public structure made from wood, that was currently dismantled for the fire fuel. People just tended to break down in the middle of a street, and slowly freeze to death, as nobody had enough power to help them up again. The bodies were just left lying until spring, and the people passing by the dead bodies just ignored them. Needless to say, the streets were soon littered with the dead.
    • Then finally, the red army managed to regroup and to break the siege ring around Leningrad, flooding the city with resources again. People were celebrating Stalin and the party in the streets with fireworks and parades, not knowing that it was he who had held back most of the resources. And to add insult to injury, Stalin discretely started arresting Leningrad's officials and authorities, even the aptly named "heroes of Leningrad", and had them executed because they either had refused to obey Stalin's strict order during the siege or simply had expressed doubt over his (extremely questionable) leadership. Either that or because they overshadowed Stalin's role as the "liberator".
    • Nevertheless, the Leningraders were soon very different of all the other great Russian cities because of their experiences during the siege. Afterwards, there was a certain inimitable mix of true devotion to Stalin and firm doubt about it all, which would uniquely form Leningrad's relation with the party for decades to come.
    • Last but not least, the fighting predeceasing the siege was very violent too. This troper's mother told him that she and her family had a Dacha (summer home) in Pavlovo-na-Neve outside of Leningrad, at the very front strip where the Germans were fought off and the siege ring began. It is said (even by my mother) that the bodies were scattered so densely (a million people died only here), that if one would dig anywhere in any field or forest, one would find either shell casings, helmets, rifles, artillery shells and bombs (duds; there were so many of them, that most of such areas are fenced up for good) and actual skeletons. There was in fact so much left from the front ring, that if anywhere a forest fire breaks out in the area, people have an equal chance to be killed both by dud explosions and the fire. During the siege, the area was a battlefield twice; before and after the siege. Both times there were plenty of casualties. Soldiers who ran out of sufficient cover crawled to a body, pulled them over their own, and then crawled on to the next body, until they reached their command post. Oe of the countless individual Tear Jerker moments of the Eastern Front, an by extension also WW 2.
  • There's a documentary called Land of the Settlers, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In one section, you go from seeing an Israeli mother who lost her husband and sons in a suicide bombing to a peaceful protest where IDF soldiers are shooting at the protesters. Yes, they're aiming for their feet, but still. And there's tear gas as well - for a peaceful protest. I had to hold back the tears both times - I was in class, so I couldn't just start crying. Maybe I'm wrong, but suicide bombers and governmental decrees/actions aside, there's a lot of innocent people on both sides caught in the middle, and that breaks my heart. Even worse were the kids who just want to know when the fighting is going to stop.
  • Christmas Day, 1914. That is all.
  • This troper cannot listen to the words, "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds," without welling up.
  • This page about Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 4th Brigade combat team of the 101st Airborne Division is aboslutely heartbreaking, but when you look at the dates... This troper always gets a hollow feeling in her chest because they're not that much older than me.
    • Penkala and Muck were killed when German artillery landed in their foxhole. It's always made out to be safe, and then you find this out and it's devastating.
    • Realising how long so many of the members of Easy Company have lived since a lot of their closest friends died.
  • "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier, known but to God." Doesn't matter what battlefield it's in, this troper bawls whenever she sees this written on a headstone.
  • Try reading about the accounts of Howard Gilmore or John Cromwell without shedding a tear.
  • The Berlin Wall falling and the citizens from both halves of Germany finally being together for the first time in decades.
  • The Warsaw Uprising of 1944. For 63 days, 40000 civilians with 2500 weapons threw themselves at 30000 hardened and well-equipped German veterans, waiting for assistance from the Allies that never materialised due to back-room politics. In the end, approximately 200 000 citizens of Warsaw were killed during those 63 days. Sixty-three days of fighting on nothing more than hate and will, waiting for help that never arrives, watching your friends gunned down for fighting, and your family executed for being related to a resistance member... And now for the real tear jerker: No-one remembers. People talk about Midway, Iwo Jima, Dunkirk and Normandy, which were little more than skirmishes by comparison, but the Warsaw Uprising is all but forgotten.
  • Learning about the Holocaust for the first time. When you're younger, you sometimes hear people mention it and how terrible it is, but learning about it when you're a little older and you have some idea of the scale of it is awful. The sheer number of people killed, and realising that this wasn't done by an infection or disease, but by people. People who were probably once kids who weren't that different from you yourself, and they did terrible things, killed all those people...
    • I remember exactly when I really began to understand just how awful the Holocaust was. When I was in middle school and visiting Washington DC with my mom, we went to the Holocaust Museum. There was a preserved train car that had been used to transport people to Auschwitz and you had to walk through it to get to the next room in the museum. The sign on the outside said that 100 people were transported at once in the car. When I walked through it, I started counting and trying to figure how that many people could possibly fit in the tiny car. I got to about 40 and then couldn't fit anymore. The implication of that is literally the worst thing I can imagine - that at some point (and more likely many many times) 100 people had been packed into that tiny car, not knowing where they were going or if they would ever come home, and shuttled to their deaths.
  • Something about the way that all veterans, no matter how decorated or celebrated as brave for their actions, always insist the real heroes are the ones who didn't get to come home always gets to me.
  • Erich Kastner's epitaph for the destruction of Dresden during WWII: "I was born in the most beautiful city in the world. Even if your father, child, was the richest man in the world, he could not take you to see it, because it does not exist any more... In a thousand years was her beauty built, in one night was it utterly destroyed".