8 Of Most Shocking Moments In History

Reporting on Anne’s execution in 1536, Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador to Henry’s court, wrote: “No one ever shewed more courage or greater readiness to meet death than she did”. Today, nearly 500 years after her execution, historians cannot agree why Anne had to die. This episode of Witness explores Anne’s final hours and considers why she was executed.

2. The building of the Berlin Wall

For almost 30 years the Berlin Wall separated Germany’s communist east from the US-friendly west. Constructed overnight on 12–13 August 1961 by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), the wall’s official purpose was to stop western “fascists” from entering east Germany and undermining the building of a socialist state. In reality, however, it served to prevent mass defections from east to west.

Berliners awoke on 13 August to find themselves cut off from family, friends, work and in some cases even their homes – it was now impossible to get from east to west. The makeshift wall was soon replaced by a 12ft-tall, 4ft-wide reinforced concrete barrier, heavily guarded and lined with booby traps. In total at least 171 people were killed trying to get over, under or around the Berlin Wall, which stood until 9 November 1989.

3. The sinking of the Titanic

On the night of 14 April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage. Of the 2,208 people aboard ship – the largest vessel in the world at the time – only 712 survived. It took just two-and-a-half hours for the huge vessel to sink, and amid freezing temperatures many people are likely to have died within minutes of entering the water.

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