If you ever ask where the pain is, then the answer would be, “in a moment”. Sometimes it’s blurry, sometimes it’s obscured, giving a heart-wrenching pain that remains forever. But what if this moment is caged in a vivid image? Yes, then it would haunt everyone who saw it once.
Here are some of the most powerful and heartbreaking sad photos from around the world that have left the scars of deep regrets in human history forever:
1 | The Two Hungry Children Living By Scavenging On A Kathmandu Junkyard
This powerful image is of two vulnerable children who live nearby to a junkyard in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Every day they search the junkyard for something useful that they can resell for money so they can buy food. For this iconic tragic photo, the photographer Chan Kwok Hung from Hong Kong won the title of CIWEM Environmental Photographer Of The Year 2011.
2 | A Final Embrace
April 25, 2013, a garment factory building collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, due to the structural faults, claiming more than a thousand lives. The two victims shown on this heartbreaking sad photo are amid the rubble of the collapsed building. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful, which stands perfectly for “The Most Haunting Iconic Photograph From Bangladesh”.
3 | Death of Alan Kurdi, Bodrum, Turkey – The Most Heartbreaking Sad Photo
This image is of a three-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, after a failed Smuggling, that made global headlines as “The Most Heartbreaking Photo” in September 2015.
4 | The Nagasaki Brothers
Joe O’Donnell, the man who took this famous historic photo at Nagasaki shortly after the bombing. The younger kid in the picture was dead, and the elder boy carried his dead brother to a crematorium, watching him burn but still holds himself from crying. To say the truth, his heartbreaking expression will bring tears to anyone’s eyes.
5 | The Heartbreaking Photo Of The Burning Monk
The Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc set himself on fire on June 11, 1963, as a form of protest against the killings of Buddhists by the South Vietnam government. This historic event occurred in Saigon, Vietnam. Thich never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound while in the fire, and he was at the lotus position till his death. Read Full Story
6 | Terrible Human Being
Turkey was responsible for the 1915 Armenian Genocide. This is a heartbreaking photo of a Turkish official teasing starving Armenian children by showing bread.
In 2005 Oxford University Press published Donald Bloxham’s The Great Game of Genocide. Imperialism, Nationalism and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. The book included nine photographs printed on glossy paper. Eight of the photographs were credited. This one is not. The caption in the book reads: “A Turkish official taunting starving Armenians with bread.”
The man in the caption obviously cannot be a “Turkish official” because of his Western dress code. In some points, the background and the colour pixels of this photo are suspicious. Later, many photo analysts found this image to be fake. Though, this particular “photograph” was a forgery, the fact is real.
7 | Shame On Society
This heartbreaking photo was taken just after World War II had ended, where a French woman has her head shaved by civilians as a penalty for having consorted with German troops.
8 | Crossing The Berlin Wall: A Heart Of Peace At War
This powerful photo depicts the heart touching moment when an East German soldier in 1961 helping a small child cross the Berlin Wall on the day it was completed, even though he could’ve faced death as a punishment. The child likely got left behind in the chaos of families fleeing out of East Germany.
9 | Inside An Auschwitz Gas Chamber
No words to say. Each scratch contains unbearable pains and miseries. The Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. At least 1.1 million people were killed there between 1942 and 1944.
10 | The Child Of Bhopal Gas Tragedy
In December 1984, India underwent the most horrible industrial disaster of a poisonous gas leak that is known as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. About 3,000 people died immediately on that disaster night and another 6,000 died within the next one week. The disaster made more than half a million people sick.
Pablo Bartholomew took this photo in the early morning of 5th December 1984, when a group of people gathered around a father who was about to bury his girl child. The sinless child was poisoned to death due to gas leak. It’s one of the most heartbreaking tragic photos we have ever seen!
11 | The Starving Chinese Man
A starving Chinese man is resorting to eating tree bark outside the British embassy during the communist siege of Shanghai in the Chinese Civil War lasting intermittently between 1927 and 1949. The Chinese famine of 1942–43 occurred mainly in Henan, most particularly within the eastern and central parts of the province. Henan is a province in Central China’s Yellow River Valley where 2 to 3 million people died of starvation or disease and upwards of 4 million fled.
12 | The Last Jew Of Vinnitsa
Picture from an Einsatzgruppen soldier’s personal album, labelled on the back as “Last Jew of Vinnitsa”, it shows a member of Einsatzgruppe D is just about to shoot a Jewish man kneeling before a filled mass grave in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, in 1941. All 28,000 Jews from Vinnitsa and its surrounding areas were massacred at the time.
13 | Escape From “Burning Alive”
These are all office workers who were trapped in the burning World Trade Center on 9/11. They couldn’t get out. They were about 80 or so stories up, maybe more. The rooms they were in were filling with smoke. The floors were getting very hot, so hot that molten metal was seen pouring out of the towers. They couldn’t breathe so they were crowding the windows to try to get some air. They could see the city from where they were. Some could probably see their homes. In the last, they chose to jump to their death, rather than being burned alive!
14 | The Shanghai Baby
A heartbreaking scene from the Second Sino-Japanese War. Japan announced they were going to bomb the Chinese defence near Shanghai’s Whampoo River on August 28, 1937. Therefore, news teams gathered there to capture the event. The planes arrived at 4:00 PM. But most of the reporters had already left after hearing that the raid was postponed.
However, only one photographer, H.S. Wong, was waiting there. Then the evil conspiracy took place. The bombers didn’t hit the Chinese defences. They hit the city’s train station—which housed 1,800 civilians waiting for evacuation, mostly women and children, of which 1,500 died tragically. Just after the bombing, Wong saw a man rescuing children from the tracks. The man placed the first young child on the platform edge before returning to help another—and that is the picture he took.
15 | Fear
A sixteen-year old German soldier, Hans-Georg Henke, cries after being captured by the US 9th Army in Rechtenbach, Germany, on April 3, 1945. He was a member of the Luftwaffe anti-air squad (Luftwaffenhelfer). His father had died in 1938 and his mother in 1944. He joined the Luftwaffe to support himself. Now, he burst into tears as his world crumbled around him!
16 | Mongolian Woman Condemned To Die Of Starvation
A young Mongolian woman condemned to die of starvation in a crate. She was said to have been accused of adultery. This photo was taken in July 1913 by French photographer Albert Kahn. This brutal method of execution is called “Immurement” which is practiced in Mongolia as recently as the early 20th century. Read Full Story
17 | The “Mass Grave 3” Of Bergen-Belsen
This is one of the most heartbreaking photos taken from World War II. It depicts the unforgettable infamy of Mass Grave 3, one of the most remembered Nazi concentration camps where over 50 thousand people were killed. The man standing among the dumped bodies is the camp doctor named Fritz Klein, who was hanged in December 1945 for his cruelty and brutality.
18 | String Of Tears
Diego Frazao Torquato, a 12 year old Brazilian playing the Violin at his teacher’s funeral. The teacher had helped him escape poverty and violence through music.
19 | The Starving Boy In Uganda, 1980
In 1980 Mike Wells took this powerful heartbreaking photograph of a Catholic missionary holding the hand of a starving Ugandan boy. This non-human like hand shows, starvation is an eternal curse to this world.
20 | The Congo Hands, 1904
A father staring at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter who was killed, and allegedly cannibalized, by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company militia in Belgian Congo, in 1904. She was punished for failing to make the daily rubber quota!
21 | The Human Zoos: The Western world’s Shameful Secret, 1900-1958
A young Filipino girl is pictured sitting on a wooden bench in an enclosure in Coney Island, New York in a horrifying 1906 ‘exhibit’. Thousands of indigenous individuals from Africa, Asia, and the Americas were brought to the United States and Europe, often under dubious circumstances, to be put on display in a quasi-captive life in “human zoos.”
22 | Evelyn McHale: The Most Beautiful Suicide
In 1947, when Evelyn was just 23 years old, she plunged to her death from the 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York. She landed on a limousine parked at the curb. Taken by Rob Wileys, this iconic yet heartbreaking photo is considered to be “the most beautiful suicide” in the world, which depicts Evelyn’s body to be unnaturally intact. Read Full Story
23 | The Napalm Girl
In this heartbreaking war photo, South Vietnamese forces can be seen following terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, who is running naked from a napalm attack on June 8, 1972. Napalm is a highly flammable mixture of a gelling agent and a volatile petrochemical, which burns at high temperatures.
Napalm bomb is effective against dug-in enemy personnel, flowing into foxholes, trenches, bunkers and other improvised troop shelters. Even people in undamaged shelters can be killed by hyperthermia, radiant heat, dehydration, asphyxiation, smoke exposure, or carbon monoxide poisoning. This iconic war photo, taken by photographer Nick Ut, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973.
24 | The Agony Of Omayra Sanchez
In 1985, a 13-year-old brave Colombian girl named Omayra Sanchez was trapped up to her waist in a volcanic mudflow. She was mostly alert and was interviewed. Knowing she would die, volunteers and rescuers did their best to comfort her. She died after 60 hours, and her photo became iconic. Read Full Story
25 | The Shadows Of Hiroshima
When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the blast was so intense that the radiation from the explosion created permanently burned shadows of people and objects into the ground and walls.
26 | The Vulture And The Little Girl
Taken by the renowned photographer, Kevin Carter, “The vulture and the little girl” is a Pulitzer Winning pathetic photograph of a famine-stricken starving boy – initially believed to be a girl – being preyed upon by a vulture. Kevin Carter committed suicide 3 months after he won the Pulitzer Prize for this unforgettable photograph of a vulture stalking the starving girl, which is said to be the crucial reason behind Carter’s tragic death. Read Full Story