We’ve all heard of the historical greats. People like Oskar Schindler and Marie Curie. People whose contributions to the world have made a significant difference. But what about those behind the scenes?
People on Reddit have been sharing the love with their list of the most underappreciated people in history. From a microbiologist to ordinary people who saved millions of lives, here are four that we should all know about.
Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov
On 6 May 1986, ten days after the Chernobyl incident, there was a risk of an even bigger explosion. A melting reactor core was at risk of breaking through a cement floor and hitting a pool of water in the basement; if it did so, it would have resulted in a huge explosion which would have rendered half of Europe uninhabitable.
Three divers, Alexie Ananenko, Valeria Bezpalov and Boris Baranov, volunteered to dive into the radioactive water in order to drain the basement of all its water. They died of radiation poisoning two weeks after their dive – but undoubtedly saved millions of lives.
Everyone’s heard of Oskar Schindler, but do you know who Chiune Sugihara is? Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. But, more prominently, he also helped save several thousand Jews during World War II. By issuing them transit visas so more than 6,000 Jewish refugees could travel to Japan, Sugihara put his career and his family’s lives at risk.
Poor Fairfax. On July 19 1969, Fairfax became the first person to row solo across an ocean (the Atlantic, no less). Impressive, yes. But his fame was short-lived thanks to a little event that happened the next day – something about people landing on the Moon or something.
Don’t worry, Fairfax. We appreciate your feat, even if no one else does.
Without this guy, thousands – if not millions – of us would be dead. Yeah, we’re not exaggerating. Hilleman was an American microbiologist who developed over 40 vaccines during his lifetime. Among those were vacicines for measles, meningitis, pneumonia, mumps and hepatitis A and B. He’d often credited with saving more lives than any other medical scientist of the 20th century – but how many of us had heard of him?
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