famous assassinations

Famous Assassinations

Most Famous Assassinations of All Time List

ADDucation’s famous assassinations list includes the four Presidents of the USA assassinated while in office (John F. Kennedy 1963, William McKinley 1901, James A Garfield 1881 and Abraham Lincoln 1865) and former UK Prime Minister Spencer Perceval assassinated in 1812. We’ve also included some notorious failed famous assassinations (greyed out).

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Victim Year Day Location Assassin/s Circumstances, Events & Motives Leading to Famous Assassinations
Tsar Alexander II 1881 13 March. Russia, St. Petersburg. Narodnaya Volya and Ignacy Hryniewiecki. Both assassins were students and members of Narodnaya Volya “People’s Will” movement. Nikolai Rysakov threw a bomb which halted the carriage carrying the Emperor and nine others. When the Emperor emerged from the carriage intact Ignacy Hryniewiecki threw a second bomb which fatally wounded the Tsar who died the same day.
Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. 1983 12 August. Philippines, Manila. Marcos supporters. Marcos’ opposition leader was shot after his return from exile while disembarking from the plane (by Marcos’ supporters).
Benazir Bhutto 2007 12 December. Pakistan, Rawalpindi. suicide bomber. The Pakistani opposition leader was dead on arrival at hospital after a man fired shots at her from close range then detonated a suicide vest at a PPP rally she attended.
Siegfried Buback 1977 7 April. Germany, Karlsruhe. Red Army Faction. Federal Attorney General Siegfried Buback, his driver Wolfgang Göbel and judicial officer Georg Wurster, were shot in his car stopped at a traffic light by a Red Army Faction (RAF) member from the back of a motorcycle.
Engelbert Dollfuß 1934 25 July. Austria, Vienna. Otto Planeta, Johann Dobler. The Austrian Chancellor was shot in a Nazi coup by Otto Planeta and Johann Dobler in the Chancellery.
Rudi Dutschke 1968 11 April. Germany, Berlin, Kurfürsten-damm. Josef Bachmann. Rudi Dutschke, a spokesperson for the German student movement during the sixties, was shot in the head by Josef Bachmann who thought he was a “dirty communist pig”. Dutschke survived but suffered brain damage which led to his eventual death by drowning in a bathtub during an epileptic seizure. Bachmann was convicted and in 1970 committed suicide in jail.
Giovanni Falcone 1992 23 May. Italy, Capaci, near Palermo. Giovanni Brusca, Mafia killing. Giovanni Falcone was an Italian anti-mafia prosecutor and magistrate killed, along with his wife and bodyguards, on the A29 motorway, near Capaci, on the orders of the Corleonesi Mafia, using a remote control bomb triggered by Giovanni Brusca who is serving multiple life sentences in jail.
Pim Fortuyn 2002 6 May. Netherlands, Hilversum. animal rights activists. The Dutch politician died at the hands of militant environmental and animal rights activists.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand 1914 28 June. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo. Gavrilo Princip. 19 year old Gavrilo Princip, trained by the Serbian nationalist Black Hand terrorist group, shot heir to the Austrian Habsburg throne and his wife Sophie which triggered World War I. One of the most famous assassinations in history.
Indira Gandhi 1984 31 October. India, Punjab. Beant Singh, Satwant Singh. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, two of her own bodyguards, in the garden of the prime ministerial residence. The bodyguards surrendered. Satwant Singh, who fired 30 rounds, was executed by other guards. Beant Singh and Kehar Singh (who was arrested for conspiracy) were later both hanged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
Mahatma Gandhi 1948 30 January. India, Delhi. Nathuram Godse. Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi was killed on his way to his evening prayer, escorting four women, by fanatical Hindu Nathuram Godse who bowed and wished him then killed him by firing three shots at Gandhi from point blank range.
James A. Garfield 1881 19 September. USA, New Jersey. Charles Guiteau. American President James A Garfield was shot shot in the back at Washington, D.C. railroad station by “unhinged” Charles J. Guiteau who surrendered. President Garfield died by slow blood poisoning 80 days later. Guiteau was put to death by hanging in 1982.
King George I of Greece 1913 18 March. Greece, Thessaloniki. Alexander Schinas. King George I of Greece was shot in the back at close range by a single bullet from a revolver by assassin Alexander Schinas who was most likely just an angry beggar, rather than an anarchist or mentally ill but he was tortured and fell out of police station to his death six weeks later.
Theo van Gogh 2004 2 November. The Netherlands, Amsterdam. Islamic extremist. The Dutch film director dies after a knife attack by an Islamic extremist.
Henry IV 1610 14 May. France, Paris. Francois Ravaillac. The devout Catholic Francois Ravaillac stabbed the popular Huguenot king (but who converted to the Catholic faith) to death in his carriage.
Alfred Herrhausen 1989 30 November. Germany, Bad Homburg. Red Army Faction. The CEO (of the Deutsche Bank) was killed by a bomb planted on the roadside by the Red Army Faction (RAF).
Reinhard Heydrich 1942 27 May. Czech Republic, Prague. Jan Kubis, Jozef Gabčík. The high-ranking Nazi was killed by the bullets of Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabčík.
Adolf Hitler 1939 8 November. Germany, Munich. Georg Elser. This attempted Hitler assassination attempt using a bomb, planted in the Bürger beer cellar by Georg Elser, killed eight Nazis but Hitler escaped unhurt because he had left the meeting earlier than planned.
Hitler, Adolf 1944 20 July. Germany, Wolfs-schanze. Graf von Stauffenberg. Operation Valkyrie on 20 July 1944 was a failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg primed and planted a suitcase bomb near Hitler but the suitcase was moved and although it killed four Nazis, Hitler was only slightly injured. Von Stauffenberg and the other conspirators were all shot by firing squad.
Israeli athletes 1972 5 September. Germany, Munich. Palestinian Black September terrorists. During the 1972 Summer Olympics eleven Israeli Olympic team members; Ze’ev Friedman, David Berger, Yakov Springer, Eliezer Halfin, Yossef Gutfreund, Kehat Shorr, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer, Amitzur Shapira, Moshe Weinberg and Yossef Romano, were taken hostage and killed along with Anton Fliegerbauer, a German police officer, by the Palestinian Black September terrorist group. The Palestinian terrorists killed were; Yusuf Nazzal “Tony”, Afif Ahmed Hamid “Paolo”, Khalid Jawad “Salah”, Luttif Afif “Issa” and Ahmed Chic Thaa “Abu Halla”.
Pope John Paul II 1981 13 May. Italy, Rome, St. Peter’s Square. Mehmet Ali Agca. Three shots by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca seriously wounded Pope John Paul II.
Julius Caesar 44 BC 15 March. Italy, Rome. Cassius, Brutus, Decimus. In one of the bloodiest famous assassinations in history Julius Caesar died as a result of 23 stab wounds inflicted by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus in the Senate at Teatro di Pompeo on 15 March, which coincided with the Ides of March Roman festival, made memorable by the soothsayer in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar play who said “Beware the Ides of March”, and led to civil war.
Charles I 1908 1 February. Portugal, Lisbon. Alfredo Luís da Costa, Manuel Buíça. Carlos I King of Portugal and Crown Prince Ludwig Philip, traveling in an open carriage through the Terreiro do Paço with his family, were both killed by shots fired by republican activists Alfredo Luís da Costa and Manuel Buíça. Both activists, and one innocent bystander, were killed by bodyguards and police.
John F. Kennedy 1963 22 November. USA, Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald 12.30 pm. US President Kennedy drove through Dallas in an open car. Suddenly, shots rang out. One bullet hit his neck, another his head. The alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested shortly afterwards and shot dead two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. One of the most famous assassinations in history.
Robert Kennedy 1968 6 June. USA, Los Angeles. Sirhan Shot dead by Arab immigrant Sirhan in the Ambassador Hotel.
Martin Luther King Jr. 1968 4 April. USA, Memphis,
James Earl Ray James Earl Ray shot and killed famous black civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. on a motel room balcony. He fled the USA and was eventually arrested at Heathrow Airport in London.
1980 8 December. USA, New York City. Mark David Chapman. Ex-Beatles singer John Lennon was shot in front of his Dakota apartment building at around 10.50pm by Mark David Chapman who was a long standing Beatles fan. He killed John Lennon because over his 1966 comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” and to promote the reading of “The Catcher in the Rye” written by J.D. Salinger, which reflects on alienation, angst and superficiality in society. Chapman’s parole was denied for the tenth time in 2018. One of the  most famous assassinations of a musician ever.
Karl Liebknecht 1919 15 January. Germany, Berlin. military. Karl Liebknecht co-founded the Spartacist League with Rosa Luxemberg which became the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).  After the 1919 Spartacist uprising in Berlin was crushed by Friedrich Ebert’s new German government they were arrested by “Freikorps” (WWI veterans and mercenaries), interrogated, tortured and killed. Liebknecht was shot on the orders of Captain Waldemar Pabst. An annual L-L demo is still held every second Sunday in January.
Abraham Lincoln 1865 14 April. USA, Washington. John Wilkes Booth Lincoln was in Ford’s Theater laughing during the play “Our American Cousin” when John Wilkes Booth entered, shot the President in the head and perpetrated one of the most famous assassinations in history. At the same time assassination attempts were made on US Secretary of State Seward and Vice President Johnson. Today it’s considered part of one of the most famous assassination conspiracies in history.
Anna Lindt 2003 10 September. Sweden, Stockholm. knife attacker The Swedish politician was seriously injured in a department store by a knife attack and died the next morning from her injuries.
Patrice Emery Lumumba 1961 17 January. Congo, Lubumbashi. Moise Tshombe The first Prime Minister of Congo was arrested by the later dictator Mobutu and shot by opposition leader Moise Tshombe.
Rosa Luxemburg 1919 15 January. Germany, Berlin. military Rosa Luxemberg founded the Spartacist League with Karl Liebknecht which became the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).  After the 1919 Spartacist uprising in Berlin was crushed by Friedrich Ebert’s new German government they were arrested by “Freikorps” (WWI veterans and mercenaries), interrogated, tortured and killed. Rosa was shot in the head by either Lieutenant Kurt Vogel or by Lieutenant Hermann Souchon. Her body was thrown into the Landwehr Canal. An annual L-L demo is still held every second Sunday in January.
Malcolm X 1965 21 February. USA, Harlem, New York City. Talmadge Hayer, plus two Nation of Islam members Malcolm X was shot in the chest by a man with a sawn off shotgun followed by two other gunmen who charged the stage firing semi-automatic handguns at an Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) meeting in Manhattan, USA. Malcolm X died in hospital from 21 gunshot wounds to his chest plus 10 buckshot wounds. One of the most famous assassinations in history.
Jean-Paul Marat 1793 13 July. France, Paris. Charlotte Corday Jean-Paul Marat, Hero of the French Revolution and Jacobin leader died in his bathtub after being stabbed by Charlotte Corday.
William McKinley 1901 6 September. USA, Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz The US President was shot at a trade fair by Leon Czolgosz dying only later on Sept. 14th from of his injuries.
Lord Louis Mountbatten 1979 27 August. Ireland, Donegal. IRA bomb. The member of the British Royal Family was killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attack on a boat he was on. Among others, his grandson Nicholas also died in the attack.
Benno Ohnesorg 1967 2 June. Germany, Berlin. Karl-Heinz Kurras. Chief Detective Karl-Heinz Kurras shot the student dead at a demonstration.
Olof Palme 1986 26 February. Stockholm, Sweden. unknown assassins. Unknown assassins shot the Swedish Minister-President after a visit to the cinema.
Pier Paolo Pasolini 1975 1 November. Italy, Ostia, near Rome. Giuseppe Pelosi. The Italian director was slain by the 17 year old rent boy Giuseppe Pelosi with a wooden bar.
Spencer Perceval 1812 11 May. England, London. John Bellingham. Spencer Perceval is the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated while in office. He was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons by John Bellingham who acted alone.
Anna Politkovskaya 2006 7 October. Russia, Moscow. contract killing. Anna Politkovskaya was a Ukrainian writer and human rights activist who reported on Chechnya and criticized Vladimir Putin despite repeated death threats. She was shot dead in the elevator at her Moscow apartment block on Putin’s birthday. It was most likely a contract killing for which three Chechens and six people in total served time in Russian jails.
Jürgen Ponto 1977 30 July. Germany, Oberursel. Red Army Faction. The CEO of the Dresdner Bank was shot five times in his home by the Red Army Faction (RAF) and died of his wounds.
Jitzhak Rabin 1995 4 November. Israel, Tel Aviv. Jewish student. The Israeli prime minister was shot dead after a rally by a right-wing Jewish law student.
Rasputin 1916 17 December. Russia, St. Petersburg. Prince Felix Yusupov. Poisoned by Prince Felix Yusupov, shot and thrown into the frozen Neva river.
Ronald Reagan 1981 30 March. USA, Washington. Hinckley. The US president was shot in front of the Hilton Hotel by Hinckley but survived – one of the most famous assassinations attempts.
Archbishop Romero 1980 24 March. El Salvador, San Salvador. fascist extremist. This fighter for justice was shot by a fanatical right-wing extremist at the altar during a Mass.
Anwar El Sadat 1981 6 October. Egypt, Cairo. Khaled Islambouly. Former Egyptian president Anwar El Sadat was shot dead, along with eleven others, during a military victory parade by Egyptian army officer Lieutenant Khaled Islambouli acting on a fatwa from Omar Abdel-Rahman. Islambouli was executed by firing squad in 1982.
Empress Sissi 1898 10 September. Switzerland, Geneva. Luigi Lucceni. The anarchist Luigi Lucceni stabbed the Empress after a shopping spree (in front of the Hotel Beau Rivage) with a triangular file.
Leon Trotsky 1940 20 August. Mexico, Mexico City. agent. The Russian Communist Party leader was killed in exile by an agent with an ice pick.
King Umberto I 1900 29 July. Italy, Monza. Gaetano Bresci. Italian King Umberto I was killed by anarchist Gaetano Bresci to avenge the people killed suppressing the 1898 Milan riots.
Gianni Versace 1997 15 July. USA, Miami Beach, Florida. Andrew Cunanan. Famous fashion designer Gianni Versace was shot in front of his home on Ocean Drive by serial killer Andrew Cunanan who killed himself with the same gun the following week.
Alexander Litvinenko 2006 1 November. UK, London. Russian agents (allegedly). Litvinenko was a former KGB agent who was poisoned (probably by Russian agents) in his hotel and died 3 weeks later of radiation poisoning syndrome from polonium-210 aged 44.
Francisco “Pancho” Villa 1923 20 July. Mexico, Chihuahua. Meliton Lozoya. The revolutionary leader was shot dead in his car during a private dispute. The principal offender was Meliton Lozoya.
Albrecht von Wallenstein 1634 25 February. Hungary, Eger. Walter Deveroux. The General was invited to a castle festival and there killed in his bedroom by the Irish mercenary Walter Deveroux (on behalf of the German Emperor).
Andy Warhol 1968 3 June. USA, New York City. Valerie Solanas. The radical feminist Valerie Solanas, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, shot the famous artist 5 times. He was declared clinically dead but revived by surgeons who opened his chest and massaged his heart. Andy Warhol died in his sleep following gallbladder surgery in 1987, aged 58. One of the most famous assassinations of an artist ever.
Wilhelm II 1100 August. England, New Forest. Walter Tyrell. The King of England was pierced by an arrow while hunting. It is believed Walter Tyrell hit him intentionally from behind.
Emiliano Zapata 1919 10 April. Mexico, Chinameca. Colonel Guajardo. The Mexican Colonel Guajardo invited him to his hacienda where he died in a hail of bullets.

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