The Dark Past of Valentine’s Day

When people think about Valentine’s Day, they think of roses; hardly anyone thinks about murder.


Chicago Tribune

George “Bugs” Moran 1929

Alexandra de la Mora, Staff Reporter

When people think about Valentine’s Day, they think of roses, chocolates, and fancy restaurants to express their love to their significant other; hardly anyone thinks about revenge, blood, and murder on the most loveable day of the year. 93 years ago, seven members of the Irish gang run by George “Bugs” Moran, were killed in a garage on the Northside of Chicago, making the day live in infamy: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. 

Gang-related crimes became very popular during the Roaring Twenties, when prohibition was established in 1920. Gangsters all over the U.S. started the business of bootlegging that made, exported, and sold illegal alcohol all over the country- even in the heart of the Windy City. George Moran was one of these gangsters that had a system of bootlegging in Chicago. According to Glen Roeck, one of Grayslake Central’s history teachers, “people should know this event is a symbol of the role Chicago played during the era of prohibition,” and also how a holiday known for love can have a dark past. 

On Feb. 14, 1929, six gangsters, dressed in suits sold illegal alcohol to their visitor Dr. Reinhardt H. Schwimmer, and his buddies. Roeck’s great-grandfather was supposedly friends with Dr. Schwimmer because both of them were optometrists during this time. He said “my great-grandfather and his friends liked to have some liquor when they played cards. Dr. Schwimmer was in the garage to pick up some liquor for the card game, but he was at the wrong place at the wrong time and he was one of the seven that got killed.” According to an article about the massacre from, the victims were “standing lined up facing the wall in the garage when some 70 rounds of ammunition were fired.” However, when police got to the scene there was still one man that was barely alive, Frank Gusenberg, one of Moran’s right-hand men. The police pressured him to tell them what happened but all he could say was the cops did it and nothing further. 

This crime is still unsolved to this day of who really killed the seven men, but many believed that it was Geroge Moran’s gang rival, Al Capone, that was behind this massacre. However, Al Capone was in Florida during the massacre and there was no further evidence that would have connected him to the massacre, even though he did have a long history of gang violence. Regardless of whether it was Al Capone, the police had many theories of who it really was. According to The St Valentine’s Day Massacre and Al Capone by Jonathan Eig he wrote “they thought it had been the work of the Purple Gang who supposedly rented a room across the street from the garage or the killing had in fact been the work of police officers” after Moran’s gang stolen a truckload of liquor from the cops a few days before the massacre. 

The next time you and your significant other want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, just remember to some people it’s not a day for love, it’s a day for blood.