17 Weird And Disturbing Historical Facts

There’s little in life that I love more than weird and random facts, and that goes double when they’re straight out of the history books. I’m not sure why historical facts are so interesting, but to me, they are.

If you feel the same way, then I know you’re going to love these 17 strange and disturbing historical facts.

17. So glad that wasn’t my job.

The bodies buried beneath John Wayne Gacy’s house were “crammed” together so tightly, the bones fused together and it took over two years to separate all the bodies.

I keep trying to wrap my head around this and just can’t make sense of it. Wouldn’t they originally have more volume when the flesh was still on, thereby having more room for the skeletons themselves after decomposition?

What would chemically cause bones to fuse? I’ve never heard of this before.

16. Stay away.

There is a cemetery in a town in Norway(I might be wrong on the country) that hasn’t been used since the 20s and cannot be used because the bodies never fully decomposed and still hold the black plague.

it is in Svalbard, to be more specific Longyearbyen, and it’s actually the 1918 flu virus they found. The town stays entirely dark for roughly 4 months in the winter, resulting in permafrost, thus preventing bodies from fully decomposing. you aren’t allowed to be buried there, however cremation urns can be; not that anyone would want to step foot there.

15. One unlucky sucker.

In 2008 as a result of the financial crisis, only one American banker went to jail.

14. We’ve had some close calls.

That we’ve been on the brink of a global nuclear exchange several times. And that in one case (Cuban blockade), it was only because a single man (Vasily Arkhipov), disagreed with standing orders, that a nuclear exchange was likely averted.

13. As if they weren’t metal enough.

Spartans bathed their newborn babies in red wine instead of warm water.

Probably safer than the water at the time.

12. I don’t even want to think about it.

Some people actually resorted to selling their kids during the great depression.

IIRC There are pictures from the Holodomor (Ukranian Famine,) of two adults selling human flesh.

I dunno why “selling kids,” immediately made me think of that…

I think I remember reading that it was the couple’s children that they butchered for the meat.

11. I can’t with this.

Coffin Birth happens.

It happens when a pregnant corpse begins to decompose and the built up gases push the fetus from the body.

10. I think I’m done here.

Ancient Egyptians would wait a few days before offering their dead daughters to the morgues because necrophilia.

9. I honestly did not need to know this.

In the Siege of Leningrad from 1941 to 1944. The population fell from 2.5 million to 800 000. For 827 days the people of Leningrad were bombarded with artillery, and cut off from the outside world. 827 days of bombing, destitution and starvation, without any news from the outside. No wood or gas or coal or food was coming into the city. And when the -40°C winter hit people had to burn most of their possessions. People froze to death outside, after their homes were destroyed by artillery.

Women prostituted themselves to soldiers and party members as only the people crucial to the city’s defence were receiving rations. Even those rations were a meagre 125grams a day, unless you were a party member. Starvation got to such a point that a black market for human meat started up, after all the dogs cats and rats had been eaten.

People wouldn’t go out at night, or alone at all. People would leave their homes to go find food, and never come back. But whenever people disappeared, there’d be more meat at the market. Labelled “Dog Meat” or “horse meat”. There are stories of people eating their own children.

Leningrad survivor and author Daniil Granin described how a mother fed her dead child to her surviving child to keep her alive: “A child died — he was just 3 years old. His mother laid the body inside the double-glazed window and sliced off a piece of him every day to feed her second child, a daughter. This is how she got her, though

2000 Cases of cannibalism during the siege are recorded officially. But the real number is probably much higher. In the first spring season of the siege the city’s remaining officials ordered a cleanup of the bodies and feces that were scattered around and piled up in courtyards. Crime was rampant and families ripped themselves apart with murder and theft over rations. The stress and starvation allegedly caused children to grow beards and be called “the little old people”. The physiological effects of the siege are only comparable to those of Holocaust survivors.

Everyone is shriveled, their breasts sunken in, their stomachs enormous, and instead of arms and legs, just bones poke out through wrinkles,” wrote Leningrader Aleksandra Liubovkaia.

However there were people in the city with food. Lots of it. Members of the Communist party or council. Soviets. Hoarded what little food that did come into the city through the frozen lake route. Nikolai Ribkovskii recorded in his journal that he ate goose and caviar at the party cafeteria. While on average 900 people starved or froze to death in the city a day.

8. A lasting mystery.

Paraguayan War killed off 95% of it’s male adult population and no one even knows it happened.

Some ancient cultures knew that they could control population growth by denying fertile females both fats and carbohydrates. This process guaranteed that embryos would not mature in the womb due to the lack of food energy derived from carrying mothers.

The embryos would self-abort. A certain ratio of body fat is required for successful pregnancies. [Harris @ Cannibals and Kings]

7. Our bodies are amazing.

The ability to tell time (circadian rhythm) is an evolutionary response.

Cells that learned to replicate at night and rest during the day ultimately survived.

I’m bastardizing it but I find that amazing

6. One of my favorites.

The fact that the French believed a 17 year old peasant girl that was having visions of God telling her to bring the Dauphin to Reims and they actually listened to her.

And then she goes on to lift a siege, beat the english/burgundians in multiple battles, gets the Dauphin to Reims to be crowned, and dies at the stake for cross-dressing. Joan of Arc was lit.

Her signature weapon was the cannon. I’ve heard that a huge factor in her success was the fact that because she was a commoner she didn’t have any issues talking with the artillerymen and so got a better understanding of how cannons worked and what they could do.

5. Not exactly how you think of a gated community.

A gated community in Chile of german descendants from WW2. In 2005 police found the largest weapon cache in the country’s history, including rocket launchers, hand grenades and machine guns.

Oh, and people were kidnapped and tortured in the gated community during Pinochet.

4. This fact always gives me chills.

Chainsaws were invented to cut through a woman’s pelvis to aid in giving birth. Think chain on a pocket watch that chews away at the bone.

3. Nature is wild.

Trees were around for a very long time before there were organisms that could decompose them. Imagine hundreds of feet of dead tree fall.

A related interesting fact: grasses are angiosperms, which only arose about 115 million years ago, and grasses themselves only popped up 55 million years ago. Nowadays we think of grass as ubiquitous- if there’s a patch of empty earth, grass will be on it in a few days. But for the grand majority of earths history, and throughout the ENTIRETY of the dinosaurs’ existence, grasslands weren’t a thing. If it couldn’t grow a tree, fern, lichen, etc on it, there just weren’t any plants there.

That’s why we don’t have dinosaur equivalents to the gracile herbivores of today like horses, antelope, etc. Being a graceful runner that could speed across open plains had no point because plains, meadows, prairie, grassland… didn’t exist. You chomped on bushes or you didn’t exist.

2. They were walking nightmares.

The brutality of many Japanese units in WW2. We know about the rape of Nanking, but it goes beyond that. Blood lust at levels not regularly seen in war. Taking infants and bashing their heads against trees. Not just a few but dozens and hundreds. To save bullets and because why not.

Other armies certainly had body count contests among soldiers but this is different imo. The disregard for humanity amongst the common rank and file was pretty next level.

Additionally, there are accounts of POW liver being served at Japanese officer parties as a delicacy. Pretty wild that it was only 80 years ago.

1. They should have studied the aqueducts before they burned it all down.

From the fall of the Roman empire up until the mid 19th century, not a single city the majority of cities in Europe did not have sewer systems.

City planners didn’t build sewers until it was proven in 1855 that the cause for all the cholera epidemics was drinking water contaminated by human feces.

I’m never going to forget some of these, and I’m definitely going to research others a bit more.

If your favorite weird historical fact is missing from this list, please share it with us in the comments!