18 History Buffs Share Their Most Disturbing Facts

History buffs are my people. Though they usually have areas of interest, there’s one thing I know for sure – they’ve also all got arsenals of random facts to deploy whenever most appropriate.

If you’re looking for weird or disturbing facts, though, there are none better than these 18 – prepare yourselves!

18. Quite the letter home.

Read a letter from an officer to his wife in the swedish army during the thirty years war.

” We came upon the town, and beat to death all the men, but not the women and children.

Those were beaten to death by the finns.”

Edit: I read this book in swedish a year ago and i might be paraphrasing a bit since i cant find it now. But the moral of this letter just stuck with me.

He was trying to tell his wife that when the swedish army came to this town in germany, the officers initially meant to spare the women and children.

But as the finnish soldiers marched in to town (finland was part of sweden at the time) they just assumed that they would just kill everybody. So they did.

So the officers just kind of shrugged and made a joke of it.

This is what he wrote to his wife about!

17. Weird for sure.

The White-throated Rail is a flightless bird that went extinct due to rising sea levels on their native islands 100,000 years ago. After some time, another rail species re-inhabited the island, and in 20,000 years basically transformed themselves into the new White-throated rail as they lost the ability to fly as well.

The birds went extinct, other birds came by, and evolved the exact same way, basically becoming a previously extinct species.

16. Impossible indeed.

Russia still has not recovered its population prior to WWII

NOTE: As there is some debate about the validity of this statement : Russian Population in 1939: 170 Million

Russian Population in 2021: 146 Million

24 million deaths. Impossible to comprehend.

15. That must have been terrifying.

Upon visiting the island of Cebu in the Philippines, I was regaled with old tales of “flying men” and how the islands in the area were deeply feared by nautical patrols of old, as the inhabitants would sometimes fly great distances through the air, with knives held betwixt teeth, to attack passing ships.

It turns out the fighting men of the island would be catapulted from palm trees across the water into the sails of boats, in scenes that must have looked like a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Flash Gordon.

14. A really scary dude.

The conquests of TImur used terror as a way of discouraging revolts after capturing a city. Building literal towers of heads, cementing people in the city walls they were defending or instructing his soldiers to return to camp with two severed heads. When the soldiers ran out of citizens to decapitate, they would turn to pow’s and after that, their wives.

Most people are familiar that the likes of Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar or Napoleon existed. But not as much people know about Timur. He wasn’t only arguably as successful as a military commander but also just a really scary dude.

13. They scared themselves silly.

During WWI on the eastern front, Germany and Russia were going at it in one battle when German troops deployed mustard gas against the Russian troops who were advancing.

The Russian troops emerged from the gas smoke throwing up blood, blood leaking from their nose, eyes. Their skin turned yellow and pale. They looked like undead soldiers, literal zombies.

The German troops were so frightened that they abandoned their positions and retreated.

It was called the “Attack of the Dead Men”, took place on August 6, 1915.

12. No soup for you!

Not so much disturbing as it is funny (at least to me).

The Kettle War. Long story short, Spain (The Holy Roman Empire) and the Netherlands (The Seven Republics of the Netherlands) were beefing. One boat from Spain engaged in a fight with a Dutch naval ship.

One shot was fired. The only victim of that cannonball was a pot of soup that was cooking. The Spanish ship then surrendered.

11. They had to mention Harvard.

There are books in the Harvard University library which are bound in human flesh.

It was a moderately common practice 100-150 years ago to write books about the crimes of executed prisoners and then bind the book with their skin. Some Catholic Church leaders also asked that their remains be used to bind books as well.

10. Wild to think about.

It’s a site in Africa where stone tools dating back 3.3 million years were found. That is about 500,000 years older than our own genus.

Meaning earlier hominids had a very long time to form their own crude societies before our nearest ancestors even existed.

9. So freaking creepy.

Rainbow Valley of Mount Everest is named for the rainbow colors of clothing of dead people there.

So I knew this fact. Then one day I watched a video of someone passing by the bodies- whole new level creepy.

Green boots just looked like a guy napping.

8. My literal nightmare.

Stalin ordered scientists to do experiments to create a breed of super strong monkeys to fight wars.

If I remember correctly it was actually human/monkey hybrids that they were aiming for, which somehow makes both more and less sense at the same time.

7. That’s…fun.

Most people have 16 great great grandparents, Cleopatra had 2.

She’s lucky to have developed working lungs, let alone be competent enough to accomplish anything.

That was a family tree was a wreath.

6. Hard to argue.

Most disturbing has to be the details of the Rape of Nanjing.

Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda were officers that had a bet on who would be the first to kill 100 by sword. They both surpassed that number in a day.

20,000 women and girls were raped.

60,000 civilians were massacred after the city of Nanjing (Nanking) was captured.

It is one of the most shockingly brutal events in history.

5. Party on.

The Mayans partied hard. They would take alcohol and hallucinogenic enemas.

In Social Studies they had us watch a special on them and I vividly remember an artists rendering of a Mayan doing a handstand while getting an enema.

The original keg-stand.

4. No arguments here.

Not the most disturbing, but weird nevertheless: back in the 19th century a carnival was headed through the next town over, and during the stop a hippopotamus went nuts and started killing people and livestock.

Ever since then the town has taken the hippo as its mascot because it’s such a ferocious animal.

3. Bizarre is one word for it.

Mary Toft reportedly ‘gave birth’ to up to nine rabbits at a time.

Doctors were convinced that she was telling the truth until they found pieces of corn inside the stomach of one of the rabbits, proving that it hadn’t developed inside Toft’s womb.

It turned out that she had been manually inserting the rabbits to make the ‘delivery’ look as realistic as possible. Ew.

2. I’m aghast.

The reason why Paraguay celebrates Kid’s day on a different date than Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina is because during the Triple Alliance War the coalition formed by Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, at the Battle of Acosta Ñu, more than 3000 poorly armed Paraguayan militias, composed mainly by children aged 9 to 15 were wiped out by 20000 Brazilian veteran soldiers.

“The Allied troops met the rearguard of the Paraguayan forces at Acosta Ñu on August 16. The battle started at 0800. Acosta Ñu (which means “Acosta’s Field”, “Acosta” being a popular last name) is a vast plain of roughly 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi), ideal for the Brazilian cavalry.

The initial charge was led by the Allied 1st Corps infantry, supported by artillery. As the Paraguayans retreated across the Yagari River, the 4th Cavalry Brigade made a right flanking movement. Meanwhile, the 2nd Corps reached the Paraguayan rear, which left them no means to retreat. Children were said to cling to the legs of Brazilian soldiers amidst the raging battle, pleading for mercy, only to be decapitated without hesitation.

Once all flanks collapsed, the wounded children tried to flee the battlefield alongside their relatives. Yet the Brazilian commander ordered his cavalry to cut the retreat and set the battlefield ablaze, including the field hospital. Large numbers of children died because of these actions.”

That’s why they celebrate it on a different date, to commemorate this massacre.

1. It was war.

Persians used to tie cats to their shields during the war with Egypt cos it was against Egyptian law to kill cats.

It was a double-edged blade. On one hand, you had a tactical advantage because the Egyptians would try not to hit the cat (due to cats being a holy animal) but because they were using Cats as shields the Egyptians probably wouldn’t show them any mercy and have more motivation to kill them.

I’m going to have to add some of these to my own list of weird and amazing facts, for sure.

Tell us your favorite disturbing historical fact in the comments!