As a writer, I can attest to the fact that the truth is definitely stranger than fiction. There are some things that have happened in human history that, even if an author could dream them up, no one would ever buy.
Some of them, as these 14 events prove, are completely dark, showing the absolute depravity of humans, corporations, governments, or all of the above – and these are niche enough that even the most avid of history buffs will probably learn a little something!
14. So much hate in the world.
The Cambodian Genocide. You could have been killed just for wearing glasses, therefore being an intellectual (at least this was the Khmer Rouge logic). The prisoners were tortured so badly that they tried to commit suicide in every possible way, even by using some spoons.
The executions used to be like this: the prisoners were put on a straight line and to the second prisoner was given an object like a shovel or a hammer which he had to use to kill the prisoner in front of him. Then, the same object was given to the third prisoners and the cycle would repeat until there was nobody alive except for the last prisoner on the line, who was then killed by the guards.
Since many medics were killed or sent to work as farmers, the local regime used child medics to conduct experiments on the prisoners: they used teenagers with no knowledge of western medicine to experiment on people without anesthesia. For example, they opened one person’s chest just to see his heart beating. Imho, this s**t is even worse than Unit 731.
13. Too many people got away with it.
The massacre of kalavrita. It is a village is Greece. The Germans entered it and rounded up all the male villagers in a field. They then shot them all with machine guns. After that they got the children and women and put them in the church.
When everyone was inside, they locked the doors and set fire to the church. Around 20 minutes into the burning, a German soldier couldn’t take it anymore and opened the doors. Around half of the people escaped the fire but the rest perished.
The German soldier was shot for this, and if you go to kalavrita today his name is on the memorial. No one was punished for this apart from the leader of the division, who I was told by my grandmother that he died in a gulag. But everyone else got away with it. It is sad that no one knows about this, as things like this happened all over Greece and Russia and Poland.
I only know about this because my Great grandmother was one who escaped in the church. This massacre was in retaliation for the villagers supporting the local resistance force, which had recently killed about 10 nazis.
12. She starred in a season of American Horror Story.
Slave owner who tortured her slaves in horrifying ways. Evil sh%t.
11. Who thinks of these things?
“Khuk Khi Kai,” or the “Chicken Poop Prison” in Thailand. Used by French forces to hold political prisoners (rebellious Thai people) in the Chanthaburi region.
The long-standing impacts of this much-feared torture are still felt in the region today – there’s a Thai saying for those who buck authority that roughly translates to “Be careful not to get caught in a chicken poop prison.” I learned about this prison from my parents who learned about it from theirs.
How it worked, was there was a small, 2-story prison. Bottom floor houses the prisoners, and the top floor is basically a huge chicken coop.
The grated floor/ceiling ensures that the chicken poop falls onto the prisoners below.
Apparently, even though the “maximum sentence” in Khuk Khi Kai was around a week, it was one of the most feared punishments there was.
10. I can’t believe more people don’t know.
The January 1945 sinking of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff. It was a German ship carrying fleeing Germans from the Eastern Front to the West through the Baltic Sea. It was sunk by the Soviet Navy shorty after setting sail.
The total death toll is unknown but estimated at over 9000 since there were so many stowaways. It is the worst maritime disaster ever, several times more than the Titanic.
It didn’t get nearly the press because they were the enemy so who cares, and the Nazi media certainly didn’t report it because they’re at the waning days of a war they’re badly losing so the last thing they need is more hits to their already sinking morale.
9. The face I am making right now.
Margaret Beaufort – mother of Henry VII (father of Henry VIII
She was married off at age 12 to Edmund (25) who was desperate to get her pregnant as quickly as he could. It was not unusual for members of the aristocracy to marry young. It was slightly more unusual, because of the risk to both mother and child, for them to get pregnant before the age of 14.
Edmund died of plague while Margaret was pregnant, she was widowed and alone and pregnant during war. The birth was a very difficult one and would scar her forever. For a time they believed that she and her unborn child would perish. Not only was she very young but she was also slight of stature and undeveloped for her age so it’s a wonder she even survived childbirth.
It was so difficult for her that she never became pregnant again over the rest of her years, despite remarrying two more times. It is widely believed that she was physically damaged during the childbirth and was unable to conceive again, but it’s also possible she was too traumatized to ever put herself in that situation again.
Either way, Margaret devoted herself to her son, calling him “my dearest and only desired joy in this world.”
8. I hate these stories.
Mother and Baby homes here in Ireland. Most Irish people will know about this, but most people from other countries don’t.
Basically, mother and baby homes (or laundries) were places run by nuns where women would be sent if they got pregnant before marriage, and would do all the laundry from people who sent their dirty clothes to the homes until they gave birth.
During childbirth they would be provided with no real medical procedure, anaesthesia etc, and the nuns would often verbally abuse them during the process for being so sinful as to have sex before marriage.
When the baby was born, the umbilical cord was cut and that was the last contact the mother would have with the baby. Ever.
The nuns would only ever rarely let the baby live, and if they did it would be abused by the nuns it’s whole childhood for being the product of sin. But, most of the babies didn’t survive, and you would think, maybe, they would be killed humanely. Nope. Dropped into a septic tank.
They’ve all been shut down now obviously, but they ran until the late 70s I believe. During excavations they would find the remains of around 300 newborn babies for each home.
I apologize if any of this is a little inaccurate, I will gladly correct myself if I’ve gotten something wrong.
7. I would think a quicker death would be welcome.
Use of the “Judas Cradle” for torture:
The Judas Cradle was a pyramid-shaped seat set up high where the victim would be seated on the pinnacle, while tied.
The pyramid point would penetrate the victim’s anus or vagina and the sheer weight and movement of the person would slowly help it penetrate more.
The torturer would sometimes add weight to the victim’s legs, rock them, or add oil to the pyramid to increase the pain and quicken death.
The Children’s Blizzard. It occurred in January 1888 on an unseasonably warm day. The weather was nice and many school-kids were tricked into not wearing coats or jackets to school, some only in short sleeves.
While the kids were in class, the weather outside changed dramatically from warm and sunny at noon to dark and heavy like a thunderstorm, with heavy winds and visibility at 3 steps by 3 pm.
Children left school to go home and do their chores (this was in Minnesota) and were expected to milk the cows and do whatever else was involved in the family farm. But they got lost in the darkness and snow and the wind and many froze to death in their town, just yards from houses or other sources of refuge.
235 people, mostly children died.
5. Why the nuns get a bad rep.
Magdalene asylums, also known as Magdalene laundries.
Places of “reform” for women that didn’t fit the idea of a good upstanding citizen. The most well known ones were in Ireland. The women and girls were abused and mistreated by asylum staff, most of whom were nuns.
Mass graves, selling these women’s children to people in other countries, blocking any parental rights… There’s apparently at least one movie coming out, a lot of stories about it, and so many people sharing stories from their mothers and grandmothers.
4. Probably more we’ll never know about, too.
Human “experimentation” by Japanese Unit 731 during WWII, committed primarily against innocent Chinese civilians. Nothing I’ve ever heard of in my life, including in fiction, is darker than the horrors committed for years by Unit 731, a military biological and chemical weapons research division of the Japanese Imperial military.
There’s not enough room in a Reddit post to list half of it, but here’s a taste: Dissections of living babies, pregnant women, etc. without anesthesia (also known as a vivisection) usually after they had been deliberately exposed and left to suffer from horrible diseases, chemical and biological weapons, and so on. Freezing limbs off of victims. Horror-movie sadistic surgeries involving cutting off limbs and attaching them to the wrong sides of a victim, or removing organs and connecting the tubes back together without the organs to see what would happen, such as running the esophagus straight to the intestines with no stomach in between.
Not to mention the fact that the victims were routinely raped and tortured for the sake of rape and torture, without even the flimsy excuse of “science” being conducted.
And we’re talking about thousands upon thousands of victims, usually hapless Chinese civilians, political prisoners, POWs, and the homeless, over the course of years in huge facilities with thousands of staff committing these atrocities.
The icing on the cake? General MacArthur and the rest of the US government found out about it when they captured Japan — and they granted Unit 731 immunity for their war crimes so long as they share their findings with America and ONLY America. Many of the former Unit 731 members even went on to have very successful and profitable futures in Japan after the war.
3. Room for sheep.
Thousands of Scots were forcibly evicted from their homes, many were forcibly exported to Canada, the US or Australia, many who refused were massacred with whole villages of women & children r*ped, many died of starvation on the forced marches or from famine, all so they could farm sheep.
2. Why, though?
You know Jameson Whiskey?
Well a long time ago in like the 19th one of their family Heirs fed a little girl to cannibals.
Like legit went and bought a little girl in the Congo as a slave and brought her up to a cannibal tribe because he wanted to see them.
Sick f*ck drew pictures of it and s**t as it was happening.
Of course for years the family tried to bury the fact, and the stories and such. Discredit the witnesses. But the crazy bastard was happy to document the whole thing, his only rebuttal incase it reflected badly on him was that “he wanted to see if they would do it”
And his accounts matched up with the evidence witnesses had provided.
1. Racist history.
I wrote my undergraduate history thesis on human zoos at the 1893 and 1904 world’s fairs. Even people who are vaguely aware this was a thing may not remember that the US government specifically sponsored the “anthropology” department in 1904. It was organized so that fairgoers walked up a hill, and the people on display “evolved” from the most ape-like to the most civilized.
At the bottom of that hill were Pygmies from the Belgian Congo, at least one of whom had been “saved” from the infamous Force Publique when they sold him to a fair recruiter. After the fair, that recruiter took him “home” (to a village that had already been burned by the Belgians.) He begged the recruiter not to leave him there, so the recruiter took him to NYC and gave him to the American Museum of Natural History, who loaned him to the Bronx Zoo, which put him on display in the ape house. His name was Ota Benga, and he got out of the zoo after African-American church groups protested. He tried to build a life in America for over 10 years before he shot himself in 1916.
Farther up that hill were Ainu people from Japan, and a large contingent of Filipinos (the US had recently taken the Philippines as a colony). A few months after the fair closed, one of the Ainu wrote to someone they’d met in St. Louis to report that they’d made it home safely, and explain how they were spending all the money they’d made in tips on new livestock.
Continuing up the hill, there were also Native American people, including Geronimo, who was still being held as a “prisoner of war” by the US army (some 20 years after the Indian Wars were over.) In his memoirs, Geronimo writes about the soldiers taking him on the Ferris Wheel in order to make fun of him, and how he reclaimed the moment by teasing them right back.
Another Indian resident at the fair irked the fair governors by spending her tip money on a baby carriage for her kid. They thought it would be more “authentic” to carry him around on a board, but she liked the labor-saving carriage. She won that argument.
At the top of the hill was a “model Indian School,” of residential school infamy. The teenagers on display there were “proof” of how savages could be civilized into almost-white-passing specimens. The girls’ basketball team from that school competed against other teams that traveled to the fair and the girls were, in effect, world champions. When the fair was over they all got sent back to reservations or shipped off to “good Christian families” (who wanted free labor).
I try to remember these stories because it helps me think about the humanity of the people on display, and always remember not to tolerate systems that could – can – dehumanize people to that degree.
I know I learned a few things, and I am aghast at people, y’all.
If you know a story that would fit onto this list, share it with us in the comments!