It's no secret that most of human history has been a pretty bloody affair. We do what we can to remember the horrors of the past as lessons for the future, but it's inevitable that some of those stories slip through the cracks.
Here are 19 true stories of the macabre from across the world. Enjoy! And check out the sources and links for even more.
During WWII, an American airplane crashed near the island of Chichijima. There were nine servicemen on board. One was rescued by an American submarine. The other eight were taken in by the enemy. Eventually, the enemy officers ended up EATING those servicemen.
But that's not the weird part. The one serviceman who was rescued? That was George H. W. Bush.
The brazen bull was a torture and execution device that basically roasted the person alive. It was a hollow brass bull with a door on the side. The victim would be locked inside. A fire was lit underneath the bull and a special design of tubes caused the steam to imitate the bellowing of a bull.
Legend has it (with some fairly convincing evidence) that the designer of the bull was locked inside to see if his creation was true to the description.
The Clathrate Gun Hypothesis states that melting permafrost containing methane is thought to have caused runaway ocean toxicity and global warming. The result was the Permian-Triassic extinction event 232 million years ago that wiped out the vast majority of life on Earth.
It's creepy because there's a chance it's happening again right now.
In the 16th century, Roanoke was to be the first permanent English settlement on the American continent. Its proprietor, after a couple of years, was called back to England as the Queen summoned all available ships for war against Spain.
When he returned, the colony was abandoned. No trace of them to this day has never been found. Only one clue has been left to guess their fate.
The name of a nearby island "CROATOAN", was carved into the palisade wall surrounding the colony. Many theories have arisen over history as to what happened to them. With the most widely accepted being that they assimilated with the natives.
At the start of the Cold War, Henry Murray developed a personality profiling test to crack soviet spies with psychological warfare and select which US spies are ready to be sent out into the field. As part of Project MKUltra, he began experimenting on Harvard sophomores. He set one student as the control, after he proved to be a completely predictable conformist, and named him "Lawful".
The latter half of the experiment involved having the control student prepare an essay on his core beliefs as a person for a friendly debate. Instead, Murray had an aggressive interrogator come in and basically tear his beliefs to pieces, mocking everything he stood for, and systematically picking apart every line in the essay to see what it took to get him to react. But he didn't, it just broke him, made him into a mess of a person and left him having to pull his whole life back together again. He graduated, but then turned in his degree only a couple years later, and moved to the woods where he lived for decades.
In all that time, he kept writing his essay. And slowly, he became so sure of his beliefs, so convinced that they were right, that he thought that if the nation didn't read it, we would be irreparably lost as a society. So, he set out to make sure that everyone heard what he had to say, and sure enough, Lawful's "Industrial Society and its Future" has become one of the most well known essays written in the last century. In fact, you've probably read some of it. Although, you probably know it better as The Unabomber Manifesto.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted because those cities were never struck during the bombing campaigns of WWII. The United States picked those cities, because they wanted to see how much damage their bombs would do. They had minimal military significance as primary targets.
In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe's only novel was published - The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Partway through the book, the crew of a ship finds themselves with a busted boat and no food or water. In order to survive, the crew draws straws to figure out which of them will be sacrificed to provide meat for everyone else. The death straw goes to a former mutineer named Richard Parker, who is promptly stabbed to death and eaten by his crew-mates.
40 years later, a real life ship leaves England with a young sailor on board actually named Richard Parker.The boat Parker was on wasn't really made for trips around the world, so it shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone when it sank in a storm. The four-man crew barely escaped in a lifeboat, but they definitely didn't have enough provisions for survival.
Parker fell overboard and then made the mistake of drinking seawater to attempt to quench his thirst. Dehydration set in and he started going downhill fast. That's when his fellow survivors decided they would kill him to ensure their own survival. The men had considered drawing straws, but they figured Parker was so far gone they might as well kill him and drink his blood while it was fresh (instead of risking the contaminated blood that might occur if they just waited for him to die due to illness). After stabbing Parker in the throat with a penknife, the three men devoured him. They were rescued a few days later.
The Japanese biological warfare division Unit-731 was responsible for horrific experiments during WWII. Heard of Josef Mengele? These guys were arguably worse.
Prisoners of war were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia after infecting them with various diseases. Scientists performed invasive surgery on prisoners, removing organs to study the effects of a disease on the human body. These were conducted while the patients were alive because it was feared that the decomposition process would affect the results. The infected and vivisected prisoners included men, women, children, and infants.
The most screwed up thing about this is that most of them were granted immunity in exchange for their experiment data, concerning germ warfare.
During WWII, the German auxiliary cruiser "Thor" sunk the British HMS Britannia. Eleven survivors who latched onto a small raft reported consistently that one of them was dragged into the depths by a giant squid.
It goes roughly like this. Grigori Rasputin was a very large man standing 6' 4" and was a sort of adviser to the royal Romanav family of Russia. He repeatedly healed their fragile hemophiliac son, or so it is reported. He never really belonged to any specific sect per se, but was said to be a holy man. Many rumored him to be an agent of the devil or some possessed being. Pictures of the dude are creepy.
Anyway, among political strife and rumors that Rasputin was seeking more power he was ordered to be killed. He was given a nice meal laced with enough poison to kill several men. After a while with no reaction they promptly shot him in the back.
Rasputin fell, but regained his strength and attacked his assailants. He was shot again in the head, and beaten vigorously. They then wrapped him up and threw him in the Niva river. Later it was discovered that Rasputin had attempted to claw out of the ice and finally drowned.
This guy, rumored to have supernatural powers along being very large and creepy, survived thorough poisoning, shots to the back and head, beaten and thrown in the river, and finally drowned under the ice.
Delphine LaLaurie was a socialite in Louisiana who tortured and maimed her slaves. One day a house fire was started by one of her slave cooks who she had chained to a stove. The slave later said she started the fire as a way to kill herself.
When police entered the house following the fire, they found slaves who were maimed due to all kinds of experiments LaLaurie had been doing on them. People had their limbs removed and re-attached. Reportedly, some of them even begged to be killed.
The Jonestown Massacre. Members the communist People's Temple cult committed or were coerced to commit revolutionary suicide. The incident was the largest single loss of U.S. civilian life until 9/11 with almost a thousand casualties including men, women, children, and a U.S. Representative.
The recording of Jim Jones's final speech is truly nerve-wracking. The sounds of people applauding his words then of them dying in poison induced agony shortly after while he continues to speak just sends chills down my spine.
A small farmstead named Hinterkaifeck was the scene of one of the most puzzling crimes in German history. On the evening of March 31, 1922, the six inhabitants of the farm were killed with a pickaxe. The murder is still unsolved.
A few days prior to the crime, farmer Andreas Gruber told neighbours about discovering footprints in the snow leading from the edge of the forest to the farm, but none leading back. He also spoke about hearing footsteps in the attic and finding an unfamiliar newspaper on the farm. Furthermore, the house keys went missing several days before the murders, but none of this was reported to the police.
Six months earlier, the previous maid had left the farm, claiming that it was haunted; the new maid, Maria Baumgartner, arrived on the farm on 31 March, only a few hours before her death.
Exactly what happened on that Friday evening cannot be said for certain. It is believed that the older couple, as well as their daughter Viktoria and her daughter Czilia, were somehow all lured into the barn one by one, where they were killed. The perpetrator(s) then went into the house where they killed two-year-old Josef who was sleeping in his cot in his mother's bedroom, as well as the maid, Maria Baumgartner, in her bed-chamber.
The police first suspected the motive to be robbery, and interrogated several inhabitants from the surrounding villages, as well as travelling craftsmen and vagrants. The robbery theory was, however, abandoned when a large amount of money was found in the house. It is believed that the perpetrator(s) remained at the farm for several days someone had fed the cattle, and eaten food in the kitchen: the neighbours had also seen smoke from the chimney during the weekend and anyone looking for money would have found it.
In the 1920's, Soviet scientist Sergei Brukhonenko kept the head of a dog alive with a primitive heart/lung machine.
The research learned from such experiments led to the development of the first Heart/Lung machines, which are now used regularly for all types of cardiac and great vessel surgeries.
The Rape of Nanking was one of the most horrific atrocities committed by the Japanese military in the Second World War. Between the beheading contest between Japanese officers (complete with statlines published in their local military paper), mass-rape and sexual slavery, or the stories of Japanese soldiers bayoneting infants and throwing them in pots of boiling water.
It got so bad that the German official sent there started helping people escape the city. John Rabe set up a safe zone within the city that sheltered almost 200,000 Chinese civilians from slaughter.
Screenshot via YouTube
June and Jennifer Gibbons were inseparable twin sisters. They both had speech impediments that made it difficult for people outside their immediate family to understand them. As a result, they mixed very little with other children and were ostracized at school. This proved traumatic for the twins, eventually causing their school administrators to dismiss them early each day so that they might avoid bullying. Their language became even more idiosyncratic at this time. Soon it was unintelligible to others.
The girls had a long agreement that if one died, the other must begin to speak and live a normal life. During their stay in the hospital, they began to believe that it was necessary for one twin to die, and after much discussion, Jennifer agreed to be the sacrifice.
In March 1993, the twins were transferred from Broadmoor to the more open Caswell Clinic in Bridgend, Wales; on arrival Jennifer could not be roused. She was taken to the hospital where she died soon after of acute myocarditis, a sudden inflammation of the heart. There was no evidence of drugs or poison in her system, and her death remains a mystery. On a visit a few days later, Wallace recounted that June "was in a strange mood. She said, 'I'm free at last, liberated, and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me.'"
Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian noblewoman who killed hundreds of young girls after her husband's death. She and her collaborators were attributed with kidnapping and torturing to death almost 650 victims until her capture and imprisonment in the Csejte Castle.
The case led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins to retain her youth, and subsequently also to comparisons with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia, on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based, and to modern nicknames of The Blood Countess and Countess Dracula."
The Dancing Plague of 1518. Up to 400 took to the streets of Strasbourg, Alsace, dancing uninterrupted for days.
Local physicians blamed it on hot blood and suggested the afflicted simply gyrate the fever away. A stage was constructed and professional dancers were brought in. The town even hired a band to provide backing music, but it wasnt long before the marathon started to take its toll. Many dancers collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Some even died from strokes and heart attacks. The strange episode didnt end until September, when the dancers were whisked away to a mountaintop shrine to pray for absolution.
Historians believe that the cause of the incident may have been an extreme form of mass hysteria caused by stress, starvation and medieval superstition. Another theory is a grain supply tainted by Ergot Fungi. Ergotamine is the psychoactive agent that LSD-25 was originally synthesized from and has also been linked to the Salem Witch Trials.