Life is often far more unbelievable than the stories we create. Look at out current political climate, if you had read about it in a fiction book you'd file it under science fiction. But that isn't a current reality, history is littered with wild tales and stories you think you'd have to see to believe. Thank God for historians and autobiographers. At this rate, when the aliens get here, Star Trek will a documentary.

Redditor u/SkunkytheSkunk7 wanted to know about some of the stories in history that sound like they might have been authored and not done in real time by asking.... What sounds like fiction but is actually a real historical event?



Operation Mincemeat.

The allies planted a dead body with fake battle plans to trick the Germans into thinking that the allies were going to attack Sardinia when they were in fact going to attack Sicily.

They built an entire life for this dead, fake, military man, dumped him in the ocean, and successfully distracted the Germans.


Richard Parker.

Edgar Allen Poe wrote a novel in 1838 in which 4 shipwrecked survivors, at the point of starvation, choose to resort to cannibalism. So they kill the young cabin boy, Richard Parker, and eat him.

In 1884, a ship called the Mignonette sank. 4 crewmembers survived. At the point of starvation, they killed and ate the youngest of them: Richard Parker.


Ken Rex McElroy.

The death of Ken Rex McElroy. He terrorized Skidmore, Missouri for decades. Stalking, assaulting, and murdering two 14 year olds who were his "wives." He had an expensive attorney so he was never charged. The law never helped the poor town. One day, the town gathered for a meeting on how to deal with McElroy. Details get a little vague here, but apparently someone alerted the room that McElroy was in the bar up the street.

Quietly and calmly, everyone got up and walked over to the bar. As McElroy got into his truck, someone shot him in the back of the head. The town just went back to their business. When the witnesses (like the entire town) were questioned, everyone claimed they didn't see anything. No one as ever been arrested.


the winter of 1941-42...

The Soviet scientists starving to death saving the seed bank of Leningrad during Hitler's invasion in the winter of 1941-42 despite it being full of corn, wheat and potatoes.


That level of dedication is just unimaginable. To go against your survival instincts and starve to death in order to not eat that food. I can't even comprehend.




Wojtek was a bear who fought Nazis in return for cigarettes and beer. He didn't die until 20 years after WW2.


My favorite part about that story is that after the war he lived in a zoo. It was common for soldiers from the bear's company to come visit and simply jump into the enclosure to play with him, much to the zoo keepers' annoyance.


I'm gonna die laughing!

Apparently, death from laughter is an incredibly rare but a completely legit cause of death.

In the third century BCE, Chrysippus, a Greek Stoic philosopher, died of laughter after he saw a donkey eating his figs.

And Chrysippus' is not the only isolated case. Among the few other cases, a fifth-century BCE Greek painter, Zeuxis, is said to have died laughing at his painting of the goddess Aphrodite for which an old woman (who had commissioned the painting) had insisted on modeling.

Also, Cleopatra, the ruler of Egypt in the first century BCE, claimed that her retainer died laughing at her husband's death.

According to the linked Wikipedia article, the most recent case is that of Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist, who saw a funny scene in a comedy film and laughed so hard that his heart rate rose to a point where he had a fatal heart attack, in 1989.

From what I understood from reading up on this topic, it's not the act of laughing itself but rather a fatal repercussion from a fit of laughter, such as cardiac arrest, asphyxiation or aneurysm, which causes death.

For instance, Ole Bentzen suffered a heart attack as a consequence of the terrible fit of laughter he had. It's possible that such was the case of Chrysippus (and others) as well.

(I always thought of 'I'm gonna die laughing!' as a hyperbole, and I myself use it quite liberally. But I guess every hyperbole has a grain of truth to it.)


Codename : "stargate"

The CIA was researching psychic abilities for 30 years as a way to spy on the USSR. After 30 years, the program was terminated, and their conclusion was that psychic powers probably don't exist.

Edit: The actual conclusion was that the evidence for remote viewing was un-falsifiable (and therefore un-provable).

Many of the more promising results were believed to be caused by information leakage, meaning that test subjects had prior knowledge about the subject they were asked about. They were unable to verify any of their results because of this, and even if the psychic abilities were real, they were unreliable at best.

Edit 2: The codename fro the project was "stargate" you can find the documents on the CIA website here.


Lakes of Louisiana.... 

In 1980 Lake Peigneur in Louisiana drained like a bathtub with the plug removed. Oil Drillers on a rig in the lake had hit a mine shaft below. The rig, barges, a tugboat and part of a nearby island got sucked into the largest man-made whirlpool ever.


Battles Amany...

The Battle for Castle Itter near the end of WWII saw US soldiers, French POWs, and the German army fighting on the same side to hold the castle against an SS tank division.

To make it even weirder, the French prisoners included several prime ministers and a tennis star.


Apparently a movie about it is/was in pre-production.

I'd still like to see the Tarantino version, though.

Hilariously, this article is titled 'The Battle of Itter Castle: The Day When Reality Exceeded Tarantino'. They refer to the story of Castle Itter as 'a real Tarantino adventure that no one has told yet'.


What an absolute legend.


In 1971, a teenage girl named Juliane Koepcke was on a plane that was struck by lightning and disintegrated in the air. She plummeted 3,000 meters strapped to her seat, and landed in the Amazon rainforest.

Her mom had been on the flight with her, and Juliane searched in vain for her mom, but Juliane was the sole survivor of the crash. She survived 11 days alone, treating her maggot-infested wounds with fuel and using tracking techniques her father had taught her, before she found a boat that she used to make her way back to civilization.

What an absolute legend.



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