Mental Floss

The Fuel that Drove the Nazis: The revelation of the drug-fueled history of the Nazi invasion of Europe


The Nazi party rose into power with the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. Their premier agenda was the jingoistic sense of German nationalism. Fueled with the words and the orator skills of Adolf Hitler, they became one of the most ferocious groups in the world.


Very few know that a major point in their agenda was to create a drug-free Germany since many German youths were addicted to drugs with the onset of the Great Depression. But later revelations revealed a very different picture.



The Nazis were fueled by a drug called Pervitin which was a modified version of methamphetamine. This began with a physician injecting Hitler with a drug that gave him the energy of a young boy. Hitler got hooked on to this drug and also went on to use a number of other drugs daily. Slowly came in this miracle drug Pervitin, which gave immense energy and focus upon consumption.



This drug would work wonders at the war front allowing soldiers to stay sleepless for nights, endure trauma, and also feel less pain. Their diets would decrease thus resulting in less food consumption. And one of the major things was that this drug also made the subject very subversive thus allowing their commanders to make them obey any orders they wanted.

Now that we finally know how the Germans went on this rampage, this drug left a lot of destruction in its path like all other drugs. But then the horrors of this drug were subdued when the horrors of the Holocaust emerged.

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8 Darkest Events from History That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of


There are times in history when the events unfold in such a way that people are left in shock and utter disbelief. These events, drenched in darkness, have been executed by the hands of some of the most obnoxious people in history. Here are the 10 darkest events from history that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. The Burning of Kalavyrta


Greece was an inadvertent member of the Allied forces during the Second World War and so by default was standing opposite the Nazi forces that were wreaking havoc in Europe at that time. The small Greek city of Kalavyrta had formed a small rebel group that defended the city from any Nazi incursions or attacks during the war. It was during this time that the rebels managed to capture 78 Nazi soldiers who have wandered into the city in 1943, and then executed them. This infuriated the Nazi regime and what they did next is one of the darkest moments of the war and human history. On 9th December 1943, the German army entered the city of Kalavyrta with a force that outnumbered the rebels by much. The cruelty and barbarism of the Nazis were known to the people of Europe but Kalavyrta did not imagine what’s in store for them. The Nazis went on a rampage killing people across the city, torturing and maiming people. On the 13th night, the Germans set fire to the entire town resulting in over 438 people losing their lives, from women, children, and the elderly. The town was left to near extinction by the Germans. 13 men from Kalavyrta survived the onslaught as they were buried under the bodies of their deceased comrades.

2. The Japanese Experiments on Humans


World War II was one of the most gruesome wars the world had ever seen. During these years, unprecedented numbers of events took placed in different pockets around the world that were dark enough to never be spoken of. One such incident took place in Japan under the eye of the Japanese Commander Shiro Ishii who led Unit 731 during the war. Japan had invaded China during this war and had taken numbers of Chinese people as prisoners of war. A camp was built in China with a few prisoners from Soviet Russia and Mongolia and thus began the process of human experimentation. Prisoners were thrown out barely naked in freezing temperatures to understand how cold the human body could endure while naming it the frostbite experiment. Another horrific experiment was vivisection which was done to understand human anatomy while treating injuries and medical conditions. The humans on whom these experiments were performed were not given a drop of anesthesia and had to endure the pain of the vivisection while also watching themselves being cut up.

3. The Darkest Prison in Human History


Thailand is one of the most beautiful nations in the world with scintillating beaches and happening nightlife. But there is a prison in the laps of this country that is notorious for being the darkest prison in modern human history. When the French colonized Thailand they decided to build a prison that could imprison the Thais that would rebel against their rule. Thus came into existence the Khuk Khi Kai or what is commonly known in Thailand as the Chicken Poop Prison. The prison was just one cell of about 4.4 meters long and 7 meters high and was an extreme isolation prison. The prisoners were showered with chicken poop for almost 24 hours as the roof was open and housed a chicken farm. Chicken poop consists of harmful levels of ammonia which can cause delusion, headaches, and much more, something that the prisoners of Khuk Khi Kai witnessed every hour till they were imprisoned within those walls.

4. The Halifax Explosion


There are a lot of explosions in human history that caused enormous loss of human life, but there hasn’t been something more devastating in history as the Halifax explosion. The story starts with the SS Imo which was sailing in the Atlantic near the Canadian coast and was on collision course with the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship. What the SS Imo did not know was that the SS Mont-Blanc was carrying a cargo of explosives. On 6 December 1917, the two ships collided at the narrows connecting Bedford Basin near Halifax, Canada. The explosion of this collision was catastrophic. The SS Mont-Blanc was carrying 2300 tons of wet and dry picric acid, 2000 tons of TNT, 10 tons of guncotton, and 2000 tons of benzol. The collision did not cause an immediate explosion. When the two ships collided, the SS Imo turned right and began moving ahead. It was 20 minutes later that the Mont-Blanc exploded creating a firestorm for miles. The explosion resulted in over 1782 people losing their lives, 9000 being injured, and millions worth of property being destroyed.

5. The Dark Backstory of Why Sugar is Bad for Our Teeth


Unfortunately, several medical researches that have helped us understand the human body and the cure of different diseases have emerged from the dark pits of human, yet inhuman, experimentation. One such inhuman act to understand the negative effects of sugar on human teeth was conducted in Vipeholm in Sweden after the Second World War. Sweden was suffering from multiple cases of cavities and dental problems and this forced the Swedish health authorities to take notice. They decided that an experiment had to be undertaken to conclude what caused this. The Vipeholm facility was chosen to be the studying grounds as it was a facility built for the mentally challenged or what the Swedish preferred to call them, ‘uneducable retards.’ The study began in 1945 under the eye of the government and was later funded by the sugar industries as sugar on teeth experiment. Mentally challenged inmates of the facility were kept on a sweet and sticky diet to understand tooth decay. If they ever faced pain or discomfort they were not treated, instead, the experiment went on. This resulted in all the individuals losing their teeth and being maimed for life. Even then the Swedish never thought they’d done something wrong and it was in the late 90s that the experiments were questioned for their inhuman approach.

6. The Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Genocide


One of the most inhuman and brutal dictators of the world was the Cambodian general Pol Pot. He believed in a utopian world he had imagined based on George Orwell’s 1984 and looked to turn Cambodia into that utopian world he imagined. This idea kicked off the Cambodian civil war in 1970 between the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot and the Norodom Sihanouk, the rebels. The US interfered and supported the Sihanouk thus dropping over 500,000 tons of explosives on the country and sending in over 700,000 troops. The Cambodians saw this as a violation of their republic and supported the Khmer Rouge in the fight. Finally, in 1975 Pol Pot defeated the Norodom Sihanouk and claimed dominion over Cambodia as its sole leader. He sought to take Cambodia back to its agricultural roots and so forced the Cambodians into the fields, even professionals such as doctors, engineers, etc. The S-21 detention center was built to house the rebels of Pol Pot. 18000 prisoners were kept in the S-21 and only 18 survived at the end. When the Khmer Rouge regime ended in 1999, it was left with the blood of over 2 million Cambodians on its hands.

7. The Gruesome Magdalene Laundries


In the early 1900s, the Catholic organizations decided to set up a facility known as the Magdalene Laundries for the fallen women of the society and named it after Mary Magdalene from the Bible. These women were unmarried mothers, widows, and some mentally ill or criminals. Later they changed the name of the Laundry to Magdalene Asylum and took in women from all strata of the society. These facilities were set up all across the world and were believed to be taken care of by Catholic nuns. The reality of these facilities was that the women were engaged in heavy industries, working day in day out for the rich, while suffering from torture and abuse. The babies of these women were often malnutritioned and would suffer from diseases such as TB, measles, or pneumonia. The babies were never returned to their mothers but were buried in unconsecrated grounds without a coffin. It was on March 27 in 2017 that 800 baby corpses were found in a septic tank in Count Galway, Ireland and this is where the Magdalene Asylum was situated years ago.

8. The Radium Girls


During the First World War, the US Radium Corporation hired a massive number of women to work for them. The job included painting watch dials and other items with radium. What seems like a pretty normal job for women ended up being one of the most gruesome events in history. Radium is highly radioactive and direct exposure to the elements can cause serious damages to the human body. The women that painted radium onto objects would often sit on their desks with no protection and on top of that, they were instructed to sharpen the tips of their brushes with their lips or tongues. This resulted in enormous ingestion of pure radium by these women and slowly the poisoning began. The women in the facility began facing severe medical conditions such as rotting jaws, disfigured tumors, infected body parts, burning rashes, etc. The company was dragged to court and was found guilty, and sentenced to bearing the medical charges of all the employees. The company faced just monetary losses while the women had to do away with their lives.

10 Prodigies You Might Have Never Heard off That Shook the World


Prodigies is the term used for those individuals who broken the set norms of the society of experience and training and went on to achieve the zeniths of success at a tender age. At an age when most of us are figuring out which toy to choose or what nursery rhyme to sing, these children conquered the world. Here are 10 prodigies from history whose name you might have never heard of.

1. Edmund Thomas Clint


A master of colors, Clint was born in 1976 in Kerala, India, and took to the drawing board the moment he was born. Spending a life of just 6 years and 11 months in this world, Clint left behind 25,000 pieces of art. His father named him after the famed actor, Clint Eastwood and he probably took to the talent of Eastwood since his very first breath. He switched from chalks to crayons, to watercolors in quick succession and painted some of the most unique observations of life in such a tender age. Kidney failure put a stop to this young master’s life, but even today his artworks intrigue and excite art lovers throughout the world. An art competition is held every year in India for budding young artists, in honor of Clint and his contribution to the world of art.

2. Judit Polgar


Child psychologist Laszlo Polgar was hell-bent on proving that child prodigies are just not born but can be created as well. His idea that early training and enhanced mental ability can be the perfect blend for a child prodigy came true when he implemented his theories on his daughters. Judit was the youngest daughter of Laszlo and began her training at a very tender age. She went on to become a grandmaster at the young age of 15 breaking Bobby Fischer’s record. She also defeated the world champion Boris Spassky in 1993. While refusing to enter women-only competitions, Judit took the world of male-dominated chess by storm. She was ranked the no.1 chess player for 26 years till she retired in 2014. She now coaches the Hungarian men’s national chess team.

3. Felix Mendelssohn


A German composer and musical prodigy, Felix was born Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Germany on 3 Feb 1809 to a very wealthy Jewish family. He was later christened to become a Reformed Christian at the age of seven. He got his hands on instruments from a very young age and learned the art of melody while others were learning how to walk. This helped Felix compose string symphonies, operas, major piano sonatas, overtures, and incidental music all before he even reached the ripe age of 18. He established himself as premier of the Romantic era at this young age and revived the music of Sebastian Bach. His famous works include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, Scottish Symphony, and many more

4. Michael Kevin Kearney

Born in Hawaii in the year 1984, Michael was a jaunty child diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age. But this did not hamper his growth by accelerating it. He spoke his first words when he was just 4 months old and began his homeschooling at the age of 1. By 6, Michael had graduated high school from the Santa Rosa Junior College and then college at the age of 10 obtained an Associate of Science in Geology. He also has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of South Alabama. At 22 he got his doctorate in Chemistry and became a teaching assistant at the Middle Tennessee State University. Michael even entered a game show and won $1million as prize money. Now someone here is a real-life Sheldon Cooper.

5. William James Sidis


Born to Ukrainian immigrant parents, William James Sidis entered the Harvard University at the age of 9, becoming the youngest ever person to do so. Since the school had a set of rules, he wasn’t allowed to attend classes till he was 11. When he was just eight, he had self-taught himself eight languages and it is claimed that his IQ was around 250-300, way beyond that of Albert Einstien. He was a prodigy in mathematics, linguistics, invented a language of his own, wrote novels and poems, and created a constitution for a utopian world. Sid is remembered in Harvard for giving a lecture on four-dimensional bodies that threw some of the greats in confusion. He lived most of his life in solitude and never came into the public eye, passing away at the mere age of 46 from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1944.

6. Paul Erdos


The second Hungarian on the list, Paul Erdos is renowned throughout the world as one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived. A legend in the field of deductive mathematics, Erdos was born in 1913 in Budapest, Hungary, and began his training in mathematics from a very young age under the tutelage of his parents, both of whom were math teachers. He was enrolled at the University of Budapest at age 17 and found proof from the world-famous Chebyshev’s theorem at the age of 20. He got his doctorate in math at the age of 21 becoming a professor at such a tender age. He is famous for his works on number theory, combinatorics, and cracking many previously unsolved problems. His family says that he ate and breathed mathematics. He passed away while solving a geometry problem at a conference in Poland.

7. Colin Carlson


Born in 1996, Colin is the youngest recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a feat he achieved at the age of just 14. He made national headlines that year as no one before had even been considered for prestigious honor at such a young age. He was enrolled in the University of Connecticut while he achieved this honor. A year before he won the prize, he sued the University for discriminating against him because of his age. He was to take a course in a field study in Africa which was denied to him by the University. He stated that this behavior of universities in the country undermines the struggle of gifted individuals and never lets them achieve their full potential. He is currently working as a Postdoc Fellow at SESYNC and is an established name in the world of climate engineering.

8. Ted Kaczynski


The prodigy who turned criminal, Ted was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1945 as Theodore John Kaczynski and went on to become a mathematical prodigy. He lived his life as a math professor till 1969 when he decided that this wasn’t his cup of tea and took a decision that would plunge him into the world of crime. He began living in a small cabin he built in Lincoln, Montana. His belief that modernization and industries were killing nature led him to destroy the world of industries. He built bombs that were technologically advanced and were way ahead of that time. The FBI claims that his bombs were untraceable and led to an investigation that became one of the most expensive investigations for the Bureau. He was sentenced to jail in 1998 when he pleaded guilty to all the crimes he committed.

9. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz


A prodigy of the Middle Ages, Cruz was born in 1648 in San Miguel Nepantla near Mexico City. A woman way beyond her time, Cruz had established herself as a writer, scholar, philosopher, poet, and composer. She was one of the few feminist writers and scholars of that century writing extensively on women, religion, and love. Being a staunch critic and outspoken woman, she was given the title of “The Tenth Muse” and “The Phoenix of Mexico”. She not only contributed to Spanish literature but also was fluent in Latin and Nahuatl, making her the last great writer of the colonial Mexican culture. In the last days of her life, she joined a monastery of Hieronymite nuns and spent her life in solitude. Her notable works include the poetry collection First Dream, and other writings on colonialism, education rights, women’s religious authority, and seminal discourse of that time.

10. Jacob Barnett


Famous as the boy who succeeded Einstein, Jacob Barnett is a mathematics and science prodigy born in 1998 in Indiana. He was diagnosed with autism at a very young age and the doctors said he would never be able to talk or read in his life. His parents did not give up on him and began his homeschooling which eventually led him to speak, draw, and solve puzzles. He began attending physics classes at the Indiana University at the age of 8. He was the young boy who went on to continue Einstein’s work on the Theory of Relativity at the age of nine. With an IQ of 170, he was the youngest individual to get admitted to the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.

10 Facts About Catherine Of Braganza That Prove She Was As Scandalous As Charles II


History is filled with eccentric personalities who could be called a synonym for the world scandalous and wild. But some did not just do something scandalous but also etched their names in the history books while doing so. Catherine of Braganza was one such eccentric queen who is known in history as the innocent little girl who was married off to the king of England, Charles II. People believe that Catherine had to spend her days as the suffering bride of Charles II while watching her better half spending days and nights with mistresses. But that’s far from the truth, as these facts will prove that Catherine of Braganza was as scandalous and eccentric as her husband Charles II.

1. She was the Naïve Princess of Portugal


Catherine was a duchess before her father suddenly became the King of Portugal one day, and voila! Catherine was now the princess of Portugal. She spent most of her time in convents and rarely ventured out into the open thus making her a naïve and conserved little girl. Who knew, dark things were waiting for her in the future.


2. Her Mother was not the best Matchmaker in Europe


Catherine was a young princess and was eyed by several princes around Europe but her mother had her eyes fixed on the throne of England and so she decided that Catherine would marry Charles II. When she traveled to Portsmouth, England to meet her suitor in May 1662, Charles II ignored her for a long time not even taking out the time to visit her. He met her a day before the marriage and the next day they were husband and wife.


3. She had a Secret Wedding with Charles II


No, it wasn’t such that Charles did not want to let England know that they had a new queen, but there was something that Charles II did not want his subjects to know. Charles II was a Protestant and Catherine was a Catholic. They both decided that they would not give up their respective faiths and so they had to undergo a secret wedding along with the public wedding so that this loophole could be maintained.


4. The People of England did not like Their New Queen


Catherine of Braganza was a Portuguese woman and so naturally did not speak English which made it difficult to move around the lands without her Portuguese cavalcade. Since she was a catholic at heart, the protestant majority of England hated her and often whispered expletives whenever she would pass through the streets with her entourage. The parents of Charles II weren’t very easy to deal with either as Charles’s mother considered Catherine a saint.


5. Charles had a Vulgar Nickname and wasn’t very pretty either


Even though English kings were known for their chivalry and honor, Charles II wasn’t interested in any of these and ended up living a scandalous life. He had a long list of mistresses with the likes of Barbara Villiers, Nell Gwynn, and Louise de Kerouaille. He just did not end up philandering with the women around town but had a bad habit of ensuring that most of the women he sleeps with end up getting pregnant. This is why he was nicknamed “Old Riley” for his intense umm… virility. When Catherine got to knew about Charles and his escapades to the women of the town just after a couple of weeks of their marriage, she was devastated.


6. Catherine Ended up becoming Enemies with Barbara Villiers


Although there were a lot of women in the life of Charles II, there was one woman who was a thorn in the life of Catherine of Braganza and she was Barbara Villiers. Barbara was one of Charles’s favorite consorts and was also sometimes referred to as the ‘Unofficial Queen of England’. When Catherine came into the picture, Barbara was naturally pissed off and this led to a feud with the new queen of England. When Charles and Catherine strutted off for their honeymoon, Barbara chose to give birth to the illegitimate son of Charles during that very time at this personal palace in Hampton Court. This forced Charles to come back hurriedly from his honeymoon. Catherine was bound to be furious.


7. Catherine played her cards and Ended up In a Disaster


Barbara gave birth to the son of Charles II. Even though the child was illegitimate, Charles was so happy that he made Barbara the “Lady of the Bedchamber”. This was the last straw for Catherine and she realized that there was no way of getting an edge over Barbara. She decided she would stay away from the King until he rescinded his decision. She threatened to return to Portugal, but instead of giving in to her demands, Charles took away her Portuguese retinue and forced her to accept Barbara. Catherine had to face all this humiliation alone but she thought that if she could give Charles a son, the king would have a legitimate heir to the throne. This plan also failed as Catherine went through three miscarriages and later fell very ill.


8. Catherine battled a new rival while watching the Downfall of Barbara Villiers


Catherine had to suffer through severe illness and during this time Charles met a new woman by the name of Frances Stewart, the court beauty. Catherine suffered severe hallucinations about her children never dying in the miscarriages but being born. The hard-hearted Charles saw his heart melt at this sight and consoled her by lying to her that she indeed gave birth to two sons and daughter. While all this humdrum with Catherine and Frances was going on, Charles had three more children with Barbara. While Catherine was facing unfortunate times in her life, there was one respite that Charles was fiercely loyal to her because he did not heed any advice of divorcing her and marrying someone else. He even consulted and took the side of Catherine when there were fights between her and his mistresses. This eventually led to the satisfying fall of Barbara who, to the delight of Catherine, eventually vanished from the English court.


9. Catherine got back her Mojo soon and Turned Heels


Catherine of Braganza was not the meek woman history sought to make her. Although her younger years made her look like a naïve little girl, soon Catherine got a good grasp of how politics and love worked together and soon the timid Catherine became the scandalous queen she sought to become. After an unsuccessful attempt by the British Parliament to dethrone her, she made Charles fall in love with her and also ensured that any more mistresses in Charles's life were approved by her before they entered the palace. She was obsessed with her heels and ankles and ordered the court to reduce the length of the skirts so that she could show off her neat ankles comfortably. She was also a greedy little woman who hoarded jewels and money at her behest.


10. She recreated England and passed away in her Homeland


Catherine is the woman England should thank for the way they are today. She popularized the iconic tea that the British so fondly drink. When the final days of Charles came near, the love she had for her husband made her pray to the Lord and beg for his soul. She eventually stopped coming to the bed of the ill Charles II as she could not bear to watch him pass away to the afterlife. Charles in his final letter to Catherine apologized for all he did during his lifetime, the mishaps, the betrayals, the insults, and many more grievous crimes. Catherine being the better person forgave him and some even say she converted Charles II into a Catholic. After Charles II passed away she left for Portugal and served as a Regent for her brother before passing away in her loved town of Lisbon.

5 People Who Survived Disasters and Lived to Tell the Tale


There are very few people in the world who have been witnesses to catastrophes that have rocked the world, survived them, and then lived to tell the tale. These people have seen the worst of world history, and either coincidentally or by the hand of God, survived the ordeal to tell the world about their experiences. Here are 10 such amazing people from history who survived catastrophic disasters.


1. The Man who Cheated Death 7 Times

Surviving a life-threatening situation is not something common in the world today. But some people are so lucky that they survive not just once but several times. One such rare personality is Frane Selak of Croatia. His first truck with death came in 1962 when a train in which he was traveling went off track and fell into a river. He survived as someone pulled him out of the river, but the other 17 passengers who fell weren’t so lucky. The next year he went on his first plane ride and got thrown out of the plane because of a malfunctioning door. He fell on a haystack and survived again.


Three years later he was on a bus that fell into a river. Again he survived after swimming to the banks of the river with only a few bruises. Then comes 1970 and Selak is driving his car when his fuel tank exploded. He realized his fuel tank was leaking and was able to escape and run from the car seconds before the car burst into flames. 25 years later, Selak got hit by a bus but survived again with just a few minor injuries. The last incident was when his car collided with a United Nations truck on a mountain road. His car was thrown off to the side and the door swung open throwing Selak out. Again Selak landed on a tree and held on to it as he saw his car fall down a 90-feet gorge. His luck did not end here as he won a $1,110,000 lottery at the age of 73 after being married for the fifth time. Lady Luck surely had fallen in love with Selak as death just could not take him away. He still lives hale and hearty in Zagreb, Croatia.


2. The Man who Inspired 127 Hours

One of Danny Boyle's and James Franco’s most amazing movies, 127 Hours was inspired by a man who survived an unthinkable ordeal and lived to see his story become a blockbuster film. Aron Ralston was an engineer and outdoorsman who often ventured out in the wilderness for a new adventure. It was this knack for traveling the terrain that brought him to the Blue John Canyon in Utah in 2003. While hiking around the rocks of the canyon, a boulder above Aron broke off, tumbled down, hit his left hand, and ended up crashing his right hand against the canyon wall. No one knew that Aron had ventured out into the canyons and so there was no way someone was coming to help.


Stuck between the canyon walls he tried his best to free himself for days, surviving on the food and water he carried with him. But soon rations started depleting and he believed that this was the end. He tried freeing his arm but to no avail as the boulder was humongous. He finally decided that he had to amputate the arm if he had any chance of survival in this wilderness. He began making a cut on his hand with the tools he had but realized that he had to also cut through the bone if he wanted to get free. He had no tools that could cut through the bone. Disappointed, on the fifth day, Aron scribbled his name, date of birth, and the estimated time of death on the sandstone near him. When he woke up on the morning of the 6th, he saw that his arm had begun decomposing. He thought this is the only way and so he applied torque against his arm to break it off. He succeeded and then walked eight miles before he was rescued. The authorities went back to the site, used heavy hydraulic equipment to remove his broken arm, and then cremated the arm, giving the ashes to Aron. Aron revisited the site on his 28th birthday and scattered the ashes saying that this is where they belong.


3. The Olympic Gold Medalist Who Survived the Sinking Titanic

Richard Noris Williams is a name etched in the United States Tennis history books as one of its earliest champions of tennis winning not just the national championships twice but also securing a medal in Wimbledon’s men’s doubles and then snatching the gold at the 1924 Olympics. But there is something peculiar about Williams that makes him different from the other maestros of tennis. Richard Williams was one of the passengers of the famous Titanic and was on it when the ship sank to the bottom of the ocean. An accomplished tennis player in his teens he was on the ship with his father before the ship capsized. When both of them fell into the freezing waters of the Atlantic his father was crushed by the forward funnel of the ship but Richard survived by a whisker. He held on to a boat for a long time before he was finally rescued and transferred to a lifeboat.


When he came aboard the Carpathia with the other survivors, he had been in the freezing waters for too long. His legs were rendered incapable of moving or even ever working in the future. The doctors recommended they amputate the legs to save him from gangrene. He refused as he could not see his dream of becoming a tennis champion fade away. He reached back home, began exercising and soon he regained full function of his legs. He kept playing professional tennis and also studied at Harvard. After surviving one of the biggest disasters in history, Richard went on to become an Olympic champion for his country. He also served in the US Army earning the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre for his services.


4. The Woman Who Fell from the Sky

Vesna Vulovic is the holder of a world record that no one would ever want to be associated with. Falling out of the sky has always been a phrase for people but Vesna is one such individual who has lived it. A Serbian flight attendant, Vesna was serving on the JAT Flight 367 from Stockholm to Belgrade on the 26th of January, 1972. The flight was scheduled to stop in Copenhagen and then in Zagreb. Vesna was excited to visit the country of Denmark for the first time in her life. When the flight landed in Copenhagen at 2:30 PM, Vesna saw an annoyed man, and even the station manager and the crew at the Copenhagen airport saw the man annoyed. They believed he had planted a bomb in the plan in his check-in luggage. But no action was taken.


The plane took off again at 3:15 and at 4:01 the bomb went off. The plane was torn into two parts mid-air. Vesna along with the other 28 passengers fell from 33,000 feet, cruising down to their ends. A few minutes later Vesna landed on hard ground and survived while the others did not. A villager found her in the wreckage and immediately rushed her to the hospital. She stayed in a coma for a long time and suffered from broken ribs, broken vertebrae, a fractured pelvis, and two broken legs. She recovered soon but the damage to her spine left her paralyzed waist-under. Vesna was celebrated as a national hero in Yugoslavia and was awarded the record of surviving the highest fall without a parachute by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1985.


5. The Man Who Survived Deserts and Mountains to Live

Slawomir Rawicz was a gentleman enlisted in the Polish army as a lieutenant before the Second World War. When the Germans invaded Poland, Rawicz was arrested and imprisoned on November 19, 1939. He was taken to Minsk and then to Kharkov for interrogation. He was finally imprisoned in the Lubyanka prison in Moscow as a POW. He was continuously tortured in the prison so that he could reveal important information about the Allied Powers but when the Russians realized he wasn’t going to talk, they sent him to do hard labor in a prison camp in Siberia. Two years later he escaped the camp with six other prisoners. 


The escapees included Rawicz, three Polish soldiers, a Lithuanian architect, a Latvian landowner, a US Metro engineer, and a 17-year old Polish girl named Kristina. They decided to escape Siberia and enter India where the British could help them get back home. The journey to India was not an easy one as it had to be completed by crossing two of the harshest terrains in the world, the Gobi desert, and the ice-laden Himalayas. Two of his teammates fell in the Gobi desert whereas two left for heavenly abode in the Himalayas. After 11 months of trekking, the surviving four reached India in March 1942. They came across a Gurkha patrols station that then took them to the nearest hospital in Calcutta. Some say that Rawicz's story is a hoax but a British intelligence office who interrogated the other three people who survived had claimed that they had escaped Siberia with Rawicz.

8 Things from History That Left People Confused and Shocked


History has its fair share of some of the most shocking incidents and events that might have transpired between people from time to time. From people owning their zoos to kings eating out of the skulls of their enemies, history has never disappointed us when it comes to knocking our socks off with awe and disgust at the same time. Here are eight such historical events that have left people shaking their heads and rolling their eyes.

1. Peter I dug up the Body of his Wife after he became King

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It was the year 1336 CE and King Alfonso IV ruled the lands of the country we call Portugal. His son and heir to the throne Prince Peter was married to Constance of Castille, but his love lies in the arms of his cousin and lady-in-waiting Ines de Castro. Just 9 years later, Constance left for the heavenly abode in the year 1345 while giving birth to the newest heir to the throne, Peter’s son, Ferdinand I. There was no one left to meddle between the love of Peter and Ines, but was it so? King Alfonso had no plans to allow Peter to marry Ines and so had Ines decapitated in front of her children by assassins. Peter was furious than before and waged a war on his father. Although Alfonso won the battle, he soon passed away making Peter the new King of Portugal. Once, king Peter ordered the body of Ines to be dug up and placed her beside him as the Queen ordering the courtiers to kiss her hands. He also punished the assassins by removing their hearts while they were still alive.

2. Australia Went to War against Emus!

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Emus, very much like ostriches, are large flightless birds that can deliver one helluva kick to someone and knock them out. But there was something about the Australian Emu that made it a state enemy, to an extent that they had to declare war against it. It was 1931 in Australia when veterans from World War I had accepted land grants and began farming extensively. The emus found new lands to graze on, the Australian farmlands, and they went all haywire destroying acres of crops. The Australian government initially deployed the military to take care of the emu menace but they were unable to deter the emus with a bunch of machine gunfire. After a lot of deliberation, the government decided to set up a bounty system for the emus which helped deter the herds of emus from running helter-skelter into farmlands. The emus still exist in herds across Australia but stronger fencing around farmlands has helped keep these emus off farmlands.

3. Galvarino replaced his severed Hands with Knives

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In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan’s Spanish expedition landed on the shores of Chile searching for lands to build new colonies on. They encountered the Mapuche people who were the indigenous people who called the shores of Chile their home. They aggressively resisted the Spanish conquistadors but were unable to stop the Spanish colonization. For the coming four centuries, the Spanish colonized these lands and left only when the modern world came into being. In 1857, the Spanish faced their most shocking encounter with the Mapuche chieftain Galvarino. When the Spanish caught him and another 150 Mapuches, they severed their hands and cut their noses. The Spanish thought they had dealt with the menace of Galvarino but little did they know that the Mapuche chief would come back to battle the next day with knives strapped to his severed hands. Although they did not do a lot for the victory of the battle, they inspired the Mapuche people to keep resisting and fighting against the Spanish.

 4. The USA was at War with Guam, and Guam did not know!

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The Island of Guam lies comfortably between the Philippines and the US in the Pacific Ocean. In 1898, The Spanish-American war was in action and Guam was a hot property for both. To control the Spanish-occupied Philippines, the US had to somehow gain control over Guam and so went to war with it by default. Guam did not know this until the USS Charleston approached the island and send a warning flag to tell Guam that they had arrived. The US thought the Spanish would respond with fire but they did not which forced USS Charleston to fire a warning shot which they did on an old Spanish fort on the hill. There was still no response from the Spanish. Soon a small boat with envoys from Guam came up to the USS Charleston and told them that they had no idea that there was a war going on between Spain and the US. The governor of Guam immediately gave up the island of Guam to the US in a bloodless victory for the Americans.

 5. Australia’s Prime Minister Went Missing

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The Prime Minister or the President of a country is the most important person in the country, and the sudden disappearance of the leader of your country can send the entire administration into disarray. This is exactly what happened on December 17, 1967, when Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt went swimming off the beach of Victoria and disappeared. A man of the outdoors, Harold usually spent his free time playing sports or swimming. A few days before he went out for the last swim of his life, Harold was advised by his doctors to avoid going outdoors for some time since he had just recovered from shoulder surgery. Harold did not listen and instead ended up missing. Harold’s body was never found and he was eventually declared deceased. There are a lot of conspiracy theories about the Prime Minister’s disappearance but the truth remains hidden till today.

6. Hawaii’s Flag has a Foreign Insignia

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How many times does it happen, that a state flag of a country has the insignia of a foreign country? Well, this happened with Hawaii and is the case even today. It was not until 1959 that Hawaii agreed to become a state of the US and till then Hawaii was an independent nation ruled by its most famous king, Kamehameha I. The flag of Hawaii was initially the Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain, and was accepted as such, since the British Naval captain, George Vancouver, gifted the flag to the King. Stripes were added to the flag to differentiate it from the British flag. The US tried to annex Hawaii several times in history, the first of which was 1893. For one year, the American flag flew joyfully on the island, until Hawaii declared itself a republic in 1894 and returned to its original flag. When the US finally annexed Hawaii as an American state, they asked them to change the flag but to no avail. The flag of Hawaii still has the Union Jack flying in the top left corner and might do so forever.

 7. The Punic Wars were a 2000-Year War

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Rome has been one of the most powerful empires in human history, conquering and ruling almost half of the ancient world. The enemies of Rome were smaller in size, but brave nonetheless. One such brave and courageous rival of the Romans was Carthage. The North African empire of Carthage went to war with Rome several times beginning with The First Punic War in 264 BCE. The war ended in 241 BCE and people thought this was it. But when Carthaginian general Hannibal came into power, he led Carthage to The Second Punic Wars which went on for another 20 years. The third and the last Punic Wars began in 149 BCE and were over in three years. At the end of the war, the Romans won and they destroyed the Carthage capital by sowing salt in the lands so that nothing could ever grow in these lands again. No treaty was signed between the two, nor was Carthage acceded to the Roman Empire, and so the war was still on. It was in 1985 that Carthage, now a suburb of the city of Tunis, Tunisia signed a peace treaty with the city of Rome, thus ended the 2000 year long Punic Wars. 

 8. When Julius Caesar Was Kidnapped

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A Roman ship was sailing the waters of the Mediterranean in 75 BCE when Cilician pirates attacked the ship and took everyone hostage. There was a 25-year old boy in the group of hostages whose name was Julius Caesar. The sea was plagued with attacks from these South Anatolian pirates, but little did they know that killing this hostage named Caesar would have been better off. When the pirates asked for 20 talents for releasing Julius, he scoffed and asked his people to go collect 50 talents from his family for his release. While the money was being collected he delighted the pirates with some of his original poetry, berating them for being illiterates now and then. When he was eventually released he vowed to crucify these captors in the future. When Caesar became the ruler of Rome, he sent a search party for them, found them, and indeed had them crucified. 


6 Mighty Marketing Disasters from World History


Multi-million dollar companies often hire the best of the marketing minds to promote and sell their products. These marketing maestros are the best of their line, but sometimes it happens that the brightest of minds end up making a decision that turns out to be a complete disaster. Here are 8 such marketing disasters from world history.

1. The AAirpass Fiasco


American Airlines is one of the largest airline companies in the world and has hundreds of domestic flights flying in an out of the US states. But there was a time when the airlines made a disastrous decision on promotional cards that led to a loss of millions. In 1981, American Airlines offered an unlimited first-class pass to passengers for a lump sum amount of $250,000. The amount of about 250 grans is high even today but it was way more back in the 80s. But there were a few people who could afford to take the pass and in turn extract way more from the past than its original value. The company also offered a companion pass for $150,000. The offer was taken up by some individuals which resulted in people traveling first class now and then. Steve Rothstein bought a pass in 1987 and took over 10,000 flights covering over 10 million miles. Another Dallas marketing executive traveled nearly 38 million miles on his pas. American Airlines faced losses of over $21 million and had to eventually cancel the offer before facing more losses.

2. The Love Letter Promotions


Someone working for Fiat during 1994 in Spain had suddenly developed the urge of becoming the marketing, Casanova. Fiat ended up taking a marketing decision that became a fiasco. In 1994, Fiat decided to send over 50,000 pink love letters to women across Spain to reveal its identity after 4-5 days. The letter, along with a compliment and the mention of a little adventure, said,” I only have to be with you a few minutes and, even if it doesn’t work out between us, I promise you won’t forget our first experience together.”  The letters were sent off anonymously, and the women who received them did not know this was Fiat. The second letter was to be sent after 4-5 days and would talk about the little adventure is a test drive with Fiat, but the need for the second letter never arose. The women who received the latter were scared to death of a stalker among their midst. Thousands of complaints were registered with the police about this anonymous stalker. Fiat finally went public and apologized for their mistake, vowing to pay 140,000 pesetas to a woman who had taken this issue to the court.

3. The Fall of the Unlimited Lobster


“Eat till you drop!” is a common marketing gimmick used by successful food chains to bring more and more people in. From large fast-food chains to niche restaurants, everyone has at least once in their food career offered an unlimited deal to its diners. This is what Red Lobster did in 2003, unknowing that it was going down the path of losing a lot of money. Under the garb of an all-you-can-eat promotion, Red Lobster offered an unlimited supply of snow crab legs for a meager payment of $20, along with a wide range of side dishes. For lobster lovers, this was a jackpot deal and people started rushing to Red Lobster. But Red Lobster made a big misjudgment in calculating the appetite of an American individual and slowly realized that. Their idea was that no one could eat more than three plates of lobster but people went on to order multiple plates and overtime, Red Lobster faced a loss after every third plate that was sent to the table. In the end, Red Lobster faced losses of over $3.3 million and vowed to never give an unlimited deal without thinking deeply about it.

4. “I won’t buy it! It’s too cheap.”


Have you ever heard someone say that they won’t buy something because it is too cheap? Well, that’s what millions of Indians thought about the Tata Nano. Tata is one of the most prestigious Indian conglomerates and operates across the world. When the chairman of the group, Ratan Tata thought of building the cheapest car in the country, he thought it would be a hit. But the opposite prevailed. The Tata Nano was released at a market price of 100,000 Rupees or about $2400 and was affordable for people with low incomes as well. But in India, a car is a luxury and not a commodity. Owning a car in India is a status symbol and so the cheaper the car, the lesser is your prestige in society. The stigma of owning a cheap car is what hit the sales of the Tata Nano and the target of selling 20,000 cars in the first month was not achieved. Later things changed and eventually, the car caught on but for a small time. It ended up being a marketing disaster for Tata.

5. Dr. Pepper and Guns N’ Roses


Guns N’ Roses are one of the most prolific rock bands in the world and Dr. Pepper is one of the most popular beverages in the US. When the two met in 2008, sometime unexpected happened for both of them. Guns N’ Roses began working on their album Chinese Democracy in 1994. But the album was just not getting completed and delays became a common thing. Guns N’ Roses’ fans believed that this album would never see the light of the day just like actual Chinese democracy. In 2008, Dr. Pepper decided to use this situation to its benefit and offered a free can of Dr. Pepper soda to America if Guns N’ Roses released their album by the end of 2008. Dr. Pepper was in for a surprise as Guns N’ Roses did release their album on the 23rd of November 2008. Dr. Pepper decided to honor its promise and set up the offer of a free can of soda on the website by offering a coupon code that could be redeemed. American claimed that the coupon code did not work for most of the day on the website and somehow this affected the sales of the Guns N’ Roses album. Axl Rose, the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses threatened Dr. Pepper with a lawsuit and asked them to issue a full-page apology.

6. The Hoover Free US Trip


The Hoover Company is one of the largest companies in the US and has millions of regular customers at its doors around the world. But this marketing fiasco we are talking about took place in the British division of the company. During the 1990s the Hoover Company in the UK had a surplus of washing machines and vacuum cleaners in their warehouses and decided to sell them off by giving the people an offer. They released an offer saying that anyone who bought 100 pounds worth of appliances from Hoover would be eligible for a two round-trip ticket to Europe. They later included the US into that offer and people could get to fly to the US from the UK for free. The price margins were way off and people flocking to avail the offer threw the people at the Hoover Company into disarray. A BBC documentary on the entire fiasco led to the sacking of top Hoover executives and the company faced losses of up to £50 million.