History is fascinating, but sometimes it shows the dark side of humanity in the rawest and most gruesome way possible. If humans are capable of kindness, they are also capable of cruelty. And History has proved time and again that this polar side of humans is not good at all.
There are some sad and disturbing historical facts that might make you feel ashamed of humanity. Although they are not to be celebrated, we can definitely learn something about human behavior from the pages of the past and try not to repeat the same mistakes in the future.
A Reddit user rockingkp put forward a question on AskReddit, “What are some of dark events happened in history not many people know about?” Many people revealed some disturbing past events that must be called out for their monstrosity. Scroll below to read them.
Trigger warning: Do not read if your mental health is not well at the moment!
More info: Reddit
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During the 1800s British noblemen in India would use so called jellyboys (local boys smeared in jam) to walk beside them attracting all the bugs, flies and mosquitoes, creating a neat golfing experience for the nobility and a not so neat experience for the boys.
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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 tortured for the sake of 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.
Edit: Based on a couple of the comments I’ve gotten where people are making judgement calls about the modern day Japanese for this – I’d just like to make clear that I hold no prejudice against the Japanese, and I’m certainly not encouraging others to — every country and people has truly horrific pasts, and almost all of them sweep it under the rug as best they can. Even in our generation. We can argue that torture conducted by US soldiers in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, for example, aren’t half as bad, or were more justified, but ultimately torture is torture and sadism is sadism. A culture or government that begins to permit such things and justify them is well on its way down the spiral with enough motivation. Let’s not fool ourselves into comforting racism or nationalism that our countries or people are incapable of atrocities of our own, even today.
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The Radium Girls. In the 1920s, they worked at a watch company painting the hours on the watches using radium, a radioactive element that glows in the dark. They did this with no PPE and weren’t told radium is dangerous. Meanwhile, the chemists had full PPE and worked in a sealed environment.
Worse, they were instructed to lick the tip of the brush to make a very fine point. Some of them would paint their nails or their teeth with it for fun when they went out at night.
They would develop cancer whenever the paint touched, and many of them had such decay in their jaws that their mandibles had to be held on with bandages.
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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 [perished] 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 [unalived] about 10 nazis.
The Cambodian Genocide. You could have been [unalived] 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 possibile 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 [unalive] 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 [unalived] by the guards.
Since many medics were [unalived] 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.
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One that really stands out to me is of the Filipino Zoo Girl that was on display in the Coney Island Zoo in 1914. She was bound by ropes and people tossed peanuts at her. It’s just heartbreaking to see something like that happen, especially to a child so young.
Many people have no idea that [human zoos] existed, but they are definitely a dark part of history. What’s crazy is that there have still been some that have popped up in the 21st century, although not as cruel as they used to be.
The United Fruit Company’s crimes in Latin America. They perpetrated massacres, slave labour, overthrew governments and generally just ravaged each country they stepped foot in. They left when the soil was dry and no-longer efficient, leaving millions out of work, destabilised governments and still continued to extort locals for years later. It is absolutely disgusting what they did, I encourage everyone to read about it.
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Croatia’s Ustachas. Sick radical m***********s. “An ustacha that isn’t able to take out a baby from its mother’s womb with a blade, isn’t a good ustacha.” -Ante Pavelic
Some of their most horrific crimes were burning babies infront of their parents, mangling kids from 0-14 y/o with axes, raping girls infront of their mothers, cutting off the ears and noses of their prisoners while being alive. Even the nazis were horrified by these guys methods.
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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. I guess it’s more well known than I first thought.
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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 in their town, just yards from houses or other sources of refuge. 235 people, mostly children [perished].
There is a novel about the blizzard out now, and there is a nonfiction book about the event as well. I think they have the same title, different authors:
The Children’s Blizzard (Nonfiction by David Laskin)
The Children’s Blizzard (Fiction by Melanie Benjamin)
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Not many people outside of Canada know about the abusive residential schools many indigenous kids were forced to go to (up until the 90’s!!), but even less know that many were also experimented on in the quest to cure tuberculosis. Truly sick stuff.
The R*pe of Nanking, a six week episode of mass murder, r*pe, torture, theft, arson, and various other war crimes committed by Imperial Japanese soldiers against the Chinese civilians of Nanking (formerly China’s capital) during the second Sino-Japanese War. This happened from December of 1937 when the Japanese captured Nanking after a crushing defeat for the Chinese (of varying severity depending on which side you ask) to January of 1938 when the Japanese finished establishing the new “collaborative” government in the city. The body count was massive (estimates range from 40-50,000 to over 300,000), but the massacre is not only remembered for how many people [perished]. It is mainly remembered for the staggering level of cruelty on display, to the point the soldiers even made *games* out of butchering people. One such “game” involved the soldiers throwing babies up into the air and trying to catch them on their bayonets when they came back down. Live burials, castration, brutal r*pe, and the roasting of people became routine then the soldiers started getting bored and thought up even more twisted s**t like hanging people from their tongues on iron hooks, burying them up to the waist and setting hungry dogs on them, or forcing families to engage in incestuous acts. Homes and businesses would be randomly picked out and raided nightly, the Chinese hiding inside all systematically [unalived], r*ped first if they were unlucky enough to be a woman that wasn’t elderly or a toddler, and children were not exempt from the worst of it. Just about any horrible thing you can think to do to another person it probably actually happened in Nanking. Even the Nazis in the city at the time were horrified by the carnage, one calling it “the work of b*****l machinery”.
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In the US it was common to do invasive surgery on infants without anesthesia until the mid 1980s. It was thought that newborns couldn’t feel pain.
The Holodomor. Just Google it. Stalin starved around 10 million Ukrainians to further his political agenda. Was absolutely disgusting.
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Mother Theresa being an absolute evil b***h. Letting so many [perish] on her watch, while collecting millions from dictators for the Vatican.
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The sad case of Ota Benga. He was a “pygmy” boy from the Congo who was essentially captured and brought to the USA to be displayed in freak shows. He had undergone tribal customs such as having his teeth filed into points before his capture.
He eventually got out of the carnivals and dreamed of returning to Africa, then WWI happened, making the trip impossible for the foreseeable future. He [ended himself] by gunshot.
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The Vipeholm Experiment.
Sweden are mostly known as a not very scary country. With good and mostly accessible dental care.
The Vipeholm experiments were a series of human experiments where patients of Vipeholm Hospital for the intellectually disabled in Lund, Sweden, were fed large amounts of sweets to provoke dental caries (1945–1955). The experiments were sponsored both by the sugar industry and the dentist community, in an effort to determine whether carbohydrates affected the formation of cavities.
The experiments provided extensive knowledge about dental health and resulted in enough empirical data to link the intake of sugar to dental caries. However, today they are considered to have violated the principles of medical ethics.
Hey, you are institutionalized and suffering and powerless – let’s make your teeth rot out of your skull. For uhhh science.
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During prohibition the government funded and lead an operation to release barrels of alcohol that they had poisoned to make people sick and shy away from bootleg liquor. Lots of people ended up [passing away] but people still drank more than ever.
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The Halifax Explosion.
Regarded by many as the biggest man-made explosion prior to the invention of the atomic bomb. A ship laden with explosives collided with another vessel in Halifax Harbour. The resulting explosion flattened much of the city’s downtown core, [unaliving] roughly 2,000 and injuring 9,000.
The blast is said to have temporarily displaced the water in the harbour, forming a tsunami that reached up to 15 metres high, surging over the wreckage of the waterfront.
The following day, Halifax was hit by a blizzard that dumped 40 cm of snow on top of the city, further complicating rescue efforts.
The city is also home to a cemetery where many victims of the Titanic were laid to rest. It is said that the body identification system developed at the time of the Titanic’s sinking in 1912 aided efforts to identify victims of the Halifax explosion in 1917.
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You know Jameson Whiskey?
Well a long a*s 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**k 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.
British Gulags in Kenya. 1.5 million indigenous Kenyans were placed in concentration camps. Many of them were tortured. Many of them were [unalived]. But all of them suffered, and with silence from the international press. It’s ironic that the Brits criticised the Soviet Union for their inhumane gulags yet they had gulags of their own in British Protectorate Kenya. This happened in the 1950s, after the second world war.
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