#2. Rebels Imprisoned Their Prime Minister on a Warship ... and Then It Sank
This next one became known as the Manhattan Rebellion, but don't worry, it's not about Occupy Wall Street -- Manhattan was the name of a boat that the United States gave to Thailand as an act of goodwill. During the ceremony for the transfer, however, junior officers from the Thai Royal Navy decided the prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram had to go, so they kidnapped him and locked him up on the warship Sri Ayutthaya.
It wasn't easy. He had the most highly decorated stomach in all of Thailand.
So that's a pretty successful coup so far. The prime minister is the hostage of the royal navy and he's confined to a boat. Unfortunately, the navy didn't really have a plan beyond that point. They were kind of hoping that naval officers who weren't in on the plan would immediately rush to their aid. They didn't. They also assumed that the prime minister's own backers would want to negotiate to save the prime minister's life. They absolutely didn't.
"To be honest, we're a lot more concerned about the new boat."
Instead, within six hours of the kidnapping, the army teamed up with the police and launched their own attack on the rebels' boat -- the same one Phibunsongkhram was being held on. Holy shit! They couldn't have been expecting that.
And this wasn't exactly firing some shots across their bow -- they bombed the shit out of that boat. They bombed it so hard that it sank. Amazingly, one of the few survivors was Phibunsongkhram himself, who actually swam back to shore completely uninjured and not the slightest bit bothered that his own army had just almost killed him. Considering what the navy had done to him that day, the army looked completely loyal in comparison.
Plus, they had elephants.
Without a hostage, a cohesive plan or their dignity, the navy conspirators were forced to just give up. And then the navy itself was completely dismantled, you know, just in case they ever thought they were once useful to the country in any way whatsoever.
#1. Hitler Tried to Take Over a Beer Hall
For all you would-be rebels out there, here's a coup that proves that the only thing standing between you and success is willpower. Oh, wait. Never mind. This is a Hitler story.
"Och! Mein Godwin!"
Before Hitler became the embodiment of evil, he was just an angry guy with a mob. So on November 8, 1923, the leadership of the Weimar Republic was hosting a debate at a beer hall, because that's how they do in Germany. Young Hitler knew this was the time to strike.
Now, when you hear "beer hall," don't picture some little rinky-dink honky-tonk with Bavarians line dancing or riding mechanical bulls or whatever. This particular bar sat 3,000 people, and the place was brimming with drinkers listening to one of the leaders, Gustav Ritter von Kahr, speech it up ... until Hitler and about 20 of his friends in the German Workers Party burst in the door. Their "plan"? To kidnap the three leaders and hold a gun to their heads until they joined their cause.
"National socialism can't move forward without this mustache!"
Hitler had two things on his side -- a machine gun and 600 stormtroopers. So, maybe that's 601 things. The machine gun was position at the door and his mob surrounded the building. Adolf jumped on a chair, shot a bullet in the air and screeched the following:
"The national revolution has broken out! The hall is filled with 600 men. Nobody is allowed to leave. The Bavarian government and the government at Berlin are deposed. A new government will be formed at once. The barracks of the Reichswehr and those of the police are occupied. Both have rallied to the swastika."
Library of Congress
Apparently Hitler was one of those guys who always looked the same.
That would have been a striking statement if any of it had been true -- for instance, the barracks at the military headquarters were not occupied by his men. Pretty much the only thing that was true about the future Fuhrer's statement was the part about nobody being able to leave, on account of the machine gun. All three members of the ruling triumvirate were forced into another room and made to dance while Hitler shot their feet. And also asked to join his new government. To his complete shock, all three refused.
And that was the first failing of the plans: The Putsch Pals really, really believed the country's rulers would just acquiesce and hand over the keys to the national Audi. When they didn't, Hitler rejoined the crowd and did the one thing he did best -- made a bombastic speech -- and the audience loved him. Boom! The Nazi era begins!
Nothing but goose-stepping and evil Boy Scouts from there on out.
Not quite. Thinking he'd won the country, Hitler takes off, and nobody knows what to do next. The next day somebody shouts, "We march!" and 2,000 Nazis just start kind of ambling through the streets of Munich, vaguely hoping the army and police would join them.
Only instead of inspiring millions, these marchers just got shot at and arrested. Hitler, who had rejoined his coup by this point, rode away from the march in a waiting car, leaving his followers to fend for themselves, where 16 of them died. He would later get arrested and sent to prison for treason.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2007-0003 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA
His first-generation stormtroopers would go on to claim they were into Nazism "before it was cool."
In a perfect world, the last we would have heard of Adolf Hitler was that he was the joker who started a rebellion and then ran away crying when the guns came out. As it is, well, you know the rest.
For more bizarre acts of aggression, check out The 5 Most Retarded Wars Ever Fought and 5 Forgotten Revolutions That Created The Modern World.