Sometimes, lying can be as simple as not telling the whole truth, like that one time a Prussian prime minister tossed half of Europe into war by simply editing the common courtesies out of a goddamned telegram.
Back in 1870, Otto Von Bismarck had two things: a silly name and a dream. The name is self-explanatory; the dream was to unite the disparate German states. The most effective way to do that was to have them collectively kick the shit out of France, and that opportunity presented itself when France sent their ambassador Count Vincent Benedetti to speak with King William I of Prussia.
Mayer et Pierson
Counts have silly names too. It's the law.
William sent a telegram to Otto Von Bismarck, informing him of the meeting and asking him to share the details with the press. But, when Bismarck published the telegram, he edited out every last bit of the flowery language, shortening a near-200-word account by almost half. By the time Bismarck was done with it, the telegram started as an almost personal insult and ended with the king basically telling the French ambassador to GTFO and never bother coming back.
Bildarchiv Preusischer Kulturbesitz
Wait, did he invent Twitter?
Each side was enraged at the other's downright boorishness, and, less than a week after the telegram, France declared war on Prussia. Just as Bismarck had predicted, the German states coalesced under Prussia to collectively hand France its impolite ass. Three-quarters of a million deaths later, that's precisely what they did -- all triggered by the omission of a few pleasantries. But, however terrible Otto's means, they were justified by the ends -- i.e., a unified Germany that learned from its violent beginnings and never instigated another war ever again.
We may have edited some key words out of that last sentence.
What do Chuck Norris, Liam Neeson in Taken, and the Dos Equis guy have in common? They're all losers compared to some of the actual badasses from history whom you know nothing about. Come out to the UCB Sunset for another LIVE podcast, April 9 at 7:00 p.m., where Jack O'Brien, Michael Swaim, and more will get together for an epic competition to find out who was the most hardcore tough guy or tough gal unfairly relegated to the footnotes of history. Get your tickets here!
Psst ... want to give us feedback on the super-secret beta launch of the upcoming Cracked spin-off site, Braindrop? Well, simply follow us behind this curtain. Or, you know, click here: Braindrop.
For more insane causes of terrible wars, check out The 5 Most Idiotic Wars Ever Fought. And also check out 5 Gigantic Wars You Won't Believe Almost Happened.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out 5 Game Of Thrones Plotlines Ripped Right Out of History, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also, follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.