7 WTF Details About Historical Events Everyone Forgets
Tragic events are typically followed by periods of shock, grief, anger, and the occasional flash of inexplicable horniness. So it's only natural that when we're dealing with lives lost and places destroyed, we tend to only focus on these important matters and damn everything else to hell. But sometimes, that means we ignore all of the chaotic insanity that typically accompanies history, making textbooks just that little bit blander. So let's put on our Indiana Jones hats and dive into the past, and remind ourselves of some truly crazypants parts of history that usually get left out of the conversation. For example ...
The Manual For The German Tiger Tank Contained Poetry And Porn
War is chaos. With bullets flying and bombs whizzing everywhere, preparation and alertness are the keys to survival. But while combat is exciting, combat training can be mind-numbingly boring. So how do you get a group of disinterested, overly hormonal boys to sit up, pay attention, and remember stuff? By turning that stuff into smut, of course.
During World War II, German commanders needed to quickly familiarize new recruits with the inner workings of the complicated Tiger Tank. Unfortunately, the Fuhrer's finest were less than thrilled with spending long days memorizing the dry technical manuals. Finally, the Nazis came up with an elegant solution to motivate the laser-like focus necessary to master the tank: They included a naked lady on every other page, and made sure the important parts rhymed.
After the war, it was discovered that the manual for the German Panzerkampfwagen was full of nudes, jokes, and dirty limericks. This masterpiece was the brainchild of Josef von Glatter-Goetz, who had novel ideas on how to warm up his cadets' learning muscles (among others). And most of the warming up was done by Elvira, a buxom blonde who appeared every few pages to keep the boys thumbing -- or whatever else helped them get there faster.
She would pop up (often with her clothes popped off) whenever the cadets were supposed to pay extra attention to the lesson, like the importance of making accurate measurements when firing or keeping the engines clean, even if it led to making the cockpits sticky.
The program was a demonstrable success, and both von Glatter-Goetz's excellent understanding of his target audience and Elvira's ass helped untold numbers of troops masturbate their way to mastering the Tiger Tank.
Hurricane Katrina Ejected Over A Thousand Coffins From Graves
According to FEMA, Hurricane Katrina was "the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history." It caused over $41.1 billion in damage and killed more than 1,800 people. But not content with causing misery for the living, Katrina decided to go after the deceased as well, digging them up so she could pee her hate water on their faces.
During the disaster, over 1,000 coffins -- and, more gruesomely, those coffin's residents -- were ejected from their places of rest. The transition wasn't gentle, either. One New Orleans native found his grandmother's body, still in her pink burial dress, splayed out in the open like she was trying to get a tan. Skeletal remains were sprawled among cemetery statues, and more than one coffin was found up a tree. According to the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (Dmort), it's unlikely that all the uprooted bodies will ever be located and returned. "Many are in extremely remote and inaccessible areas," a spokesman said. "They have been carried way downrange into muck and swamp and forest."
Despite the difficulties, officials are still doing their best to return the drifting dead to their correct burial sites -- or as much of them as they can scoop up, at least. Unfortunately, since we have this silly idea that the dead aren't supposed to move about, corpses and coffins tend to not have any labels of traceable information. Finding a corpse that's buried with something unique is like finding a corner piece of an especially macabre puzzle. So far, officials have been able to identify bodies buried with their favorite golf club, some unusual rosary beads, and a six-pack of beer. It won't be long before the government starts insisting we all get buried with a valid driver's license and two utility bills.
In the meantime, less stringent coffins laws have been introduced in order for us to better retrieve these lost soulless husks. After Katrina, Louisiana passed a law requiring labels for coffins. However, they weren't clear enough in their wording, so now Louisiana morticians are labeling their coffins with everything from smartphone tracking apps to the less-than-ideal paper tags. Inhabitants of one particularly low-lying cemetery now have beacons attached to their coffins, but the battery life for the floater-be-found is still to be determined.
King George V Was Euthanized So His Death Could Make The Right Headlines
For all the perks associated with being born into a royal family (unlimited wealth, the right to eat peasants, fancy hats), living the life of royalty also means you're always in the public spotlight. Never can you falter from keeping up appearances, making sure your every action benefits the crown as best as possible. That includes your death, because god forbid a royal should die at an inconvenient time of day like some low-class pleb.
When Britain's King George V lay on his deathbed in 1936, doctors were concerned about more than his failing health. Convinced that the king was not long for this world, medical staff began suspecting he might not kick the gilded bucket at the most dignified of times. Deciding that the matter couldn't be left in the clumsy hands of God or fate, steps were taken to "hasten" the king's death, and he was euthanized in his sleep shortly before midnight on January 20th.
Why the rush? According to the notes of his physician, Lord Dawson, the king was given lethal doses of morphine and cocaine so that word of his death would appear ''in the morning papers rather than the less appropriate evening journals." Dawson administered the injections to King George himself at around 11 p.m., right after he'd had his wife in London ''advise The Times to hold back publication.'' That's right, the king's life had a literal deadline.
Whether the injections counted as mercy or murder is still a topic of debate. Though the king had been in generally poor health for some time, the doctor had only been summoned to care for him four days prior to his death. On the morning of his last day, the king held a meeting with his privy counselors, which is pretty lucid for someone who's about to get injected with mercy coke. Documents give "no indication that the King himself had been consulted," but seeing as his last words were "God damn you" to a nurse administering a sedative, we don't think he would've liked being involuntarily Belushied so that the morning papers would sell a few extra copies.
Millions Of Landmines Were Left In The Sahara After WWII, And Now ISIS Is Digging Them Up
Aside from proving how adept people can be at killing each other, World War II also highlighted how much the resulting clean-up sucks. Entire continents had to deal with the debris of their broken nations, the costly effects of which can still be felt. One group that was exempt from their collective spring cleaning were, of course, the Nazis, who were a bit busy getting tribunaled to death. Which is a shame, because they had millions of unexploded landmines buried in the African desert, and every other country had already touched their noses and called "Not it!"
But that was over 70 years ago. Surely we've taken care of those pesky balls of death we left buried in the sand since then, right? While countries like Egypt have tried to reduce the 17 million landmines both Nazi and Allied forces left behind in their desert, the place is still a minefield of ... minefields. Thanks to the high temperatures and dry climate, the Sahara is doing an amazing job of preserving these war relics, which means they're still very capable of taking a limb (or life) if fiddled with too much. But while most people are content with not going near any unstable explosives, there's one pesky little death cult that doesn't mind going out in a blaze of glory, intentional or otherwise.
In the past few years, ISIS has realized that one man's minefield is another man's massive cache of explosives, so they're digging up and reusing landmines and their components. There have been several reports of ISIS terrorist attacks in which they used old munitions "MacGyvered" into IEDs. At least when it comes to age, ISIS seems to be quite open-minded.
And landmines aren't the only type of antique firepower people in the region are packing these days. In 2015, video footage showed Syrian rebels firing a 1935 German howitzer. Meanwhile, Iraqi weapons inspectors documented the capture of a 1942 Lee-Enfield rifle, and the Armament Research Services report that British Webley revolvers, Italian cavalry carbines, Mausers, and Bren guns have appeared for sale in Libya. As long as it goes "boom" and someone dies, they're only too happy to put it to terrible use.
The Feud Between The Hatfields And The McCoys Was Probably Caused By A Medical Condition
History has seen its share of epic feuds, but few are as legendary as the pissing contest that took place between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the Kentucky McCoys in the late 1800s. Why were they so special? Longevity. They kept their fiery hatred going for a solid decade. But recent medical tests have revealed that, at least on the McCoy side, that might have been because hatred literally runs in their blood.
Why did these two ornery tribes want to shed each others' blood so badly? Some say the beef started over a stolen hog, while others think it was residual hostility from the families having fought on opposite sides during the Civil War. Over a hundred years later, we still have no idea what spark started the fire, but we have an idea of where they got the gasoline. In 2007, a young girl called Winnter [sic] Reynolds was struggling at school. She had anger issues, and would often fly into fits of rage. While her teachers thought it was nothing but a bad case of ADHD, a series of medical tests revealed it was worse than that. She had bad blood. McCoy blood, to be specific.
Winnter is the latest offspring of the McCoy bloodline, from whom she had inherited her temper. She suffers from a rare genetic condition called von Hippel-Lindau disease. The illness causes the formation of adrenal tumors which cause, among other things, "hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts." After Winnter's diagnosis, it was revealed that several other McCoy descendants had also been diagnosed with the same condition. And while having tumors keeping you pissed off 24/7 still doesn't shed any light on the start of the feud, it does go a long way toward explaining their whole "I'm going to kill you over some bacon" reputation.
We Are Still Paying A Civil War Pension
War is never not tragic, but civil wars pile all the hurt on one people. With an estimated 620,000 lives lost during the American Civil War, the cost of that little disagreement hurt the nation badly. The price paid was terrible -- not only in human lives, but also in the long-term financial state of the country. How long-term? They're still adding up, apparently.
While the indirect ramifications are impossible to calculate, there is still one straightforward bill the U.S. Civil War is serving America: $73.13, to be exact, paid monthly to one woman in North Carolina. You see, because soldiers have a tragic tendency of not always being able to collect what Uncle Sam owes them, the government compensates by also paying out pensions to widows and children of war veterans. And while the Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, believe it or not, there's still one soldier's child alive and kicking. That would be Irene Triplett, 86 years young, and she's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Irene's father, Mose Triplett, was born in 1846, and managed to fight on both sides of the Civil War -- though that sadly didn't mean he'd get to draw two pensions. He later married a woman 50 years his junior, who we're assuming must've been into antique cannons. When Irene was born, Mose was 83 years old and ready to mosey on up to Heaven.
But Irene's isn't the only 19th-century war pension that still being paid out. We're also still supporting 88 people for their families' contributions to the Spanish-American War, which started and ended in 1898. And while we're certainly not begrudging anyone their dues, if we keep up our current military policies, half of our country's 2080 budget will be going to Iraq vets' second families.
The Search For Wreckage Of The Challenger Turned Up A Lot Of Junk -- And A Duffel Bag Of Cocaine
Being an air crash site investigator must be a harrowing gig. Their entire job revolves around cataloging the most horrific of disaster scenes, where the Earth has gotten a dose of corpse buckshot to the face. But finding 73 separate pieces of the same human being isn't the only weird thing they might find at a crash site. Sometimes they also find a shit ton of coke.
Like 9/11, the Challenger disaster is one of those awful tragedies seared into memories of all who witnessed it. Seven people lost their lives simply because some faulty O-rings and unusually cold weather caused their vessel to blow up and plow into the ocean. After the crash, NASA immediately began searching the Atlantic for any and all portions of the shuttle that survived the crash, as well as any remains of the crew that could be retrieved and given a proper burial. But with such a spread out investigation site in constantly shifting water, the crew was bound to encounter some weird stuff.
For nine weeks, experts spent 15-hour days combing sonar data of a 420-mile area. But when their submarines or robots finally found the wreckage, they also stumbled upon what looked like Poseidon's garage sale. During NASA's investigation, they encountered a whole warehouse full of lagan (that's maritime for "junk"). Some of the more ordinary items included batteries and paint cans, a refrigerator, a filing cabinet, a kitchen sink, and a toilet. More interesting finds were eight shipwrecks, a Pershing missile, and half of a torpedo.
But the best non-shuttle find by far was a duffel bag containing 25 kilograms of cocaine. When NASA handed it over to the police (what a bunch of goody-two-shoes), they revealed the estimated street value of the marching powder at $13 million, roughly the cost of the entire salvage mission. So if you're struggling to find rent money or hoping to remodel your house, maybe spend more time hanging out at the beach.
Kelly Stone remembers watching the Challenger explode, and speaks only as much German as Google Translate does. She sometimes Tweets about cats and Star Trek.
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