During WWII, Many Japanese Soldiers Turned Cannibal
While doing research in Australia on an unrelated topic, Professor Toshiyuki Tanaka stumbled upon a strange folder with the ominous title "War crimes documents." Unable to resist sneaking a peek, Tanaka discovered that for 50 years, the Japanese government had been covering up a series of atrocities committed by its soldiers during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. And you know that's going to be real bad, given the atrocities it wasn't covering up.
Via The Times of IndiaWar crimes awful enough that using live POWs for target practice failed to be the focus of this entry.
The document helped Tanaka uncover over 100 hushed-up cases of confirmed cannibalism by the Japanese Imperial Army, with them eating Australian and Indian soldiers, and even Asian citizens. After several battles, Australian soldiers found that the corpses of their fallen comrades had been field-dressed, every ounce of their meat having been stripped off the bone. In others, Japanese soldiers treated prisoners like actual livestock, with one Pakistani corporal recounting how his captors dismembered and consumed one prisoner a day for 100 straight days, sometimes slicing meat off living prisoners like they were walking shawarma.
How did the Japanese high command react to all this? They reminded their soldiers that it was a crime punishable by death to consume human flesh ... that didn't belong to your enemies. So throwing a Papuan laborer on the campfire was a big no-no, but the brass considered chowing down on enemy combatants a mere "lack of thoroughness in moral training" -- less of a war crime and more of a dinner etiquette faux pas.
And their superior's permission wasn't just implied, either. On many of these picnics, the soldiers weren't even starving. Instead, cannibalism was practiced under the supervision of the commanding officer as a team-building exercise, meant to strengthen the warrior spirit and consolidate interpersonal bonds. And you thought your work retreats sucked.
Firefighters Accidentally Destroyed San Francisco While Battling The Great Quake Fires
The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco was one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. Around 3,000 people were killed ... some of them by emergency services. Using dynamite to save burning buildings isn't as crazy as it first seems -- which is good, because it seems unspeakably crazy. Blow up buildings strategically, and you create a firebreak, which can stop a blaze from spreading. And when fires erupted all across San Francisco after the quake, fire chief and explosives expert Danny Sullivan's dynamite plan was, well dynamite.
There was only one problem: Sullivan was unconscious, having been knocked out while rescuing his wife during the earthquake. So the city turned to the only other dynamite expert in the city: John Bermingham, an executive at an explosives manufacturer. And while Bermingham was definitely conscious, he was also drunk as hell. Predictably, he botched the plan, creating zero firebreaks but about 60 new and out-of-control fires in Chinatown and North Beach.