25 Gruesome, Horrific Things You Didn’t Learn In History Class

These horrific events from history weren’t covered in your classes, but the people of Ask Reddit think you deserve to know about them.
A gruesome horrific gravesite
Unsplash / Rubén Bagüés

1. Parents ate their own children to avoid starvation

“During Stalin’s forced industrialization of Russia, he would take all the farmers’ food/crops they grew leaving them to starve. This led to extensive cannibalism, including many recorded cases of parents eating their children.” — R3ddittor  

2. Their heads were decapitated and loaded into cannons

“The Great Siege Of Malta. Mustafa had the bodies of the knights decapitated and their bodies floated across the bay on mock crucifixes. In response, de Valette beheaded all his Turkish prisoners, loaded their heads into his cannons and fired them into the Turkish camp.” — Fakezaga

3. A group of men survived by resorting to cannibalism

“The Franklin Expedition in 1845 to find the northern passage, which would be a faster route when traveling and freighting cargo across the northern hemisphere to Asia and China.

The ships got caught in the ice and therefore stuck there forever. The crew turned to cannibalism as a way to survive in the cold and stayed on the lower decks of the ships, where they’d eventually get very sick because of malnurishment.

One of the ships were named ‘Terror’ ironically, there’s a book about it which of course puts in some supernatural elements to the story.

I however think the real story is creepy in its own right. Imagine being stuck in the ice, it’s cold as fuck everywhere, there’s no food left and the nights are very dark.

AMC is making it a series as well, named after the ship; The Terror. It’s directed by Ridley Scott, so it’s bound to be unnerving.” — FreePhilly 

4Scientists conducted unethical experiments, like cutting a fetus out of a mother

“Unit 731.

Probably somewhat wellknown, but it was a unit of Japanese scientists that conducted experiments on Chinese civilians during WW2. Not nearly as many deaths as the Holocaust, but I think it should be just as infamous. The things those innocent people were subjected to made me want to vomit just reading about without pictures. I read about it a while ago, but some of the stuff I remember was freezing a person nearly to death and then dropping them in boiling water, forcing people with syphilis to have sex with clean people, cutting a fetus out of a mother while she was awake with so painkillers, etc. And I’m pretty sure that’s some of the tamer stuff. And they didn’t do these things for any other reason than that they were curious what would happen.

The worst part? After the war, the main scientist guy got off with just having his mail read by Americans for the rest of his life. He exchanged all of his research for escaping punishment for his horrible crimes against humanity. Apparently, a lot of his research was useful and jumped our understanding of the human body by a big margin.” — davisbobavis

5. Soldiers raped and tortured thousands of innocent people

“The Rape of Nanking. Japanese soldiers, killed, tortured, and raped thousands of innocent Chinese people. Forced incest rape, genital cutting, real fucked up shit like that.” — ThatGuyYouKnow905

6. He blew up a school, which killed multiple children 

“The Bath School disaster in Michigan. In 1927, man by the name of Andrew Kehoe lost a seat for a treasury position. In retaliation, he blew up a school and killed quite a few children and some staff. He was an electrical engineer, and suffered a head trauma that may have caused his insanity.” — IFudgedTheMath

7. Rosemary Kennedy had a failed lobotomy

“Rosemary Kennedy’s failed lobotomy, which made her mental capacity diminish to that of a 2 year old, and left her without the ability to walk or speak coherently.” — Silly_Bun

8. Francisco Nguema ordered his soldiers to shoot spectators 

“Francisco Nguema inviting political opponents to a large stadium either on christmas or christmas eve, then played ‘those were the days’ over a PA and people dressed as santa shot the spectators in the crowd with machine guns.” — FuzzyMeep7 

9. Their hearts were torn out while still alive

“The Aztecs performed acts of massive human sacrifice of slaves. In one such event over 10,000 slaves had their hearts torn out while still alive. The blood permanently stained the pirámide. By the time that the Spaniard Cortez arrived thousands of natives from conquered tribes joined him to be rid of the Aztec empire. Over 90 percent of the army against the Aztecs was native tribesmen of former slave nations of the Aztec Empire.” — deroque 

10. Russia set up a cannibal hell world on a random island in Siberia

“On the island there was a guard named Kostia Venikov, a young fellow. He was courting a pretty girl who had been sent there. He protected her. One day he had to be away for a while, and he told one of his comrades, “Take care of her,” but with all the people there the comrade couldn’t do much…. People caught the girl, tied her to a poplar tree, cut off her breasts, her muscles, everything they could eat, everything, everything…. They were hungry, they had to eat. When Kostia came back, she was still alive. He tried to save her, but she had lost too much blood.” — Spinner1975

11. The whole town was set on fire, resulting in mass suicides

“The Demmin Massacre. Basically the Red Army swept into a small German town looking for Nazis, and, not finding anyone suitably soldier-like, instead set the whole place on fire and started raping whomever they could grab. Within a couple of days, mass suicides began to result, on such a scale that the Soviets actually started cutting down the nooses, bandaging slit wrists and holding people back from running for the two rivers. The dead were buried in mass graves and to this day it’s not even known for sure how many victims there were.” — finnhorse

12. The Irish Famine is actually considered a genocide by many people

“The Irish Famine wasn’t a Famine. There was plenty of food it was just being sold by the British who were, either willfully or negligently, allowing the Irish to die.

The savagery of it prompted Johnathan Swift to write his ‘Modest Proposal’ saying that what the British were doing was just as bad as feeding the Irish Babies to their Parents. It’s also thought to be an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (Foreigner comes to England, thrives of his soil and drains the life from the native people)

The population of Ireland still hasn’t recovered and it’s thought of by a lot of people as a genocide.” — Ahandyhand

13. The Challenger blew up for PR reasons 

“Engineers advised NASA to postpone the launch of the space shuttle challenger, due to concerns about the O-rings in the solid rocket boosters at low tempatures. They were over ruled, largely because the next launch window wasn’t on a school day, and having students watch the first teacher launch to space was big PR goal.

As everyone knows, that launch failed because an O-ring in one of the SRBs failed.” — FallenShadow1000

14. Young girls burned to death in an uncontrolled fire

“In the Traingle shirtwaist fire, young women were making clothes when a lit cigarette started a fire. They had been locked in because they needed to keep labor unions out, the elevator became too overheated to function, the fire escapes melted, and they were on the upper levels of the building. Many of the girls (most from 12 to 25 years old) either suffocated in the fire or jumped to their death. Many impaled themselves on a fence below when they jumped, or simply hit the ground with a thud and stopped moving. Policemen and firemen could do nothing but watch them fall.” — howmuchisabrazilian

15. Children were forcibly removed from their own homes

“The Sixties’ Scoop. Many people have read about the residential school system in Canada, which is brutal on its own. But learning about the 60’s scoop, where indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and given up for adoption, was quite horrifying – seeing as how it happened in the 1960s!!!! There is no mention of this in any Social Studies class. It seems Canadian kids are not taught about this.” — level3elf

16. The inmates at Devil’s Island never made it back home

“The vast majority of France’s 80,000 inmates at the infamous Devil’s Island prison camps, never made it back to France–Many inmates, even after serving their sentence, were forced to stay in French Guyana to pay for their prison stay.” — outrider567

17. Women were hung and humiliated after fighting for their right to vote

“The Suffragists Night of Terror November 15th 1917 where 33 women fighting for the right to vote were picked up from the White House and put in prison. They suffered beatings, being forced to stand/hang all night with their hands tied above their heads, being thrown around and smashed into iron furniture, and humiliation at the hands of guards. One woman was knocked out after having her head bounced off an iron bench and her cellmate became so distraught (under the impression the unconscious woman was dead) that she suffered a heart attack. She was denied medical care until the next morning.

These women were picked up off the street and thrown in jails where they were abused with no access to council. All because they dared ask Woodrow Wilson to allow them to vote.” — Sheairah

18. An entire generation was wrongfully imprisoned and executed 

“Taiwan’s 2/28 massacre as well as the following White Terror, where an entire generation of intellectuals were wrongfully imprisoned or executed. Taiwan had the second longest period of martial law lasting 38 years, and only recently was it not taboo to speak about the events that transpired.” — germ304

19. The Spanish flu killed 1/3 of the population

“Most people don’t know that the Spanish Flu of 1918 infected around 1/3 of the entire population of the planet, with 20-50 million deaths. By comparison, the death toll for the First World War was ~18 million. I find the thought that something as random and uncontrollable as a virus mutation can cause a real Malthusian check on the global population absolutely terrifying.” — ButtTickla69

20. The US government withheld syphilis treatment for decades

“Hey, remember that time an organization funded by the US government deliberately withheld syphilis treatments from black men for forty years in an attempt to see how the disease would progress? Despite the fact that a cure was readily available? Oh, and how it continued until 1972?” — Portarossa

21. Christopher Columbus fed people to animals

“At one point, Christopher Columbus fed a live child sex slave to dogs.” — Junko__Enoshima

22. US Army troops attacked US veterans

“The Bonus Army. Long story short, in 1932, at the behest of President Hoover, police attacked a group of WWI veterans injuring over 100 and killing 2. General Douglas MacArthur and (then Major) George S. Patton also led US Army troops against in attacking the US veterans, injuring 55 and causing one of the veteran’s wives to miscarry.” — chileheadd

23. More than a million people were hacked to death by machetes 

“Rwandan genocide, it lasted 4 months. Four fucking months and 1,000,000+ people died. Most died from being hacked to death by machetes.” — Mumtaz3580

24. Native American children were rounded up and forced to change their hair and clothing 

“The Native American boarding school movement, popularized by the slogan ‘Kill the Indian, Save the Man’, meant that thousands of Native children were rounded up, taken to boarding schools, had their hair and clothes changed, and were forced to speak only in English. Many people don’t know that these kidnappings continued through the 1940s. My grandmother and her sisters were picked up on the school wagon in 1939 when they aeee playing outside, while their mom was gone. For weeks, she didn’t know what happened to them or where they had gone. They had been taken to a boarding school. When one of my grandmother’s sisters was caught speaking Cherokee at the boarding school, she was locked in the dark basement (where they stored a skeleton used for anatomy lessons) overnight. She’s still terrified of the dark almost 80 years later.” — Raindrops1984

25. The Taiping Rebellion led to more deaths than the war

“An attempt to spread a pseudo-Christian kingdom in China (Taiping rebellion) in the 19th century led to more deaths than WW1.” — lndiasag TC mark

Juliet Lanka

Hater of love. Lover of horror.

This Book Is For You 👇

The cover and theme for my newest book was inspired by the concept of kintsugi. All that is dark or cracked within us has the capacity to be fixed, to be filled with light. We are never broken. We are always becoming. 

“Live a life that is driven; not by fear, but by love.” — Bianca Sparacino

Click Here

More From Thought Catalog

What if kindness was cool?

What if you could live a life that would make YOU jealous? What if you could make just one person’s day better with a few simple words of encouragement? It’ll Be Okay, And You Will Be Too is a book of inspirational words that will keep you fighting and ask you never to give up on life, yourself, or others. Open a page to start your day, frame a page that inspires you to keep living, share a page with a friend who needs support, or leave one behind for a complete stranger to brighten their day.

Join The Kindness Revolution

Image Credit: Unsplash / Rubén Bagüés

25 Gruesome, Horrific Things You Didn’t Learn In History Class is cataloged in , , , ,