10 Events in History that Seem Illogical but are True

by Unbelievable Facts5 years ago

4 During WWII, when Sergeant Leonard A. Funk was confronted by 90 German soldiers, he began to laugh hysterically at the situation. Many of the enemy soldiers joined him in laughter, until Funk wiped them out with his machine gun, gunning down 21 and capturing the rest.

Sergeant Leonard A. Funk and his Medal of Honor
Sergeant Leonard A. Funk and his Medal of Honor. Image Credit: fold3, Wikipedia

Sergeant Leonard A. Funk was a recipient of the United States Army Medal of Honor and was one of the most decorated soldiers of the World War II. It was January of 1945. Funk’s company was sent to Belgium to contain a German breakout. The company had to march in heavy snow for about 15 miles. The executive perished on the road and Funk took over the command.  There were not many infantrymen to hold against the Germans, so Funk decided to hire people from the company office. Most of the new hires were desk clerks!

With a platoon of 30 clerks, Funk was able to capture 30 Germans. Another team had captured 50 Germans, and prisoners from both the teams were put in the yard of a house. Four US soldiers were left to guard them, and Funk returned to fight. In the meantime, a German patrol came by and fooled the four guards by wearing camouflage capes similar to the American troops. They freed the prisoners. Funk had no idea about this and came back to check on the prisoners. As soon as he walked into the yard, a German officer shoved a pistol into Funk’s gut. Funk took everyone by surprise by starting to laugh out loud. The story goes that the more he laughed the angrier the German officer got. The officer started shouting at Funk in German and Funk continued to infuriate him by laughing hard. Soon the other enemy soldiers joined in on the laughter.

After some time when Funk finally gained his composure, he went ahead to unsling his gun in an act of surrender. But in a swift motion, he emptied an entire magazine into the German officer! By the time the Germans realized what happened, Funk had ordered his men to pick up any weapon they could find and open fire. His troop was able to kill 21 Germans, wounded 24, and captured the rest. Funk was later heard saying. “That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” Sounds like a comedy movie plot, doesn’t it? But it’s so true! (source)

5 People repeatedly attacked Russia during the winter. The winter climate of Russia has been a contributing factor to the military failures of several invasions of Russia giving rise to the term “General Winter.”

Russian winter
Illustration of “General Winter” on the Eastern Front of World War I/ Russians used skis in the third Muscovite–Lithuanian War. Image Credit: Louis Bombled via Wikipedia, Sergey Ivanov via Wikipedia

Why attack a place again and again at the same dreadful time? This refers to the several military invasions of Russia during the winters. The winter climate in Russia is harsh, and all the invasions that have taken place at that time have been complete failures. During the Swedish invasion of 1707, the winter at that time was the most brutal of the 18th century. The seaports froze, and 35,000 Swedish troops were crippled by the cold. When spring arrived, only 19,000 were alive. The Russians responded via the Battle of Poltava in June 1709 and put an end to the Swedish Empire.

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Russian Winter
The Night Bivouac of Napoleon’s Army during the retreat from Russia in 1812. Image Credit: Vasily Vereshchagin via Wikipedia

Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. They started the invasion in the summer of June 1812. The Russians did not face the French directly, and instead, they burnt all their crops and villages so that the French could not use them. When winter struck, his army suffered even more disastrous losses. His army of 610,000 men was reduced to just 100,000. You would think that after hearing about the harsh winter conditions, invasions would stick to summers. But no! During the winter of 1918–19, the Allied forces and the Bolshevik Red Army thought they had gained enough expertise on winter warfare and went ahead to invade Russia. Both suffered at the hands of the harsh winter. The same fate awaited when Hitler invaded Russian in 1941. His army had already suffered 734,000 in casualties and their supplies were running low even before winter arrived.

This is where the terms “Russian Winter,” “General Winter,” “General Frost,” and “General Snow” were born. (source)

6 A single Soviet tank held off an entire German division for one day in the Battle of Raseiniai in 1941.

KV-1
KV-1 on display in Kirovsk. Image Credit: WolfDW via Wikipedia

The Battle of Raseiniai was fought between the Germans and the Russians to take control of the river crossings near the village of Raseiniai. The most prominent element of this battle was the tanks. The Germans had 245 and the Russians 749! The Russians had heavy duty tanks – the KV-1 and KV-2. If the Germans had not received air support of the Luftflotte 1, then it would have been impossible for them to face the fury of the Russian tanks.

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This is the story of one such brave Russian KV tank, that held off an entire German division for a complete day. According to the locals, this single tank drove up to its location, stopped, and sat waiting for the Germans. When the Germans arrived, the tank open fired. When the Germans were unable to proceed, they thought that it’s better to wait it out as at some point the tank was going to need supplies. But the tank did not move. It just sat there and blew up everything that the Germans sent its way. Imagine how brave the crew of the KV tank were to have sat in the blazing heat for hours inside the tank with sounds of gunshots ringing in their ears throughout the day.

Finally, after many hours, one of the German soldiers noticed a hole in the KV’s armor. He threw a grenade through the hole killing the entire crew of the KV. Six soldiers were found dead. The Germans buried their enemy out of respect for such a brave act. These six crew members might have been the toughest warriors they encountered throughout the entire battle. (source)

7 Napolean managed to escape from his exile on the island of Elba, reached France, turned the army that was sent to capture him to his side, and ruled Paris for 100 days. 

Napoleon's return from Elba
Napoleon’s return from Elba. Image Credit: Charles de Steuben via Wikipedia

Napolean’s escape story sounds completely fake but believe it or not, it’s completely true. The representatives of the Austrian Empire, Russia, and Prussia signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau in which they exiled Napoleon to a remote island. He was cut off from his wife and son and banished to Elba. During his exile on the island, Napoleon’s allowance was cut-off, and he heard rumors that he will be banished to a more remote island on the Atlantic Ocean. Fearing the rumor was true, Napoleon escaped from Elba with 700 men. Its quite strange that even in exile, Napoleon was able to form an army of 700 men!

He landed on the French mainland two days after his escape. There he encountered the 5th Regiment serving Louis XVIII who was sent to intercept him. Upon seeing the army, Napoleon shouted, “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish.” With these mere words, the entire army turned in support of Napoleon! The soldiers exclaimed, “Vive L’Empereur!” Napoleon marched to Paris with his new army and King Louis XVIII had to flee to Belgium upon realizing that he had lost his army. Napoleon ruled Paris for 100 days after that and expanded his army to 200,000 men.

Things started getting sour after that. Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia assigned troops to capture Napoleon dead or alive. So, Napoleon tried to escape to the United States. His plan did not work out, and he was exiled again on the island of Saint Helena where he breathed his last. All things aside, the story of his escape from Elba to ruling Paris for 100 days seems quite illogical. Is it so easy to turn an entire army to your side? Maybe, maybe not. But all we know is that Napoleon was able to do exactly that! (source)

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