in , ,

10 of the Most Ruthless Acts Throughout History

6. Joseph Palmer, a communard, was mocked and persecuted for having a beard. In 1830, four armed men attacked him with scissors and razors to cut off his beard. When he tried to defend himself, he was arrested, was mistreated in jail, and when he finally died in 1973, keeping beards became ironically fashionable. His gravestone also has the inscription that reads “Persecuted for Wearing the Beard.”

Joseph Palmer
Joseph Palmer (Image to the left), Grave of Joseph Plamer at the Evergreen Cemetery, Leominster, MA. Image credits: Google books via Wikimedia,

Joseph Palmer was a soldier who fought in the War of 1812. At the age of 40, inspired by Moses, Joseph decided to grow a beard. Before the persecution, he was harassed by people for keeping the beard, and a minister once told him that he looked like a devil.

Things got out of hand one day in May 1830 when Joseph went to the Fitchburg Hotel to deliver meat and cucumber. He was attacked by four men who wanted to cut off his beard, but Joseph managed to defend himself and even wounded the legs of two of the attackers with a jackknife.

Joseph was arrested for an “unprovoked assault” charge and was fined $10. Moreover, he was asked to pay $40 for court fees and $700 for his bond. When he refused to pay anything, he was put inside the  Worcester County Jail where he maintained a yearlong journal recording every sadist idea that surrounded him. The diary is still present in the Fruitlands Museum.

He was beaten by the jailers and sometimes was not given food for an entire day.

As the year passed by, the county felt embarrassed for keeping the man in. They felt like it was more than what he deserved for his crime, so he was released fifteen months later by the country waiving the bond fee. (1, 2)


7. Amidst the Fall of Berlin, the Soviets forced a young SS soldier to play the piano and warned him through sign language that if he stopped, he would be executed immediately. The soldier kept playing for 22 hours straight and collapsed in tears. The ruthless Soviets then congratulated him and shot him dead.

SS Soldier
Image is used for representational purposes only.

During the Battle of Berlin, otherwise known as the “Fall of Berlin,? the Soviet soldiers showed no mercy towards the Germans they confronted.

The Red Army that executed the finale of the Fall of Berlin was left awestruck after learning what Nazis had been doing in Germany and particularly in Auschwitz. The German soldiers faced some real incomprehensible torture after that.

Some soldiers were set running as live targets for shooting practice. Some faced “Achtung.” Achtung was the punishment in which the imprisoned soldiers were forced to shout “Achtung,” and if they stopped, they were attacked by the dogs waiting for their prey.

The Soviets had a singular goal to kill as many as Germans they could, and the piano torture was just a part of the campaign.

The soldiers didn’t set any boundaries in showing cruelty towards Germans. They literally raped daughters, mothers, and grandmothers one after another, multiple times. (source)


8. Vipeholm experiments were a series of human experiments in which mentally disabled patients were fed large chunks of sweets to intentionally produce dental cavities for research. The unethical experiments were carried out from 1945 to 1955 in Lund, Sweden.

Vipeholm Experiments
Vipeholm Experiments. Image credit: cnn

The sponsors of the experiment were the sugar industries and also the dentist community. The primary objective of the experiment was to determine whether or not carbohydrates affect the formation of calories.

In 1945, the experiment was sanctioned but only as a “vitamin trial,” which later turned into something very different. The intellectually retarded patients were given a concentrated sweet and sticky diet to encourage tooth decay.

A total of 50 out of 660 patients’ teeth were completely ruined within just five years of the experiment.

However, it is also said that the experiment was a huge success if looked at from a medical perspective. One of the conclusions that researchers drew suggested that children should only consume sweets once a week and not more than that. Some parts of Swedish society still follow that.

The experiment was made public for the first time in 1953, after which it went through a lot of criticism and heated debates involving ethical reasons. (1, 2)

9. There was a maternity home named “Ideal Maternity Home” in Canada that took babies from unwed mothers and later sold them to desperate Jewish families in New Jersey. It was later revealed that the “unmarketable” babies were starved to death by feeding them only molasses and water. The dead babies were then packed in small wooden boxes and disposed of by burying them somewhere in the property, at sea, or sometimes even burning them up in the home furnaces. The unfortunate little ones came to be known as “Butterbox Babies.”

Maternity Home
Maternity Home. Image credits: Hantheroes via Wikimedia, Shutterstock

The maternity home started in 1928 and was operated until 1947 by a couple named William and Lila Young. It was the largest maternity home in entire eastern Canada.

There was a severe shortage of babies available for adoption in the US market because of the adoption laws. The couple took advantage of the situation and sold babies to desperate Jewish couples for $10,000 each. It was not just the Jews who were exploited.

The mothers who wanted to leave their babies were charged $500 for the services when $8 was the average wage per week. The mothers who didn’t have the money were forced to work at the maternity home for eighteen months as compensation.

Up to 600 dead babies were packed in small wooden grocery boxes and disposed of. The thousands that survived suffered from ailments as a result of unsanitary conditions at the home.

The couple that approached the home for birthing services were told that their babies were dead right after the birth, whereas in reality, they were sold in the US. The ruthlessness does not seem to end here. Siblings were separated or “created” to meet the needs of customers.

Many stories of the surviving babies emerged years later that revealed their journey which helped them find their families. (1, 2)


10. In the early ’80s, a division of a German pharmaceutical company, Bayer, knowingly sold millions of dollars worth of HIV- and hepatitis-infected protein via medications in Asia and Latin America. Thousands of victims died because of AIDs caused by these medications.

HIV Medicine
HIV Medicine. Image credit: Shutterstock

The supply continued for nearly a year in the poor countries in the respective continents. The reports from 1982 said that hepatitis patients were becoming ill because of the consumption of blood products.

Bayer had to pay damages of $600 million for the scandal that was carried out, but their statement remained that they always behaved responsibly, ethically, and humanely. The company had to pay millions of euros to all the citizens who accused the company of selling them HIV-contaminated blood products.

The blood samples of factors VIII and VI were collected from prisoners, high-risk gay men, and excessive drug users.

About 20,000 people were diagnosed as HIV-positive from the blood. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 History Facts That Sound Fake but Are Actually True


normal images with disturbing backstories

10 Seemingly Normal Images with Disturbing Backstories

unusual places

10 Unusual Places From Around the World