in , ,

11 Historical Events that Sound Like Fiction but Are Actually Real

Historical events

Reality and fiction are largely the opposite concepts, but when reality becomes so unimaginably surprising, it cannot be called anything less than “fiction becoming reality.” Why wait for the future when we have such astounding episodes already written in history? Well, to make you believe that here is the list of 11 such historical facts that sound like fiction but are actually real.

1. Kazimierz Piechowski, an Auschwitz prisoner, found out that his friend was about to be executed. Piechowski, his friend, and two other inmates disguised themselves as SS soldiers, stole a SS car, convinced the gate guards that they were SS guards, then made the guards open the gate, and simply drove off.

Kazimierz Piechowski
Kazimierz Piechowski (left), main gate of the Auschwitz. Image credits: Wikimedia, Tulio Bertorini/Flickr

Piechowski was working in the warehouse of the Auschwitz prison, so he knew where the uniforms and weapons were that they used to disguise themselves as SS soldiers. His friend, Eugeniusz Bendera, was a mechanic and had access to the vehicle.

Piechowski initiated the plan of escape along with his friend and two other prisoners. All four only agreed to execute the plan on the terms that if they failed, they would shoot themselves.

They grabbed the uniforms, machine guns, eight grenades, and the fastest car present on the base on a very quiet morning in 1942.

When confronting the gate guards, Piechowski literally yelled at them to wake up, and so they did and opened the gates for them.

Piechowski also served in the underground movement known as the “Home Army.” (1, 2)

Advertisements

2. During the First World War, a German ship, Cap Trafalgar, disguised herself as the British ship RMS Carmania. When the disguised ship was sent to ambush British vessels, with an extremely unfortunate bad stroke of luck, the first ship she encountered was the real Carmania. RMS Carmania then sank the Trafalgar.

Sinking Cap Trafalgar
Sinking Cap Trafalgar. Image credits: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London/Wikipedia

Cap Trafalgar was built in March 1914. She was a three-funneled ship and was first used as a merchant cruiser in August. To make her look like the British Carmania, her forward funnel was removed and the other two were painted red with black tops.

The fake and the real Carmania met off Trinidad Island, about 740 miles east of Rio de Janeiro in the midday of 14 September 1914. Both of the ships fought a gun battle within the closest range being only 100 yards.

Disguised Carmania (or Cap Trafalgar) was sunk and RMS Carmania survived. However, the ship was left in very poor condition and was badly damaged. A total of 79 shots wrecked her bridge, caused fire damage, and nine of her crewmen were killed. (1, 2)

Advertisements

3. In the 14th century after her husband was beheaded for treason by the French King, Jeanne de Clisson was so enraged that she sold their estate and bought three black warships with red sails, so becoming the “Pirate Queen” of the English Channel and only targeting the French ships. She used to slaughter every crewmember of the French ships except one so that he could survive, go back to the French king, and tell what had happened.

The Lioness of Brittany
Image is used for representational purposes only.

Jeanne de Clisson is popularly known as “The Lioness of Brittany,” and her piracy continued unchecked for 13 years.

Her husband was killed in a sham trial in August 1343 in a marketplace in Paris which is exactly what made her so mad that she went on to seek brutal revenge. Olivier de Clisson, Jeanne’s husband, was a charismatic nobleman who defended the northern region of Brittany for years.

Theirs was a very happy marriage, and when she learned about the execution, her anguish and rage made her vow to avenge her husband.

She soon bought three ships, colored them black, and attached blood-red sails. She recruited mercenary seamen and fighters to work on decks. They set to sail in the English Channel and waited for their prey.

After devastating a ship and killing the sailors on the enemy deck, she used to intentionally spare one or two of the crew and used to drop them off near the French coast asking them to return to the king and tell him who did this.

Jeanne never managed to kill the French king. She retired in 1356  and died peacefully in 1359. (1, 2)

4. An American businessman, Lord Timothy Dexter, in the 18th century faked his own death, and when he attended his own funeral and saw his wife not crying, he revealed himself and caned her for not grieving hard enough.

Lord Timothy Dexter
Image credits: James Akin/Wikimedia

Timothy Dexter was well-known for his writings and eccentricity. He was famed as an 18th-century entrepreneur who had apparently gained huge rewards with the help of harebrained transactions. He was a self-proclaimed philosopher, and surprisingly, his poorly written books also became famous, even if they had tons of sily spelng mistks. 😆

Regardless of his fame, Dexter knew his peers were not very fond of him and didn’t respect him. So, he faked his own death and hoped people would whine excessively.

He assigned a few of his most trustworthy men to organize the death prank and asked them to spread the news of his death.

His wife and two children were involved in the hoax and were also demanded to fake regret for the loss.

At the funeral, 3,000 people showed up. His children played their part very well. His son was drunk enough to weep heavily, and his daughter, too, buried her face in her hands.

However, when Dexter saw his wife sitting tearless and smiling, he approached her secretly in the kitchen and caned her for not putting in enough effort. When other people entered the room, Dexter greeted them, and he then revealed himself to the public and acted as if nothing unusual had happened. (1, 2)

Advertisements

5. Ernest Shackleton led an Antarctic mission from 1914 to 1916 that failed, but he managed to rescue each one of his 28 crew members without letting anyone die despite being stranded for almost two years.

Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton. Image credits: Australian Antarctic Division/Wikimedia

Shackleton’s expedition to the South Pole on 1 August 1914 was his third. He departed that day with his crew from London on the ship Endurance.

The real trouble began in January 1915 when Endurance became trapped in ice forcing the crew to vacate the ship and set up a camp on the floating ice.

Later that year, the ship sank, and Shackleton had no option but to escape via overcrowding three small boats. They escaped in April 1916 to Elephant Island, which is at the southernmost tip of Cape Horn.

Seven days passed on that island, and then Shackleton and five more men then went on for 16 days more days to find help, sailing on a lifeboat until they reached South Georgia.

The six men luckily found a whaling station, and then they came back to Elephant Island and rescued the rest of the crew on 25 August 1916. None of the 28 crew members died during the two-year-long deadly trip. (source)

Also read: 10 Historical Events That Sound Like Fiction but Are Actually Real

Advertisements

Myths and Legends that turned out to be true

10 Strange Myths and Legends that Turned Out to Be True

Powerful Protests

10 Powerful Protests that Changed the Course of History