37 ‘History Memes Explained’ That Show The Cool And Weird Side Of The Past (New Pics)

Is there truly anything better than making yourself a giant mug of Earl Grey, cracking open a huge history book, and diving headfirst into the past while listening to the sound of rain outside your window? Seriously, that’s the perfect way to spend a cozy afternoon. However, we’re perfectly aware that not everyone’s a fan of dusty old tomes full of dates and cryptic paragraphs longer than summer evenings. Luckily for the internet, the ‘History Memes Explained’ Instagram project exists.

The brainchild of Cole Crosby, ‘History Memes Explained’ does exactly what it says on the tin: it shares awesome, weird, and interesting history-related memes while explaining the entire context. It’s fun. It’s educational. It’s seriously hard to put down. You really start to realize just how peculiar the past is, as you start cutting through misconceptions, one spot-on meme at a time.

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Check out the best of ‘History Memes Explained’ and remember to upvote your fave memes. When you’re done, tell us about the coolest and most bizarre history facts you know in the comments. Oh, and if you’d to learn a bit more, we’ve got you covered: you’ll find Bored Panda’s previous feature of the HME Instagram account right over here.


The history of Argentina during World War II is a complex period of time beginning in 1939, following the outbreak of war in Europe, and ending in 1945 with the surrender of Japan.

German and Italian influence in Argentina was strong mainly due to the presence of numerous immigrants from both countries, and Argentina’s traditional rivalry with Great Britain furthered the belief that the Argentine government was sympathetic to the German cause.

Because of the close ties between Germany and Argentina, the latter stayed neutral for most of World War II, despite internal disputes and pressure from the United States to join the Allies.

The Liberation of Paris in August 1944 gave new hopes to the pro-Allied factions in Argentina, who saw it as an omen of the possible fall of the Argentine government and called for new elections. The demonstrations in support of Paris soon turned into protests against the government, leading to incidents with the police.

By early 1945, World War II was nearing its end. The Red Army had captured Warsaw and was closing in on East Prussia, and Berlin itself was under attack. Allied victory was imminent. Perón, the strong man of the Argentine government, foresaw that the Allies would dominate international politics for decades and concluded that although Argentina had successfully resisted the pressure to force it to join the war, remaining neutral until the end of the war would force the country into isolationism at best or bring about a military attack from the soon to be victorious powers.

Argentina eventually gave in to the Allies’ pressure, broke relations with the Axis powers on January 26, 1944, and declared war on March 27, 1945.

During World War II, 4,000 Argentines served with all three British armed services, even though Argentina was officially a neutral country during the war. Over 600 Argentine volunteers served with both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, mostly in No. 164 (Argentine) squadron, whose shield bore the sun from the Flag of Argentina and the motto, “Determined We Fly (Firmes Volamos)”.

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Shortly after America’s declaration of war against Germany in 1917, a veteran magazine illustrator from New York composed a drawing for the United States Army’s recruitment campaign. It featured a stern faced Uncle Sam pointing outward with his right index finger, his eyes glaring directly at the viewer.

“Want YOU for U.S. Army” announced a caption below in bold red and blue capital letters.


Four million copies of the poster were quickly printed and plastered onto walls and signposts from Maine to California. Within weeks, just about every American citizen had seen it.

Interestingly, the incredibly famous image was actually based on a British drawing from three years earlier.


The original appeared in a 1914 edition of the British magazine London Opinion. The reason the poster was copied can be simply explained. At the time, American propagandists were met with a huge demand for new content. As they rushed to meet deadlines, many artists took inspiration from existing propaganda posters from around the world.


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Both the American and the British posters were Important contributions to the war effort, with millions of copies printed of each. This goes to show the outsized impact propaganda posters have had on history. 

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For centuries, the tiny Alpine nation of Switzerland has adhered to a policy of armed neutrality in global affairs. Switzerland isn’t the world’s only neutral country-the likes of Ireland, Austria and Costa Rica all take similar non-interventionist stances-yet it remains the oldest and most respected. How did it earn its unique place in world politics?

The earliest moves toward Swiss neutrality date to 1515, when the Swiss Confederacy suffered a devastating loss to the French at the Battle of Marignano. Following the defeat, the Confederacy abandoned its expansionist policies and looked to avoid future conflict in the interest of self-preservation. It was the Napoleonic Wars, however, that truly sealed Switzerland’s place as a neutral nation.

Switzerland was invaded by France in 1798 and later made a satellite of Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire, forcing it to compromise its neutrality. But after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the major European powers concluded that a neutral Switzerland would serve as a valuable buffer zone between France and Austria and contribute to stability in the region. During 1815’s Congress of Vienna, they signed a declaration affirming Switzerland’s “perpetual neutrality” within the international community. Switzerland maintained its impartial stance through World War I, when it mobilized its army and accepted refugees but also refused to take sides militarily.

In 1920, meanwhile, the newly formed League of Nations officially recognized Swiss neutrality and established its headquarters in Geneva. A more significant challenge to Swiss neutrality came during World War II, when the country found itself encircled by the Axis powers.

While Switzerland maintained its independence by promising retaliation in the event of an invasion, it continued to trade with Nazi Germany, a decision that later proved controversial after the war ended.

Since World War II, Switzerland has taken a more active role in international affairs by aiding with humanitarian initiatives, but it remains fiercely neutral with regard to military affairs.

It has never joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union, and only joined the United Nations in 2002.

Despite its longstanding neutrality, the country still maintains an army for defense purposes and requires part-time military service from all males between the ages of 18 and 34.

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‘History Memes Explained’ has a solid following of 225k people who can’t wait for the freshest in-depth looks at popular history-related memes. There’s a lot of context that’s needed to ‘get’ some of these memes. But when you take the time to read about the background, you realize just how brilliant the jokes really are.

The Instagram page is your gateway to understanding memes that might have been complete enigmas before. And we’re just glad that there are people like Cole out there who put in the effort to make certain topics more approachable to everyone. In a world where attention spans are drastically shortening, he’s doing a great job to help spread important information in an easily-digestible form.

During Bored Panda’s earlier interview with the founder of ‘History Memes Explained,’ Cole, then a high-school student, shared with us that history and entrepreneurship have always been passions of his. “I feel very lucky to run an Instagram page that combines these two things,” he said.


The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union worked together to win World War II, but their relationship was tense and fraught from the beginning. The Soviet Union originally had signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany in 1939; the USSR only entered the war on the side of the Allies when Hitler double-crossed Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and invaded Russia in 1941. This proved to be a fatal mistake for Hitler: the Russians eventually stalled his invasion and overtook all of the territory the Nazis had conquered in Eastern Europe.

Before the war’s end, the leaders of the Allied powers met at the Russian resort town of Yalta to plan for the future after Hitler’s defeat…

At this Yalta Conference (a picture of which is shown in the meme), they could not agree on much, but they did agree that any remnant of Nazi power had to be stamped out of Germany. To this end, they agreed to divide Germany, as well as the city of Berlin, into four zones, each of which would be occupied by one of the major Allied powers: France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

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The road leading up to the American Revolution didn’t happen overnight. It took several years and many events to push the colonists to a point where they wanted to fight for their independence. Here are some of the key causes of the American Revolution in the order they occurred.

One thing to keep in mind is that many of the American colonies were first founded by people trying to escape religious persecution in England. As the British government became more involved in the affairs of colonies, people began to worry that they would once again lose their freedoms.

The French and Indian War took place between the American colonies and New France. Both sides allied with various Native American tribes. This war lasted from 1754 to 1763. British troops not only helped the colonists to fight the war, but were stationed in the colonies for protection after the war. These troops weren’t free and Britain needed money to pay for the troops. The British Parliament decided to tax the American colonies to help pay for the troops.

Prior to 1764, the British government had pretty much left the colonists alone to govern themselves. In 1764, they began to impose new laws and taxes. They implemented a number of laws including the Sugar Act, Currency Act, Quartering Act, and the Stamp Act. The colonists were not happy with the new taxes. They said they should not have to pay British taxes because they had no representatives in the British Parliament.

Many colonists began to protest against these new British taxes and laws. During one protest in Boston, a fight broke out and several colonists were shot [fatally]. This incident became known as the Boston Massacre. In 1773, the British imposed a new tax on tea. Several patriots in Boston protested this act by boarding ships in Boston harbor and dumping their tea into the water. This protest became known as the Boston Tea Party.

The British decided that the colonies needed to be punished for the Boston Tea Party. They issued a number of new laws that the colonists called the Intolerable Acts. The increased laws punishing the colonies did little to control the colonies as the British had hoped, but actually had the opposite effect. The laws caused the colonies to become more united against the British. In 1775, British soldiers in Massachusetts were ordered to disarm the American rebels and to arrest their leaders. The Revolutionary War began on April 19,1775 when fighting broke out between the two sides at the Battles of Lexington and Concord.


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The Byzantine Empire was a vast and powerful civilization with origins that can be traced to 330 A.D., when the Roman emperor Constantine I dedicated a “New Rome” on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium. Though the western half of the Roman Empire crumbled and fell in 476 A.D., the eastern half survived for 1,000 more years, spawning a rich tradition of art, literature and learning and serving as a military buffer between Europe and Asia.

During the rule of the Palaiologan emperors, beginning with Michael VIII in 1261, the economy of the once-mighty Byzantine state was crippled, and never regained its former stature. In 1369, Emperor John V unsuccessfully sought financial help from the West to confront the growing Turkish threat, but he was arrested as an insolvent debtor in Venice. Four years later, he was forced-like the Serbian princes and the ruler of Bulgaria to become a vassal of the mighty Turks.

Under John’s successors, the empire gained sporadic relief from Ottoman oppression, but the rise of Murad II as sultan in 1421 marked the end of the final respite. Murad revoked all privileges given to the Byzantines and laid siege to the Byzantine Capital, Constantinople; his successor, Mehmed II, completed this process when he launched the final attack on the city. On May 29, 1453, after an Ottoman army stormed Constantinople, Mehmed triumphantly entered the Hagia Sophia, which would soon be converted to the city’s leading mosque. The fall of Constantinople marked the end of a glorious era for the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Constantine XI died in battle that day, and the Byzantine Empire collapsed, ushering in the long reign of the Ottoman Empire.

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“Like many young students, I had long been aware of social media influencers and YouTubers. I had actually attempted to become an influencer twice before, once with a gaming YouTube channel and the other time with a political Instagram page. Neither project went anywhere,” Cole opened up to Bored Panda.

“In the summer of 2019, the idea of creating a history-themed meme page came to me as I was sitting at home bored; with nothing better to do, I made it a reality,” he revealed that boredom helped create the spark of inspiration for the HME project.

At first, ‘History Memes Explained’ was all about just posting memes. However, the project evolved a year later.

“For much of this early time, my page wasn’t that successful. I was posting every day and barely growing. My big break came when I added the explanations,” Cole said that the account really took off after he started putting in more original content.


On May 18, 1991, cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev departed Earth for the Soviet space station Mir. While he was up there, the country that had sent him ceased to exist, making Krikalev – for a few months at least the “last Soviet citizen”.

< Krikalev grew up in Leningrad (which he watched become St Petersburg from space) and obtained a mechanical engineering degree before going to work as a rocket engineer at NPO Energia, where, among other projects, he worked as part of the rescue team when the Salyut 7 space station failed in 1985. Shortly thereafter, he was selected as a cosmonaut, and spent years in training, working on everything from repair of the space station to conducting spacewalks.

Unfortunately, his training didn’t incorporate what to do when you are left in space with no official space organization (or country), which on his 1991 mission aboard Mir would have been much more useful. In October, several of his colleagues departed at the end of their four-month mission. Then, on December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union finally collapsed. With the collapse, there was even less money for a mission that would relieve Krikalev of his duties. If all else failed, there was the Soyuz capsule that could be used to escape, though this would mean sacrificing the space station. With nobody to operate and repair it, it would be the end of Mir.

The United States offer to help gain the funding needed to send more cosmonauts and astronauts into orbit, and America and Russia struck a deal. Three months later on March 25, having spent a then-record 311 consecutive days in space, Krikalev finally returned to Earth. When he left, he had been a citizen of a state that now no longer existed, earning him the nickname the “last Soviet citizen”.


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Spinosaurus was the biggest of all the carnivorous dinosaurs, larger than Tyrannosaurus Rex. It lived during part of the Cretaceous period, about 112 million to 97 million years ago, roaming the swamps of North Africa.

Spinosaurus means “spine lizard,” an appropriate descriptor, as the dinosaur had very long spines growing on its back to form what is referred to as a “sail.” There has been much scientific debate regarding the evolution and purpose of Spinosaurus’ sail. Because of its size, this dinosaur did not have many predators, but the sail could have been used to ward off enemies, as the dinosaur would have appeared to be twice its size with the sail fully extended.

Recent fossil evidence shows Spinosaurus was the first dinosaur that was able to swim.


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Everyone knows Joseph Stalin, but most aren’t familiar with his familial life, particularly his eldest son, Yakov. The tumultuous relationship between father and son created a story that spanned a difficult youth, the German invasion of the Soviet Union and a Nazi concentration camp.

From his youth onward, Yakov and Stalin did not get along, with Stalin being quite judgmental of his son, looking down on him in almost every way. As a young man, Yakov [tried to take his own life] after a disagreement with his father over Yakov’s Jewish fiancee, likely caused by Stalin’s antisemitism.

Afterward, Stalin said that he no longer wanted to have any sort of a relationship with Yakov, as they had nothing in common.

Because of his father, though, Yakov did have a military career and was an officer in the Red Army. When Nazi Germany invaded the USSR during World War II, at the Battle of Smolensk, they captured him.

One would generally think that a powerful ruler would do whatever is necessary to retrieve his offspring from the enemy. This was not the case with Stalin and Yakov. Despite the Germans offering to trade Yakov for a German field marshal, or Hitler’s nephew, Stalin refused both trade options.

In addition, Stalin did not entirely believe that his son had been captured. In fact, he thought that his son had given himself up, surrendering at the urging of his wife (whom Stalin later imprisoned and interrogated because of this).

Regardless of how he got there, Yakov did end up in a Nazi German concentration camp. Different rumors circulated regarding Yakov’s [demise], but until recently it’s not been fully confirmed how and when he died. Some thought that he may have [taken his own life] by running into an electric fence, or even jumping from a prison window onto an electric fence. Others thought that he may have been [assassinated]. More recently, though, it’s thought that Yakov was shot by a guard for not obeying orders.

Sadly, Yakov was not the only family recipient of his father’s anger. Yakov’s brother, Vasili, received the same criticism that Yakov always had, and he drank himself to an early [demise]. One of Stalin’s wives, Nadezhda, supposedly [took his own life] after having too much of her husband’s cruelty, the final straw being forced to sit across him at the dinner table while he tauntingly flicked cigarettes in her direction.


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“To be honest, it was pretty much a moment of sudden clarity. The idea to explain the memes just came to me. But when I started doing so, my page exploded. Soon, I was gaining 600, even 800 followers every day,” he shared with Bored Panda.

“I adopted a very aggressive posting strategy, making two high-quality posts every day,” Cole told us. His rate of posting has changed, since then, but he’s still putting in a lot of effort.

Making learning fun lies at the core of what Cole does. “I post funny memes about historical topics and then do a deep dive into the [facts] behind the meme, uncovering and explaining important, obscure, or just downright interesting parts of history in an entertaining format.”

Cole also revealed to us how he’s changed his posting strategy and what kinds of memes work best for his account. “I need memes about topics that were well known enough to resonate with my audience, but still obscure enough to warrant an explanation,” he said.


The French Third Republic was invaded by Nazi Germany beginning on 10 May 1940. The Nazis rapidly conquered France by bypassing the highly fortified Maginot Line and invading through Belgium. By July, the military situation of the French was dire, and it was apparent that the French had lost. The French government began to discuss the possibility of an armistice. Then prime-minister Paul Reynaud resigned rather than sign an armistice, and Marshal Philippe Pétain, a hero of World War I, became prime minister. Shortly thereafter, Pétain signed the Armistice of 22 June. On 10 July, the Third Republic was effectively dissolved as Pétain was granted essentially dictatorial powers by the National Assembly.

A resistance movement, working largely in concert with de Gaulle’s movement outside the country, increased in strength over the course of the occupation. Following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and the liberation of France later that year, the Free French Provisional government of the French Republic (GPRF) was installed as the new national government, led by de Gaulle.

The last of the Vichy exiles were captured in the Sigmaringen enclave in April 1945. Pétain was put on trial for treason by the new Provisional government, and [executed]; this was commuted to life imprisonment by de Gaulle. Only four senior Vichy officials were tried for crimes against humanity, although many more had participated in the deportation of Jews for internment in Nazi concentration camps, abuses of prisoners, and severe acts against members of the Resistance.

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When Johan de Witt was [taken out] along with his brother in 1672, there are accounts of some among the mob taking parts of the bodies and eating them…

In 1672 the Dutch Republic was at war with England and France. Many thought that Johan de Witt, the ‘Grand Pensionary’ – in effect, prime minister – of the republic had failed, and wanted strong leadership from the young Prince of Orange: Willem il, later William III of England.

The House of Orange was the nearest the republic had to royalty, while de Witt and his supporters – including many among the powerful merchant class – were republicans who disliked the idea of establishing a strong nobility.

The brother of Prime Minister de Witt, Cornelis, was arrested on trumped-up charges of plotting to assassinate Willem. It was while visiting his brother in prison that de Witt was eventually [taken out], on 20 August, by a mob that had gathered outside – both brothers were hanged and mutilated. Willem’s complicity in this is unclear, though he failed to prosecute the mob’s ringleaders. There are accounts of some among the mob taking parts of the bodies, and eating them. One man is even said to have eaten an eyeball. Although the stories may have been exaggerated, people did often take ‘souvenirs’ of executions, such as those who dipped handkerchiefs in the blood of King Charles I.

The savage [assassination] of a man that history has judged a highly competent leader is regarded by the Dutch as one of the most shameful episodes in their history.

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Before the Second World War, the nation of Czechoslovakia had been a strong democracy in Central Europe, but beginning in the late 1940s it faced challenges from the East. In 1948, Czech attempts to join the U.S.-sponsored Marshall Plan to aid postwar rebuilding were thwarted by Soviet takeover and the installation of a new communist government in Prague. For the next twenty years, Czechoslovakia remained a stable state within the Soviet sphere of influence; unlike in Hungary or Poland, even the rise of de-Stalinization after 1953 the did not lead to liberalization by the fundamentally conservative Czech government.

In the 1960s, however, changes in the leadership in Prague led to a series of reforms to soften or humanize the application of communist doctrines within Czech borders.

Soviet leaders were concerned over these recent developments in Czechoslovakia. Recalling the 1956 uprising in Hungary, leaders in Moscow worried that if Czechoslovakia carried reforms too far, other satellite states in Eastern Europe might follow, leading to a widespread rebellion against Moscow’s leadership of the Eastern Bloc.

The Warsaw Pact invasion of August 20-21 caught Czechoslovakia and much of the Western world by surprise. In anticipation of the invasion, the Soviet Union had moved troops from the Soviet Union, along with limited numbers of troops from Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Bulgaria into place by announcing Warsaw Pact military exercises. When these forces did invade, they swiftly took control of Prague, other major cities, and communication and transportation links.

Although the Soviet crackdown on Czechoslovakia was swift and successful, small-scale resistance continued throughout early 1969 while the Soviets struggled to install a stable government.

In the years that followed, the new leadership reestablished government censorship and controls preventing freedom of movement, but it also improved economic conditions, eliminating one of the sources for revolutionary fervor. Czechoslovakia once again became a cooperative member of the Warsaw Pact.

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was significant in the sense that it delayed the splintering of Eastern European Communism and was concluded without provoking any direct intervention from the West.

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“In the early days, I often just made the memes myself from scratch. As I’ve become successful, however, this has changed. Now, I receive dozens of messages from my followers every week. Most of these have meme submissions, that my followers would like me to explain. Currently, this is where I get most of my memes from,” the founder of ‘History Memes Explained’ said.

“Of course, you get the big events that are very popular topics like World War 2, but you also get a few smaller topics that for some reason are very popular with the community, such as the 1932 ‘war’ that Australia fought against Emu birds. Controversial memes also seem to do well,” he said.

Of course, figuring out what the facts really are isn’t as easy as spending a minute or two on Google. There’s a lot of fake news out there, plenty of competing interpretations, and some folks even try to ‘weaponize’ history for their own goals.

“Unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands, it’s not going to be possible to check every historical claim you see on the internet. Even then, a lot of knowledge is locked in academic libraries and behind paywalls, so can be impossible to access anyway. When looking at ‘mindblowing’ facts on the internet, a healthy sense of skepticism is essential—as is looking at the source. Is this being claimed by Twitter user @fakefacts420 or a Professor of History at the University of Oxford? Are you reading this on a university website or an email your nan has forwarded you?” one of the moderators helping run the r/AskHistorians subreddit was kind enough to speak to Bored Panda earlier.


Cruel efforts under Stalin to impose collectivism and tamp down Ukrainian nationalism left an estimated 3.9 million dead. The Ukrainian famine-known as the Holodomor, a combination of the Ukrainian words for “starvation” and “to inflict [decease]”-by one estimate claimed the lives of about 13 percent of the population. And, unlike other famines in history caused by blight or drought, this was caused when a dictator wanted both to replace Ukraine’s small farms with state-run collectives and punish independence-minded Ukrainians who posed a threat to his totalitarian authority.

In those days, Ukraine-a Texas-sized nation along the Black Sea to the west of Russia-was a part of the Soviet Union, then ruled by Stalin. In 1929, as part of his plan to rapidly create a totally communist economy, Stalin had imposed collectivization, which replaced individually owned and operated farms with big state-run collectives. Ukraine’s small, mostly subsistence farmers resisted giving up their land and livelihoods.

In response, the Soviet regime derided the resisters as kulaks-well-to-do peasants, who in Soviet ideology were considered enemies of the state. Soviet officials drove these peasants off their farms by force and Stalin’s secret police further made plans to deport 50,000 Ukrainian farm families to Siberia.

Collectivization in Ukraine didn’t go very well. By the fall of 1932 it became apparent that Ukraine’s grain harvest was going to be miss Soviet planners’ target> by 60 percent. There still might have been enough food for Ukrainian peasants to get by, but, as Applebaum writes, Stalin then ordered what little they had be confiscated as punishment for not meeting quotas. Meanwhile, Stalin already had arrested tens of thousands of Ukrainian teachers and intellectuals and removed Ukrainian-language books from schools and libraries.

When Stalin’s crop collectors went out into the countryside, they used long wooden poles with metal points to poke the dirt floors of peasants’ homes and probe the ground around them, in case they’d buried stores of grain to avoid detection. Peasants accused of being food hoarders typically were sent off to prison, though sometimes the collectors didn’t wait to inflict punishment.

Ultimately, although Stalin’s policies resulted in the [decease] of millions, it failed to crush Ukrainian aspirations for autonomy, and in the long run, they may actually have backfired. Famine often achieves a socio-economic or military purpose, such as transferring land possession or clearing an area of population, since most flee rather than die. But politically and ideologically it is more often counterproductive for its perpetrators. In the case of Ukraine it generated so much hatred and resentment that it solidified Ukrainian nationalism. Eventually, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine finally became an independent nation-and the Holodomor remains a painful part of Ukrainians’ common identity.


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Historians debate whether Jean Laffite was hero or brutal criminal. He fought for American independence and people admired the well educated and intelligent man who used clever ways to solve problems. He claimed that he was a privateer, but in fact, many of his actions were more pirate-like. However, the truth is that he was a lot more than ordinary pirate. He was diplomat, merchant, smuggler, naval solider, and slave trader, a true jack of all trades.

Jean Laffite was born either in France or in their colony, St. Domingue in the Caribbean. Birth date is unknown, but it was probably around 1780. By 1803, Jean Laffite and his older brother, Pierre, were operating in Barataria Bay (around 100 miles south of New Orleans).

Since the beginning, Laffite has been very skillful and managed to plunder many ships in the Gulf of Mexico. Many people joined his crew, and soon he was able to create an army of smugglers and pirates. They were raiding mostly commerce ships around Barataria Bay and were selling goods in New Orleans. Soon, Jean Laffite was proclaimed as indisputable leader of Barataria.

Laffite did not allow his pirates to attack American vessels. Mostly they plundered Spanish and English ships. However, his smuggling and slave trade operations were still illegal. He did not get along with the governor of New Orleans, William C. c. Claiborne, who did not accept his unconventional methods. In 1813 the governor issued a $500 reward for the Laffite’s arrest. Within a week, Laffite offered 5000$ for anyone who could capture the governor and bring him to Barataria.

In 1814, embroiled in a war in America, British officials attempted to convince Lafitte and his pirates to join them in attack of New Orleans. They knew Laffite, as expert on the marshes and bayous in that region, could ensure them a victory. However, he refused to cooperate and revealed information of attack to Americans. In addition, he offered his pirates to help defend the city.

Laffite addressed Andrew Jackson and they agreed to defend New Orleans together. With a well organized army and good tactics, the British were repulsed. Lafitte and his crew were granted pardons for their former crimes, but any further pirate activity had been strictly forbidden in Barataria Bay. Latter, Captain Laffite took over Galveston, Texas, and continued pirating around Central American ports until the end of his life. He died probably around 1825.

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Just before midnight on August 9, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration, which called for the surrender of all Japanese forces.

In the early hours of August 15, a military coup was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki’s residence, but shortly after dawn the coup was crushed. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the news of his decision. The United States immediately accepted Japan’s surrender.

President Truman appointed MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For the site of Japan’s formal surrender, Truman chose the USS Missouri, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman’s native state. On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. The gathered dignitaries were greeted by a massive flyover of over a thousand U.S. planes. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States.


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The moderator explained to us that some choose to ‘weaponize’ historical conspiracies to “exploit past events to push a political point in the present day.” These conspiracy theories can be pretty much about anything.

“Whether this is people who want to fly the confederate flag arguing that the US civil war wasn’t about slavery, right-wingers claiming that the Nazis were socialists or people with anti-immigration views trying to claim that the Roman Empire fell because of uncontrolled immigration,” they told us.

The fight against misinformation is a never-ending, ongoing battle. So-called ‘inoculation strategies’ can help fight against fake news. At least that’s what Joseph M. Pierre, a professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, believes.


In the 13th century, Genghis Khan’s grandson Kublai Khan had already conquered much of China and hoped to expand his Mongolian empire. To attack Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, he amassed an enormous fleet of Chinese and Korean ships. It was one of the largest armadas the world has ever seen, with more than 140,000 sailors, according to Woodruff.

Yet twice, in 1274 and 1281, Kublai sent his overwhelming forces across the Korea Strait, and twice his fleet was destroyed.

Legend has it that Khan’s ships were sunk when an emperor summoned two massive storms, the kamikazes.

The problem with this story, aside from the question of whether the storms were divinely ordained, is that powerful typhoons are relatively rare today in the part of western Japan that was attacked. Historians tend to give more credit to the Japanese troops who defended their land.

Scholars also note that modern popularization of the kamikaze story, in which an emperor summons the divine winds that project Japan, has an element of propaganda to it.

Emperor Hirohito resurrected the tale in the final hours of World War II, when he appealed to Japanese pilots to become his divine winds. So powerful was the legend that thousands of pilots known as kamikazes would sign up to protect Japan again, by crashing their planes in suicide missions against American ships.


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After failing to become a monk, Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin became a wanderer and eventually entered the court of Czar Nicholas II because of his alleged healing abilities. Known for his prophetic powers, he became a favorite of the Nicholas’s wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, but his political influence was minor. Rasputin became swept up in the events of the Russian Revolution and met a brutal [demise] at the hands of assassins in 1916.

Born to a Siberian peasant family around 1869, Rasputin received little schooling and probably never learned to read or write. In his early years, some people of his village said he possessed supernatural powers, while others cite examples of extreme cruelty.

In 1903, Rasputin’s wanderings brought him to St. Petersburg, where he arrived with a reputation as a mystic and faith healer. He was introduced to Russian Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, who were seeking help for their sickly son, Alexis. Rasputin quickly gained their confidence by seemingly “curing” the boy of hemophilia – though he had actually done little more than take the boy off aspirin in a stroke of luck. This action won him the passionate support of Alexandrs.

Between 1906 and 1914, various politicians and journalists used Rasputin’s association with the imperial family to undermine the dynasty’s credibility and push for reform. Rasputin helped their efforts by claiming to be the Czarina’s advisor, compounding contempt among state officials. As Russia entered World War I, Rasputin predicted that calamity would befall the country.

On the night of December 29, 1916, a group of conspirators, including the czar’s first cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and Prince Felix Yusupov, invited Rasputin to Yusupov’s palace and fed him wine and cakes laced with cyanide. Though Rasputin eventually became rather drunk, the poison seemed to have no effect. Baffled but not deterred, the conspirators finally shot Rasputin multiple times. He was then wrapped in a carpet and thrown into the Neva River, where it was discovered three days later.

Although Rasputin was gone, the last of his prophecies was yet to unfold. Shortly before his [passing], he wrote to Nicholas to predict that if he was [taken ou]t by government officials, the entire imperial family would be [taken out] by the Russian people. His prophecy came true 15 months later, when the czar, his wife and all of their children were [taken out] by assassins amidst the Russian Revolution.

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During World War Two, forces from the British Commonwealth of Nations, then still informally called the British Empire, were involved in all the major theatres of war, as well as serving on their own and on the British home fronts. In addition to providing men and women for the war effort, the Empire supplied raw materials and goods to Britain.

During the war the British Empire and Dominions raised a total of 8,586,000 men for military service. More than 5 million came from the British Isles, 1,440,500 from India, 629,000 from Canada, 413,000 from Australia, 136,000 from South Africa, 128,500 from New Zealand and more than 134,000 from other colonies.

Troops from East and West Africa fought against the Japanese in south-east Asia in 1943 and 1944. In addition, many from countries occupied by the Nazis came to Britain to serve in the British forces. French, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, Norwegian and Polish governments-in-exile were established in the UK. Belgian and Dutch units were created in the RAF, and their national brigades fought in the liberation of Europe. Norwegian soldiers, sailors and airmen served in their own units under British operational control.

The men of the Polish Air Force who had managed to escape to Britain were subordinated to RAF command. Their fighter pilots played an outstanding role in the Battle of Britain and also provided bomber crews. By the end of the war there were 15 operational Polish squadrons. Polish troops fought with the British army in North Africa, Italy and in north-west Europe. With the Communist takeover of their country in 1945, many Poles decided to remain in Britain.


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“Countering misinformation is a huge challenge and is often ineffective when it only amounts to presenting accurate information as an alternative to false beliefs. In my opinion, understanding conspiracy theories and other false beliefs is best understood as a byproduct of mistrust and misinformation. If people don’t trust authoritative sources of information, they aren’t going to replace their false beliefs with facts and we’re not going to be able to agree on what facts are. That’s where we often are these days,” he explained to Bored Panda.

The professor stressed that while ‘inoculation strategies’ can sometimes “beat misinformation to the punch,” it’s usually the other way around. The fact of the matter is that information, whether true or false, spreads incredibly quickly online.

“If we’re going to talk about education, what’s really needed is a retool from the bottom up, teaching people about analytical thinking, data reasoning, and media literacy starting in grade school. We’re 30 years into the internet now and I’ve never seen any evidence of this being part of education in America. It is in other countries,” the expert told Bored Panda.


Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci is best known for his namesake: the continents of North and South America. But why were these continents named after him, especially since his voyages happened after Christopher Columbus’ famed 1492 sail on the ocean blue?

Vespucci was the first person to recognize North and South America as distinct continents that were previously unknown to Europeans, Asians and Africans. Prior to Vespucci’s discovery, explorers, including Columbus, had assumed that the New World was part of Asia. Vespucci made his discovery while sailing near the tip of South America in 1501. Amerigo Vespucci was one of many European explorers during the Age of Exploration, or Age of Discovery, which took place from the mid-1400s to mid-1500s.

Vespucci was a businessman, and his business helped outfit one of Christopher Columbus’ voyages, and in 1496 Vespucci had the opportunity to talk with the explorer. This meeting further encouraged Vespucci’s interest in travel and discovery. Now in his 40s, Vespucci decided to leave business behind and embark on a life of exploration while he still could. On his 1499 voyage, Vespucci sailed to the northern part of South America and into the Amazon River. Vespucci predicted Earth’s circumference accurately within 50 miles.

Vespucci’s reputation has gone through periods of ridicule, and at times he has been viewed as schemer who attempted to steal glory from Columbus. But in reality, it wasn’t Vespucci’s ambition that got two continents named after him: it was the work of a German clergyman and amateur cartographer called Martin Waldseemüller.

In 1507, Waldseemüller and some other scholars were working an introduction to cosmology that would contain large maps, according to the U.S. Library of Congress. Waldseemüller proposed that a portion of Brazil that Vespucci had explored be named “America,” a feminized version of Vespucci’s first name. Waldseemüller wrote, “I see no reason why anyone should justly object to calling this part … America, after Amerigo [Vespucci], its discoverer, a man of great ability.”

The name stuck. Waldseemüller’s maps sold thousands of copies across Europe. Some reports suggest that Waldseemüller had second thoughts about the name America, but it was too late. In 1538, a mapmaker named Gerardus Mercator applied the name “America” to both the northern and southern landmasses of the New World, and the continents have been known as such ever since.

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Broadly speaking, the “Space Race” of the 1950s and 60s involved two major players, the United States and the Soviet Union. But there were also minor players: for instance, the Zambian Space Program, the creation of just one man.

An Time magazine article published in November 1964 described Edward Mukuka Nkoloso as a “science teacher and the director of Zambia’s National Academy of Space Research.” Nkoloso had a plan “to beat the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the moon. Already Nkoloso is training Zambian astronauts, including a 16-year-old girl, by spinning them around a tree in an oil drum and teaching them to walk on their hands, ‘the only way humans can walk on the moon.””

Born in 1919 in Rhodesia, Nkoloso got drafted into World War II by the British, took an interest in science during his service, and came home to illegally found his own school. He then spent time as a salesman, and a “political agitator,” ending with his capture and imprisonment by colonial authorities. How on Earth could this all have convinced Nkoloso to aim for Mars? Some assume he experienced a psychological break due to torture endured as a political prisoner. Some see his interplanetary ambitions as a cover for the training he was giving his “Afronauts” for guerrilla-style warfare.

Whatever his purposes, the Space Program has attracted new attention in the years since. Footage of its facilities and very sketchy training procedures found its way to Youtube, where it has accumulated millions of views.


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The “Four Pests” campaign was introduced in 1958 by Mao Zedong, as a hygiene campaign aimed to eradicate the pests responsible for the transmission of pestilence and disease: the mosquitos responsible for malaria; the rodents that spread the plague; the pervasive airborne flies; and the sparrows – specifically the Eurasian tree sparrow – which ate grain seed and fruit.

According to some eyewitnesses, citizens would bang pots and pans so that sparrows would not have the chance to rest on tree branches and would fall dead from the sky. Sparrow nests were also destroyed, eggs were broken, and chicks were [taken out]. In addition to these tactics, citizens also resorted to simply shooting the birds down from the sky.

These mass attacks depleted the sparrow population, pushing it to near extinction.

Some sparrows found refuge in the extraterritorial premises of various diplomatic missions in China.

The personnel of the Polish embassy in Beijing denied the Chinese request of entering the premises of the embassy to scare away the sparrows who were hiding there and as a result, the embassy was surrounded by people with drums. After two days of constant drumming, the Poles had to use shovels to clear the embassy of dead sparrows.

By April 1960, Chinese leaders changed their opinion due to the influence of scientists and ornithologists who pointed out that sparrows ate a large number of insects, as well as grains. By this time, however, it was too late.

With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the ecological problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward, including widespread deforestation and misuse of poisons and pesticides. Ecological imbalance is credited with exacerbating the Great Chinese Famine, in which 15-45 million people died of starvation. The Chinese government eventually resorted to importing 250,000 sparrows from the Soviet Union to replenish their population.


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In the Spring of ’69, just months into his first term, President Nixon faced his first test of restraint. North Korea, at the height of their powers thanks to Russian backing, shot down a US spy plane over the Sea of Japan. President Nixon was absolutely infuriated. Not long after, a South Korea based Airforce pilot was put on alert to prepare for a <nuclear strike against the North Korean Communists.

So, what motivated this response? Nixon was drunk, and not on power — just actually drunk. Despite his drunken state, jets were scrambled and the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered plans for a tactical nuclear strike. Thankfully, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger called the Joint Chiefs and told them to stand down until President Nixon was sober. The Joint Chiefs “agreed not to do anything until Nixon sobered up in the morning.”


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NATO finds itself with two member states that are officially allies, but whose suspicion of each other is never far from the surface.

When Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952, they did so based on NATO members’ assumption that the two countries’ membership of the alliance would pacify their behavior toward each other.

NATO’s purpose as an organization is to ensure the collective defense of its members on the basis of its founding Washington Treaty. It was never designed to adjudicate disputes between its members. It should therefore not come as a surprise that NATO isn’t stepping in to deal with the current Greece Turkey conflict.

NATO finds itself with two member states that are officially allies, but whose suspicion of each other is never far from the surface.

When Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952, they did so based on NATO members’ assumption that the two countries’ membership of the alliance would pacify their behavior toward each other.

NATO’s purpose as an organization is to ensure the collective defense of its members on the basis of its founding Washington Treaty. It was never designed to adjudicate disputes between its members. It should therefore not come as a surprise that NATO isn’t stepping in to deal with the current Greece Turkey conflict.


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The Tiananmen Square protests were student-led demonstrations calling for democracy, free speech and a free press in China. They were halted in a bloody crackdown, known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, by the Chinese government on June 4 and 5, 1989.

Pro-democracy protesters, mostly students, initially marched through Beijing to Tiananmen Square, calling for a more open, democratic government. Eventually thousands of people joined the students in Tiananmen Square, with the protest’s numbers increasing to the tens of thousands by mid-May.

At issue was a frustration with the limits on political freedom in the country-given its one-party form of government, with the Communist Party holding sway-and ongoing economic troubles. Although China’s government had instituted a number of reforms in the 1980s that established a limited form of capitalism in the country, the poor and working class Chinese still faced significant challenges, including lack of jobs and increased poverty.

The students also argued that China’s educational system did not adequately prepare them for an economic system with elements of free-market capitalism. As an initial presence of the military failed to quell the protests, the Chinese authorities decided to increase their aggression. At 1 a.m. on June 4, Chinese soldiers and police stormed Tiananmen Square, firing live rounds into the crowd.

Thousands of protesters simply tried to escape. Reporters and Western diplomats there that day estimated that hundreds to thousands of protesters [lives] were [taken away] in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and as many as 10,000 were arrested.

Leaders worldwide, including Soviet Leader Gorbachev, condemned the military action and, less than a month later, the United States Congress voted to impose economic sanctions against China, citing human rights violations.

On the 20th anniversary of the massacre, the Chinese government prohibited journalists from entering Tiananmen Square and blocked access to foreign news sites and social media. Still, thousands attended a memorial vigil in honor of the anniversary in Hong Kong. The 1989 events at Tiananmen Square continue to be highly censored on China’s tightly controlled internet.

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“Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night” was a 1945 plan developed by Shirō Ishii to wage biological warfare upon civilian population centers in Southern California in the United States during the final months of World War II, using pathogens created by the infamous Unit 731.

Unit 731 was specifically created by the Japanese military in China (then part of Japanese-occupied Manchukuo) for researching biological and chemical warfare by carrying out human experimentation on people of all ages. The number of people [taken out] by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and human experiments in China was around 580,000…

During the last months of the war, Japan was preparing for a long-distance attack on the United States with biological weapons. The operation, codenamed “Cherry Blossoms at Night”, called for the use of airplanes to spread the plague in San Diego at night. The plan was finalized on March 26, 1945. Five of the new 1-400-class long-range submarines were to be sent across the Pacific Ocean, each carrying three aircraft loaded with plague-infected fleas.

The submarines were to surface and launch the aircraft towards the target, to drop the fleas via balloon bombs or crash in enemy territory. Either way, the plague would then infect and [put an end to] thousands of people in the area. Preparations for the plan were completed but were canceled by the Army General Staff due to logistical, political, and practical issues.


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Although elevator operators were common through the mid-1900s, there were driverless elevators as far back as the early 1900s. There was just one problem. Nobody trusted them. Given the choice between the stairs and a lonely automated elevator, the elevator would remain empty. It wasn’t until the middle of the twentieth century that the tipping point came along for the driverless elevator as the result of a strike by the elevator operators’ union in New York City in 1945.

The strike was devastating, costing the city an estimated one hundred million dollars. Suddenly, there was an economic incentive to go back to the automatic elevator. Over the next decade there was a massive effort to build trust in automatic elevators, which resulted in the elimination of tens of thousands of elevator operator jobs.


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Diogenes was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born on the coast of modern-day Turkey in 412 BC.

Diogenes was a controversial figure. he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city. He modeled himself on the example of Heracles, and believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple lifestyle and behavior to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt, confused society. He had a reputation for sleeping and eating wherever he chose in a highly non traditional fashion, and took to toughening himself against nature. Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar, or pithos, in the marketplace.

Diogenes became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for a man (often rendered in English as “looking for an honest man”). He criticized Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates, and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting listeners by bringing food and eating during the discussions. Diogenes was also noted for having mocked Alexander the Great, both in public and to his face when he visited Corinth in 336 BC.

Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery, eventually settling in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to many students. One of his students, Zeno, fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy.


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On October 18, 1867, the U.S. formally takes possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million, or less than two cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas.

Russia wanted to sell its Alaska territory, which was remote, sparsely populated and difficult to defend, to the U.S. rather than risk losing it in battle with a rival such as Great Britain. Negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State William Seward (1801-1872) and the Russian minister to the U.S., Eduard de Stoeckl, began in March 1867. However, the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase “Seward’s Folly” and “The President’s Polar Bear Garden,” among other derogatory names.

Public opinion of the purchase turned more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaska’s Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush. Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources. Today, 25 percent of America’s oil and over 50 percent of its seafood come from Alaska. It is also the largest state in area, about one-fifth the size of the lower 48 states combined, though it remains sparsely populated.

The name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word alyeska, which means “great land.” Alaska has two official state holidays to commemorate its origins: Seward’s Day, observed the last Monday in March, celebrates the March 30, 1867, signing of the land treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and Alaska Day, observed every October 18, marks the anniversary of the formal land transfer.


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During the 1800s the British Empire managed a massive drug cartel based in British India that was both state-sponsored and under Royal patronage.

The British controlled massive fields of poppy farmed by forced Indian labour and built industrial scale opium factories. They then smuggled hundreds of thousands of tonnes of the highly addictive drug into China during much of the 19th century.

The operation was managed by the British East India Company, a trading company owned by English merchants and aristocrats, which operated under Royal charter.

Why opium trafficking?

European demand for Chinese tea, silk and porcelain was soaring. However, the Chinese were relatively self-sufficient and demand for European goods was almost non-existent. The Chinese demanded payment in silver which began to put pressure on the British coffers. The idea of using a narcotic to redress the imbalance in trade was conceived by the first Governor General of British India, Warren Hastings, in 1780. Within 10 years, demand for the highly addictive drug had begun to spread and multiply.

The British East India Company circumvented a Chinese ban on opium by sub-contracting opium transportation to ‘country traders’- a delightful euphemism for smugglers.

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Mongolia is the most landlocked country in the world with its borders more than 600 km away from the nearest coastline.

Mongolia’s token navy is the result of the country’s vain attempt to keep alive a lost heritage. Eight hundred years ago, the Mongols, led by Kublai Khan, had the world’s largest navy. The Mongolian Empire at its widest reach stretched across Central Asia and Eastern Europe, with maritime presence along the Sea of Japan, the East and South China Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Twice in the late 13th century, Genghis Khan led a fleet of more than 4,000 ships across the Sea of Japan to attack the island nation. Both invasion fleets were destroyed by devastating typhoons, that the Japanese called the “divine wind”, or kamikaze.

By the end of the 13th century, the Mongol Empire had fractured into a number of independent empires. Eventually, with the Chinese conquest of the Mongol Empire, the nation was pushed further and further back from the coastline to its current landlocked state.

In the 1930s, the Mongolian Navy was reborn when the Soviet Union presented the country a single tugboat, the Sukhbaatar. The current vessel, Sukhbaatar III, is manned by a crew of seven. According to a documentary produced by Litmus Films, only one of the crew members know how to swim.

“I would like to see the real sea someday,” muses a sailor of the Mongolian Navy. “I imagine it’d be gentle and peaceful. Here on Lake Khövsgöl, the water is very rough and cold.”


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When the government of Belgium refused to allow the Germany Army to pass through the small country at the onset of WW2, the Germans attacked almost immediately.

The generals designed the massive and overwhelming invasion of Belgium so that it would shock its citizens into submission. It was meant to inspire awe, to convince them from the start that fighting was futile, so that they would surrender quickly.

320,000 German troops marched through in key towns in disciplined order through day and night for three days.

The Germans conquered Belgium quickly. But, citizens and guerrilla tactics did slow down the advance more than the Germans had anticipated.

Frustrated at times by their slow progress, Germans committed atrocities in Belgian towns, massacring civilians in some key towns to annihilate opposition and speed their advance. The German Army practiced collective punishment or reprisals for any guerilla warfare or sabotage of telegraph wires and bridges.

The invasion of Belgium partially allowed Germany to pass around the formidable French defense on the French-German border, known as the Maginot Line, proving decisive in the battle for France.


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Lasting approximately four hours, the German ground campaign against Denmark was one of the shortest military operations of the Second World War.

Denmark’s military forces were inferior in numbers and equipment (some units were even equipped witn bicycles for transportation), and after a short battle were forced to surrender. After fewer than two hours of struggle, the Danish Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning stopped the opposition to the German attack, for fear that the Germans would bomb Copenhagen, as they had done with Warsaw during the invasion of Poland in September 1939. Due to communication difficulties, some Danish forces continued to fight, but after a further two hours, all opposition had stopped.

Denmark’s strategic importance for Germany was limited.

The invasion’s primary purpose was to use Denmark as a staging ground for operations against Norway, and to secure supply lines to the forces about to be deployed there. An extensive network of radar systems was built in Denmark to detect British bombers bound for Germany.

The attack on Denmark was a breach of the non aggression pact Denmark had signed with Germany less than a year earlier.

The initial plan was to push Denmark to accept that German land, naval and air forces could use Danish bases, but Adolf Hitler subsequently demanded that both Norway and Denmark be invaded.


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Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who had been shot in the leg and gassed nearly to blindness in World War I, was not going to let World War II go by without his direct involvement. First wave. D-Day. He was 56 and walked with a cane when his Higgins Boat reached Utah Beach on June 6, 1944.

Roosevelt Jr. became the only U.S. general to storm the beaches in the first wave of the Normandy invasion, leading the 4th Infantry Division, 8th Infantry Regiment, into France. His landing craft famously drifted off course and reached shore approximately one mile from its target destination on Utah Beach. Reportedly, he let the troops know he didn’t care where they landed. “We’ll start the war from right here!” he is said to have shouted to the young soldiers scrambling onto the beachhead.

As German forces began firing, Roosevelt Jr., also reportedly befuddled the enemy by limping back and forth to the Higgins Boat, armed only with a pistol, to keep the troops moving.

That same morning, Roosevelt Jr.’s son, Capt. Quentin Roosevelt II, stormed Omaha Beach. Roosevelt Jr. was the oldest man in the invasion and the only father whose son also came ashore on D Day.

Once inland, he was often found among the rank and-file soldiers, seated in his jeep, which bore the name “Rough Riders” in honor of the 1st Cavalry Brigade his father had led in battle during the Spanish American War. Five weeks after coming ashore at Utah Beach, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., died of a heart attack and was buried in the Normandy American Cemetery near Omaha Beach


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Switzerland’s reputation as a neutral safe-haven during World War 11 has been badly tarnished by recent revelations about its wartime transactions with Germany. What began as an examination of the dormant bank accounts of Holocaust victims has gained momentum to include the whole gamut of Swiss financial dealings with the Nazis. In recent months a vast amount of incriminating documentation has been unearthed that reveals the sinister side of Swiss “neutrality”.

Switzerland served as a repository for Jewish capital smuggled out of Nazi Germany and the states threatened by it, and also for vast quantities of gold and other valuables plundered from Jews and others all over Europe.


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Many Europeans today remember the Mongols as a existential threat to Europe, so many may be surprised to learn that at one point some of the Great Powers of Europe actually pursued alliances with the Mongols. The French in particular were interested in forming an alliance with the Ilkhanate during the later Crusades. This desire was not solely out of desperation, and in fact numerous Christian kings encouraged the alliance.

The French have long understood the usefulness of forcing their opponents into two-front wars. Famous examples include their alliance with the Polish before World War II, their alliance with Russia before World War I, and their alliance with the Scottish against England.

Less famously, in the 8th and 9th centuries they had allied themselves with the Abbasids against the Umayyads. Naturally, as the Crusades in the Holy Land continued to fail in the 1200s, the French sought to pursue this policy once more.

Hopes for aid from the East began as far back as the First Crusade. By the 1100s the legend of Prester John began to gain popularity, especially when Crusading failures left many Christians searching for good news. The legend foretold of a Christian monarch who would come to the Christians aid in their time of need. He supposedly lived in Central Asia or India. After the Fifth Crusade, rumors spread of a great king, coming from the East, who had shattered Muslim forces in Persia. He was supposedly the son or grandson of Prester John, and he was coming to claim Jerusalem for Christendom!

Although a large military force had conquered Persia, it was not under the control of a great king, but rather a Great Khan-Genghis Khan himself.

Although the Mongols normally saw others as either subjects or enemies, they made an exception for the French. The Ilkhanate, a division of the Mongol Empire after Ghengis Khan’s [passing], had been frustrated in its efforts to expand by the Mamluks at the Battle of Ain Jalut. The Mamluks were also the Crusaders’ primary enemy during this time period,> so an alliance would naturally be beneficial for both. However, how did two such different groups grow to trust each other? How could the Crusaders possibly justify working with people of a different religion?

The French were not the first Christian group the Mongols worked with, or even encountered on friendly terms. The Mongols had absorbed several Christian states into their Empire, and allowed them religious freedom.

Soon, some nobility from these subject lands were sending letters to the West announcing that the Mongols were tolerant of Christians, which was mostly true, and that Christians should be willing to enter into an alliance with them. Between these letters and echos of the legend of Prester John, Christians became more open minded towards an alliance with the East.

When King Louis IX of France landed in the Holy Land for the Seventh Crusade, he was met by Mongol envoys. Surprisingly, perhaps due to recent Mongol military failures, they were polite and did not ask for submission. The Mongols proposed that the French attack Egypt while one of Great Khan Güyük’s commanders attacked Baghdad. An agreement seemed to be in place. However, this ultimately mattered very little, as the French invasion was such a catastrophic failure that the Mongols would not have been able to do much.

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There were a lot of firsts during the initial lunar landings, especially during the very first Apollo 11 mission. Here’s a fun little fact, though, that few people but Apollo 11-nerds know about the first man to pee on the moon was Buzz Aldrin, the Lunar Module pilot and the second man to ever set foot on the moon.

Of course, he didn’t actually pee on the moon, Aldrin took his lunar leak into a special bag in his space suit, before trying to climb the Apollo 11 lander’s ladder.

“Everyone has their firsts on the moon, and that one hasn’t been disputed by anybody,” Aldrin said in a 2007 interview.


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Joan of Arc was the daughter of a tenant farmer from the village of Domrémy, in northeastern France. At the time, France had long been torn apart by a bitter conflict with England (later known as the Hundred Years’ War), in which England had gained the upper hand. English King Henry V claimed to be ruler of both England and France. His son, Henry VI, succeeded him in 1422. England occupied much of northern France, and many in Joan’s village, Domrémy, were forced to abandon their homes onder threat of invasion.

At the age of 13, Joan began to hear voices, which she determined had been sent by God to give her a mission of overwhelming importance: to save France by expelling its enemies, and to install Charles as its rightful king.

In May 1428, Joan made her way to Vaucouleurs, a nearby stronghold of those loyal to the French King, Charles. She attracted a small band of followers who believed her claims to be the virgin who (according to a popular prophecy) was destined to save France. Joan cropped her hair and dressed in men’s clothes to make the 11-day journey across enemy territory to Chinon, site of the crown prince’s palace.

Joan promised Charles she would see him crowned king at Reims, the traditional site of French royal investiture, and asked him to give her an army to lead to Orléans, then under siege from the English. Against the advice of most of his counselors and generals, Charles granted her request, and Joan set off to fend off the Siege of Orléans in March of 1429 dressed in white armor and riding a white horse. After sending off a defiant letter to the enemy, Joan led several French assaults against them, driving the English from their bastion and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.

After such a miraculous victory, Joan’s reputation spread far and wide among French forces. She and her followers escorted Charles across enemy territory to Reims, taking towns that resisted by force and enabling his coronation as King Charles VII in July 1429. In the spring of 1430, the king ordered Joan to confront a Burgundian assault on Compiégne. In her effort to defend the town and its inhabitants, she was thrown from her horse and was left outside the town’s gates as they closed, being taken captive by the English.

In the trial that followed, Joan was ordered to answer to some 70 charges against her, including witchcraft. In May 1431, after a year in captivity and under threat of [decease], Joan relented and signed a confession denying that she had ever received divine guidance. Several days later authorities pronounced her [execution]. On the morning of May 30, 1431, at the age of 19, Joan was taken to the old marketplace of Rouen and burned at the stake.

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Source: boredpanda.com

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