The 10 Bizarre Historical Events that Actually Happened

Do you know how they say that history is often stranger than fiction? Well, that’s completely true. Every now and then, we randomly come across interesting, unknown historical events that are so bizarre that we can’t believe they actually happened.

These stories often seem more like fictional tales—so surreal you would think it’s a plotline for a movie Salvador Dali has created featuring some of the craziest events in world history.

From dancing plagues to birds winning a war, let’s explore some unusual historical events that defy logic and remain some of the most bizarre historical events that are still a mystery today. 

The 10 Bizarre Historical Events That Actually Happened

When you dig deeper and read about history beyond the textbooks, you realise how truly bizarre and fascinating history really is. 

These bizarre historical events highlight history’s weird and often inexplicable nature, making them truly interesting and intriguing.

1. The Great Emu War of Australia

Australia is no stranger to bizarre historical events, and this one might just be at the top of the list. 

In 1932, during the Great Depression, farmers were growing more wheat to survive. This attracted more than 20,000 migrating emu birds to attack the farmlands for sustenance in the erratic Australian climate. 

You may be wondering how this led to a war. You see, the flock became so big that farmers had to ask the Ministry of Defence for help. Eventually, a small group of armed soldiers were sent to wipe out the birds with weapons. 

During this “mission,” hundreds of emu birds were killed at first, but their growing number, fast speed, and unpredictable movement made them difficult targets. That’s how Australia declared war on Emus and lost, making it one of the most funny historical events. 

2. Pepsi had the World’s 6th Largest Military

Russia loves Pepsi. In fact, Russia is Pepsi’s second-largest market after the United States. 

In 1959, during the Cold War, Richard Nixon visited the Soviet Union to convince them of the benefits of capitalism. During this visit, Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev engaged in a heated argument so intense that the Vice President of Pepsi offered Khrushchev a Pepsi to calm him down, and it was an instant love connection for Khrushchev with the soda. 

He wanted more Pepsi in Russia, but there was one problem: Russian money was worthless and wasn’t accepted worldwide. So he had to get creative. 

In 1989, Russia offered Pepsi a trade: billions of dollars worth of Pepsi in exchange for submarines, military ships, and a significant amount of vodka. This made Pepsi the sixth most powerful military in the world for a brief period until it sold its fleet to a Swedish company that scrapped it.

3. The Dancing Plague

the dancing plague

In July 1518, a strange phenomenon started in Strasburg, Germany. A woman called Frau Troffea started dancing uncontrollably in the streets without any reason. 

More people joined her, and within a week, around 400 people were uncontrollably dancing in the streets, causing chaos. 

The people dancing seemed unable to stop. They danced constantly throughout the day and night, leading to some deaths from exhaustion or stroke. 

Doctors believed that the outbreak may have been caused by a combination of factors, including mass hysteria and a form of poisoning caused by a fungus that grows on rye. This bizarre event left historians confused, making it one of the most unusual events that can’t be explained.

4. Adolf Hitler nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

In 1939,  Erik Gottfrid Christian Brandt, a member of the Swedish parliament, had the unusual idea to nominate Adolf Hitler for the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is believed that this nomination was meant to be a satirical critique of the political situation, but the nomination was cancelled a couple of days later. This caused a lot of controversy, and eventually, it was decided that no peace prize would be awarded that year. 

5. The man who survived both atomic bombings in Japan

Tsutomu Yamaguchi is the only man in the world who has survived not one, but TWO ATOMIC BOMBS! 

On August 8th, 1945, Tsutomu was on a work trip in Hiroshima. On what was supposed to be his last day of the trip, an American bomber dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Tsutomu was less than 2 miles away from Ground Zero and the blast ruptured his eardrums and burned his upper torso, but he survived. 

After spending the night in a bomb shelter, Tsutomu continued his journey back home to Nagasaki on August 9th. As he was telling his boss about the blast in Hiroshima, the same white flash filled the room. 

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was badly burned and exposed to massive amounts of radiation, but he survived the second bomb as well and lived to be 93.

6. The Tanganyika laughter epidemic

In 1962, there was a mysterious outbreak in Tanzania that caused uncontrollable laughter. This laughter epidemic started with three students in a girls’ school who just couldn’t stop laughing. This eventually spread to over 1,000 students. 

This outbreak was so uncontrollable that the school had to be closed for several months. This epidemic lasted for a few months. The cause of this remains unknown, but it was believed to be a case of mass hysteria.

7. The Kentucky meat shower

In 1876, a rather weird incident occurred on a random morning. What appeared to be chunks of red meat started to fall from the sky in Olympia Springs, Kentucky. 

Most pieces that appeared to be beef were around 2 inches long, and some were as big as 4 inches. Confused people on the street who dared to taste the meat say it was beef, lamb, deer, bear, horse, or human meat. 

The cause of this bizarre history event remains a mystery, though some theories suggest it was vomited by vultures flying overhead. This has to be, without a doubt, one of the most random events that can’t be explained. 

8. The trial of the dead Pope

The trial of the dead Pope

In 897, Pope Stephen VI called the corpse of Pope Formosus for trial instead of letting the poor guy rest in peace. This bizarre history event  has often been referred to as “one of the grisliest occasions in papal history.” 

Pope Formosus had a history of going against court rules. Pope Stephen VI conducted a church council, which became known as the “Cadaver Synod.” He dug out the body of his predecessor, who had died six years earlier, and put him on trial for perjury and violating church law.

Pope Formosus was found guilty, stripped of his papal title, and his body was thrown into the Tiber River.

9. Bunnies almost killed Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most feared men and a military commander from France, was attacked by a horde of rabbits. 

After signing the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, Napoleon wanted to celebrate the historic moment of the war officially ending between the French Empire and Imperial Russia. Napoleon hosted a rabbit hunt and acquired over 3,000 rabbits for this. 

When the hunt began, thousands of rabbits were released. Instead of fleeing, the rabbits charged and climbed at Napoleon and his men, hoping for some food. The confused French emperor had to make a run, leading to a chaotic retreat.

10. The fake Paris of World War I

During World War I, in 1917, the French tried to outsmart the Germans by creating a “decoy Paris.” The French feared aerial bombings by German pilots and decided to overnight create a fake town miles away from the real Paris. This was a time before radar was discovered, and the pilots usually relied on imprecise locations. 

Their plan was extremely elaborate–  they turned off all the lights in the real Paris and set up dimmed lights in the fake city. They wanted to make it seem like people were trying but failing to keep themselves undetected in the dark. 

Fake Paris was never actually completed, as the war ended in 1918. “Even in the extraordinary history of deception, sham Paris was extraordinary,” said John Ptak to Bloomberg.

A map of the plan and design of the fake city was found in 1917 in a copy of a 1920 article, “A False Paris Outside Paris—a ‘City’ Created to be Bombed.”

These are, what I found to be, some of the cool historical events to write about. As you dig deeper into history, you will be amazed and honestly confused at what you may discover. These events highlight the extraordinary and often creepy nature of history, making them truly memorable, intriguing and the most bizarre historical events.

If you liked this article, do check out these Bizarre Photos That Prove History Was Far Stranger Than You Ever Realised.