Unbelievably True Stories

Lichtenstein is a small country, situated between Switzerland and Austria. The German-speaking country has had no military since 1868 when they disbanded it. They declared permanent neutrality and respectfully remained this way during both World Wars. Their final military deployment was in 1866 which became famous for two main reasons. Since they avoided all fighting, they suffered zero casualties and lost no battles. And secondly, legend has it that during the Austro-Prussian War, Lichtenstein sent 80 troops out into battle, and 81 returned. While no one knows who the extra man was, there are some theories that he was an Austrian liaison officer or an Italian friend.

In 1925, the Eiffel Tower was facing maintenance problems. It had fallen into disrepair, and since it was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain, there was an opinion among the public that the monument would be called for removal. An article about this in a newspaper gave Victor Lustig, a highly skilled con artist, inspiration for his next con. He masqueraded as the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs, and successfully convinced a group of scrap metal dealers that the upkeep of the Eiffel Tower was too much – and that the French government wished to sell it for scrap. After accepting a bribe from one of the dealers he fled to Austria cash-in-hand, only to return to Paris a year later to perform the exact same con. This time he didn’t get away so lucky.

Getty Images / Moment / Maria Wachala

When Japan surrendered in 1945, at the end of the Second World War, the story of one of its soldiers was just beginning. Hiroo Onoda was an intelligence officer sent to Lubarg Island in the Phillippines in December 1944. He was ordered to hinder enemy attacks on the island, and that under no circumstances was he to take his own life or surrender. When the allied forces arrived in February 1945, Onoda and his men went into hiding, where he spent the next 30 years. Throughout this time, leaflets (which they deemed fake) were dropped telling them to surrender. Slowly the men with him walked away and surrendered, or died, while despite even being dropped family pictures, Onoda stayed in hiding. Onoda refused to believe that the war was over. It wasn’t until his direct commanding officer was tracked down, and went to visit Onoda in 1974, relieving him of his duties, did Onoda surrender.