Facts About Historical Figures We Just Learned This Week That Made Us Say 'Really?'

List Rules
Vote up the facts about historical figures you think are most interesting.

Teachers and textbooks can't teach everything about the most famous figures in history. Thankfully, many other tools are available to reveal facts that never came up in school. The Reddit thread r/todayilearned is full of fun facts about historical figures - such as Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln, and more - that almost seem unbelievable.

Vote up the new facts you think are the most awesome!


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    1,767 VOTES

    Six Inmates Out On A Maintenance Project Saved The Sheriff Who Was Watching Them

    In 2017, Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats was put on watch duty of six inmates performing maintenance work out at a cemetery. Due to the extreme heat and humidity of the day, coupled with complications from a previous brain surgery, Sheriff Moats fell unconscious. The inmates decided that instead of fleeing, they would call for help and try to save the officer's life. The men called 911 while attempting to cool Moats down by removing his bulletproof vest.

    Johnny Moats fully recovered a short time later, but insisted on trying to help the men who saved his life. In addition to the pizza party they received for their do-good behavior, Moats petitioned for each of them to receive a shorter sentence as repayment for saving his life. 

  • Two Jewish Prisoners Saved Almost 39,000 Pictures Of Inmates At Auschwitz With A Sneaky Plan
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
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    2,248 VOTES

    Two Jewish Prisoners Saved Almost 39,000 Pictures Of Inmates At Auschwitz With A Sneaky Plan

    As was common in many concentration camps during WWII, many prisoners in Auschwitz were forced to do administrative and labor duties: sorting new arrivals' possessions, constructing and expanding the camps, and taking photos of the other captives. Nearly 39,000 prison photographs were taken in the photo lab at Auschwitz, alone.

    In 1945, during the evacuation of the camp, two men, Wilhelm Brasse and Bronisław Jureczek, who were working in the photo lab were directed to burn all photographic evidence. Instead, the two men came up with a way to save the pictures. They placed wet photo paper at the bottom of the furnace before placing the real pictures inside. With the furnace so packed and the wet paper creating so much smoke, the blaze went out quickly, and - once unsupervised - the men were able to take the unharmed pictures out of the furnace to smuggle them out. They were later cataloged and have been kept in the Archives of the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum. 

  • Kay Antonelli Was Given The Working Title Of 'Computer' By The US Government
    Photo: United States Government / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    987 VOTES

    Kay Antonelli Was Given The Working Title Of 'Computer' By The US Government

    Kay Antonelli is highly regarded as one of mothers of modern computer programming. An Irish immigrant who moved to America at a young age, she excelled in math classes, and was one of only three math graduates from Chestnut Hill College's 1942 graduating class.

    After graduating, Kay signed up with the American government to help with calculations of ballistic trajectories. Her official title for this position was actually "Computer." She was quickly recruited to a highly secretive team of other women 'computers' to begin programming the world's first electronic computers.

    The women on this team were eventually recognized in the Women of Technology hall of fame in 1997.

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    720 VOTES

    Marcel Pinte Was An Awarded Resistance Fighter At The Age Of Six

    Marcel Pinte was a courier during WWII for the French Resistance in Vichy France. Being only a young child, he slipped past enemy patrols while carrying messages under his shirt.

    But at the young age of six, Marcel was shot down when a large deployment of heavily armed resistance fighters landed on his farm and accidentally fired a machine gun. He was hit several times and passed instantly.

    The British knew what a monumental role the young courier had been to their efforts, though, and he was posthumously awarded the rank of sergeant.