History is seemingly full of bizarre occurrences that nobody could ever have seen coming. Indeed, these 19 mind-boggling coincidences include everything from guns that misfired at just the right moment to unbelievable chance encounters. What’s more, they all seem to suggest that the course of history was predetermined by the hand of fate.
19. Franz Ferdinand’s license plate
Franz Ferdinand’s assassination on June 28, 1914 arguably triggered the First World War and altered the course of history forever. Amazingly, though, the Austrian archduke was shot inside a car with the license plate A III 118. Those digits, some say, foretold the exact date of the formal conclusion of the war: November 11, 1918.
18. Hitler and Napoleon
The lives of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte contain three astounding numerical coincidences. Indeed, Hitler rose to power precisely 129 years after Napoleon, he invaded Russia exactly 129 years after the French leader, and Hitler’s army lost the Battle for Paris 129 years after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo.
17. The FBI and the nickel
In 1953 the FBI was handed a nickel that contained a secret Soviet message, but the code was so complex that it remained unsolved for four years. Then, in 1957, a KGB agent called Reino Hayhanen defected to America and provided the information needed to crack the code. And, coincidentally, the message had been intended for Hayhanen all along.
16. Miss Unsinkable
Violet Jessop was nicknamed “Miss Unsinkable” for a very good reason: she survived three very famous disasters. In fact, the stewardess was working on board the RMS Olympic when it crashed into the HMS Hawke in 1911. A year later, she escaped the doomed RMS Titanic, and then she also survived the sinking of the HMHS Britannic in 1916.
15. Poe’s cannibalistic sailors
Edgar Allan Poe’s 1838 tale The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket told of three shipwrecked men forced to cannibalize a fellow sailor named Richard Parker. Strangely, in 1884 three real-life men were rescued off the Rio de Janeiro coastline. They admitted to eating a fourth sailor, named Richard Parker, to survive.
14. Mark Twain and the comet
Halley’s Comet lit up the sky the day that author Mark Twain was born in 1835, and it reappeared once again when he died in 1910. Even creepier, Twain predicted it all. According to a biography of the man, he said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet… and I expect to go out with it.”
13. Wilmer McLean and his his farm
In 1861 the First Battle of Bull Run – the opening engagement of the American Civil War – happened on Wilmer McLean’s land. So the farmer upped stakes to a new home, where, coincidentally, Confederate General Robert E. Lee would negotiate his army’s surrender four years later.
12. Church bombing
The West Side Baptist Church choir was due to rehearse as usual at 7:25 p.m. in Beatrice, Nebraska on March 1, 1950. At 7:27 p.m., however, the church exploded. In a fortunate twist of fate, though, all 15 singers just happened to be running late that evening, and not one of them was harmed.
11. Richard Lawrence fails to assassinate the president – twice
On January 30, 1835, Andrew Jackson dodged the earliest – and perhaps most remarkable – assassination attempt on a U.S. President. That night, the first firearm used by wannabe killer Richard Lawrence luckily misfired, but he had come prepared and pulled a second gun. Incredibly, that gun also misfired. What’s more, both weapons were later found to be working perfectly.
10. James Dean’s “Little B**tard”
Many have said that the Porsche in which James Dean died in 1955 was cursed. Sure enough, the wreckage of the “Little B**tard” actually fell on a mechanic and shattered both his legs. Then, three cars reportedly containing the Porsche’s used parts were also involved in serious accidents, while another driver died transporting the chassis to an exhibition.
9. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson might have had their disagreements in life, but the two had a spooky similarity in death. Indeed, not only did the men pass away on the exact same day, but that date also happened to be July 4, 1826. This is exactly half a century after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
8. D-Day decoding
In May 1944, mere weeks away from the Normandy landings of World War II, the words “Omaha,” “Neptune,” “Overlord,” “Utah” and “Mulberry” – the beach codenames for the impending invasion – each appeared in separate crossword puzzles in newspaper The Daily Telegraph. MI5 justifiably questioned crossword compiler Leonard Dawe, but it was all declared a strange coincidence.
7. World War I soldiers buried together
Private George Ellison was the last British soldier killed in combat during the First World War. He was laid to rest in the Saint Symphorien graveyard in Belgium where, by an extraordinary coincidence, Ellison was buried opposite Private John Parr – the first British soldier to die in the conflict.
6. Vienna, 1913
Of all the cities in all the world, what are the chances that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Joseph Tito, Leon Trotsky and Sigmund Freud would all end up living in Vienna at exactly the same time? Yet, remarkably, these five historical figures were all residing in the Austrian capital during 1913.
5. Robert Lincoln and his unlikely savior
A year before Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s oldest son Robert was almost struck by a train. In fact, Robert would have almost certainly been severely injured had a stranger not quickly pulled him to safety. Robert’s savior that day? Actor Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth.
4. Hoover Dam deaths
The first and last people to die working on the Hoover Dam project were father and son, and they died exactly 13 years apart. Indeed, J.G. Tierney was surveying the site when he drowned in the Colorado River on December 20, 1922, while his son, Patrick Tierney, plummeted to his death from a tower on December 20, 1935.
3. RMS Carmania
During World War One the British turned the cruise ship RMS Carmania into a military vessel and sent her out to sea. In an ironic twist of fate, Carmania sank the German Cap Trafalgar, which had actually been masquerading as the British cruise ship the RMS Carmania.
2. Sacagawea and her long lost brother
In 1805 legendary explorers Lewis and Clark sent Sacagawea to negotiate with Shoshone Indians about the purchase of some horses. In a happy coincidence, Sacagawea, who had been kidnapped from her tribe as a child, actually turned out to be the chief’s long lost sister, and the vital horses were secured.
1. Predicting the sinking of the Titanic
Spookily, American author Morgan Robertson’s story Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan was published in 1898 and featured a super-sized cruise ship that was deemed unsinkable. Just like the Titanic in 1912, “Titan” struck an iceberg off Newfoundland in April, and it didn’t have enough lifeboats to save everyone.