Marcus Garvey rightly said, “The whole world is run on bluff.”
All is fair in love and war. Some men took this saying to an another level by bluffing! In a war, sometimes, all you need to win is a poker face. Convince your enemies so fiercely about a lie that they believe it to be the truth. History is abound with the legends of people who lied for the better good of the society. Lakhs of people survived because of their bluffs which were so amazing, no one got a whiff of suspicion. These stories will make you wonder, laugh and cry at the same time. Here is the list of top 10 biggest bluffs in the history of mankind:
10. The Capture of Fort Detroit in the War of 1812
“Who will win if one side has 582 regular men and 1600 militia men while the other has 50 regulars, 250 volunteers, and 200 natives?”
If the latter is commanded by Major General Isaac Brock, think no further. He, along with Tecumseh, was responsible for one of the biggest bluffs in the history of war. They both were sent on to a mission to capture Fort Detroit of America. The statistics of army was alarming. They had a disadvantage in the numbers. When physical ability didn’t help, they put their minds to work. They sent a hoax letter stating they have around 5000 of Native Americans and they don’t need more. He made sure the letter was caught by American army. American General Hull was scared of savage Indians and native people. When he heard the screaming voices of Brock`s army, he fell into the trap. He believed the bluff and surrendered without a fight!
9. Tube Alloys
Make a code-name for secret operation boring and no one would suspect. UK government decided to name its secret nuclear program “tube alloys”. Even the high post officials mentioned it as tube alloys. No one knew about it as every spy believed it to be a project of zero significance as alloys! Later, UK collaborated with US government and they merged their secret nuclear research project. Manhattan project was the clandestine project of US government. The research was used in the Nagasaki bombings which killed 75000 people (stated in the official records).
World War II was filled with deceptions, lies and bluffs. One such bluff was operation Mincemeat by Charles Cholmondeley and Ewen Montagu. The British Generals threw a corpse disguised as a spy into enemy territory. It had fake documents stating that Britain plans to invade Greece and Sardinia. Nazis fell for it and sent its army there to defend. Britain instead attacked Sicily and captured it!
You don’t get listed as the world’s Richest Men by playing safe with no bluffs or lies. In November 1980, IBM was looking for software which could run in their Personal computers (PCs). Bill Gates went straight to them and offered to give them the software. He was so confident that IBM believed every word he said. The reality was that Bill Gates and his team had no software. He just knew of a developer who had the concerned software. He bought it from him for a meager sum of $50,000. He went to IBM with the software and made a deal that for every PC sold; Bill Gates would receive an amount of licensing fee. He had foreseen that in future, companies would start cloning IBM PC`s and then he could sell the software to them too. IBM was desperate for the software so they made a deal. Rest is history!
6.Sick or not? False Typhoid Epidemic
This is a story of a small village in Poland. During WWII , when Nazis were shedding the blood of many innocent people, two doctors risked their lives to save people. Nazis were afraid of the massive typhoid outbreak that was spreading in many parts of the country. Two doctors- Dr. Eugene Lazowski and Stanislaw Matulewicz, created fake positive tests for typhoid. They injected the villagers with a vaccine of dead bacteria. Nazi soldiers became scared of catching it. A team of doctors was dispatched from Germany to verify the typhoid rumors. Since everyone was skeptical, in a hurry to get out of the infected area the doctors did a simple blood test. The villagers tested positive for typhoid. The army was called back immediately. Thus, the bluff of two kind hearted doctors saved the lives of many innocent people.
5.Siege of Vienna by Napoleon Bonaparte
“History is a set of lies agreed upon”
The French army came face to face with Austrians in Vienna. Only thing that lay between them was a bridge on the east bank of Danube. The defense plan of Austrians was to blow up the bridge as soon as any French man steps on it. Napoleon was not the one to be easily discouraged. He ordered two of his men-Lannes and Murat to casually walk towards the bridge and start chatting with the guards. They made the guards believe that an armistice had been signed and war was over. The Austrian army fell for the bluff and Napoleon captured the bridge casually without any casualty!
4.Wrath of God: Eclipse of 1504
During the world voyage, Columbus and his men found themselves stranded on Jamaica for months. Initially the natives were very hospitable- they welcomed them with food and shelter. But as their stay extended the natives became tired of sharing. Columbus and his men became restless. He came up with a story that Gods are angry with the behavior of natives and his wrath will be seen in the form of red moon. As per the almanac, the eclipse came and natives became afraid. They again started supplying Columbus with food until help arrived from Hispaniolaon June 29, 1504. Columbus and his men returned to Spain on November 7.
Codes were the lifeline during World War. Thousands of messages were encrypted and decrypted daily by both the allies and axis countries. The problem was it took so much time to decrypt a message that by then harm was already done. A group of young scientists with the help of British Intelligence made a machine that broke all the codes sent out by the Axis countries. The system was called Ultra. The bluff was that British Intelligence kept Ultra a secret. They kept on pretending that they didn’t know how to crack the codes. They defended themselves from a future attack only if they had a backup story prepared. For a long period of time, the Axis countries believed that Enigma, their coding machine was still safe. Thousands of lies were told to cover up the Ultra, collateral damage was high. Sometimes the government let few attacks happen in order to keep Ultra a secret. In order to save many, a few must die!
2.Decoy for world’s biggest diamond
Cullinan diamond, the biggest diamond was discovered in 1905 in South Africa. Transporting it to England posed many problems as it had high risks of being stolen. Instead of sending it with maximum security the diamond was sent to Britain via normal courier. To fool the thieves, another steamboat with a safe was sent with a fake diamond in it. The real diamond reached its destination safely sans a scratch.
The credit of making artists, painters, actors a part of military operation goes to United States Military. Ghost army was a special cell of US army whose motive was to pretend as soldiers. They had fake armaments, inflatable tanks, fake costumes and even dummy men. Their main motive was to trick the Nazi spies into thinking that US army is stronger in men as well as military equipment. Nazi spies then reported information about an army that never existed! They even had large speakers that kept shouting false orders like “command”, “Sergeant Report!” Ghost army saved lives of thousands of Americans by making Germany retreat. The men who participated in the mission weren’t allowed to disclose any information. This bluff paid off hugely.