Pictures capture a moment in time before and after which a lot could have happened, and it’s all left to our imagination. They are kind of mysterious and creepy, especially when they are associated with something that defies the imagination we have in our normal everyday lives. It could be the extreme madness of one person, an atrocity committed by many, the unbearable suffering of others or the unbelievable bad luck of someone, and all of which captured in one single picture. These are the creepy pictures that would haunt you through your fears or your conscience with their disturbing backstories.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT, NSFW
1. A Congolese man stares at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter because he didn’t meet his daily rubber quota. She and her mother were killed and then cannibalized.
King Leopold II of Belgium had founded the Congo Free State and had ruled the Congo as a privately owned corporate state for 23 years, between 1885 and 1908. During his reign, the state became a source of great international scandals owing to the violation of human rights through forced labor. The militiamen of ABIR (Anglo-Belgian India Rubber) Company, which exploited natural rubber resources in the Congo Free State, imposed severe punishments on those who did not meet their daily rubber quota. They were required to provide the severed hands of anyone they killed or they could be accused of using ammunition, which was imported from Europe at high costs. The photograph taken by Alice Seeley Harris shows a man named Nsala whose daughter’s hand and foot were cut off, after which she was killed along with her mother. (source)
2. Picture of a shell-shocked soldier in a trench who looks like he was driven to madness after seeing the death and destruction during the WWI in 1916.
The photograph was taken during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette during the Somme Offensive in September 1916. The invention of modern weapons gave little chance to the soldiers to actually fight and have honor or a sense of fairness in death. The shell-shocked soldiers often experienced fatigue, tremors, nightmares, confusion or inability to reason, impaired sight and hearing, hysterical paralysis, and a dazed look. Back then shell shock and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) were not something tolerable and John Vereker, a British soldier mostly referred as Lord Gort, even proclaimed in his testimony to the Royal Commission examining the problem that prolonged shell shock was a sign of weakness and not found in good units. (source)
3. A Japanese boy carries his younger brother on the back, waiting for his brother’s turn at a funeral pyre and trying hard not to cry in September 1945, after the end of WWII.
The photograph was taken as part of an effort to document the aftermath of the air raids and atomic bombs during Second World War in Japan. According to Joe O’Donnell, the photographer, when the boy’s turn came, men in white masks came, quietly took his dead brother’s body, and placed it on fire. Biting his lower lip, he was trying hard not to burst out crying, and silently turned and walked away when the cremation was done. (source)
4. A burnt and injured baby cries among the debris of Shanghai South Railway Station after a Japanese air strike in 1937.
The Battle of Shanghai was a part of the Second Sino-Japanese War during which the Japanese military forces advanced and attacked Shanghai. The photograph named “Bloody Saturday” was taken on August 28, 1937, when the Japanese dropped bombs on Shanghai South Railway Station. According to H. S. Wong, the photographer, around 1,800 people, mostly women and children, were waiting at the station, who the Japanese had likely mistaken for a troop. The crying baby was one among many other injured or dead children. (source)
5. An unknown child’s burial after Bhopal gas tragedy, an explosion at the Union Carbide that released toxic gas killing over 2000 immediately in December 1984.
The explosion occurred on the night of December 2-3, 1984, at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant releasing methyl isocyanate and other chemicals into the air. Over 500,000 people were exposed to the toxic gas, killing a total of 3,787 among which 2,259 were immediate. The two photographers, Pablo Bartholomew and Raghu Rai, who went to document the aftermath of the tragedy came across a burying ceremony where a man was burying a child. As they did not ask the man’s identity and no one claimed to be the child’s relative, her identity remains unknown. (1, 2)