Cannibal Island: The Real Battle Royale

Possibly the most gruesome of human taboos,
the act of cannibalism has never been socially acceptable in most places. That’s not to say humans haven’t eaten
each other at times. Archaic humans, such as Neanderthals, were
said to feast on each other as well as other animals. Meat was meat to that wandering animal. Throughout history tribes from the Congo to
the Amazon Basin to the South Pacific islands have also practiced cannibalism. Stranded humans have resorted to flesh breakfasts,
such as the Donner Party and the Uruguayan rugby players that got stuck on a mountain. That was a matter of survival and eating cutlets
of human thigh was a moral dilemma, unlike it may have been for certain serial killers. Today we’ll tell you a truly shocking tale
of cannibalism though, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Cannibal Island – The
Real Battle Royale. This island, called in a French documentary
“L’île aux Cannibales”, was indeed for a while home to a kind of Hunger Games environment. Call it what you want, but this was an historical,
non-fictional Battle Royale, and as some historians have said, a blight on humanity, testament
to how bloody cruel we can be at times In 1933 The Soviets decided to deport around
6,000 people to a remote island in Siberia. That was Nazino Island, a place where criminals
and political prisoners were not going to escape from. Under the paranoiac leader Joseph Stalin,
these folks were shipped off and abandoned with nothing much more than the clothes on
their back, a few tools and flour. Those that refused to make the move were shot. While millions of people that Stalin saw as
a threat to the Communist Party or who had committed crimes were sent to many parts of
Siberia, the thousands sent to this wild island were perhaps his most unfortunate victims. Not only were they only given a few kilos
of flour each, but they weren’t even given cooking utensils or other food stuffs. Guards went along, too, and it was thought
the prisoners would be able to somehow survive. But imagine being dropped off on a tiny island
no longer than 2 miles long and 1,800 feet across, with thousands of other desperate
people. The island wasn’t home to many animals or
much edible vegetation. What would you do? You might well fight for the flour that you’d
been given. It’s said the prisoners quickly ran out
of flour, and when the authorities sent over another batch the people were so hungry they
fought tooth and nail to get to it, during which time many prisoners were just shot dead. It’s also said the guards on the island
would keep the flour for themselves, and if you wanted some, you had to pay in some way. You can only imagine what favors were demanded
by these abusers of power. But even if you had flour you had nothing
you could do with it except mix it with river water. That’s what many people did, and soon prisoners
fell gravely ill with dysentery. Things went from bad to worse. With many prisoners left to die, they formed
gangs on the island, with a plan to take what they could from others. It was anarchy; it was hell, the nadir of
human depravity. We should add there that some doctors were
sent to the island when things got really bad, but it’s said that even they feared
for their lives. Power ruled, and the guards it is said established
a reign of terror. They killed you if you tried to escape and
they might kill you if you were caught stealing. Some people on the island did have some valuables
on them, such as their rings, their gold teeth, and some money. They could use this to bargain with, but it’s
said much of the time if you had something of value you got killed for it. Murder became commonplace as hungry men (there
were far fewer women) battled to survive. But murder was not the final act, the consumption
of the corpse was in some cases. Human meat was better than starving to death,
and in terms of nutrition a lot better than dirty water mixed with flour. One of the few survivors of Death Island later
talked about one thing he witnessed. He said one day a young guard called Kostia
had left a girl he had been staying with, just for a short time as he had to go somewhere. This is what happened to her according to
that witness: “People caught the girl, tied her to a poplar
tree, cut off her breasts, her muscles, everything they could eat, everything, everything…. They were hungry, they had to eat. When Kostia came back, she was still alive. He tried to save her, but she had lost too
much blood.” You must understand this all happened in a
very short period of time. Most of the prisoners were dropped off on
May 18th. Another 1,200 arrived on May 27th. Within a couple of weeks 70 people had died. Five of them had been someone’s breakfast,
lunch or dinner. You might be thinking that people can survive
longer without food, but there is no doubt they were already malnourished. 27 people didn’t even survive the trip to
the island from the nearest city of Tomsk. Within a month 50 people were arrested by
the guards for acts of cannibalism. Out of the 6,700 people that were sent there,
only 2,200 survived that one summer on the island. Of them, only 300 were in any fit state to
work as their experience had taken such a toll on them. One woman, Feofila Bylina, many years recounted
a Death Island story. She had lived close to the island during the
chaos. “Once a woman from the Island of Death was
brought to our house,” she said. The woman was being sent to another camp after
surviving Cannibal Island. She didn’t exactly get off the island in
one piece, as Bylina remembered. “The woman was taken into the back room
to spend the night and I saw that her calves had been cut off.” Shocked, she asked what had happened. The prisoner replied, “They did that to
me on the Island of Death – cut them off and cooked them.” You can actually find documents in the Tomsk
museum, transcriptions of interrogations of prisoners at the GULAGS. One prisoner was asked if he ever ate human
meat while on the Island. “No,” he replied. “That is not true. I only ate the hearts and livers.” The same man told his interrogators that in
some cases killing people already half dead from starvation was better than leaving them
to suffer. “I picked those who were not quite living,
but not yet quite dead,” he said, adding that once they were finished off they were
cut up and pieces of them were cooked over an open fire; speared kidneys like human marshmallows,
tickled by the tips of raging flames. Imagine doing that and peering over the fire
at your friend, himself cooking part of a dead person’s organ. We know about what happened there only because
one man called Vasily Velichko, a Communist himself, decided it had to be investigated. He started his investigation shortly after
the last people had been taken off the island, but his report was kept “Top Secret” until
it was released in 1994. For his efforts, which embarrassed the Communist
government at the time, Velichko was excommunicated from the Communist Party. He went on to write books and was a correspondent
during World War Two. The tragedy has not been forgotten by some
Russian people, and each year a group of people lay a wreath on the island to commemorate
that Summer of Blood. Even today people in Russia will refer to
the place as Death Island, or “Ostrov Smerti” in Russian How would you feel about eating a dead person? Would you have killed to survive had you been
there? What would you have done? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS A NUCLEAR EXPLOSION?!! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!


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