Whether you see it as justice, payback, or a dish best served cold, revenge has been around as long as people. Since the time of Greek tragedies humans have found it profoundly satisfying to hear about someone getting what they deserve. But certain tales of revenge rise above the rest.
Either due to the protagonist’s level of calculation, ability to wait out the years, or just plain old gumption, these stories are some of history’s most incredible instances of people serving justice in their own twisted court of law. A fair warning — it’s well known revenge doesn’t come without consequence.
1. Mariya Oktyabrskaya: When her husband was killed by Nazis in WWII, she crafted a revenge plot worthy of the movies. She sold all her belongings and bought an army tank, which she named “Fighting Girlfriend.” She trained for months with Joseph Stalin’s approval.
The day finally arrived when she plowed through the frontlines and exacted her revenge on as many Nazis as possible. “I’ve had my baptism by fire. I beat the bastards,” she exclaimed. She died in combat a month later, but she had achieved her ultimate vengeance.
2. Hugh Glass: His story was recently portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2015 movie The Revenant. Like the film, Glass was left to die in the wilderness by his comrades after injuries sustained from fighting a bear. And winning.
With broken limbs and deadly wounds teeming with bacteria, he made the treacherous journey back to his fellow soldiers. When he arrived, he confronted his former friend Fitzgerald. Unable to kill a fellow soldier, he vowed that if Fitzgerald ever retired, he’d die.
3. Buford Pusser: As a sheriff that cracked down on mafia activity, Pusser paid the ultimate price when an attempt on his life killed his beloved wife. He didn’t trust due process, so he took matters into his own hands.
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Suddenly, the people Pusser named as the assassins started dropping like flies. There was no evidence to connect Pusser to their murders, so he was never tried. But, it’s safe to assume he got his revenge via vigilante justice.
4. Marvin Heemeyer: As a small business owner in a Colorado town, Heemeyer sold some land next to his shop. He was furious when a huge construction project popped up. This led to a nasty dispute between him and the city zoning committee.
Fueled by anger towards the local government, he started a secret project in his garage. He was building a bulletproof “killdozer.” He then bulldozed the homes and businesses of everyone related to his case before ending his own life.
5. The Killing of Akku Yadav: He was a villainous criminal and serial rapist in New Dehli, India. He evaded capture for years while his victim pool continued to grow. Until he was finally brought to court…
Once arrested, he mocked his victims and asserted he planned to escape. At that moment, the mob of women took things into their own hands. They attacked him causing police escorts to flee. Ten minutes later his dead body was crumpled on the floor.
6. Vigilantes of Nakam: Perhaps no one deserves revenge more than the millions of Jewish people who were persecuted during WWII. Nazis are a popular target for revenge. The Jewish militia group called Nakam orchestrated a large scale poisoning of former Nazis following the war.
They snuck glue and arsenic into the bread supplied to a POW camp intended for Nazi prisoners. The plan didn’t exactly go as they’d hoped, as 2,000 Nazis were hospitalized, but none were killed. It was an unintentionally merciful vengeance.
7. Queen Boudica: Once her husband died, Queen Boudica and her kingdom were attacked by the Romans. They seized her land, plundered her castle, and even raped her daughters. Little did they know what a mistake that would turn out to be.
The Queen quietly assembled an army of over 100,000 troupes and attacked the Roman capital in revenge for their crimes. The army tortured and killed more than 80,000 Romans before they were finally defeated. Her statue stands in the U.K. to this day.
8. Diana, the hunter: Recently, the rates of femicide (murdering women) have gone up in Mexico. Many of the reports are attributed to transit officers and bus drivers. Local women have been increasingly frustrated by the lack of action from the government.
A disguised woman named “Diana” began seeking revenge on some of the bus drivers involved in the 800 kidnappings and murders. She killed them in cold blood and sent this message to news outlets, “I am an instrument that will take revenge for women.”
9. Joaquin Murrieta: The story of this 17th-century folk hero is the narrative that inspired the movie Zorro. Murrieta was terrorized by white men for being Mexican. After witnessing the rape of his wife and seeing his brother murdered, he fought back.
Murrieta tracked down his brother’s killers one by one, delivering payback. Then, he began to steal from the nefarious men who marginalized the Mexican people in the area and distributed the wealth among the community. He was celebrated for his vigilante ways.
10. Udham Singh: The Jallainwala Bagh massacre saw the murder of 400 Indian people as they peacefully protested, as mobilized by Gandhi, against colonial rule in the early 1900s. Udham Singh was one of the few to escape the attack by British soldiers.
Michael O’Dwyer gave the orders to shoot that day, and Singh would not forget what he saw. Twenty years later, Singh assassinated O’Dwyer. He was hanged by the British but said only this, ” O’Dwyer crushed the spirit of my people, so I crushed him.”
11. Andre Bamberski: Most parents would go to great lengths to protect their families from harm’s way. André, a France-born family man whose picture-perfect life was upended out of nowhere, knew all about that.
Born in 1938 in Nazi-occupied France, André was captured by Germans and transported to Germany and then to Poland. Luckily, he lived to see the end of World War II, but his life didn’t necessarily get easier from there.
By the 1970s, André was working as an accountant and living with his wife, Danièle, and their two children in Casablanca, Morocco. There, his family met a German doctor named Dieter Krombach who would prove to be an unwelcome presence in André’s life…
Ever the enigma, Dieter had quite the bizarre backstory. His first wife had died at the young age of 24, and he eventually grew tired of his second marriage. Shortly after he met Daniéle, he seduced her—and the two began an affair.
By 1977, both Daniéle and Dieter had left their respective marriages and wed each other. To make matters worse, André wasn’t able to see his children, as they had moved to Landau, Germany, to live with Dieter and their mother. It was as if Dieter was trying to eradicate André from their lives.
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This carried on for several years. Then, in 1982, tragedy struck. André’s daughter, Kalinka, was 15 at the time and she attended a French-speaking boarding school. She spent the summers with her mother and stepfather.
Seemingly out of the blue, Kalinka was found dead in her bedroom. No one could understand what had caused this seemingly healthy young girl to pass away. Then, ever so slowly, details started to emerge…
On July 9, 1982, Dieter had injected Kalinka with a cobalt-iron preparation known as Kobalt-Ferrlecit, which he’d used on family and friends in the past. He claimed it could help treat the young teen’s anemia. That wasn’t all, however.
At a later date, he revealed that he’d also given her a sleeping pill. None of this seemed to make much sense to André, who was beside himself after hearing of his daughter’s death. Yet, it wasn’t long before André learned what Dieter was capable of…
André discovered the timeline of events, and something seemed off to him. He urged authorities to investigate further. After they finally complied, they uncovered evidence that confirmed some of his worst suspicions…
The authorities learned that not only had Dieter poisoned Kalinka, but that he’d also raped her numerous times. Not only that, but Daniéle had become so brainwashed by her new husband that she continued to stand by his side.
After Dieter was arrested by authorities, all André could do was hope that the German justice system would make him pay for what he’d done. Yet, Dieter was freed after courts found insufficient evidence that the death was intentional or negligent. For André, this was unacceptable.
Even after other victims came forward claiming to have been violated by Dieter—thus cementing his history as a sex offender—the German authorities decided not to extradite him to France for his alleged crimes.
This news devastated André. Not only had he lost his family and then his daughter, but the man responsible for it was set to walk free. From that moment on, he was determined to do whatever was necessary to have his revenge.
After the German justice system failed him, André decided that, if he wanted Dieter to pay for what he’d done to his daughter, he’d have to take matters into his own hands… even if it took him decades to do so.
Years later, André arrived in Germany. He was looking for his daughter’s killer, but he discovered Dieter had totally disappeared. No one knew where he was. Soon, it became clear that Dieter had gone into hiding.
By that point, it had been nearly 20 years since Dieter had murdered Kalinka, but André refused to give up. In 2009, with the statute of limitations just three years away, he knew he had to do something drastic. So, he devised a slightly crazy plan.
André gathered his life savings—some $30,000—and hired a group of men to find and kidnap Dieter and bring him back to France. They manages to capture the evil doctor and deliver him, but it wasn’t all good news for André.
André was arrested in connection to Dieter’s kidnapping; despite the circumstances, kidnapping was still a crime. He was convicted and served a one-year suspended jail sentence. At the same time, the hired men dumped Dieter on the steps of the courthouse, handcuffed to a railing, in Mulhouse, France.
Though it had taken 28 years, Dieter was finally found guilty of Kalinka’s murder, as well as for drugging and raping his other women, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Finally, André had justice for his daughter. Do you think it was all worth it?