Friday, March 31, 2023

What Actually Defines an ‘Assault Rifle’ and Who Invented Them?

In June 2021, Southern District of California Judge Roger Benitez made headlines when he struck down the state’s 30-year ban on assault weapons, concluding that:

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

Benitez’s landmark decision was but one episode in the long-running political debate over gun rights and gun control in the United States, much of which has centred on the class of firearms known as assault rifles and in particular the popular AR-15 family. To gun-control advocates, rifles like the AR-15 are deadly weapons of war unsuited to civilian use and the favoured tools of criminals and mass shooters; while to gun rights activists they are merely highly adaptable, reliable tools, no different from any other sporting firearm. But what is the truth of the matter? What is an “assault rifle”, how did it get its name, and how does this class of firearm differ from all others. The answer may surprise you.

What we now call assault rifles can trace their origins back to the Second World War. While that conflict is remembered for introducing advanced technologies like radar, jet aircraft, and nuclear weapons, the average infantryman went into WWII armed essentially the same weapon his parents had used in the last war: a bolt-action, manually-repeating rifle firing a full-power cartridge. The only major exception was the United States, which in 1936 became the first nation to issue a semi-automatic rifle – the M1 Garand – as its standard infantry weapon. But while such weapons were well-suited to shooting across no-man’s-land during the Great War or the South African Veldt during the Boer War, in the increasingly urban, close-quarters combat troops increasingly found themselves engaged in, bolt-action rifles quickly became something of a liability. Not only were they slow and awkward to operate – severely limiting the volume of fire that could be laid down – but the full-power cartridges they fired, great for precision shots over long distances, were grossly overpowered, with Army reports indicating that few combat engagements occurred at ranges over 300 metres. Such cartridges also made fully-automatic weapons all but uncontrollable when fired from the shoulder.

Thankfully, most armies had another class of weapon at their arsenal: the submachine gun. Developed at the end of the Great War for raiding and clearing trenches, submachine guns fired lower-recoil pistol-calibre ammunition and could deliver a murderous volume of fire at close quarters, making them ideal for urban combat. This advantage was exploited to great effect by the Soviet Red Army, who equipped entire infantry companies with PPsH-41 and 43 submachine guns for house-to-house fighting in cities like Stalingrad. But submachine guns were not a perfect solution, being inaccurate at ranges beyond a few dozen metres. Both the Soviets and the Germans quickly realized that this new kind of combat required a new kind of weapon, one which combined the volume of fire and full-auto controllability of a submachine gun with the accuracy of a rifle – at least over moderate ranges.

Interestingly, both nations approached the same problem from opposite ends. Unlike most armies, the tactical structure of the German Wehrmacht was organized not around the rifleman, but rather the machine gun squad, with rifle-carrying infantry playing a supporting role. This is a major reason army planners chose to retain the Great War-era Mauser 1898-pattern bolt-action rifle rather than adopt a more modern semi-automatic infantry weapon. But while this arrangement worked well during the Blitzkrieg campaigns of 1939, 1940, and 1941, it proved less effective in 1943 as the Wehrmacht found itself in full-on retreat following the disaster at Stalingrad. Though the German MG 34 and MG 42 machine guns could lay down an impressive volume of fire, they required extensive setup before they could be brought to bear – something that was difficult to do while retreating. German industry thus set about designing a more compact, man-portable machine gun that could be more easily used on the retreat.

Fortuitously, the basic elements for such a weapon were already in development. In 1938, the Polte Ammunition Works in Magdeburg designed a new kind of ammunition, designated the 7.92x33mm Kurz or “short.” This was essentially a cut-down version of the standard full-power 7.92x 57mm Mauser cartridge used in German bolt-action rifles and machine guns, with a shorter case and lighter bullet. This provided a balance between recoil and accuracy, allowing an infantryman to lay down controllable automatic fire from the shoulder while still being able to accurately hit targets out to 300 metres. In 1940 the German government issued contracts to firms Haenel and Walther to produce prototypes of a rifle to fire the new Kurz cartridge, to be designated the Maschinenkarabiner or “Machine Carbine” 42. Both companies produced similar weapons, which looked unlike anything that had come before. Both were gas-operated, built of lightweight and inexpensive welded steel stampings, and featured an inline shoulder stock, low-slung barrel to reduce muzzle climb, and a long, curved 30-round detachable box magazine. Both companies’ prototypes were extensively tested at the Kummersdorf proving grounds in December 1940, and the results were…less than impressive, with the weapons suffering a large number of jams, burst barrels and other failures. Undaunted, Walther and Haenel continued to refine their designs, and in April 1942 the Haenel weapon was judged reliable enough for combat trials, first seeing service on the Eastern Front, south of Leningrad.

The reaction of the first troops to use the new weapon was overwhelmingly positive, and they requested that more MKb 42s be sent to the front immediately. Unfortunately, the entire program suddenly fell victim to that greatest of enemies to the German war effort: Adolf Hitler, who ordered all new rifle development programs suspended. The reason for this decision is hotly debated among historians, with some arguing that Hitler, having been a soldier in the Great War himself, was suspicious of new technology and believed that the standard KAR98K bolt-action rifle was perfectly adequate for the German infantryman’s needs. Others, however, claim that his decision was a far more pragmatic one. German forces had lost vast quantities of rifles and other weapons during the retreat from Stalingrad, greatly straining the capacity of German industry to replace them. Introducing a new pattern of rifle, which required brand-new tooling and manufacturing facilities, would only make the situation worse and result in too few new rifles being produced to have any significant impact on the war effort. Hitler thus limited research and development efforts to upgraded models of submachine guns.

Believing they had a winning weapon on their hands, Haenel made the bold decision to go behind the Führer’s  back and continue development of the Mkb 42 under the designation Maschinenpistole or “Machine Pistol” 43. In order to address the issue of manufacturing capacity, Haenel attempted to develop the MP 43 into a complete replacement for the KAR98K, fitting it with a grenade launching attachment, mounts for telescopic sights, and a bayonet lug. Unfortunately, the rifle proved fundamentally unsuited to sniping, bayonet fighting, or grenade launching, and it was reluctantly decided that the MP43 could only ever supplement the KAR98K, not replace it. In March 1943, Hitler discovered Haenel’s deception and ordered the project shut down once again. However, he was eventually persuaded to allow development to continue on an evaluation basis only. But the results of early trials proved so promising that Hitler approved the weapon for mass-production, the first examples entering combat in October 1943. Once again the reaction from front-line soldiers was overwhelmingly positive- so much so that when Hitler asked his Eastern Front generals in July 1944 what they most needed, one general immediately exclaimed “more of those new rifles!” Hitler soon warmed to the MP 43 concept, and recognizing the propaganda value of this new weapon, requested that it be given a new name: Sturmgewehr, or “Assault Rifle.” Nearly 426,000 StG 44 rifles were produced by the end of the war, and while they proved extremely effective in combat, by the time they entered service the war for Germany was already lost, and the new weapon had little to no impact on the final outcome of the conflict. However, the basic concept of a select-fire rifle firing an intermediate cartridge – as well as the name “assault rifle” – was to have major impact on the future of firearms design.

Meanwhile, a similar development was taking place in the Soviet Union. Recognizing, as the Germans had, the need for a cartridge halfway between a pistol and rifle in power, in 1943 the Soviet OKB-44 design bureau developed the intermediate 7.62x39mm cartridge for use in a planned family of new infantry weapons, including a semi-automatic rifle, an automatic rifle, and a light machine gun. The cartridge, along with the semi-automatic SKS rifle designed by Sergei Simonov, first entered combat in limited numbers in 1945 during the final battles against Nazi Germany. The round performed well, and in 1949 the SKS was officially adopted as the Red Army’s standard rifle, alongside the RPD light machine gun firing the same round. However, the SKS would prove extremely short-lived in front-line service, thanks to the development of a weapon that would go on to become legendary.

In October 1941, tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov was recovering in hospital from shoulder wounds received during the Battle of Bryansk. With plenty of time on his hands, Kalashnikov decided to solve what he saw as a major deficiency in Soviet armaments and designed a new type of submachine gun for the Red Army:

“I was in the hospital, and a soldier in the bed beside me asked: ‘Why do our soldiers have only one rifle for two or three of our men, when the Germans have automatics?’ So I designed one. I was a soldier, and I created a machine gun for a soldier.”

While Kalashnikov’s submachine gun was not accepted into service, his talent as a designer was recognized and he was reassigned to the Red Army’s Central Scientific Development Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate. In 1944 Kalashnikov became aware of the 7.62x39mm intermediate cartridge and redesigned his submachine gun to accommodate it. The resulting weapon looked very similar to the German StG 44, with an inline stock, low-slung barrel, and curved 30-round magazine. Whether Kalashnikov was directly influenced by the German weapon is debatable, with most historians attributing the similarities to a case of convergent design – that is, of two designers coming up with similar solutions to the same problem. Indeed, the operating mechanism of the two rifles is quite different, the StG 44 using a tipping bolt and the Kalashnikov a rotating bolt. However, it is worth noting while the Germans were trying to create a machine gun that could be used at shorter ranges, Kalashnikov was trying to create a submachine gun that could be used at longer ranges.

In 1946 Kalashnikov entered his design into a competition for a new infantry automatic rifle, which it eventually won. In 1947, the weapon was approved for service under the designation Avtomat Kalashnikova – or “Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle” – 1947, better known as the AK-47. Trials of the new rifle began in 1948, and in 1949 the AK-47 was adopted as the Red Army’s standard rifle, replacing the SKS after barely a year in service. The AK family of rifles would go on to become the most successful and widely-produced firearms in history, renowned for their ruggedness, reliability, and ease of use. Millions were exported around the world by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist states, and can be found in war zones worldwide to this day. It is important to note here that while the weapon is popularly referred to as the “AK-47,” this designation technically applies to the first three patterns of the rifle. While the first AK-47 featured stamped steel construction like the StG 44, this proved unreliable and was quickly replaced by machined steel construction for the Type 2 in 1951 and Type 3 in 1954. Then, in 1959, Soviet manufacturers finally perfected the stamped-steel technology and introduced the Modernized AK or AKM. This is the AK most commonly encountered around the world, the original “AK-47” patterns being extremely rare.

Yet despite the success of the StG 44 and the AK, it took several decades for the assault rifle concept to catch on in the West. American infantry doctrine had long emphasized individual marksmanship and firing accurate aimed shots over long distances over suppressing fire, and despite the lessons of urban close-combat combat during WWII, the United States was reluctant to adopt an intermediate cartridge. In 1954 the U.S. pressured the newly-formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO into adopting the full-power 7.62×51 or .308 calibre cartridge as its infantry standard. This decision forced many NATO countries to abandon advanced assault rifle projects and adopt so-called “battle rifles” firing full-power cartridges, such as the Belgian FN-FAL, German G3, and American M14, which was essentially an M1 Garand with a detachable box magazine and select-fire capability. Unfortunately, these rifles proved less than ideal, the full-power .308 cartridge making them nigh-uncontrollable in full-automatic fire. This led many countries like the UK to delete the full-automatic capability from their battle rifles altogether.

The deficiencies of the battle rifle concept became glaringly obvious as the United States entered the Vietnam War, where the bulky, wood-stocked M14 proved prone to snagging in heavy brush and warping in the tropical humidity. By contrast, the Chinese-supplied SKSs and AKs used by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army proved ideally suited to jungle warfare, being light, compact, reliable, and capable of controlled automatic fire. It quickly became clear to U.S. Commanders that an American answer to the AK was desperately needed. Thankfully, just such a weapon was already in development.

In 1954, Richard Boutelle, president of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, created the ArmaLite division to explore the use of aluminium and other aerospace materials in firearms design. The division’s first success came that same year when it designed the lightweight folding AR-5 and AR-7 survival rifles for use by U.S. aircrew shot down behind enemy lines. In 1957, ArmaLite was invited to enter the competition for a new U.S. Forces rifle to replace the WWII-era M1 Garand, and to this end designer Eugene Stoner produced the AR-10, a lightweight aluminium-bodied rifle firing the 7.62x51mm NATO round. While the AR-10 would ultimately lose out to the M14, that same year General Willard G. Wyman, commander of the U.S. Army Continental Command, put out a request for a lightweight automatic rifle to fire the newly-developed 5.56x45mm or .223 calibre intermediate cartridge. Stoner scaled down the AR-10 design to create a new rifle called the AR-15, which after extensive trials and conversion to fully-automatic capability was adopted into U.S. service in 1964 as the M16. While the lightweight, space-age weapon was initially disparaged by troops as the “Mattel Rifle”, the M16 quickly proved its worth in the jungles of Vietnam, and Eugene Stoner’s AR system has formed the basis for all standard U.S. military service rifles  to the present day. The rifle also set the trend for modern assault rifles, the 5.56x45mm cartridge being flatter-shooting and more lightweight than the Russian 7.62×54, the latter feature allowing an infantryman to carry more ammunition. As a result, in 1974 the Soviet Union replaced the AKM with the AK74 firing the  broadly similar 5.45x39mm cartridge. And in 1980 NATO adopted 5.56x45mm as its infantry standard, replacing the full-power 7.62×51.

All this brings us back to our original question: just what is an assault rifle? According to the standard U.S. Army definition, to be classified as an assault rifle a firearm must have three basic characteristics embodied in the original StG 44 and AK-47: 1) it must fire an intermediate cartridge with an effective range of at least 300 metres; 2) it must have select-fire capability – that is, the ability to fire in fully-automatic mode; and 3) it must have a high-capacity detachable box magazine. By this definition, most civilian versions of the widely demonized AR-15 are not, in fact assault rifles, for while these rifles are designed to fire an intermediate cartridge and can be fitted with large capacity magazines, the AR-15 is, by definition, a semi-automatic firearm. Furthermore, “AR” does not stand for “Assault Rifle,” as is widely believed, but rather “Armalite Rifle.” Similarly, any firearm lacking one or more of the above characteristics cannot be classified as an assault rifle. For example, the original M14 has a detachable high capacity magazine and select-fire capability, but fires a full-power rifle cartridge; while the SKS, despite firing an intermediate cartridge, has only a 10-round fixed magazine and no select-fire capability.

Nor should “Assault Rifles” be confused with “Assault Weapons,” the latter being neither a technical or military term but rather a political one. The term derives from the U.S. Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which defined “Assault Weapons” as those which possess one or more of the following features, among others:

  • A pistol grip or thumbhole stock
  • A folding or telescoping stock
  • A grenade or flare launcher
  • A forward handgrip
  • A threaded barrel
  • A muzzle device such as a muzzle brake, flash hider, or suppressor
  • A bayonet mount
  • A barrel shroud that prevents burns to the operator
  • A manufactured unloaded weight of over 50 ounces (1.41 kg) for pistols

As you may have noticed, few of these features in any way affect the actual mechanical operation or deadliness of a firearm, and instead merely serve to make it look “tactical” or “scary” compared to more traditional firearms used for hunting and other sporting purposes. Unsurprisingly, this purely cosmetic definition has lead to a variety of nonsensical contradictions in the application of gun-control laws. For example, the Ruger Mini-14, a scaled-down version of the M14 chambered for the 5.56x45mm cartridge, has rarely been targeted by assault weapons bans despite firing the same cartridge and having roughly the same capabilities as the AR-15. The only major difference between the AR-15 and the Mini-14 is that the latter is typically sold with a traditional wooden stock, making it look less intimidating.

None of this, of course, has any bearing on who should be able to own which firearms and why, and it is hardly the business of this channel to wade into the highly contentious gun control debate. But as with any fraught political topic, it is always best to approach the conversation from a position of knowledge rather than ignorance. For as a paragon of quality 1980s children’s television once said: knowing is half the battle.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References


Erenfeicht, Leszek, Sturmgewehr: Hitler’s Only True Wunderwaffe, Small Arms Defense Journal, September 30, 2013,


Williams, Anthony, Assault Rifles and Their Ammunition: History and Prospects, June 22, 2008,


Bocetta, Sam, The Complete History of the AR-15 Rifle, Small Wars Journal, December 7, 2017,


Hogg, Ian, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ammunition, Chartwell Books, NJ, 1985


Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,


McCollum, Ian, Kalashnikov vs Sturmgewehr, Forgotten Weapons, September 17, 2016,

The post What Actually Defines an ‘Assault Rifle’ and Who Invented Them? appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - March 31, 2023 at 06:18PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Truth About the Story of the Real Life Vigilante Serial Killer

The line between serial killer and, say, a prolific executioner such as 17th century German executioner, Frantz Schmidt, who killed 394 people and disfigured and otherwise tortured about the same number elsewise (more on him in the Bonus Facts at the end of this video), is that one murdered and mutilated people deemed by local society to have deserved it, and the other did basically the same because they wanted to for whatever reason. Overlapping these two ends of the murderous spectrum in a ven diagram of awful is a man who, today, is celebrated by many for his actions, and currently walks the streets as a free man despite having murdered a confirmed 71 people. Here now is the story of Pedro Rodrigues Filho, aka Pedrinho Matador or Killer Petey.

While it’s often stated that Pedro only killed rapist and murderers and the like who he deemed deserved it, this isn’t exactly accurate, and the real story of the man is, in some ways, a bit more similar to many serial killers than some like to illustrate, though given he spent most of his life with nothing but criminals around did have a high density of criminal kills, and does have a bit of a redeeming arch at the end.

For starters, the first person Pedro tried to murder at the tender age of 13 in 1967 was, according to him, an older cousin he doesn’t give the name of. What did this cousin do? Apparently insulted Pedro’s mother in front of him in some way. If the prevalence of Yo Mama jokes the world over are to be accounted for, let’s just say we should all be glad Pedro wasn’t our youthful buddy. As to his method of attempted murder here, he states he pushed his cousin into a sugar cane press, which for a visual here usually consists of some rollers that pull in the cane and, well, squish it. Fortunately for his cousin, Pedro states, “I pushed him thinking his whole body would go through, but just his arm went through,” before the machine jammed up allegedly.

Pedro’s first actual murder likewise wasn’t exactly someone killing for any sort of vigilante justice, but rather murdering two people simply because he was upset his father got fired from his job as a security guard. Note to self, do not besmirch Pedro Filho’s parents in any way… Although Pedro’s father frequently beat the crap out of his mother without reprisal from Pedro up to this point so… hmmmm…

In this first instance of removing someone from our universe because he felt they deserved it, the Deputy Mayor of Alfenas fired Pedro’s father for allegedly stealing supplies from a high school kitchen, in Pedro’s view without any evidence. Whether his father actually did this or not isn’t really clear, with the then 14 year old Pedro becoming convinced a different security guard was responsible for the actual thefts.

Whatever the truth here, Pedro took it upon himself to take a shotgun that belonged to his grandfather, then directed the weapon at said Deputy Mayor until dead from the unfortunate holes in his body that resulted… For good measure, he also killed the other security guard with said weapon, because, why not? Justice!

Naturally sticking around after these murders wasn’t going to be a good idea, so Pedro absconded to the Mogi das Cruzes region of Sao Paulo, where he embraced a life of crime and murder for fun and profit, which is what he got up to for the next 5 years.

While little is generally said of the murders during this time that don’t fit the narrative of killing for vigilante justice, the ones people do like to focus on are those which followed a local gang murdering his pregnant girlfriend, Maria Aparecida Olympia, aka Botinha.

Of course, she was only killed in retribution for Pedro’s own brutal actions against the gang including allegedly a few murders, but nonetheless, his woman was dead and this is where Pedro decided to combine his self proclaimed love of murdering people (which by the way he has “I love to kill” tattooed on his body), with murdering only people he felt deserved it for what they’ve done… save, you know, all the other murders after nobody seems to want to mention such as the time he murdered someone who got his cousin pregnant but refused to marry her, and some guy because he snored too loud and it was annyong Pedro… But whatever, narrative! Or, I mean, have you ever slept next to someone who snored extremely loudly chronically? I guess we’ll give you a pass on this one Pedro…

But as for the gang who murdered his lady love in retribution for his own violent actions against them, Pedro got together a small group of his own gang of friends, showed up at a wedding some members of the rival gang were at, and killed the rival gang’s leader and six others. Also at the wedding 16 other people were severely injured, but managed to survive the ordeal. While it’s commonly reported, no doubt as it fits the narrative people put forth about Pedro, that the only people killed or injured at the wedding were the rival gang members, this strains credibility given Pedro’s little group opened fire on the large group of closely packed wedding guests… unless we are to assume only rival gang members and no family or the like were attending the wedding and that Pedro’s group were all among the world’s best sharp shooters.

On the plus side, I mean, everybody all dressed up for the wedding, if they wanted to, could just stick around for the funerals to kill two birds with one stone. Pedro was just considerate like that. A hero if anything…

All good things must come to an end, and in this case we’re discussing Pedro’s freedom, not the joyful murdering, and the 19 year old Pedro was ultimately arrested for his countless and often brutal crimes on Mary 24, 1973.

However, at one point being transported by the police, he was put in the back of a police van with two other criminals and, upon finding out one of said individuals was arrested for raping someone, went ahead and killed him, which the police only discovered when they stopped to get the criminals out.

In the end, Pedro was convicted and sentenced to 128 years in the clink, later ballooned to around 400 years when he kept on murdering away while in prison… Which was the perfect place for someone who loved him some murdering and had decided to get his kicks from murdering people who he felt deserved it. I mean, no matter who you are, or what life subjects you to, everybody needs a hobby.

Besides the snorer and another inmate whose slight against Pedro seems to have just been sneakily watching Pedro get it on with someone during a conjugal visit, perhaps the most notable killings or attempted killings he had while in prison included trying to murder a fellow serial killer, João Acásio da Costa, ironically enough with him concluding said man deserved to die for his serial killing crimes. Senor Costa was bludgeoned to near death, but survived apparently. Pedro also murdered a handful of people who’d dared try to kill him for his own murderous crimes.

Among the 47 or so murders he committed while in prison, arguably the most notable kill was killing his own father… Allegedly. Now, we should point out on this one that there are conflicting accounts of whether Pedro killed his father after Pedro was also in prison, or before, and even whether he actually killed his father at all or is just lying about that. As to those who state he killed his father before being imprisoned, these accounts state he went to the prison his father was being held at and brutally murdered him. As to the former story, Pedro was apparently also incarcerated in the same prison as his father and just did the deed there. As to him lying about the whole thing, we’ll get to that.

So which story is true? While we couldn’t find record of any death certificate or the like of his father to look at the date to determine the truth, we are inclined to go with that Pedro himself, if he killed his dad at all, was incarcerated at the time he did this. First, because if he really visited his father’s prison as a free man and then brutally killed him, we’re guessing he would have been arrested right then and there, unless the prison officials were quite literally the most incompetent of all time. Second, because, for whatever it’s worth, the man himself says he was in prison at the time he killed his father. And while trusting the word of a psychopathic serial killer on face value may seem questionable, especially concerning events that happened decades before and when the man himself has some inconsistencies in other stories he’s told after, this one seems likely enough given, again, that we just have a hard time believing he wouldn’t have been arrested immediately after if he’d been a free man at the time.

Whatever the case, why did he allegedly kill his father he previously had been so keen to defend?

Well, turns out his father had taken things up a notch on the brutal beatings of his mother and instead of just abusing her, much like his son’s favorite activities after, he murdered and mutilated her.

Pedro noted of this that, in his view his father had not previously killed his mother out of fear of Pedro, stating, “He was afraid of me. He was afraid that I would take his life… So he waited for me to go to prison to kill my mother.”

Pedro further states he was allowed to leave the prison under guard to attend his mother’s funeral, and, “I swore revenge in front of my mother’s coffin.”

On the murdering of his dear old dad, Pedro describes, “I killed my father in prison. I was already in prison then… I found a way to get to the cell where my father was.” At which point he stabbed him 22 times, and then, to quote this bastion of vigilante justice, “I cut out a piece of his heart. I chewed it…. Because I had said I was going to eat his heart. That’s what I did. It was revenge.”.

But for anyone wondering, Pedro doesn’t swallow, and instead after chewing a piece of his dad’s heart a bit, spit it out and “threw it over the body.”

Now, as alluded to, for whatever it’s worth a prison psychologist who worked with Pedro would later state none of that is true at all and Pedro’s father was actually killed by one of his former lover’s family members who was also in prison with Pedro’s father, and took issue with dear old dad’s abusive acts against said former lover.

But, I mean, if you can’t trust the word of a psychopath, who can you trust? Q.E.D.

Now, you might think this and the few dozen other murders (along with many other attempted murders) he committed while in the clink would ensure Pedro would never breathe free air again, but you’d be wrong. As we covered in our Who is the Most Prolific Serial Killer of All Time? video, several South American countries have a max number of years an individual can spend behind bars for things like murder, regardless of the number of years the courts level at them. And, in this case, at the time, the max sentence that could be leveled in Brazil was 30 years.

As such, despite all the killings on April 24, 2007 Pedro was released from prison.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you might at this point be thinking “1973 to 2007 is 4 more years than 30”. And, well, your mathematical skills are impeccable, as we are none-too surprised given you’re intelligent enough to watch our videos. Scholars and gentlemen all of you… Except, of course, all you in the audience who are not, in fact, men. Scholars though? Nailing it.

As for these approximately 4 extra years, they were tacked on separately owing to the near four dozen murders he committed while in the clink. Let that be a lesson to anyone thinking of committing crimes while incarcerated in a Brazilian prison. The Brazilian courts will absolutely put the smack down on you for it, clearly.

It maybe didn’t help that in an interview around the original time he made his first release request in 2003, that his main defense in his own words was, “[People] never seek to understand why I kill. You see, I never killed children. I love children…. I also never killed women or fathers of good families.” He also stated, “I can’t kill you for free. Why would I kill you if you have never done me or other people wrong?” Why indeed…

Interestingly here, unlike other unrepentant serial killers who found their way to freedom, Pedro seems to have decided to stop the killings despite him stating they gave him great pleasure, although did for a time wind up back in prison starting September 15 of 2011. On this one, he was given an eight year sentence for apparently rioting and depriving someone of their liberty, though he was let out a year early in 2018 owing to this time, not only not killing anyone, but also general good behavior.

Noteworthy here is that while the man himself today doesn’t appear to necessarily repent the murders, what he does have great regret for overall is his choice to enter a life of crime at all. And, indeed, even has a YouTube channel where he talks about his crimes and tries to counsel young people to not follow his former example. Stating, “Crime is no joke. Many are coming in because they see the branches [fame and money], not the root [prison and death]. [Crime] is like the devil: he gives with one hand and takes away with the other. He has a lot of  young people who come in, and when they want to leave, it’s too late.”

As to whether he will ever murder again, channeling his inner Sling Bade (“I don’t reckon I got no reason to kill nobody.”), Pedro states, “No. I would only kill again if someone came to take my life or the lives of the people I love, who are my family.”. Essentially having adjusted his rubric for who deserves to be murdered from anyone who committed a heinous crime in his view, or, you know had a snoring problem, to those threatening his loved ones or himself. Which, to be fair, is an improvement, and one, to an extent, most people can probably get behind.

And, indeed Pedro states of his rehabilitation, “Even those seen and stigmatized as evil can find their light…. Nobody said it would be easy. I [accept] my mistakes, I paid my penalty, so I don’t need to be judged or defended by anyone anymore.” And “For those who believe, follow me on the journey to the light because darkness has already consumed more than two-thirds of my life.”

Today something of a minor celebrity in some ways, with many admirers who approach him to get pictures and the like with the man, Pedro doesn’t really enjoy this attention on his past crimes. Stating “I [don’t] want to be known by that name anymore. Leave Pedrinho Metador alone…. [I want to] live the rest of the life I have in peace.”

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact:

Going back to 17th century German executioner, Frantz Schmidt, over the course of his near five decade career he executed 394 people and disfiguring or otherwise tortured or flogged roughly the same number.

Schmidt was one of those thrust into the profession as his father was strong-armed into becoming an executioner, condemning Schmidt to the same life once he came of age, though Schmidt’s story has something of a happy ending.

Like many executioners, Schmidt was given a wide berth by the public in his day-to-day life, but the incredible professionalism with which he conducted his grisly duties earned him the begrudging respect of both the general public and those in power. In his later years, Schmidt was able to parlay this into a meeting with Nuremberg authorities and then was able to appeal to Emperor Ferdinand II himself, with the goal of restoring his family honor.

Swayed by not just Schmidt’s words, but also letters from city council members and other notable people extolling Schmidt’s character and dedication to his duty, the then 70 year old executioner was granted both Nuremberg citizenship and had his family name cleared, allowing his progeny to escape the bloody specter of his work.

Of course, being ultra-professional with the profession was something of a necessity for Schmidt as, at the time in Germany, there was a law stipulating that any executioner tasked with doling out death by the sword (a form of execution largely reserved for especially important individuals) who took more than three swings to behead a victim would be condemned to die themselves.

Even where such laws didn’t exist, the job of an executioner was extremely dangerous as executioners were also at risk of being killed either by vengeful relatives or the crowd witnessing an execution. In regards to the latter, if an executioner was especially cruel in their meting out of punishment, simply incompetent to the point that they caused undue suffering, or just otherwise acted in an unprofessional manner in performing their duties, it wasn’t unheard of for a crowd to retaliate by killing the executioner on the spot, generally with no consequence to anyone in the mob.

This constant danger of the job was something Schmidt himself talked about several times in his journal, though he only notes one instance where the crowd turned into a mob. This occurred during a flogging he was performing, with the person being beaten ultimately stoned to death by the crowd.

As you might imagine from this, in cases like Schmidt who was trained from childhood to take over the job from his father, a rather lengthy apprenticeship was called for, including a robust education from one’s parent, followed by assisting in executions and torture from a young age. Schmidt also notes that he practiced executions extensively on various animals before being allowed to actually execute a human himself. The end goal of all of this was to make sure he wouldn’t screw up, as raucous mobs didn’t really care if it was someone’s first day on the job or not.



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by Daven Hiskey - March 30, 2023 at 05:39PM
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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Forgotten History- That Time Hitler had His Agents Secretly Attack Germany in Order to Justify Starting WWII

On the first of September, 1939, nearly 1.5 million troops, 2,750 tanks, and 2,300 aircraft of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich stormed over the border into Poland. That same day, Britain and France, bound by treaty to defend Polish sovereignty, issued an ultimatum calling for the immediate withdrawal of German forces. The ultimatum was ignored, and on September 3 the Allied powers declared war on Germany. The Second World War in Europe had begun. While Hitler’s true goal was plain for all to see, the Führer justified the invasion as a response to growing Polish aggression, pointing to a series of attacks against German citizens both within Poland and just across the border. But while many of these attacks did indeed take place, they were carried out not by Poles but rather German agents in a carefully-coordinated false flag operation designed to give Hitler the justification he needed to launch his war of conquest. This is the shadowy story of Operation Himmler.

Poland had been high on Adolf Hitler list of grievances since taking power in Germany in 1933. On June 28, 1919, in the wake of the First World War, the victorious Entente powers forced a defeated Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which saddled the country with the sole responsibility for starting the war and a series of harsh concession. The country was forced to pay the modern equivalent of $33 billion in reparations, forbidden from having an air force or a standing army larger than 100,000 men, and stripped on 65,000 square kilometres of territory and all its overseas colonies. Among these territorial concessions was the creation of the Danzig Corridor, a 50-kilometre-wide strip of land which connected the newly restored Polish Republic to the Baltic coast and completely cut Germany off from its territory of East Prussia.

A popular narrative holds that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles – particularly the monetary reparations –  were excessively harsh, and led directly to the hyperinflation of the 1920s, the rise of the Nazis, and the outbreak of the Second World War. Indeed, following the signing of the treaty, Allied Supreme Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch prophetically declared:

“This is not a peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years.”

In reality, reparations played only a partial role in Germany’s post-war economic troubles, while the reparation payments themselves were cancelled in 1932 after Germany had paid only 5 billion of its $33 billion obligation. Nonetheless, for many Germans the Treaty of Versailles was a national humiliation, and Adolf Hitler ruthlessly exploited this resentment to carry himself and his National Socialist Party to power. Hitler wasted no time reclaiming the territory lost to the Treaty of Versailles. On March 7, 1936, German troops re-occupied the Rhineland, which had been de-militarized since 1919, while on March 12, 1938, the Anschluss unified Germany and Austria into “Greater Germany.” Hitler next laid claim to the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, home to a large minority of ethnic Germans. These claims precipitated an international crisis and brought Europe to the edge of war. In desperation, in September 1938 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich and negotiated the handover of the Sudetenland in return for the cessation of German territorial expansion. This compromise infamously backfired, for Hitler, emboldened by the Allied policy of appeasement, proceeded to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939. However, as there were hardly any ethnic Germans in this part of Czechoslovakia, the invasion laid bare Hitler’s true intentions. Thus, when he next demanded the return of the Danzig corridor to Germany, the Allied powers were far less willing to negotiate. Hitler therefore turned to the infamous Schutzstaffel or SS – his bodyguard-turned-political paramilitary force – to engineer a series of supposedly Polish attacks along the border to justify the outright invasion and occupation of Poland, scheduled for August 26, 1939. On August 22, as troops were massing at the border, Hitler told his generals:

“I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn’t matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.”

The task of planning these false-flag operations -codenamed Undernehemen Himmler after Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS – fell to Heinrich Müller, chief of the Gestapo secret police, and Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Sicherheitsdienst or SD, the SS intelligence service. Operation Himmler would consist of a series of 21 staged attacks by SS troops dressed in Polish uniforms, carried out against various targets just across the German border, including the railway at the Jablunka [“Ya-bloonk-ah”] Pass, the German customs station at Hochlinden [“Hock-lihn-den”], the railway station at Alt-Eiche [“Ahlt-ike”], and the forest service station at Pitschen. The most elaborate operation, however, would be directed at the radio station at Gleiwitz [Glaye-vits”] in Upper Silesia. Built in 1935 by German electronics firm Lorenz, the complex’s 33-metre-tall antenna mast remains the tallest wooden structure in Europe. Upon seizing control of the station, the SS troops would use the transmitter to broadcast a pro-Polish message across Germany, providing indisputable proof of Polish aggression. And to make this and the other operations look even more convincing, inmates from the Dachau concentration camp would be dressed in Polish uniforms, drugged, shot in the face to prevent identification, and left behind at the scene of the attacks. In a classic example of dark Nazi euphemism, these planted bodies were referred to as konserve or “canned meat,” leading to the common but false claim that the whole operation was code-named Unternehemen Konserve. 

The man tasked with leading the attack on the Gleiwitz radio station was 29-year-old SS-Stürmbannführer Alfred Naujocks [“Naw-yocks”], an accomplished amateur boxer and street brawler from the Nazi Party’s earliest days. By 1939 he had become one of Reinhard Heydrich’s most trusted agents and placed in charge of the SD’s foreign section, forging passports, identity cards, money, and other documents for SD agents operating abroad. As Naujocks told a reporter in 1960, Heydrich summoned him to his office and explained:

“Within a month we shall be at war with Poland. The Führer is determined. But first we have to have something to go to war about. We’ve organised incidents in Danzig, along the East Prussian border with Poland, and along the German frontier. But there has to be something big and obvious.”

In mid-August 1939, Naujocks and a squad of six Polish-speaking SS soldiers travelled to Gleiwitz and checked into Oberschlesischer [“Oh-burr-shlay-sick-er”] Hotel, claiming to be mining engineers prospecting for minerals in the area. They then went about assembling the Polish uniforms, documents, weapons, cigarettes and other items they would need to carry out the staged attack. Intimately involved in this procurement process was an unexpected figure: none other than Oskar Schindler, the industrialist who would later go on to save the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. In 1939, however, Schindler had yet to have his change of heart, and still actively supported the Nazi war effort. Indeed, this was not even his first collaboration with German intelligence. In 1936 Schindler, broke and desperate following a series of failed business ventures, joined the Abwehr [“Ab-vayr”], the German military intelligence agency, and was assigned to spy on Czech military defences near the town of Ostrava. Unfortunately, Schindler proved an even worse spy than he was a businessman, and was soon arrested, charged with treason, and sentenced to death in August 1938. But before he could be executed, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and Schindler was freed. He was then promoted by the Abwehr and made deputy commander of intelligence in Ostrava, which was less than 20 kilometres from Gleiwitz. Uniforms and other materials for the Glewitz operation were stored in Schindler’s apartment, while a network of Abwehr agents under his command helped smuggle SS agents across the border into Poland.

By August 25, everything was ready, and Naujocks and his squad awaited the codeword “Grossmutter gestorben” – or “Grandmother has died” – that would set the operation in motion. However, Hitler, sensing that Poland and its allies might soon capitulate to his demands, postponed the invasion to September 1, leaving Naujocks and his men waiting for nearly two weeks. Finally, on the evening of August 31, a phone call bearing the codeword arrived at Oberschlesischer Hotel, and the squad piled into two cars and drove to the Gleiwitz radio station. Also in one of the cars, dressed in a Polish uniform and drugged into unconsciousness, was Fasciszek Honiok, a 43-year-old Upper Silesian farmer who had been arrested by the Gestapo for collaborating with Polish saboteurs.

The squad reached the station around 8 PM and stormed up the stairs and through the front door. They met no resistance from the guards and quickly overpowered both them and the engineers on duty, binding and locking them up in the basement. Fasciszek Honiok’s unconscious body was then dragged from the car, shot through the back of the head, and draped over the front stairs as “proof” of Polish involvement in the raid. But as one of Naujock’s men, Karl Hornack, prepared to make the staged pro-Polish broadcast, he realized he had made a crucial error. The building the squad had raided contained no broadcast studios, only transmitting equipment designed to broadcast signals received via cable from the city of Breslau. After a desperate 10-minute search of the building, Hornack resorted to using emergency storm microphone, designed to warn radio listeners of inclement weather. In perfect Polish, Hornack barked over the airwaves:

“Attention! This is Gliwice. The broadcasting station is in Polish hands.”

Hornack had intended to end the broadcast with a statement about Polish territorial claims in the region, but this part of the message was cut off – either due to technical problems or a Polish technician who managed to shut off the transmitter. But it was enough, and as Naujock’s squad withdrew from the complex, radio stations in Germany rebroadcast the transmission across the country as proof of Polish aggression. The other 20 Operation Himmler attacks were similarly successful – with one major exception. The squad tasked with raiding the Hochlinden customs post was not informed of the delay in the invasion plans and attacked before the post could be cleared, resulting in the deaths of several German citizens. But it hardly mattered: Hitler had his pretext for invasion. The next morning, the Führer gave a speech before the German Parliament or Reichstag, declaring:

“I can no longer find any willingness on the part of the Polish Government to conduct serious negotiations with us. These proposals for mediation have failed because in the meanwhile there, first of all, came as an answer to the sudden Polish general mobilization, followed by more Polish atrocities. These were again repeated last night. Recently in one night, there were as many as twenty-one frontier incidents: last night there were fourteen, of which three were quite serious. I have, therefore, resolved to speak to Poland in the same language that Poland for months past has used toward us… This night for the first time Polish regular soldiers fired on our own territory. Since 5:45 a. m., we have been returning the fire… I will continue this struggle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured.”

As Hitler spoke these words, the combined might of the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe was already storming across the border into Poland. While the Allied powers were not fooled for long, the confusion sown by the Operation Himmler attacks bought Hitler valuable time to complete his invasion unopposed. On September 17, the Soviet Union, with whom Hitler had signed a non-aggression pact, invaded Poland from the east. By October 6, Poland’s fate was sealed, and the stage was set for the most destructive conflict in modern history.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Graham, Bob, World War II’s First Victim, The Telegraph, August 29, 2009,


Gliwice Radio Status, Museum on Radio History and Visual Arts,


Lebovic, Matt, 80 Years Ago, How a Very Different Schindler’s ‘List’ Helped Ignite WWII, The Times of Israel, August 30, 2019,


Pope, Cassie, How a False Flag Sparked World War Two: the Gleiwitz Incident Explained, History Hit, August 31, 2018,


Carlson, Cody, This Week in History: Nazis Stage Fake Attack at the Start of WWII, Deseret News, September 3, 2014,


Dowell, Stuart, How the Death of a Farmer and a Bungled Siege of a Radio Tower Gave Hitler His Justification to Unleash WWII, The First News, September 1, 2020,

The post Forgotten History- That Time Hitler had His Agents Secretly Attack Germany in Order to Justify Starting WWII appeared first on Today I Found Out.

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by Gilles Messier - March 29, 2023 at 09:40PM
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