Have you ever spent a few days in your house without any contact with the outside world? If you have then maybe you will be able to begin to understand how these people felt.
The Russian Recluses Who Missed WWII￼
In 1978 a helicopter flying over Siberia spotted a clearing in a remote spot more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement. Upon landing they discovered a family of 5 living in filthy conditions in a shack. Karp Lykov was the figurehead of the family and he slowly revealed how they were hiding from religious persecution in the wilds and had lived in splendid isolation for 4 decades. Two of his daughter spoke a language no one outside the family could understand. In their time away from the world they had missed WWII, the moon landing, JFK being assassinated and the first few Neil Young albums.
The Vietnamese Refugees￼
The Vietnam War was the reason the next family lost contact with the world. Ho Van Thanh lived with his wife and three sons when war broke out. After his wife and two of his boys were killed by an exploding mine he fled with his other son, who was two at the time. They hid in the jungle for 40 years until they were discovered in 2013. They had spent all this time living in a tree house and foraging for fruit and vegetables.
The Japanese Soldier in the Jungle￼
One of the most famous stories of someone who lost contact with the world is the tale of Hiroo Onoda. The Japanese army surrounded in 1945, signalling the end of World War 2. However, many of their soldiers were posted in isolated surroundings, which made it difficult to contact them and let them know that it was time to go home. News of the defeat reached this soldier in the jungle on a Philippine island but he thought that it was enemy propaganda. Even when he was found by a backpacker – 29 years after the war ended – he refused to believe that it was all over. He had an order to not surrender and he wasn’t going to break it. In fact, he was only persuaded to leave his island post when his former commanding officer was flown out to confirm that the war was indeed over. He arrived home as a hero.
The Last of the Tribe
Strictly speaking, this guy never had contact most of the world in the first place. However, he makes our list because he lost contact with the few people he once lived with. He lives in Brazil and no one knows his name or what language he speaks. He is known to the outside world as the Last of the Tribe, because that’s what he is. He lives alone, hunts alone and has no contact with anyone at all. The one attempt to integrate him into modern society ended with an arrow in the chest of one of the party who went to try and speak to him.
Alexander Selkirk (You Can Call Him Robinson Crusoe)￼
You probably have heard of Robinson Crusoe but did you know that the famous book was based on a real person? Alexander Selkirk was a Scottish sailor who got shipwrecked on the Juan Fernandez Islands off Chile. He was there for 4 years, which seems fairly short compared to some of the other stories we have seen but must have felt like a lifetime to him. During his time on the island 2 ships anchored there but as they were Spanish ships he had to hide from the sailors rather than look for help. When he was finally rescued the sailors who found him couldn’t believe how fit and healthy he was.