It’s the one thing we can’t escape. No matter how hard we try to evade the grim reaper, death eventually catches up with all of us. When the light at the end of the tunnel is looming, many people decide that now is the time to fess up to the deep and dark secrets which have haunted them throughout their lives. Whether this is so they can pass on to the other side with a clear conscience or to leave their loved ones with some sort of benefit, none of us can ever know. For many people, work and careers are a huge- and sometimes the most important, aspect of their life. Therefore, it goes without saying that many deathbed confessions are related to career indiscretions and sins committed in the workplace. Some of these last minute revelations are truly remarkable. Read on for five of the most surprising examples.
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1. The Song Stealer
The vast majority of people who grew up in Israel will be familiar with the name Naomi Shemer. Since the 1960s, she has been well known as being the writer of some of Israel’s most popular songs. In particular, the 1967 ballad; Jerusalem of Gold has been adopted as the unofficial anthem of Israel. Released at a time when tensions were running high in the Middle East, shortly before the Arab-Israeli war, the song poetically describes the history of Jewish people. To this day, the song is played at official national ceremonies throughout the nation. Naomi Shemer’s career as a songwriter was plagued with accusations that she had plagiarized a traditional lullaby and rewritten it as Jerusalem of Gold. This rumor followed her around so much so that it destroyed her career in the music industry. After years of vehemently denying this claim, Naomi finally confessed to fellow composer Gil Aldema on her deathbed as she died of cancer. "I consider the entire affair a regrettable work related accident. So regrettable that it may be the reason for me being ill" Shemer said, referring to the Basque lullaby which she had ripped off to create her famous song.
2. The Violin Thief
Hall Huberman was a Polish virtuoso extraordinaire. In 1936, Huberman performed to thousands at Carnegie Hall. During the interval, he decided to switch the Stradivarius he had been playing with for a Guarnerius violin which he had recently purchased. Shortly afterwards, the Stradivarius was stolen from his dressing room by 20-year-old New York nightclub musician, Julian Altman. There was obviously something special about this infamous stolen violin, as Altman went on to become a hugely successful player with the National Symphony Orchestra, performing for some of the world’s most famous people including the president of America- all with the stolen Stradivarius. Flash forward to 49 years after the infamous violin theft, Altman was in prison for child abuse, gravely ill and facing death. It was at this time that he confessed to his wife that it was, in fact, him who had committed the theft all those years ago. Altman instructed his wife where the Stradivarius was hidden in their home, and sure enough she found the offending article along with numerous newspaper clippings from the time about the theft. Two years later, in 1987, Altman’s long-suffering spouse handed the violin in to Lloyds of London and received the $263000 finder’s fee. Today the violin is owned by Joshua Bell, who shelled out an astonishing $4 million for it.
3. The Roswell Officer
Intelligence Officer of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eight Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field is quite an impressive career title. Not many people can claim such a hefty job description. This was Lieutenant Walter Haut’s role back in 1947, and it was Walter who was in charge of the original and all subsequent press releases after the infamous Roswell incident. Conspiracy theorists and UFO fanatics from far and wide have long claimed that this world famous incident sparked the start of the USA’s alien coverups. However, according to the statement released by Haut, this so-called flying saucer and the flash of light which accompanied it was nothing more than a weather balloon crashing into a nearby ranch. In 2005, Walter Haut passed away aged 83 and left behind a sworn affidavit which was to be opened only after his death. The text was opened in 2007 and it was discovered that Haut had made some truly outrageous claims. This deathbed confession stated that the weather balloon story was made up. It even claimed that Haut himself had come face to face with an egg shaped aircraft, roughly 12 feet long, filled with the bodies of aliens which he estimated to be the size of 10-year-old children. Some say that the dates and details of this story just don’t add up, and put Haut’s confession down to the ramblings of an elderly crank. Others argue that this is undeniable proof of alien life. Whatever you believe, this is one shocking career confession.
4. The Treasure Train Hider
In August 2015, a deathbed confession revealed the whereabouts of a secret train filled with Nazi gold. Known as the treasure train, this long lost locomotive had been the stuff of local legend since the second world war. But earlier this year, an unnamed man revealed, mere moments before his death, that it had been his job to hide the train in the Polish countryside. According to Piotr Zuchowski, the head of conservation at the Polish ministry of culture, the anonymous man was employed more than 70 years ago to help hide the treasure train, and his deathbed confession has now brought its location to light. The German train may contain a jaw-dropping 300 tonnes of high-value art, gold, jewels, weapons and other antiques. It is believed that the treasures were taken when the Nazis were fleeing the Red Army of Russia. Shortly after the confession was made, a German and a Pole claimed to have discovered the train in a disused tunnel. The men have demanded a finder’s fee of 10%. If the tale is true and the treasure train is yet to be found, then this is a truly exciting story and surely it’s just a matter of time before Hollywood snaps up the rights to the film?
5. The Loaded Landlord
Some deathbed confessions make us wonder whether the deceased person just wanted one last good laugh at the expense of their friends and family. Shortly before he passed away in 2007, New York landlord, Edward Giaimo Jr revealed to his siblings that he had stashed $4.5 million worth of gold coins and bars of silver around the properties that he let out across Manhattan. Edward told his brother and sister that they would need to acquire a truck in order to move the heavy load of treasure he had hidden away. After his death, the family was divided as a feud broke out over who could find it first. To this day, neither of the warring sides of the family have discovered the location of the alleged buried treasure. Giaimo’s siblings haven’t given up on the hunt, but perhaps this was more of a cruel deathbed prank than a heartfelt confession?
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These are just a few of the secrets which have hung heavy over people throughout their unique careers. It certainly seems as though people choose to unburden themselves with some seriously fascinating work related tales once death is on the horizon. Whether they are all strictly true, slightly embellished or simply farcical- only the confessors themselves will ever really know. And unfortunately for us, they are all now quite literally as silent as the grave.