They say that it takes compassion for humanity, love for country, and a strong pursuit of justice and mercy to become a strong and respected leader of the masses. Every once in a while, however, there are those politicians or generals that decide to do things their own way. These cold-blooded dictators do not care for the value of life as much as they do achieving their selfish motives of domination, power, and immortality. These are 25 of history’s deadliest dictators.
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is said to have risen to power via electoral deception and fearmongering. There was even one election where he did not receive any votes in a certain province so he orchestrated the killing of over 20,000 civilians by fabricating stories of rebellion and treason. During his time in office over 3.1 million Zimbabweans lost their homes, jobs, and livelihood due to his “land reform program” aka bulldozing any village that voices dissent.
Although Vlad III has been deeply associated with stories about vampires and Dracula, Vlad is more famous for being one of the most tyrannical leaders in history not only because so many people were killed during his reign but also because of his delight in violence and the cruel treatment of prisoners and rebels. He enjoyed impaling his victims and supposedly even bathed in their blood.
Recently deceased, Kim Jong-Il had nearly a quarter million people arrested during his rule and is directly responsible for the starvation and deaths of million of North Koreans.
Even though Idi Amin Dada ruled Uganda for only eight years from 1971 to 1979, he took full advantage of his time in command to put his wrath on display. Roughly half a million people lost their lives due to extrajudicial killings and genocide during this time.
Probably no one in history has received more assassination attempts than Vladimir Lenin. Of course, given the fact that he instituted the “Red Terror” or the systematic elimination of millions of people, including members of his own political party, this should come as no surprise.
Emperor Hirohito reigned in Japan during World War II and although the accusations made against his leadership are not as significant as some others on this list, the debate still rages as to whether or not he was responsible for the war crimes committed by his military and how much control he really had.
Like Emperor Hirohit, Koki’s ability and power to affect the atrocities committed by the military was questionable. Unlike Hirota, however, he was executed for war crimes that included being privy to information that could have prevented numerous atrocities.
Being a communist leader for the Soviet Union, it should come as no surprise that Leonid Brezhnev fit right into the senselessly violent shoes of his predecessors, Stalin and Lenin. His leadership was marred with the blood of genocide against the Moldovans, Volga Germans, Cossacks, Poles, and even Armenians.
As the successor of Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek of China was a very formidable leader whose ideals, goals, and dreams were for the sake of giving China a whole new government, away from the common ground of Communism which had lasted for so many years. He was known as the “White Terror”, purging the opposition for better leadership and country stability. All in all roughly 1 million died as a result of his initiatives.
Kaiser Wilhelm II was the last emperor of Germany up until 1918. Know for his inability to control the military and inept command, he probably wasn’t nearly as deadly as he was incapable. Irregardless, his time as emperor caused the deaths of millions.
Ho Chi Minh became president of North Vietnam by means of violence and fear. Another dictator who seemed to be trigger happy with his land reforms, over 100,000 people were executed as a result. Others who experienced famine and seclusion in war camps numbered to over 1 million.
Yakubu Gowon was the leader of Nigeria at the time when oil was found in the Niger delta, which was also pursued by Ojukwu of eastern Nigeria. Although both sides signed the “Aburi Accord”, it didn’t really do much in the way of creating peace. Gowon ‘s ruthless military tactics in the ensuing war led to the deaths of over 1 million civilians.
Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia had no qualms about eliminating anyone he considered to be opposition. When he gave his introductory speech, he announced death to the revolution and to the EPRP (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party). He showed his conviction to his the message by throwing three bottles filled with blood from his pedestal. He also initiated the movement to kill thousands of “Kebeles” on the streets, garroting the resistance to death, and even taxing families when requesting for the return of the dead bodies of their loved ones. Overall, he left about 1.5 million deaths in his wake.
Sick and delusional as he could be, Kim Il Sung of North Korea led a nation using force, aggression, and deception. He lossed so much respect from his people that he ended up blaming the US for the nation’s suffering, spreading the news that the biggest superpower has spread an epidemic throughout the countryside. To make it more convincing, he killed 1.6 million of his own people.
Saddam Hussein was a well-known leader that instigated numerous conflicts in his lifetime. He instituted mass genocide against the Kurds, Shabaks, Assyrians, Mandeans and other ethnic groups who rebelled against his leadership and fought several wars against Iran and Kuwait, with the death toll climbing to about 2 million in total.