Attila the Hun
Attila was not just any Hun, he was the leader of the Huns, and under his rule the Hunnic empire consisted of almost anything that didn’t fly a Roman flag. It has been said that there is no surviving first person account of his appearance, which is not surprising considering the fate of most people who interacted with him. Clearly, however, he was a man with a passion for invasion. In fact, it was a passion so great that on his way to pick up his bride, Honoria, he decided to stop in Italy…and destroy it. Razing a country on the eve of your wedding? Outstandingly wicked.
Generally speaking, revolutionaries tend to be lauded for their courage and willingness to take a stand. Max, however — although being a leader in the French Revolution — decided that he would rather live on in infamy and instituted what has come to be known as the Reign of Terror. As we all know, anyone who starts something called a Reign of Terror belongs on a list of bad people…period.
Imagine your name being prefixed by the word “bloody”. That in itself should be enough to reserve a spot on our list. But how does that even happen? Mary I of England, it turns out, had a passion for burning people at the stake, particularly people who opposed her ideologies, hence the nickname.
This Japanese Emperor was the mastermind behind something that came to be known as the Rape of Nanking (what was the capital of China). Raping the capital city of the most populous nation on earth? This list is for you.
Founded what would eventually become the largest contiguous empire in history and nearly managed to conquer not just one but two continents. Compared to many people on this list he was relatively benign, however, at least offering up the chance to surrender before proceeding to destroy everything in sight. Just to paint a picture of what that could look like, some historians have estimated that the Iranian population didn’t return to pre-Mongol levels until sometime in the late 20th century.
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Sometimes it seems that being a Roman emperor was incongruent with maintaining your sanity. Case in point – this guy. What started with a little gambling and wasteful spending quickly turned into a circus of bloody mayhem. But not only did killing become his favorite pastime, he also concluded that he was God and therefore should have a statue of himself erected in the Temple of Jerusalem for people to worship. No wonder Rome burned to the ground.
Issuing solders Viagra to help them rape and kill women, indiscriminately executing his own people, and sponsoring international terrorists, he was only the second still-serving state leader in history to have arrest warrants issued against him. Translation: he was really, really bad at his job. So bad in fact, that even Fidel Castro once described him as being reckless.
Although the ruthlessness of this man never ceased to astound the modern world, we at List25 were not surprised by his lack of good behavior. How do you expect your parents to discipline you with a name like Ayatollah As-Sayyid Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini?
Not only did he kill 17 men and boys, the murders all involved rape, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism. To make things worse, he somehow got the idea that he could turn his victims into submissive “zombies” by drilling holes in their skulls and filling them with boiling water while they were still alive.
Yet another deranged Roman Emperor. It’s hard to be worse than having your own mother executed and poisoning your stepbrother. Oh wait, how about burning prisoners in your garden at night as a source of light?
The leader of the People’s Temple, a cult that was forced to relocate from San Fransisco to the jungles of Guyana where he managed to convinced over 900 of its members to kill themselves with cyanide. That’s the largest loss of American civilian life in one event prior to 9/11.
For over twenty years Saddam served as the President of Iraq instituting genocidal campaigns against the Kurds, Shabaks, Yazidis, Assyrians, and Mandeans. What’s more, he seemed to have an impulsive desire to randomly invade neighboring countries and when things didn’t go his way he would just take out his frustration on his own people…with poison gas.
Leopold II of Belgium
Its impressive that from such a small country could come such a colossal tyrant. Deciding that his country wasn’t big enough Leopold did what any leader would do and went to Africa…to start his own. In what is present day Democratic Republic of the Congo, he managed to enslave, torture, and kill over 3 million people just so he could sell some ivory.
Osama bin Laden
As the face of modern terrorism and the founder of al-Qaeda he lived a good portion of his life with a $25 million dollar bounty placed on his head by the FBI. In spite of that, he managed to evade capture for the better part of three presidential administrations before tasting American steel.
“Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. ”Well said Mao…exactly why we made sure to reserve an extra spot on our list.
Idi Amin Dada
Few people in history can say they are directly responsible for killing half a million people, and this Ugandan dictator is one of them. In power from 1971 to 1979 his resume included human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement.
Dr. H. H. Holmes
One of the first documented serial killers in American history, he built a hotel specifically for the purpose of killing his guests. Located less than 2 miles from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, he would lure guests to “Murder Castle” where he had rigged all of the bedrooms with gas lines, soundproofing, lime pits, etc.. He would then proceed to torture and kill them, ultimately dissecting their bodies and selling the pieces to medical schools.
Vlad the Impaler
You know you belong on this list when you are the sole inspiration for the most famous vampire novel of all time – Dracula. And to give you an idea of why, here is a list of some of his favorite pastimes: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to animals, and boiling alive.
He stabbed God in the back for 30 pieces of silver…enough said.
The leader of the Khmer Rouge and Prime Minister of Cambodia in the 1970s, he actually managed to relocate the entire population of Cambodia onto farms where they slaved away planting seeds that would grow into food that no one would be allowed to eat. And this is why we study economics…so that unlike our pal Pol Pot, we don’t starve one-third of our population to death. But that’s not all, Pot and the Khmer Rouge were also responsible for mass executions in places known as Killing Fields. And although no one can be certain of the death toll, it has been said that in order to save ammunition, the executions were often carried out using spades, axes, hammers, and sharpened bamboo sticks.
A Hungarian countess from the 1500’s who has been labeled the “most prolific female serial killer in history” and has come to be known as the “Blood Countess” or “Blood Queen”. We at List25 believe those to be appropriate titles for someone alleged to bathe in the blood of virgins in order to maintain their youth. According to court records, Elizabeth and several accomplices would lure young girls to their lair and then proceed to beat them, burn them, bite the flesh of their faces, freeze them, perform surgery on them, starve them, and abuse them sexually.
Ruining the lives of tens of millions of people, being responsible for more deaths than anybody else in history, and destroying an entire continent…all within 6 years? Words cannot describe.
He was the first of the Tsars and with his resume its surprising that the Russians allowed there to be anymore. During one of his escapades to Poland he had 1000 prisoners brought before him everyday to be executed. Assuming that he got a full nights sleep (8 hours) that would mean witnessing 1 execution for every minute he was awake.
To start with, he actually managed to starve an entire country (The Ukraine). But as bad as that is, it falls far short of showcasing the level of badness this man was capable of. In classic dictator fashion, he had many of his closest friends and confidants executed. Total kill count: around 60 million.
As the leader of the SS, Chief of German Police, and head of the Gestapo, he personally coordinated the deaths of nearly 10 million people and when the war was over not even his former colleagues wanted anything to do with him. Cyanide anyone?
There is no doubt that these are the worst people ever! Did we miss someone? Who do you think should be on this list. Or maybe you’d prefer to check out these 25 Leaders Responsible For The Worst Genocides Ever Committed.