Even today about 2.6 billion people are living under a dictatorship of autocrats known to be, more often than not, ruthless and rather intolerant – ‘my way or the highway’. In fact only 11% of the world population is living in a fully democratic country.
Let’s talk about 10 of the deadliest and the most despicable dictators out of the many that the world has seen.
10. Kim Jong IL (1941-2011)
Like his father before him and his son after, the eccentric Kim Jong II ruled Korea strictly, with an iron fist. His, was apparently one of the most repressive government with poverty stricken residents, isolated through restrictions to practically everything. Between the starvation, executions and forced labor, the number of people who died are estimated in millions.
9. King Leopold II (1835-1909)
Leopold II was king of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909. He founded the Congo Free State . Leopold amassed a huge personal fortune by exploiting the Congo. He massacred 10 million by burning villages and flogging slaves to death. About 2 million were beheaded, their heads and genitals displayed in public. His, is a story of greed, exploitation and brutality that Africa and the world must not forget.
8. Francisco Franco (1892-1975)
Spain was ideologically divided when Franco attempted overthrow the left-wind government. With support from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, the nationalist won the ensuing bloody civil war and Franco assumed power murder and suppression of language culture and more. While the regime eventually softened and a democratic turnaround surge after his death, the repercussion of Franco’s actions reverberate even today.
7. Mao Zedong (1893-1976)
This communist later became a savior to many by founding People’s Republic of China and by leading his people through industrial and cultural revolutions and the great leap forward. Though China’s transformation into a superpower is revered, critics suggest the cost of these initiative sin human lives range between 40 and 70 million due to famine murders and forced labor cementing chairman Mao’s place as a polarizing figure. Under Mao’s regime those deemed unfit or too old were banned from canteens and left to starve. Parents of children caught stealing food were forced to bury their child alive. These deeds of Mao have reserved his name in the list of the most dreaded dictators of all time.
6. Saddam Hussein (1937-2006)
Once called the world’s most dangerous man, Saddam was one of the few dictators- tried, convicted and executed for his crimes. Though his unparalleled social programs were hailed, he executed dissidents, slaughtered the Kurdish population and used oil and power as justification to invade neighboring countries. This triggered wars, unrest and uprisings and later false allegations about weapons of mass destruction eventually led to his ruin.
5. Pol Pot (1925-1998)
Following his ascent, Pol Pot attempted to return Cambodia to its rural roots by forcing the city residents to toil on collective farms. Though it helped power for years, Pol Pot’s communist party caused approximately 2 million deaths with politically motivated murders, torture, forced labor, disease and food shortages, the victims of which were buried in the killing fields. He clung to nominal power until his death in 1998.
4. Idi Amin (1928-2003)
Military background and charisma served Amin well as he overthrew the Ugandan leader and became self-proclaimed president for life. His brutal 8-year reign was marked by economic breakdown, political authoritarianism, corruption, human right violations, ethnic cleansing, mass murders and rumors of cannibalism by the leader himself, making him one of the most dreaded dictators. By alienating his followers with unpredictable behavior, the butcher of Uganda ensured he ended his life alone after being ousted and exiled.
3. Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924)
He was a Russian communist, revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as the head of government of the Russian Republic, of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and of the Soviet Union. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party socialist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a Marxist, he developed political theories known as Leninism. He was the founder of a totalitarian dictatorship responsible for mass human rights abuses.
2. Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
After serving under Vladimir Lenin, this man of steel became soviet dictator by discrediting and eliminating rivals. The communist’s aggressive industrialization killed millions due to famine, murder and Gulag Camps but The Great Purge was the darkest period when citizens were deported, incarcerated and randomly executed. Though he helped to feed the Nazis in the World War II, this paranoid man’s influence was erased after his death with a period of De-Stalinization.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
Adolf Hitler, as German chancellor and leader of the Nazis, made his motives clear when he made the Nazis – the only legal political party and used suppression propaganda and death to quash opponents by annexing countries, triggering World War II and initiating a holocaust of Jews, gypsies, communists, homosexuals and the handicapped. Parents of disabled children were forced to send them to clinics where they received lethal injections. 2/3 of European Jews were killed during the holocaust- many subjected to sadistic vivisection. Hitler caused tens of millions of deaths and committed some of the worst atrocities in human history. No list of dictators could ever be complete without mentioning his name.