A dictator is a political leader who rules a country or a government with an absolute power and often, in an oppressive manner. Unlike monarchs who inherit their power and status when the head of the state like the King or Queen abdicates from the position, dictators become the ruler of a government by taking the power by force.
Below are some of the most brutal dictators ever recorded in the history. You would not believe how vicious these infamous figures could be in their ruling time!
1. Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
Probably the most famous dictator in the world, Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party. He first rose to power in the 1930s and was the one who was responsible for some of the greatest ferocities in the world history.
Between 1941 to 1945, Hitler ordered an ethnic cleansing of about 11 million people of which 6 million of them were Jewish. The deadliest genocide carried out by the Nazi Party also sees oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe like ethnic Poles, Slavs, Soviet citizens, Romanis, communists, homosexuals, Freemasons and the mentally and disabled individuals.
Furthermore, his foreign policy also provoked World War II which claimed 50 to 70 million lives.
Romani children in Auschwitz, victims of bizarre medical experiments
Mass shooting somewhere in Russia
Piles of dead bodies at Dachau, the first German concentration camp in 1933
Heartbreaking last moments of a mother hugging her child before they were shot to death by a Nazi soldier
Jews executed in October 1941 in Serbia
2. Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
This Georgian-born Soviet leader rose to power after Lenin’s death in 1924, an era which infamous for Gulag camps, forced labour camps where people worked to death.
During Stalin’s ruling, over 14 to 20 million of people died in Gulag concentration camps or were executed in the 1930s.
Russia finally admits slaughter of 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn was on Stalin’s orders
Shocking: German army soldiers dig up a mass grave in Katyn forest, near Smolensk in the spring of 1943 containing the bodies of Polish reserve officers killed under the order of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in April 1940
Like any classic dictators, Stalin attempted to solidify his position as the leader of Soviet Union by executing mass genocides of various people and this continued until his death in 1953.
Those who died during his ruling were executed by a gunshot to the back of their head, beatings, torture, starvation, disease or overwork.
3. Pol Pot (1925-1998)
The leader of the Khmer Rouge and dictator of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 was directly responsible for one of the gruesome genocides in modern history.
The Cambodian genocide that he carried out between 1975 to 1979 sees one and a half to three million people died.
He also introduced policies that caused forced relocation of the population from urban centers, torture, mass executions, and forced labour which led to starvation, malnutrition, and epidemic that caused the deaths of an estimated 25 percent of the total population.
The series of mass genocide finally ended in 1979 when Vietnam invaded Cambodia. As of 2009, 23,745 mass graves have been discovered.
Khmer Rouge forces drive through Phnom Penh on 17 April 1975
Cambodian refugee children, who fled with their families after Khmer Rouge raids, wait for food at aid station outside of Phnom Penh in 1975
Tuol Sleng Prison – the site of over 20000 executions during the reign of the Khmer Rouge
One of the killing fields in Cambodia
28 Feb 1979, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Family relationships were heavily banned and the cruel regime insisted that every Cambodian considered the top officers in the organisation as their mother and father.
Even worse, children were exploited and tortured by forcing them to shoot their own parents.
Children of 5 to 9 years old were taught to kill their parents
4. Mao Zedong (1893-1976)
This former China leader ruled the country for 27 years by promoting communism as a major ideology to promote his left-wing party. He also deliberately destroyed the traditional Chinese values and ethics.
Mao Zedong was also not an exception when it comes to executing mass genocide to reinforce his power. In official study materials published in 1948, Mao envisaged that “one-tenth of the peasants” (or about 50,000,000) “would have to be destroyed” to facilitate agrarian reform. Actual numbers killed in land reform are believed to have been lower, but at least one million.
Evidence suggests that as many as one million landlords were killed in the early period of land reform
The Communist Party of China that was led by Mao Zedong aimed to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a socialist society through rapid industrialization and collectivization.
The Great Leap Forward of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign by the Communist Party of China (CPC) from 1958 to 1962. The Great Leap Forward, the economic and social campaign that the party led is believed to have caused tens of millions of deaths in China.
A lower-end estimate of casualty is of 18 million, while extensive research by Yu Xiguang suggests the death toll from the movement is closer to 55 million. Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward” and it “motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history”.
Provincial Party Secretary Wang Yilun, one of Heilongjiang’s most powerful leaders, is criticized by Red Guards from the University of Industry and forced to bear a placard around his neck with the accusation ‘Counter Revolution’
5. Kim Jong-il (1941-2011)
Kim Jong-il was regarded as the most powerful person in North Korea from 1994 to 2011. When he rose to power, Kim Jong-il basically starved his people and if they were too weak to work, he would either torture them by drowning, dissection and if lucky, shot or in a gas chamber. The concentration camps were confidential and only former guards could tell the tale.
In the camps, babies were said to be injected with a liquid that causes major swelling or they were buried alive or faced down to suffocate
By far, his dictatorship is regarded as the most inhumane anybody could torture someone in the modern century. Over 2 million people were killed and had slow painful deaths.
Kim Jong-il died on December 17, 2011.
6. Jiang Zemin (1926- )
Jiang became powerful in 1989 after he displayed a hardline action when protesting against the pro-democracy protest in Beijing and Shanghai.
Throughout his ruling, this modern dictator has ordered murders on millions of people who hold independent beliefs. He justified his horrific actions by ensuring that the killings were necessary to retain stability in society.
Young Falun Gong practitioners hold portraits of Falun Gong practitioner who were killed in the persecution in China, during a parade in New York, on May 15, 2015
Jiang’s most ferocious crime is the brutal persecution of Falun Gong – a traditional meditation and self-improvement practice that is being practiced by over 100 million people worldwide. The practice has got over 2000 awards of honor and recognition from various governments across the world.
Falun Gong practitioners in France have a group practice in 1999
The persecution of this peaceful meditation began in 1999 in China, and is still continuing. On Jiang’s orders, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were tortured to death, and hundreds of thousands were in detention at any one time, according to Minghui.org, a website that carries firsthand information about the persecution.
Methods of torture used on Falun Gong practitioners
Jiang Zemin lacks both ability and moral integrity. Since May 2015, over 200,000 Chinese citizens and Falun Gong practitioners have filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin for crimes against humanity.
This makes Jiang Zemin as the biggest dictator with the largest legal criminal cases pending against him.
Falun Gong practitioners carry photos of practitioners who have died of torture or abuse in China
More reading: Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin
More reading: How Mao Radicalized Peasants to Kill Landlords