Throughout history, power has brought about some of the best and some of the evilest leaders known. Modern-day, we had some of the worst leaders. From gross abuse of power to genocide, these despots are most evil in recent history. The list is not exhaustive.
10. Idi Amin
Born in 1925, General Idi Amin overthrew the elected official Milton Obote and declared himself president of Uganda in 1971. He launched a ruthless regime for over eight years, expelling 70,000 Asians, massacring 300,000 civilians, and bringing out the economic collapse of the country. He was overthrown in 1979, but he never answered for his crimes, living out the rest of his days in Saudi Arabia.
9. Kim Jong Il
Born in 1942, Kim Jong Il is considered one of the most successful despots since Joseph Stalin. Coming into power in 1994, Kim inherited an impoverished North Korea with a full-scale famine starving his people. Instead of helping them, he put the country’s money toward building the world’s fifth largest military and in the process, letting a million of his people starve to death. He tricked the United States into giving him nuclear technology so he could build nuclear weapons and terrorized South Korea with threats, a bombing run in Myanmar, killing South Korean officials, and sinking one of their submarines.
8. Muammar Gaddafi
Born in 1942 in Libya, he did all the things they usually do as a tyrannical despot. He squashed political opposition by making it illegal. He banned private enterprise, freedom of speech, and any unsound books were burned. Despite Libya’s great economic potential, few of his people actually experienced economic prosperity as he squandered most of it on funding terrorist groups. His rule is considered one of the most brutal and totalitarian eras in North African history.
7. Fidel Castro
Before Fidel Castro, Cuba had a thriving economy but once he overthrew Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he destroyed all of it under his oppressive Communist rule. In two years, 582 political opponents were executed by firing squad. In his fifty year rule, estimates of his executions went into the thousands. Newspapers were closed. Priests, homosexuals, and others were forced into labor camps for re-education. All basic civil rights like freedom of speech were denied.
6. Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II was the King of Belgium. But, he also had another name: The Butcher of Congo. The Congo was ripe with rubber and he wanted to exploit it. So he reigned down terror on the colony with his armies. Though he never set foot in the Congo, he had 10 million Congolese people massacred. He frequently ordered his military to cut off the hands of rebellious workers as proof. Eventually, word got out of his atrocities and he was forced to sell it from outside pressure. But his reign devastated the country for decades.
5. Pol Pot
Leading the Khmer Rouge Communist government in Cambodia, Pol Pot rounded up academics, scientists, teachers, city residents, religious leaders and pretty much anyone educated and put them into concentration camps where they were mass executed. An estimated two million people died of starvation, execution, or disease during 1975 to 1979.
4. Emperor Hirohito
Emperor Hirohito was the leader of Japan during some of the worst war crime atrocities in human history. From the Nanking Massacre where thousands were raped and murdered to Unit 731 where they did horrendous biological experiments on people resulting in 300,000 people dying, the Emperor had the power to stop it and did nothing.
3. Mao Zedong
Communists revolutionary Mao Zedong lead the takeover of China to communist rule. Under his leadership, he instituted massive land reform, stealing large plots of land away from landowners through violence and terror. Anytime criticism came his way, he would quickly squash dissent. But it was his “Great Leap Forward” campaign which led to an intense famine from 1959 to 1961, resulting in the deaths of 40 million people.
2. Adolf Hitler
Hands down, Adolf Hitler was one of the most notorious, evil, and destructive leaders in human history. With his angry hate-filled speeches, his ordering of Kristallnacht, his wanton invasion of European and African nations, and his ordering of millions of Jews being tortured, raped, and executed in concentration camps, plus countless other atrocities known and unknown, Hitler personifies hate and evil like few have before or since. In total, historians credit him with the deaths of 11 million people.
1. Joseph Stalin
During Stalin’s reign of the U.S.S.R., he took control of large plots of land. Millions of farmers refused to give up their land, so he had them killed. This also led to famine across Russia, resulting in more millions killed. Under his totalitarian rule, he expanded the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on each other, and had millions killed or sent to the Gulag. Twenty million people died under his brutal and tyrannical rule.