Nothing justifies any of the atrocities committed by the notorious dictators on this list, but now that they’re all said and done, morbid curiosity permits one to study them for even the most gruesome details. After all, history’s worst moments are by far the most interesting.
It’s like rubber-necking at a car crash; you just can’t help yourself. Only these ones involve millions and millions of people. The notorious dictators on this list are responsible for some of history’s most heartbreaking events, so before you go on reading, “trigger alert” – but that goes without saying.
15. Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina has the distinct honor, or dishonor, of being the only woman leader on this list. She has been charged with murder, corruption, and extortion, and as a result she has been banned from her own country several times.
Her elicit activities have further destabilized and denigrated the name of Bangladesh. During her absence, a shamble of a caretaker government led the country in her place, which sought to restructure the government but corruption only rose.
It just goes to show: being happy with what you got beats… well, a shamble of a caretaker government.
14. Pol Pot
In just four years, Pol Pot slaughtered 1 to 3 million Cambodians, or nearly 25% of the country’s entire population. His policies included forced labor camps, ethnic cleansing, and irregular military operations – “irregular” referring to the random, undisciplined and merciless actions of his Khmer Rouge.
Pol Pot reduced the lives of people living in his the countryside to those suffered by feudal peasants living hundreds of years before. Urban dwellers were relocated to the countryside to join them, especially if they were educated.
In his killing fields, his officers were ordered not to waste bullets. Their solution? Order the prisoners to bury themselves alive.
13. Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad was busily studying ophthalmology in England, when sadly his brother died. Then his father recalled him to his home country of Syria, and groomed him to take his place as dictator.
Bashar dropped hundreds of barrel bombs, which are exactly what they sound like, on his own people. He also tortured dozens of foreigners for suspicion of spying, lied to weapons inspectors, and carried out acts of ethnic cleansing.
At a dinner he held for delegates from North Korea, Bashar announced that his country and North Korea were “among those few countries which enjoy real independence.” He also stated that 50 Shades of Grey was a literary masterpiece seconded only by Shakespeare, and that elephants were actually beavers in disguise. That last sentence is not true, but it’s as ridiculous as the sentence that preceded it, which, sadly, is true.
12. Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union after Lenin died, winning in a race-to-the-top against his rivals. He forced the communization of the Union’s farms, and murdered farmers who refused to hand their land over.
Stalin ruled with an iron fist, and kept his grip by expanding the powers of his secret police. They could kill, imprison, and spy on anyone they pleased. Stalin even empowered civilians to spy and inform on each other, to further rid the Union of those he deemed undesirable.
Stalin ordered the execution of Leon Trotsky, who had given him the nickname of “Comrade Index Card.” The moniker referred to Stalin’s inability to remember speeches.
11. Genghis Khan
As punishment, Genghis Khan would kill your family, your family’s family, and perhaps even your family’s family’s family if you betrayed him. And that’s not the scariest thing about him.
The scariest thing about Khan was that he was incredibly smart. He managed to win countless battles, a lot of which he won while his forces were outnumbered. Trickery allowed him to do so; one of his most famous tricks was putting straw-men on horses to trick his enemies into thinking he had more forces.
Khan was incredibly ruthless. For example, he murdered his half-brother when he refused to share food. All in all, Genghis Khan killed nearly 10% of the world’s population at the time.
Gaius Julius Caesar, commonly known by his nickname “Caligula” (which means “little soldier’s boot”), was a nutcase, although a brain disorder may have been the cause of many of his… eccentricities.
Some examples of his… eccentricities:
-Appointed a horse as a priest
-Spoke to the Moon, or at least tried
-Executed thousands of people, some for no reason other than for his own amusement
-Built a two mile floating bridge (on a dare, naturally)
Not surprisingly, he was assassinated by the Roman senate after he proposed leaving Rome forever and moving to Egypt, where he planned to be worshiped as a living God. If I were a senator at the time, I would have proposed allowing him to do so, just to see how his plan worked out.
9. Rafael Trujillo
No notorious dictators come without their trustworthy inner circles of advisers, and Rafael Trujillo chose his wisely. On second thought, maybe he didn’t; he appointed his 3-year-old son as colonel.
Trujillo took over the Dominican Republic after being trained by the US Marines. He orchestrated thousands of killings of civilians, a lot of whom were Haitians. He considered his slaughtering a “remedy” to his unquenchable thirst for blood, apparently.
Many of his killings were determined by the victims ability to pronounce certain words with a trill, or in other words, a rolling “r” to determine if they were “real Dominicans.” What a sadist.
8. Idi Amin
Responsible for the death of roughly 300,000 civilians, tens of thousands of white missionaries, and the downfall of Uganda’s economy after these atrocities, along with expelling the entire Asian population, Idi Amin was not a cool cucumber.
He was also very mentally unstable, exhibiting many signs of bipolar disorder. He would be happy and charming one minute, then maniacal and cannibalistic the next – yes, it is a widespread belief that he ate people.
Amin lied to his country and said that he had conquered the United Kingdom, after they cut off all diplomatic ties. After reporting that victory, his self-appointed title “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” became a little longer.
7. Muammar Gaddafi
The movie The Dictator was inspired by his outlandish style, and despotic tendencies, so that should give you a clue as to how ridiculous and cutthroat Muammar Gaddafi was. In 1969, he led a putsch that secured him power, and shortly after he blackmailed all oil producers in his country to start handing him more money.
With the money, he underwent plastic surgery to make himself look younger, constructed lavish mansions, and travelled with his own bulletproof tents with him when he travelled, which he would pitch next to the hotel he was meant to stay in.
In addition to his two wives, he was rumored to have had relations with several of his bodyguards, who were supposed to be (ironically) all virgin females.
6. Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin was kicked out of college for participating in anti-Tsarist protests. Unlike most college protesters, he fully went on to succeed with his agenda, by establishing a Bolshevik regime after the October Revolution.
Lenin described himself as being “in love” with Marx. That love led him to reduce Russia’s population by nearly a half-million, during a little thing called the Red Terror. His political opponents countered with their own social purge, the White terror, which reduced the population even more.
Lenin was almost assassinated numerous times. His mummified body, needless to say, is morbidly on display in Moscow.
5. Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe is a former teacher, which partially explains why Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. He is also a lying, tyrannical douchebag, like most other notorious dictators.
Mugabe started prosecuting and throwing white people out of his country in 2000, after he amended the constitution to allow him to do so. This has impoverished and starved his country, since many of the white people he banished were plantation owners.
Someone who enjoys it when people compare them to Hitler is veritably insane. Mugabe is that person. He is quoted as saying: “I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.”
4. Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Niyazov is guilty of less atrocities than other notorious dictators on this list, but he deserves to be on it for annoying the heck out of his people. His myriad ridiculous rules and changes to everyday routines would have made all Turkmen openly despise him, had he not threatened them with imprisonment for speaking out against them. He also provided his citizens with free utilities and food, however, so there were small plus sides to his reign.
In addition to declaring himself father of all Turkmen, and President for life, Niyazov demanded that his citizens worship him daily, in strange and inconvenient ways. He re-named days of the week, months of the year, entire cities, and even the word for “bread” after himself and members of his family. He also put his face on every bit of currency, news channel, and nearly every street corner to make sure his people really knew who was in charge.
Here are just some of his other weird changes, ideas, and practices:
-He re-wrote the national anthem to be about him
-He created a new alphabet for the country to use
-He banned makeup, recorded music, and dogs from the capital
-He made it so foreigners had to pay to be married to Turkmen women
-Whenever he fired somebody, he did it on national television
-He wanted an ice palace to be built… in the middle of the desert
Niyazov won hollow victories in elections by imprisoning his political rivals. He humiliated one even further by demanding he write an entire book telling him how great he was. Niyazov was “President” of Turkmenistan from 1985 until his death in 2006.
3. Mao Tse-Tung
Mao Tse-tung is credited as being the dictator who killed the most of his own people. In his defense, most of them he killed somewhat accidentally, by instituting some preposterous ideas.
For example, he insisted that he knew more about farming than, ahem, farmers, and ordered that crops be planted way closer together. Closer crops = more crops per farm, right?
Wrong. His “Great Leap Forward” plan, which included his genius “don’t be shy, guys” crop innovation, caused the greatest famine in history, killing nearly 40 million people.
2. Kim Jong Il
Kim Jong Il was a total narcissist, and a madman. After gaining power, he lived a life of luxury while his country starved, and had thousands and thousands of people thrown in concentration camps. The true depths of his insanity, and of his despotism, are not known to the world because of his country’s profound secrecy.
Some facts are known about his insecurities, however. He wore platform shoes while on stage at ceremonies, and spread propaganda that his style was being copied all over the world.
Kim told impossible lies about himself to his people, including:
-He didn’t defecate
-He could control the weather
-He invented the hamburger
-He shot the greatest round of golf in history
When he died, a carbon-copy of himself took his place, which was only natural considering he himself was his father’s mini-me. Kim Jong Il ruled North Korea from 1997 until his death in 2011.
1. Adolf Hitler
Hitler was so terrible that his name became synonymous with the word “notorious.” That’s because he was a megalomaniacal perpetrator of mass genocide. Responsible for World War II and the Holocaust, Hitler is arguably the worst person in history.
Besides being a fascist murdering son-of-a-b***h, Hitler was obsessed with himself and his idealized vision for white people. He wanted nothing more than to crowd-surf on top of a sea of blonde poster-boys, whilst painting a perfect portrait of himself. Too bad he sucked at painting. Who the hell gets kicked out of art school twice?