BOONE, North Carolina— Throughout history, dictators have brought fear and grief upon the oppressed populace. Surprisingly, these rulers are usually welcomed into the office but unfortunately, as time goes on, their actions worsen. In order to maintain total power, dictators often use intimidation tactics to enforce their audience’s obedience. In addition to abolishing free speech and democracy, dictators are notorious for widespread poverty and the ruthless killing of millions of innocent people. From the infamous Hitler, to the lesser-known Leopold II, here are 10 of the worst dictators of all time.
Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918)
Nicholas II was the last, and arguably the bloodiest, tsar of Russia. Nicholas’s most infamous act is now referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” When peaceful protesters led a march through St.Petersburg for better working conditions and the establishment of popular assemblies, Nicholas II had his troops open fire on the crowd, killing over a thousand innocent demonstrators.
Photo: Fan Pop
Bashar al-Assad (1965-)
Following in the footsteps of his father, the current president of Syria is known to use chemical weapons against civilians, killing innocent women and children in the process. In addition to his deeds on the ground, al-Assaad has placed bans on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook, and passed a law demanding that anything said on online forums be made public and under scrutiny of the Syrian armed forces.
Photo: The Telegraph
Leopold II of Belgium (1835-1909)
As King of Belgium, Leopold II became notorious for exploiting labor from the Congo, which he claimed in the name of Belgium. The Congolese people were forced to work in mines and collect ivory to export. To keep the Congolese workers in line, Leopold authorized the use of beatings and violence. When beatings were not enough, Leopold created a private army, the Force Publique, which burned villages of rebels and killed as many disobedient citizens as possible in the process.
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Photo: Africa Is A Country
Robert Mugabe (1924-)
Robert Mugabe is one of the world’s worst dictators because he is known for having his presidential running mate’s supporters brutally murdered in order to secure the position as feared, long-term president of Zimbabwe. In addition to the utilization of violence against those who disagree with his beliefs, Mugabe and his administrative staff commonly give themselves pay raises, despite their country’s economic problems.
Photo: Blouin News
Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
One of the most well-known dictators, Joseph Stalin, ruled the Soviet Union using tactics of terror and pain. Under Stalin’s rule, millions of Russian civilians died from forced labor, starved from famine and were executed by Stalin’s military.
Photo: Fox News
Saddam Hussein (1937-2006)
As president of Iraq, Hussein did many things to improve Iraq’s education system, health care and more. However, Hussein’s most notable acts were the armies he built, the most well-known being the People’s Army. These armies viciously tortured, raped and killed while carrying out Hussein’s orders.
Photo: News That Matters
Mao Zedong (1893-1976)
Over the course of four years, Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” campaign killed 45 million, making him the most deadly dictator in history thus far. Zedong also established China’s cultural revolution which resulted in the destruction of valuable Chinese artifacts. The cultural revolution led to schools being closed and children being sent to labor camps to be “re-educated” in ways that pleased Zedong.
Source: Biography, The Independent
Photo: Financial Times
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
Empirically the most well-known of the world’s worst dictators, Hitler started his own political party and initiated the Second World War, all in a span of 10 years. Hitler’s most gruesome act was orchestrating the Holocaust, which brought death to an estimated 14 million innocent people.
Photo: National Geographic Chanel
Idi Amin (1925-2003)
In addition to being Uganda’s president, Idi Amim is known as the “Butcher of Uganda.” During his presidency, Amim was responsible for roughly 300,000 deaths in Uganda. To keep his citizens in check, Amim created a personal army ironically named the “Public Safety Unit and the State Research Bureau.” Amim’s army was responsible for torturing and killing hundreds of Ugandan people for money, houses and women.
Source: The New York Times , Biography
Fidel Castro (1926-)
During his time as President of Cuba, Fidel Castro was subject to negative lime-light thanks to the Bay of Pigs invasion, a famous attempt made by the U.S. CIA to remove Castro from office, as well as the prominent Cuban missile crisis. To keep his command over Cuba, Castro frequently removed his opposition through the use of executions, imprisonments and forced emigration.
Feature Photo: Sick Chirpse