The term dictator means one who has obtained total power or control over a country or a place by force. Many ruthless leaders and kings have come and gone, but there are some brutal world dictators of all time whose cruelty will always remain unmatched. As the famous maxim goes- “One man’s hero is another man’s tyrant,” we bring you a list of 10 world dictators of all time.
10 World Dictators of All Time
10. Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte proved that having your dad be king of France was not the only way to become ruler of France. He then went on to become one of the most famous world dictators of all time.
In 1804, he rose to power and took absolute control by declaring himself, Emperor. Thus began the destructive conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte. He remarked about going back to the old Roman days.
He earned the complete trust of thousands of young men by fighting in a lot of battles along with them. With these men, he conquered German and Austrian territory. He incorporated a lot of men from their lands too. After defeating Austria in several battles, he had almost ended the Holy Roman Empire. He unified German states, excluding Austria, in the Confederation of the Rhine. He took military action against Prussia and conquered it too.
Napoleon’s goal was to colonize the entire continent, and he mostly succeeded, but the Soviet Union was a problem for him.
He built an army of some 600,000 to 700,000 men from across his lands and began his invasion in June of 1812 with a determination of absorbing the entire Soviet Union, but this military coup of him failed. Most of his soldiers were killed, and this proved costly for him.
To this day, Napoleon is still known as one of the deadliest world dictators of all time who had a hand in the death of thousands of soldiers.
9. Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini was probably the only person who could have unified Italy. He restored the order of the state by bringing down the democratic system of the state. He transformed the country into a one-party state.
He had his military of the fascist party and also had a secret police group who helped him to seize power. He applied power and ruthless force and brought down his political foes. If force didn’t work, he ordered executions. He tried to expand the Italian Empire by killing and colonizing poor African countries. He was cruel, and no one dared to face him.
He even partnered up with Hitler. But this misguided partnership ultimately led to his downfall. He was responsible for more than 400000 kills during WWII, making him one of the most prominent world dictators of all time.
8. Mao Zedong
The communist party of China rose into absolute power after a brutal civil force under their leader Mao Zedong by 1949. China, despite being a vast and vastly populated country, was politically weak. Zedong wanted to follow Stalin’s Soviet industrialization model and radically transform China into an industrialized nation.
He is sometimes called the worst mass murderer in the history of tyrants or one of the worst dictators. But knowing the exact number of how many died due to his policies and those just murdered under this regime, is not easy. That number is said to be about 40-45 million. These millions of people died as a direct result of Mao’s policies and zero-tolerance attitude to critics.
There has been enough proof of how his policies and decisions led to the devastations and destruction of ordinary people. Under his regime, the military dictatorship was incredibly cruel to the average Chinese people, especially those who dared to oppose or question him.
The death toll was in millions making him one of the most ruthless world dictators of all time.
Also known as the “mad dog of the Middle East,” Gaddafi was the epitome of Islamic dictatorship. He established extensive surveillance of his people, and himself became a wealthy man while the property level of Libya rose every day. He indiscriminately murdered rebels. Though the Libyans fought back, they were killed and put down. More than 10,000 people died with thousands destroyed, making him one of the worst world dictators of all time.
6. Pol Pot
Pol Pot- the communist leader of Khmer Rouge believed that cities were evil and tried to take Cambodia back to its rural state. In 1975 the US troops evacuated after the six years of war, which paved the way for Pol Pot’s plans.
The Khmer Rouge evacuated the capital by forcing people to move into the countryside. Intellectuals, artists, and monks were rounded up, killed, and were buried in mass graves known as the killing fields.
Cambodians were forced into labor camps where thousands more died from hunger and malnutrition-related disease. The school turned into torture chambers where his suspected enemies were ruthlessly murdered.
He imagined that the Vietnamese were after him, and to end this, he sent his troops into Vietnam and killed villagers mercilessly. The Vietnamese retaliated, and Pol Pot and his troops were forced to go into hiding.
Pol Pot died much later in 1998 without any punishment. He was single-handedly responsible for over 2 million deaths making him one of the cruelest world dictators of all time.
5. Idi Amin
Idi Amin is supposedly one of the worst world dictators of all time. He took the self-proclaimed official title of president for life after overthrowing the Ugandan Government.
Also known as the ‘Butcher of Uganda,’ he served the British army by joining the King’s African Rifles. He had a bad reputation of torturing during interrogation, and somehow people under him always ended up dead, but the British kept on promoting him. Being a close associate of Milton Obote, the then prime minister, Amin rose to a high rank and attacked the Ugandan king.
He used force, which resulted in the killing of 100s of people and property destruction. He was such a political leader who applied eccentric and ruthless ideas, and thousands of lives were massacred for this. The number of deaths riled up to 500,000, earning him the name of one of the deadliest world dictators of all time.
4. Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin, after serving under Vladimir Lenin, came into political power after his death. This Man of Steel became dictator of the Soviet Union by discrediting and eliminating rivals. This Communist dictator led to aggressive industrialization that killed millions due to famine.
In the late 1920s, Stalin aimed to make the Soviet Union a modern industrial country. And he wanted to do this as quickly as possible for which he made three five-year plans. Coal, oil, steel, and electricity production were massively increased.
But workers who failed to achieve their ambitious targets for production were executed or sent to the gulags. He also introduced collectivization to increase food production, seizing land initially given to the peasants and reorganizing it into collective farms. Mass famine was caused as a result.
Everyone had to praise him, and his portrait was everywhere, from schools to factories!
Twenty million citizens in the Soviet Union were sent to the gulags or executed. In 1939 Stalin made a deal with Adolf Hitler to help the Nazis. Millions died when he was in absolute power, making him one of the deadliest world dictators of all time.
3. Adolf Hitler
He rose from humble beginnings through difficulties at school and with his family to become a decorated World War I veteran and later a passionate and devoted supporter of Germany.
Through powerful oratory and aggressive schemes, he eventually became Chancellor and later the dictator of the country, which allowed him to put his extreme murderous and prejudiced views and policies of racial purity into practice.
He was the man directly responsible for WWII, the Holocaust, and the extermination of over 10 million human lives, and he was by far the most notorious Nazi. He made Nazis the only legal, political party of Germany, and he implemented force to the extent that none others could even dare to raise a voice.
He suppressed his opponents by either killing them or by announcing death sentences. He ruthlessly killed Jews, Gypsies, communists, homosexuals, political prisoners, and the disabled.
Hitler committed some of the worst atrocities in human history, making him one of the most famous and deadliest world dictators of all time.
Know more about Nazism right here!
2. Attila the Hun (406-453)
Attila is still known for being one of the most brutal dictators of all time. Crossing the Danube, he is known for plundering the Balkans.
Though he was unsuccessful in taking Persia, he continued with his military coups and launched a successful attack on the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman). He took over Italy and had plans to invade Rome, too, but died before that. He plundered and killed an innumerable number of people.
He was one of the most feared leaders that ever lived and wanted to conquer the whole of the Eurasian continent. Genghis Khan, one of the worst dictators, left nothing but destruction. His military coups killed millions.
He massacred towns, killed unborn children along with their mothers, took human prisoners, and used them as shields in battles, overthrew former power to make everything his own. Genghis Khan extended his empire from the Pacific to Europe’s heartland. Forty million people were killed, making him one of the cruelest world dictators of all time.
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