Throughout history there have been a vast series of hard rulers who are placed on a pedestal more for their tyranny as opposed to their achievements as leaders. These authoritarian leaders were typically welcomed into the office but over time they became a symbol of rage for their country due to the tribulations that they were causing.
It has been said that history is remembered and retold from the side of the victor, not the antagonist. This is true in most respects although some of the most famous figures in history are remembered for the negativity and tyranny that they brought to their country. These dictators often did not fight on the ‘right’ side of the battle in their everyday practices. We’ve learned about a lot of evil leaders in our time who have committed some of the most dramatic atrocities that mankind has ever seen.
In this article we are going to outline the 10 most infamous dictators in history and some of their history and actions.
1. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was responsible for the tragic holocaust that went on during World War II. His quiet murder of millions of Jewish people will never be forgotten. His actions also lead directly to the most violent and widespread war in the history of the world.
2. Pol Pot
Pol Pot was Saloth Sar’s name that he was most commonly known by. Pot created work camps and farms where he would force civilians to go if they did not follow his direction. During his reign, many people were forced to dig graves for mass amounts of bodies. People were buried alive or beaten to death in order to save bullets. Pol Pot was deposed in 1977 by the Vietnamese people, when he made the strategic error of raiding the Vietnam border. It is estimated that a quarter of the Cambodian population was exterminated during his leadership.
3. Joseph Stalin
A little known fact about Joseph Stalin is that he was once a bank robber. The communist government created new laws against bank robbery and this is when Stalin resigned and went to rob a bank in order to prove a point. During this bank robbery, forty people were murdered. Stalin led the Soviet Union between the years of 1922 and 1956. During this time he was a part of the execution of millions of minorities and he participated in overseeing the starvation of many of his own people at labor camps.
4. Chairman Mao
Mao Tse-tung led the People’s Republic of China until 1976. He was responsible for leading China’s Communist Party to victory during their civil war. He was noted as the hero of the Chinese people and is still celebrated throughout China today. Mao borrowed a number of his leadership techniques from Marxism and ideas from the communist Russia. However, many of his policies did result in the deaths of millions of Chinese.
5. Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini began his long political career when he became Prime Minister of Italy in 1922. He led Italy straight to the top of its power and ended up occupying more land than it had ever occupied since the Roman Empire. He held the title which read “His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire”. When Mussolini wanted to retire, Hitler threatened and said that if he did not return back to Italy and attempt to restore fascism, he would have the Nazis destroy several Italian cities. Mussolini had to agree. In 1945 he was executed by communist rebels in 1945 and his bones were hung upside down in Milan.
6. Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin believed in the ideas stemming from Marxism and communism and viewed them as liberating forces. He also was known for believing in feminism. Lenin ordered ‘Red Terror’ to be placed upon those who opposed his leadership and soon developed labor camps. These labor camps had very high death rates and mass executions occurred at these camps.
7. General Franco
Franco was a military man who earned his title as General during a time of restless politics. Spain underwent a revolution and a new dictatorship under Francisco Franco during the Second World War when Hitler was exterminating Jews. It would be easy to forget about General Franco had he not won the civil war with his Nationalist army. He may have made friends with some of the worst people in all of European politics, but Franco was never really involved with World War II. He took no aggressive action against allied nations.
8. Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro was a politician, revolutionary leader, and a Cuban lawyer. He played his part as a central figure in the Cuban Revolution. He defied the US for decades. Most Cubans see Fidel as the monster that was responsible for destroying Cuba. Some others view him as a visionary who may have saved the nation from capitalism. Fidel resigned with his political ideology and power still fully intact.
9. Idi Amin
Idi Amin was a Ugandan dictator who rose up in the ranks of the British colonial regiment and eventually became the Commander of the entire Ugandan Army. He took control of a small part of the central African nation and ended up declaring himself as president. He is best known for having a very short temper and his love letters that were sent to Queen Elizabeth, as well as the human rights abuses and murder committed in his name.
10. Porfirio Diaz
Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori was a Mexican general, politician, dictator, and President who ruled Mexico with a violent iron fist from 1876 to 1911. He was referred to as the Porfiriato during his period of ruling and positively noted for the great progress made by the Mexican economy during his ruling. The benefits of his actions were not felt by many Mexicans, though, because millions of them were laboring as peons through virtual slavery. The Mexican economy went into a recession during the first years of the 20th century as a number of the miners that were working went on strike. This was the beginning of the end of Porfirio Diaz’s reign as a leader.