Browse By

Top Ten Most Evil Dictators of All Time (in order of kill count)

Some people make horrible decisions, others are just bad presidents, a few are bloodthirsty, many are extremists, a couple are warmongers, and all of these guys are a mix. Ten of our political leaders in the last 130 years have been the architects of the most horrific genocides, systematic murders, blockades, brutal wars, and policy reforms history has ever recorded.

Where to begin? Maybe an icebreaker for you next dinner party? Did you know the word “genocide” was coined in 1943 to describe when the Armenians were slaughtered haphazardly by Turkish leader Ismail Enver? Until then there was no specific word for it in our language. It makes me think about how much more cognizant we’ve become in this last century to these events. So, a quick toast between you and I to a more peaceable future where less of what follows below is allowed to happen. Sit back, but don’t relax.

10. Yakubu Gowon (1.1 million deaths)

Breakdown: 1 million civilians on the wrong side of a blockade caused by a war of secession in Nigeria and 100,000 soldiers who died in that war.

It starts as many sad stories do with precious beautiful oil. It had been found in the Niger delta where tensions were already high between the Eastern region (led by Ojukwu) and the rest of the country (governed by Yakubu). A dummy agreement was signed between them called the “Aburi Accord”, but it meant nothing to either leader. Yakubu started to put pressure on the region, and tested how much sway he had in the area versus Ojukwu. Well Ojukwu being no slouch declared secession from the rest of Nigeria and became the “Republic of Biafra”. This began a war that caused the deaths of 100,000 soldiers, and much worse, a blockade on the region which starved 1 million civilians.

9. Mengistu Haile Mariam (400,000 – 1.5 million deaths)

Breakdown: As president of Ethiopia and colonel of  “the Derg” (communist militia) Mengitsu systematically killed those against him in the “Red Terror” campaign.

Mengistu Haile Mariam is (as in still alive) a politician who presided over Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. The way he got into power was by smothering the previous president Haile Selassie although he has denied those rumors. His biggest claim to fame is the Ethiopian Red Terror which was a campaign of repression led by the Derg (communist militia in Ethiopia).

In his introductory speech Mengitsu yelled, “Death to counterrevolutionaries! Death to the EPRP!” Then he took three bottles filled with blood and threw them to the ground.

It was an auspicious beginning to say the least. Thousands were killed and found dead on the streets in the years that followed. Much of the murdering can be attributed to the friendly neighborhood watch there known as “Kebeles”. As if killing innocents wasn’t enough they would then charge the family a tax to return the dead body to them. The tax was aptly named “the wasted bullet”! Are you serious Mengitsu? However there was an even more gruesome fate of being left on the street where wild hyenas would fight over the dead. The campaign has been described as one of the worst mass murders ever in Africa. Mengitsu is even known to have garroted people to death.

8. Kim Il Sung (1.6 million deaths)

Breakdown: Unpopular among his people Kim used the U.S. as a scapegoat and forced the country to believe in his delusion or else.

Before our very own Kim Jong-Il was his murderous father Kim Il Sung who led North Korea in a terrible direction. He fought for a command economy that allowed the government to make all decisions for the country. For various reasons the people never seemed to love the man, and so his hold on power was tenuous at best. Like most crazies he blamed somebody else, in this case the USA, and said they had spread disease throughout its population. He also pulled a Stalin, and had large-scale purges. His underlying reason was that it would scare people into believing he was telling the truth.  Kim’s purge was a little different than Stalin’s though in that there were no trials.  During his tenure prison camps sprung up all over the country to contain the ever growing masses of people against Kim Il Sung.

7. Pol Pot (1.7 million deaths)

Breakdown: Forced city folk to relocate to farms and forced them into hard labor.

Pol Pot was the leader of the communist movement in Cambodia. He attempted to “cleanse” the country and it resulted in the death of an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 million people. There was an interesting policy going around called agrarian collectivization which he put into practice in the late 1970’s. Basically it forced city folk to head out to the farms to do some labor and vice versa for farmers. As you might guess, and hindsight is 20/20, neither group was very good at their new jobs. Pol didn’t stop at enslaving his own people though. He also didn’t feed them well, gave them little medical care, and executed many of them. The net result was killing off approximately 1/5 of the Cambodian population!

6. Ismail Enver Pasha (2.5 million deaths)

Breakdown: 1,200,000 Armenians (1915) + 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks (1916-22) + 500,000 Assyrians (1915-20)

He began his career as a Turkish military officer and leader in the Young Turk revolution. Eventually he rose to power and led the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I. As a war minister Enver was not very useful, and was defeated over and over. His crushing loss at the Battle of Sarikamish needed a scapegoat, and that’s when he decided to blame Armenians for the failure. That is what began what is now known as the Armenian Genocide. The word “genocide” was coined to describe this event.

Etymology from Wikipedia:
Coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, to describe what the Turkish government (ca 1915–18) perpetrated against the Armenian people, now called the Armenian Genocide. From the stem of Ancient Greek (génos), “race, kind” or Latin “tribe, clan” (-cide).

5. Hideki Tojo (5 million deaths)

Breakdown: Waged unprovoked wars against China, USA, Netherlands, and France.

Hideki Tojo was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army. He assumed the position of Prime Minister and held Army Minister concurrently. As if that wasn’t enough he also held other major positions like Home Minister, Foreign Minister, Education Minister, and Commerce Minister. His major contributions to education were teaching militaristic and nationalist indoctrination. His version of homeland security was approving eugenics measures which essentially made a distinction between pure blood and mixed blood Japanese families.

During World War II Tojo started winning battles and the public loved him for it. He really bought into the Nazi Kool-aid, and held steadfastly with Germany. When the tide turned, and he began losing, it was devastating. Eventually he went into seclusion. He was tried for war crimes and found guilty of waging wars of aggression, wars in violation of international law, and waging unprovoked war against many countries. Not to mention ordering, authorizing, and permitting inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War.

4. Leopold II of Belgium (2-15 million deaths)

Breakdown: Created a colony called the “Congo Free State”, enslaved its people, and forced them into labor plants.

Leopold II was the King of the Belgians, and believed in colonialism. He thought acquiring colonies overseas was essential to a great country and was always scheming. The problem was Belgium really didn’t care, and so Leopold went into business for himself. He started a company that seemed like it was doing good called the International African Society. A year later he used that company to travel to Congo, laid claim to a plot of land 14 times the size of Belgium, and made 14 countries agree (USA included) that he was free to rule it with his own private militia. He then forced the indigenous populations into forced labor, created a bustling rubber industry, and abused his workers grievously.

Missionary John Harris on returning from Congo said:
“I have just returned from a journey inland to the village of Insongo Mboyo. The abject misery and utter abandon is positively indescribable.”

Estimates of the death toll range from two to fifteen million which could all have been avoided if 14 countries didn’t hand him the keys to the car!

3. Adolf Hitler (17 million deaths)

Breakdown: Concentration camps and civilians in WWII.

Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party. He was the absolute dictator of Germany from 1934 to 1945. He gained support by promoting values like German nationalism and anti-semitism. Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933 and began the Third Reich. Hitler was power hungry as all hell, hated the shit out of Jews (and others), and wanted  hegemony in Europe. The militarization that was needed to complete such a lofty goal led to the outbreak of World War II. Nazi forces engaged in the systematic murder of as many as 17 million civilians, an estimated six million of whom were Jews, and 1.5 million Romanis.

2. Jozef Stalin (23 million deaths)

Breakdown: The great purges and Ukraine’s famine.

Jozef Stalin was the first Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922 – 1953. After Lenin’s death in 1924, he became the leader of the Soviet Union. Stalin didn’t take long in launching a new economy that screwed up food production across the country so bad it caused massive famine. Between 1922-23 it reached such catastrophic proportions everything went to shit. In Ukraine this dark period is known as Holodomor. Its widely believed that Soviet policies caused the famine there and was designed as an attack on Ukrainian nationalism. Estimates on the total number of casualties within Soviet Ukraine range from 2.6 million to 10 million! During the late 1930s Stalin launched another wonderfully titled initiative called the Great Purge (also known as the “Great Terror”). It was a paranoid campaign to kill off the people who opposed him, and his targets were often executed.

In 1939 Stalin agreed to a non-aggression pact with the Nazis. Eventually Germany violated the pact, the Soviet Union joined the allies, and they racked up 23.9 million deaths (the largest death toll in the war).

1. Mao Zedong (49-78 million deaths)

Breakdown: Policy reforms like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

Mao Zedong was a Chinese revolutionary, political theorist, and communist leader who led the People’s Republic of China. Mao, while controversial, is still widely considered a savior of the nation. I did a semester abroad in China in 2001 after falling in love with its history, and was surprised in my conversations that many people thought Mao had done 70% – 80% good things. During  his first five years from 1949 – 53 he is said to have systematically killed between 4 to 6 million people by sentencing them to die or by sending them to “reform through labor” camps. He organized mass repressions, established execution quotas, and defended his actions in these early years as necessary for securing power for “The People’s Republic of China”.

His social programs the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution are two of the most ill-fated, poorly named, initiatives ever. The first was an effort to rapidly industrialize China. His focus was on making China a premier exporter of steel, and to this end he asked everybody to make  it. The problem was it got many citizens to make smelting shops in their backyards. Not only was the steel of little value, but it was made from everything lying around the house including their own cooking supplies! Without the tools to make food, no money coming in from the steel, and no money to survive ~ a lot of people starved to death. The estimates on this program alone are 20 million deaths! Think about that number. Really think about it. Then ask yourself… why would you EVER let someone back into power after such an insanely bad decision.Well, they took the reigns away from him for a short time.

In the interim Mao started the socialist education movement. He aimed the concept at young ones who would eventually wrest the power away from the older guard. By 1964 this movement was renamed the “four cleanups movement” whose goal was cleansing politics, economics, ideas, and organization of “reactionaries”. This led to the formation of the “Red Guards” who were organized to punish intellectuals and take out Mao’s political adversaries. The Cultural Revolution was now underway, and its overriding mission was to abolish: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. Something Mao fervently believed in was that destruction and chaos could bring re-birth. So he told his followers to destroy buildings, sacred objects, talk back to ones elders, punish them, turn them in, and kill those who did not agree. By 1968 things were starting to look pretty good for Mao all over again, and so he put into place the decade long “Down to the Countryside Movement” which forced young intellectuals to move out to the country to become farmers. Sadly, the people he pushed out there were the same Red Guards who had helped him get power. Estimates of the death toll are between 40,000 – 7 million depending on who you ask.

Finally, there is the 100 flowers movement which just needs an abbreviated mention here. Mao asked people to come forth and tell him how he should govern China.  Intellectuals and liberals bit at the chance to tell him what they really thought, and were encouraged by the Communist party to do so. Then in a sudden change of heart, or an incredibly crafty mission to out his haters, the government persecuted 500,000 of them who were considered to be “dangerous thinkers”.


Mao is essentially like that girlfriend/boyfriend who keeps on taking a shit on you, but is so damn charming you hardly notice. His policies and political purges from 1949 to 1976 caused the deaths of 49 to 78 million people.

The moral of the story is ~

Let’s stop allowing evil political dictators to take office. And if we do have someone bad in office we can find better ways to get them out than murdering them, wars, and aggressive confrontations.

182 thoughts on “Top Ten Most Evil Dictators of All Time (in order of kill count)”

  1. Shjskddj says:


  2. mike says:

    Ok, I agree with your descriptions and I don’t think you missed any major people, but you still obviously don’t know your history. To say that the moral is as simple as “not electing an evil dictator” is very naive. Honestly, not a single country ever put a person in power with the idea that “boy, this evil dictator sure will be great!” Take Hitler, for instance. One of the most influential, well known people in modern history, Hitler did not start out as an evil person. A devote Christian all his life, Hitler actually had no ‘bad’ intentions when he came to power. Germany was actually in a very distraught financial state and needed someone to pull them out of depression. Hitler rose up and gave them hope. He pulled them out of depression, and even made them a world power. Even the events of the holocaust (as bad as this may sound) were, in Hitler’s mind, the right thing to do for Germany. Hitler had only the best intentions for the German people in mind. Take Mao Zedong. This man killed nearly 100,000,000 people, yet this was only due to an attempt to bring the Chinese economy out of a bad place (much like Hitler). The majority of the people that Zedong “killed” died from starvation due to a lack of crop yield in China at the time, which somehow got pinned on Zedong. Also, in case you haven’t heard of the Long March (which you probably haven’t), he led 100,000 people out of South East China to avoid EXECUTION! If he hadn’t led the march, they all would have been killed. Instead, Zedong saved 7,000 of them after a 6,000 mile trek across China. Those who died did so because they couldn’t weather the trip. These deaths, however, were again blamed on him. People are not evil, they just do what they think is best, which benefits some, and not others. Its honestly not as easy as you may think to just “get rid of” a dictator.
    Read your history books bud.

  3. Pingback: De inborst van Albert Einstein, de argwaan van Virginia Woolf, de optiek van Meester Kong. | G.C. Grim
  4. Trackback: De inborst van Albert Einstein, de argwaan van Virginia Woolf, de optiek van Meester Kong. | G.C. Grim
  5. Ol' Uncle Joe Stalin says:

    What about Nixon?

  6. Martie says:

    Excellent, well-researched article about the top ten most evil dictators. It makes one realize that evil, like death, does not discriminate between races and cultures. I would like to read an article about the top ten best leaders… :)

  7. James D. Chiller says:

    What about Genghis Khan? He’s got somewhere around 50-70 million deaths on his hands…

  8. Jacob says:

    I think this is a good article. Very informative and simple. I believe that, as Mike pointed out, no one puts an evil dictator in power because they look forward to being under his thumb. The closing paragraph killed me! You say we should just figure out how to get an incredibly powerful man with an entire military at his beck and call out of office. That’s bull. Absolute bull. If there were a clean, easy way to do it, that would be the first choice. No one WANTS to go to war, but it tends to be the only way to stop people like these on the list. If you have a better idea, I’m curious as all get-out to hear your suggestion.

  9. Rudolf Reese says:

    Stalin killed way more than that

  10. Jovisys says:

    What about Bush and Chaney?? Geez you really think these morons are not responsible to the thousands or now millions death around the world?

  11. Ian says:

    Comment by Mike way off beam. Mao sold his people’s food to buy nuclear weapons which he no need for. That’s why they starved. And Mao did not lead his people on the long march. He was bloody carried all way on a specially constructed stretcher. Four hapless peasants did the carrying.

  12. Mahmoud says:

    Where the hell is Thomas Jefferson? Or the American Indian Holocaust doesn’t count because it happened in America? Jeez !

  13. AshRosetti says:

    What about Muhammed? He murdered Jews, Christians. Raped and Imprisoned young girls (who he used as sex spaces and rewarded to his followers), he burned alive Homosexuals, he married Aysha at the age of 6. So far, 270,000,000 people have been murdered in the name of ISLAM (the evil cult that he founded).

  14. Attila says:

    Enver Pasha !

  15. Attila Khan says:

    Ghengis Khan ?

  16. Ardas3 says:

    Hey,you can say that Enver Pasha killed a lot of peole but Armenian Genocide is a diffrent topic.First learn it,then you can write about it.In other point,Armenian Genocide never happened.Do you really believe that a falling country can make and afford genocide?

  17. ABC says:

    To those Americans on here attempting to make Europe seem evil and America the saviours, let me say this – Vietnam anybody? You know, where America murdered thousands of innocent civilians because they were too stupid to realise that they weren’t wanted. And to those of them claiming that America “saved” Europe during WW2, ummm.. no you didn’t. Germany couldn’t have taken Britain, because they lost the Battle of Britain, and so Britain and the USSR together could have beaten Germany – it just would have taken longer. Learn, people. America is nowhere near the best country in the world, filled with unjustified patriots spouting propaganda, and racists thinking every other country is inferior. I think I’d rather live in Communist Russia during the 1930’s.

  18. ABC says:

    Oh and whoever the guy is claiming Islam is an evil cult – shut the hell up.

  19. Mathys J Thom says:

    History was written by the victors

  20. Mathys J Thom says:

    Stalin Killed 50 million Ukranians in an experiment

  21. Jon Weban says:

    The recipe to stop dictators from coming to power is a strong constitutional democratic republic, like our founders created in the United States. Our constitution is the best cookbook, but many of our leaders have trashed it, and instead are building a weapon of mass destruction called the surveillance state, one so extreme, so powerful, that the leaders above could only have dreamt of it.

    The first and second amendments are under full assault in the U.S.A., and it only takes a little push before the power that wields this surveillance state is impossible to dismantle, through the creeping tyranny of blackmail and character assassination and inside information at all levels, and then just a matter of time until the rest of our freedoms are taken, and the dying begins.

    All in the name of stopping terrorists? Compare the numbers that might die in a terrorist attack, to the numbers in the list above. Get the picture? In coming elections, we must all speak and vote to oppose unconstitutional mass surveillance against law-abiding citizens, that puts too much information/power in the hands of government. We don’t need all that to stop terrorist attacks, if we even can. Tyranny is the greater risk. Challenge all who support unconstitutional mass surveillance.

  22. jimmyjames says:

    Its just what happens…. it is what it is………..

  23. Commie says:

    There is no Armenian Bullshit. It’s just English games. There are so much people died because of capitalsit Britannia. Long life to Communism!

  24. Commie says:

    AND what about USA! The world is burning for the sake of USA!

  25. owossoguy says:

    The remarks on here are from some very stupid and uneducated people trying to advance their own agenda! What this guy wrote in this article is the truth and if you don’t believe it you better read more! Religion has nothing to do with these devils. It was the way to stay in power and that is what it is POWER

  26. Pingback: Which Dictator Killed the Most People? Repost from ACC | SlowFacts
  27. Trackback: Which Dictator Killed the Most People? Repost from ACC | SlowFacts
  28. B Cuz says:

    “People are not evil, they just do what they think is best, which benefits some, and not others.”

    This has to be one of the most asinine a statements I’ve ever read. That is tantamount to saying evil doesn’t exists and anyone with at least 2-3 functioning neurons knows evil is everywhere on this planet. The old and accepted axiom that power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely seems to work here. To say Mao is not culpable in the millions of deaths is insanity speaking … it was his policies in the very least and mostly his direct orders.

    Mike, you need to back away from the bong and quit reading Alinsky. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and many others not mentioned were the epitome of evil. You should be ashamed of yourself for defending evil but I’m sure you’re not !

  29. HanzP says:

    What about the Rothchild / Rockefeller Zionist banking cabal? Surely they beat Mao Zedong out if first place

  30. Ferhat says:

    AshRosetti : Be careful when you say Muhammed(a.s.m) because he is our prophet and last prophet in the world. How can he be responsible for murder? He was like an angel and is the reason why the whole humanity is created due to his lifestyle and faith. You blame him in a very disgusting way, those information are so wrong, make some decent research about him and ?slam. A prophet cannot be responsible any bad actions , never for murders. Christian, Jews and Muslims have been killing each other for thousands of years. For sure, if you want to distinguish people with their belief, Christian killed a lot more than Muslims. At the time of Jihad, Muslims were conquering lands in the name of Allah, but after the expansion of ?slam and today there is no such thing. People cannot MURDER others in the name of ?slam! ?slam provides peace to people. First, be respectful, then make emphaty and think critical.

  31. leeuniverse says:

    Two comments…..
    The author of this article is incredibly naive for what he states in conclusion, especially so since he seems to study history.
    Quote: “And if we do have someone bad in office we can find better ways to get them out than murdering them, wars, and aggressive confrontations.”

    What does this author think people should do when nothing works? When the Dictator has such a strangle hold on speech, movement, writing, weapons, etc.? He clearly thinks people should just keep dying or allowed to die, because maybe “one day” he can be voted out of office.
    This author clearly doesn’t understand that Dictators become dictators because they can, they control the people so they can’t do anything, and thus the ONLY way to stop them from Genocide, injustice, Wars, etc. IS to fight back against them, by killing them or wars.

    I don’t recall off hand, but if Mao was the most Genocidal leader of history, and if some people knew Mao was doing what he was doing, doesn’t the author think someone should have killed him to stop the innocents from dying? I mean, upwards of 78 Million….. Really, WAR killing a murderer or Waring with him somehow isn’t “worth it” in this authors mind?

    Message to ABC…..
    What propaganda crap do you listen to and read?
    America went to Vietnam to help the South Vietnamese (as they requested) who Wanted Democracy and Freedom to rule themselves, to stop the Communist North from taking over and being dictators over the South. America and South Vietnamese Wared with the Northern Communists to try and stop them who were supplied by China and Russia. America did not kill “civilians”, that’s slimeball John Kerry and other lying liberals claims, not the truth. Sure, not that civilians never accidentally got killed, nor that no G.I. never did a wrong, but the liberal bullship movies are just that, non-historical bullship, and whatever bad might have happened was FAR the exception to the rule. People are still human, and do wrong. But America has always been a professional military, and Vietnam was no different.

    The only problem with Vietnam is they tried to fight them one on one, thus killing to many American soldiers, and they QUIT the war only months before America would have won it and freed the South (admited by a Northern General in his Bio). So, liberals of this country lost that war, just like they really lost the Iraq War also, not truly destroying Fanatical Islam and leaving a stable country that can build. Just look at WWII and South Korea, places in which America was allowed to do it’s job, where slimeball liberals didn’t influence this country that much, yet Europe was freed and helped to be “prosperous” (well as much as EU liberals have allowed it, man EU country’s are poor, overtaxed, etc.). South Korea is like a modern Japan, also a war America won.
    And what you said about America not helping Europe, you’re just ignorant. Sure, eventually Russia and the U.K. would have won, but America did a LOT there, and likely prevented a lot less death. Was D-Day just in our imagination, or the 100’s of other battles there? Don’t know what drugs and propaganda you are on, clearly liberal ones.

  32. Pingback: Fascism, Islam, and Obama’s Anti-Americanism | tomfernandez28's Blog
  33. Trackback: Fascism, Islam, and Obama’s Anti-Americanism | tomfernandez28's Blog
  34. Pingback: Killer Mike and the End of Religion | Inside Shalom
  35. Trackback: Killer Mike and the End of Religion | Inside Shalom
  36. Pingback: Killer Mike and the End of Religion - DatPostmil
  37. Trackback: Killer Mike and the End of Religion - DatPostmil

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>