Top 8 Worst Dictators in History

World Dictators originally did not have any negative connotation. This is not true in the modern world, now it always has a negative connotation.

When we hear the word, we automatically assume it revolves around a tyrant and madman who slaughters his people to gain power and wealth.

A dictator in the Roman Republic was given absolute power for a brief period during a time of crisis. He returned to being a regular magistrate in the government after this period was finished.

The negative aspect of a dictatorship first came about following Sulla’s Civil War between 83 and 81 B.C. Lucius Cornelius Sulla was the first Roman politician who tried to seize power through force and turned himself into Rome’s dictator.

The first Roman Emperor Augustus was pretty much a dictator himself, but just like all Roman Emperors who followed him, he declined this title because of the negativity that came with the word.

From a deranged Roman Emperor to modern-day madmen, let’s take a closer look at some of the worst dictators in history.

1. Nero

Nero (37-68 A.D.) wasn’t the only Roman Emperor who indulged in excessive cruelty, but among all the psychopaths who were once in charge of the biggest empire the world had ever seen by then, he sticks out.

It’s hard to fathom that a sadistic murderer could run an empire this vast, but he was somehow in charge for nearly 14 years between 54 and 68 A.D. HIs downfall came when the Great Fire of Rome destroyed much of the city in July 64.

The rumors that he had lit the fire to make way for his opulent Golden Palace started circling, and his bloody persecution of Christians shortly after didn’t help either.

Worst Dictators in history Nero
Bust of cruel Roman Emperor Nero / Wiki Commons

2. Genghis Khan

Gengis Khan (1158-1227) was the first Emperor it “Khan” of the Mongolian Empire. He first united nomadic people in northeastern Asia and launched his feared Mongol Invasions shortly after.

It’s hard to imagine today but these invasions stretched all across Eurasia and even went as far as modern-day Eastern Europe, including medieval Georgia, the Kievan Rus, and Volga Bulgaria.

Despite his successes, his legacy is overshadowed by the brutal nature of these invasions. These often resulted in mass murder and devastation. In modern-day Iran, this period is referred to as the “Mongol Catastrophe.”

Ghengis Khan
14th-century illustration of Genghis Khan / Wiki Commons

3. Idi Amin Dada Oumee

Idi Amin Dada Oumee (1925-2003) is often simply referred to as “Idi Amin” was the feared president of Uganda between 1971 and 1979. He left behind a legacy of slaughter during his de facto military dictatorship.

Despite being in charge for only 8 years, the nearly half a million people that lost their lives during his persecution of ethnic groups in the country is quite a staggering number to fathom.

The brutal despite was ousted in 1979 and went into exile in several countries, including Libya, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This means that he was never tried for the atrocities he committed and lived comfortably in the Middle East until 2003.

Idi Amin
Idi Amin / Wiki Commons

4. Joseph Stalin

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (1878-1953) was born in Georgia in a poor family and made his way to the top. He became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1922 and held this position until he died in 1953.

Stalin was his nickname and translates to “Steel” but was used as “Man of Steel.” While this might sound good for a fictional comic book character, in real life it meant he was an unscrupulous dictator who left behind a path of death.

His worst atrocities were allowing millions of people to starve to death and launching the “Great Purge,” his solution to get rid of people who didn’t agree with him.

Joseph Stalin in 1920
Joseph Stalin in 1920 / Wiki Commons

5. Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) is the most infamous and best-known of all the worst dictators in history. He invaded Poland in 1939, an event that culminated in World War II and the death of millions of people worldwide.

He became the German chancellor in 1933 and Reichskanzler in 1934, effectively turning the country into a dictatorship. He was a master of propaganda and managed to turn intelligent people into evil monsters.

His idiotic policies resulted in the death of 6 million Jews and millions of victims who didn’t agree with him. These people were referred to as “Untermenschen” or “sub-humans,” a term adopted by his followers as well.

Adolf Hitler in 1938
Adolf Hitler in 1938 / Wiki Commons

6. Kim Il-Sung

Kim Il-sung (1912-1994) was the father of Kim Jong-Il (1942-2011) and the grandfather of Kim Jong-un (born in 1984). He’s the founding father of one of the worst political regimes in history, that of North Korea.

He founded the country in 1948 and based it on the ideals of Communism with slight touches of Korean culture. The Kim Dynasty still rules the most secretive country in the world today.

Despite receiving aid from the USSR government, the country never progressed. When this aid sized following the Collapse of the Soviet Union, it resulted in one of the worst famines in human history between 1991 and 1994, the final years of his life.

Kim Il Sung in 1950
Kim Il-Sung in 1950 / Wiki Commons

7. Ramzan Kadyrov

Ramzan Kadyrov (born in 1976) became the president of the Chechen Republic at the age of 30 in February 2007. He’s a former member of the Chechen independence movement and his rise to power went hand in hand with bloody power struggles.

His dictatorship has been filled to the brim with controversy and he’s been accused of countless human rights abuses. Especially his brutal persecution of gay people, purges that have resulted in the killing and torture of thousands of people.

Human rights activists are also frequently targeted and he’s allegedly been involved in the kidnapping, torture, and assassination of everybody who goes against him. He has a private army of 80,000 battle-hardened soldiers to stay in power.

Ramzan Kadyrov

8. Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born in 1952) is the official president of Russia but runs the country like a dictatorship. This is emphasized by the fact that he runs the shots and can make decisions without being challenged.

Freedom of speech is also non-existent in Russia and everybody who opposes the decisions made by Vladimir Putin ends up being persecuted. This climate has resulted in the gradual decline of the Russian economy during his reign, despite being a country extremely wealthy in natural resources.

His recent decision to invade Ukraine is proof that he is one of the worst dictators in history. This decision to invade a sovereign country without provocation puts the former KGB agent on this undesirable list.

Vladimir Putin in 2021
Vladimir Putin in 2021 / / Wiki Commons