There are evil dictators we know of, and there are those we rarely hear or read about that are as equally cruel. Over the last century, the world has experienced their blood thirst and their extremist ideologies. Wars have been waged, and even the term genocide was coined in the 1940s to describe the slaughter of the Armenians carried out by Ismail Enver Pasha, the Turkish leader at the time.
Adolf Hitler springs to mind as the world’s most evil dictator, but with his death toll at 17 million, he only ranks third if you consider Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. Stalin, in his time was responsible for Russia’s Great Purges and mass famine. Essentially killing off all those who annoyed him, Stalin racked up 23 million deaths. Mao Tse Tung, however, during his reign between 1949 to 1976 managed to wipe out somewhere between 49 and 78 million citizens. These included “dangerous thinkers’ through to the ill-fated citizen who simply died from famine during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Going by the death tolls dictators are responsible for, here is a list of the 5 lesser known dictators the world has witnessed over the last century or so.
Japan – Hideki Tojo (Deaths: Over 20 Million)
If you have a love for World War history, listing Hideki Tojo won’t come as a surprise. The man who was responsible for greenlighting the attack on Pearl Harbor killed his own with as much contempt as he did his enemies.
Born in 1884, Tojo followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Japanese military. He rose to the rank of chief of staff of the Kwantung Army in 1937, aged 52 and in 1941, he was named the 40th Prime Minister of Japan. It was during WW II that his lust for power truly started.
Holding the position Army Minister concurrent to his PM position, Tojo took a page out of the Nazi notebook and began approving eugenic programs to distinguish between mixed blood Japanese families and those of pure blood.
Tojo gave Mao and Hitler a run for their money also, with some historians estimating tens of millions of innocents, POWs and Japanese dying under his rule.
During his trial for war crimes, Tojo was held responsible for his armed forces actions, including the horrific Unit 731. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging in 1948.
Belgium – King Leopold II (Deaths: Over 10 Million)
Somewhere between 5 and 15 million Congolese died at the greedy hands of King Leopold II. His solid belief in colonialism led to his acquiring of African lands under the misleading International African Society.
The United States along with 13 other countries were persuaded to allow him free rule with his own private militia – that cruelly tortured and forced the local populations into slave labour. Ironically, his colony was named ‘free’, calling it the “Congo Free State.”
His industry’s trade? Rubber.
Korea – Kim Il Sung (Deaths: 1.7 to 5 Million)
With the raucous of recent North Korean events and tantrums, to overlook the former leader would be remiss.
Kim Il Sung was born into a somewhat middle-class family. By the mid-1930s an anti-Japanese resistance grows in Korea and Kim emerges “as a significant resistance leader.” Even at this early stage, the Japanese at the time formed a special group to track him down.
After the bombs are dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima and Japan surrenders, Korea is divided into North and South and remains so to this day. With the DPRK born, Kim returns from the Soviet and is selected to establish a provisional government.
Reigning over the Hermit Kingdom between 1948 and 1993, most of the death and destruction occurred in the 1950s during the Korean War he helped instigate, when around 3 million are killed.
Purges similar to those seen in Russia prior to the Korean War, saw thousands of “counter-revolutionaries” publicly executed. To this day, the three-generation rule applies to dissidents’ families who currently remain in prison camps.
Due to Kim Il Sung’s economic policies, estimates of 2 to 3 million Koreans starved in the 1990s due to famine.
Turkey – Ismail Enver Pasha (Deaths: 1 to 2.5 Million)
This is the man responsible for the coining of the term ‘genocide’ after instigating the Armenian genocide. The gruesome nature of this Turkish military officer who was also a leader in the Young Turk revolution, led to around 1.2 million Armenians slaughtered, starting in 1915. Blaming the Armenians for his continued defeats and his crushing Battle of Sarikamish (1914) loss, War Minister Pasha was looking for a scapegoat.
Not only did he attack the Armenians, over half a million Assyrians died between 1915-1920 and almost a million Greeks were killed or deported between 1916 and 1922.
Romania – Ion Antonescu (Deaths: Up to 1 Million)
Around 300,000 Romanian Jews and half a million Romanian soldiers died at the hands of ‘Red Dog’ Antonescu after he rose to Prime Minister of Romania in 1940. Romania then becomes the staunchest of German allies during the Second World War and leads the Iron Guard’s massacre against the Jews.
Also massacred are those related to the deposed King Carol, before the Iron Guard takes on a life of its own and begins devouring its own members.
After a coup is attempted against Antonescu by the Iron Guard, Antonescu assumes his dictatorial role and strengthens anti-Jew policy with the goal of eradicating them from Romania.
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