20 Worst Leaders in History

In the past, there were many leaders who were famous due to their brave work. However, there are also were also some leaders who were known due to their cruelty and bad governance. These leaders had killed millions of people in their time. For example, Hitler started World War II and caused the death of more than 60 million people, which was about 3% of the world population at that time. Some leaders made the lives of their people worse than ever before. We have collected the information about 20 Worst Leaders in History.

1. Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945. He started World War II in September 1939 with the invasion of Poland and was central to the Holocaust. He was decorated for his service in German in the 1st World War. He was the leader of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. When he invaded Poland, British and France declared war on Germany. He ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. German forces and the Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa, by the end of 1941. He suffered a series of escalating defeats due to the entry of the United States into the War. On 30 April 1945, he killed himself to avoid capture by the Red Army. His Army was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews millions of other victims. They were responsible for the killing of 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. Moreover, 29 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in WWII.

2. Mao Ze Dong

Mao Ze Dong or Chairman Mao was a Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China. He ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. He started the Great Leap Forward campaign in 1957, to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial power. His campaign contributed to widespread famine, whose death toll is estimated from 15 to 45 million. He started the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements from the country that lasted ten years. This policy resulted in the widespread destruction of cultural artifacts and elevation of Mao’s personality cult. In 1976, he suffered a series of heart attacks, dying in that September, aged 82. He is also known as a military strategist, theorist, poet, and visionary. However, he was responsible for deaths of 40 to 70 million deaths through prison labor, starvation, and execution.

3. Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold II was the second King of the Belgians and famous for the exploitation of the Congo Free State as a private venture. He succeeded his father to the throne in 1865 and reigned for 44 years until his death. He was the sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project. He used Henry Morton Stanley to help him lay claim to the Congo. At the Berlin conference, the colonies nations of Europe provided him the Congo Free State to improving the lives of the natives. However, he essentially ignored these conditions from the starting. He ran the country for his personal enrichment. He used the money from this exploitation for government and private construction projects in Belgium during his reign. Before his death, he donated the private buildings to the state, to preserve them for the country. Leopold extracted a fortune from the Congo by forced labor from the natives to harvest and process rubber. Under his regime, millions of the Congolese people died, with a consensus growing around 10 million.

4. Jozef Stalin

Jozef Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death. He was the dictator of the state effectively. Under his rule, “Socialism in One Country” became a central tenet of Soviet Society. He transformed the USSR from an agrarian society to an industrial power. He organized and led a massive campaign of repression of the government, party, intelligentsia, and armed forces, in which millions of “enemies of the working class’ were imprisoned, executed, or exiled, without due process. Many Red Army high commanders and primary figures in the government and communists were arrested and shot after some show trial. In World War II, the Red Army fought against German forces and captured Berlin in May 1945. After that, the Soviet Union emerged as one of two recognized world superpowers. Governments loyal to the Soviet Union were established in many countries freed by the Red Army. The exact number of deaths caused by his rule is still a subject of debate.

5. Pol Pot

Pol Pot was a Cambodian revolutionary leader who led the Khmer Rouge, between 1963 and 1997. He served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, from 1963 to 1981. On 17 April 1975, he became the leader of Cambodia, when his forces captured Phnom Penh. He served as the Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea, from 1976 to 1979. Pol Pot presided over a totalitarian dictatorship. His government made urban dwellers move to the countryside to work on forced labor projects and on collective farms. The combined effects of strenuous working conditions, executions, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of 25% population of Cambodia. An estimated one to 3 million people died due to the policies of his four-year premiership. After the Cambodian-Vietnamese War in 197, he relocated to the jungles of southwest Cambodia and the government collapsed. He and a remnant of the old Khmer operated near the border of Thailand and Cambodia, from 1979 to 1997. He died in 1998, while under house arrest.

6. Yakubu Gowon

General Yakubu Gowon is the former head of state of Nigeria between 1966 and 1975. During his regime, the government of Nigerian successfully prevented Biafran secession during the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970. In January 1966, he became the youngest military chief of staff of Nigeria at the age of 31, after a military coup d’etat by a group of junior army officers. During the civil war, the military government surrounded Biafra, capturing the city of Port Harcourt and coastal oil facilities. Over the two and half years of the civil war, there were more than 100,000 military casualties. Moreover, between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran people died from starvation. In mid-1968, the images of starving and malnourished children saturated the mass media of Western countries. Many NGOs collected significant funding for Biafra people. The Soviet Union and Britain were on the back of the Military Government. After the war, Nigeria enjoyed, an oil-fueled, meteoric, economic upturn and the federal government grew to an unprecedented degree, due to increased earnings from oil revenues. However, the period saw a rapid increase in corruption.

7. Jean Kambanda

Jean Kambanda was the Prime Minister in the caretaker government of Rwanda from the start of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. He was the only head of government who plead guilty to genocide. Jean holds a degree in commercial engineering and started his career as a low-level United Popular BPR banker and later became the chairman of the Bank. On 9 April 1994, he was sworn in as prime minister after the assassination of the President and former Prime Minister. Jean Kambanda remained in the post for the hundred days of the genocide. He fled the country after leaving the prime minister’s office. An estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100 days government of Jean Kambanda. It was the mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by government members. The widespread slaughter and genocide ended when the heavy-armed Rwandan Patriotic Front led by Paul Kagame took control of Rwanda. During his regime, more than 2 million were displaced and became refugees. He was arrested on July 18, 1997, in Nairobi and is currently jailed in Koulikoro Prison in Mali.

8. Kim Il-Sung

Kim Il-Sung was the supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) for 46 years, from 1948 until his death in 1994. He was Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to 1994. Moreover, he was the leader of the Worker’s Party of Korea from 1949 to 1994. After coming into power, he authorized the invasion of South Korea in 1950. A cease-fire was signed on July 27, 1953, in the Korean War. Under his leadership, the country became a socialist state. By the 1960s and 1970s, the country enjoyed a high standard of living, which was riddled with economic crises and political instability. Differences between the Soviet Union and North Korea made the country non-aligned in world politics. In 1980, at the 6th Worker’s Party Congress, his son Kim Jong-il was selected as his heir to the supreme leader. North Korea’s economy collapsed in 1991, due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which lead to widespread poverty and famine. After transitioning his military authority to his son in 1993, he died in the summer of 1994.

9. Suharto

Suharto was the 2nd President of Indonesia from 197 until his resignation in 1998. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, he served in Indonesian security forces organized by the Japanese. He rose to the rank of Major General after the Indonesian Independence. An attempted coup by the Indonesian Communist Party on 30 Sep 1965 was countered by Suharto-led troops. The Indonesian Massacre or the Indonesian Genocide were large-scale killings over many months targeting ethnic Chinese, targeting communists, and alleged leftists, often at the instigation of the government and armed forces. During that time, approximately one million people were killed. After that, Suharto wrested power from Indonesia’s President, Sukarno. He became elected President of Indonesia in 1967. He mounted a social campaign to reduce the former President’s influence. Support for his presidency was strong throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Due to widespread corruption in the next decade, he resigned from his post in 1998. He died in 2008 and was given a state funeral. He was the most corrupted leader in modern history, with assets between 15 to 35 million dollars during his rule.

10. Idi Amin

Idi Amin Dada was the third President of Uganda, from 1971 to 1979. He joined the British colonial regiment in 1946, serving in Uganda and Kenya. He held the rank of major general in the Colonial Uganda Army. He promoted himself to field marshal in 1971 when he was the head of government. His rule was characterized by political repression, human rights abuses, extrajudicial killing, ethnic persecution, corruption, nepotism, and gross economic mismanagement. According to international observers and human rights groups, between 100,000 and 500,000 people were killed during his rule. In 1975, he became the chairman of the Organization of African Unity, a group designed to promote solidarity of the African States. Idi Amin enjoyed the support of the American CIA, which delivered bombs and other military equipment to Amin’s Army and took part in military operations in Uganda with Amin’s forces. During the Uganda-Tanzanian War in 1978 and 1989, he fled into exile to Libya and then Saudi Arabia. He died on August 16, 2003, in Saudi Arabia.

11. Ante Pavelic

Ante Pavelic was a Croatian fascist dictator who led the movement for the Independence of State of Croatia during World War II with the support of both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. At the start of his career, he was a lawyer and a politician of the Croatian Party of Rights. He was famous for his nationalist beliefs and support for Independent Croatia. After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, he took control of the government and created a system similar to fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. His brutal regime was responsible for the genocidal persecution of Jews, Serbs, and Romani, including the mass killing of many hundred thousand Serbs. His army killed between 172,000 and 290,000 Serbs, 31 to 40 thousand Jew, 25 to 40 thousand Romans and approximately 26,000 Gypsies. At the end of War, he ordered his troops to keep fighting but fled to Austria himself. He made his way to Argentina, where he remained politically active.

12. Michel Micombero

General Michel Micombero was Burundian Political and soldier who ruled Burundi as the first President and dictator from 1966 to 1976. He was a member of the Tutsi ethnic group. He started his career as an officer in the country army. He studied in Belgium and got a prominent role in helping to foil an attempted coup d’etat in October 1965 where rebellion’s soldiers tried to overthrow the country monarchy. He became the Prime Minister in July 1966 and led two further coup d’etats against the monarchy, and became the President of Burundi in November 1966. He led a one-party government that centralized the institutions and adapted ideologies from other countries. In 1972, some rebellions led to a genocide against the Hutu population to challenge Michel Micombero’s power, in which around 3,00,000 people were killed. The regime of Micombero was collapsed in 1976. Michel Micombero went into exile in Somalia and died in 1983.

13. Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader. He was Prime Minister between 1945 and 1955 and President from 1949 to 1969 of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1945, he was a prominent figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh defeated the French Union at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. He stepped down from power due to health problems in 1965. After the war, the capital, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. He was the dictator of Vietnam. He was responsible for the spread of Communism in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. He also responsible for the killing of 2 million Vietnamese, 1.7 million and possibly 230,000 in Laos. These were not war-dead, but people murdered and starved to death. According to officials in 1995, they lost 1.1 million military dead during the war. Ho Chi Minh was also responsible for many deaths in Indochina. He died from heart failure on the morning of 2 September at his home in Hanoi.

14. Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was an Italian journalist, politician, and leader of the National Fascist Party, ruling the country as Prime Minister between 1922 and 1943. He was the founder of Italian Fascism. He and his followers consolidated power through a series of laws that converted the country into a one-party dictatorship. He remained in power until deposed by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1943. Then, he became the leader of the Italian Social Republic and held the post until his death in 1945. Mussolini officially entered World War II on the side of Germany, on 10 June 1940. In the summer of 1941, he sent forces to participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 24 July 1943, the Grand Council of Fascism voted against him and arrested him on the following day. He was rescued from the prison by German special forces on 12 September 1943. After a total defeat in April 1945, he tried to escape north but captured and executed by Italian Communists near Lake Como. His body was hung upside down in city Milan for public viewing. Mussolini’s Army killed more than half a million people in Italy.

15. Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Brezhnev was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, presiding over Russia from 1964 until his death in 1982. During his rule, the global influence of the USSR grew dramatically, due to the expansion of the Soviet Union military. His period started with high economic growth and soaring prosperity. However, major problems in the political, social, and economic areas accumulated. A significant increase in military expenditure, which by the time of Leonid Brezhnev’s death stood at 12.5 percent of the country’s GNP. He pushed for détente between Western and Eastern countries. He presided over the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia at the same time to stop the Prague Spring. He sent the USSR military to Afghanistan in an attempt to save the fragile regime. He allowed the government to impose martial law. He died on November 10, 1982, after years of declining health.

16. Josip Broz Tito

Josip Broz was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in different roles from 1943 to 1980. He was the leader of the Partisans during World War II, regarded as the most effective movement in occupied Europe. He was a popular figure in Yugoslavia and abroad. After the war, he was the Prime Minister from 1944 to 1963, President for Life of the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He held the rank of Marshal of Yugoslavia, from 1943 to his death in 1980. He received 98 foreign decorations such as the Order of the Bath and Legion of Honor. He was the chief architect of second Yugoslavia, a federation that lasted from 1943 to 1992. He was a backer of the independent road to socialism. He implemented a self-management system, a model of market socialism that brought economic expansion in the 1950s and 1960s and a decline during 1970. After his death in 1980, tensions between the republics of Yugoslavia emerged and the country disintegrated into a series of wars in 1991 that lasted the rest of the decade. Josip Broz remains a controversial figure in the Balkans.

17. Jonas Savimbi

Janos Mahleiro Savimbi was an Angolan military and political leader who founded and led the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. UNITA waged a guerilla war against the colonial rule of Portugal between 1966 and 1974. After that, Jonas Savimbi confronted the rival People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola between 1974 and 1975. After the independence of the country in 1975, he fought the ruling MPLA in the Civil War. He died in 2002 in a fight with government troops. He joined the MPLA Youth in the early 19602 and joined the FNLA in 1964. After the Independence in 1975, he drew the attention of powerful Chinese and American intellectuals and policymakers. After the declaration of MPLA itself as Marxist-Leninist in 1977, Jonas Savimbi contacted China and renounced his Maoist leanings. The war between UNITA and MPLA became the sub-plot to the Cold War. This war caused a large number of deaths of Mongolian people.

18. Ideki Tojo

Ideki Tojo was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army and the 40th Prime Minister of Japan during World War II, between 17 October 1941 and 22 July 1944. Ideki Tojo was responsible for ordering the attack on Pearl Harbor, which started a war between the United States and Japan. After the end of the war, he was arrested and sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and hanged on 23 Dec 1948. Tojo was promoted to major general in 1934 and appointed the commander of the 24th Infantry Brigade in the same year. In July 1940, he was appointed as Army Minister and later appointed as Prime Minister in 941. He was very famous in the early years of the war. But after Midway of the Battle tide of war turned against Japan. He faced opposition from both the military and the government.

19. Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is a former Liberian politician. He was the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from August 2, 1997, to 11 August 2003. He earned a degree in the United States before returning to Liberia. He later arrived in Libya, where he was trained as a guerilla fighter. He returned to Liberia as the head of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (Libyan-backed rebel group), to overthrow the Doe regime. He was the cause of the First Liberian Civil War between 1989 and 1996. After Doe’s execution, he got control of a large portion of Liberia and became the most prominent warlords in Africa. He became the President after the general election of 1997. He was accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes due to his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War. He had lost control of most of the country in 2003 and resigned the following year. He was arrested and was sentenced to 50 years in prison in May 2012. He was responsible for the deaths of a hundred thousand Liberian people during the civil war.

20. Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet was President of Chile between 1973 and 1990 and Commander in Chief of the Army between 1973 and 1998. His rule of the country was a dictatorship. He assumed power in Chile on 11 September 1973 and overthrew the democratic government. According to some people, the support of the U.S was crucial to the coup and the consolidation of power later. The ruling military junta appointed him Supreme Head of the nation by joint decree. From the start of the military government, dictatorial measurements were implemented. During the period of his rule, different investigations identified the murder of 1200 to 3200 people. More than 8000 people interned forcibly and tortured as many as 30,000. According to the government, the official number of deaths and disappearances stands at 3,095. The military government implemented economic liberalization including removed tariff protections for local industry, currency stabilization, banned trade unions, and privatized social security and many other state-owned enterprises. The results of these policies were called the “Miracle of Chile.” However, economic inequality dramatically increased and inserted the devastating effects of the monetary crises on the Chilean economy in 1982. He was arrested on a visit to London under an international arrest warrant on 10 October 1998. He died on December 10, 2006.

Aaric Hale

Aaric Hale is a writer whose expertise includes an array of topics across several industries—having done several articles on science, history, and the latest trends. Interested in the act of learning itself, he tries to keep his mind busy with exploring histories, global news, and about the world. Aaric Hale also wants to contribute to the popularization of science and communicate ideas across the globe.