The world has seen quite a number of famous dictators who possess absolute power over the governing of a nation. Dictators are authoritative figures and they operate a totalitarian system of government. The powers of a dictator are not restricted and a good majority of them have exhibited their leadership in cruelty, oppression, harshness, and complete abuse of power, which very well defines a tyrant.
The dictatorship used to be a common means of ruling in the old era but this system has reduced drastically since the introduction of democracy. However, some countries still stick to this old fashion of leadership while some who hide under the umbrella of democracy still do still find themselves under the tight grip of political tyrants. Today we will take a look at ten famous dictators the world has ever known.
Adolf Hitler is one dictator the world will never forget, solely for being the mastermind that orchestrated the second World War that lasted for 6 years and claimed millions of lives. Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn in Austria, on April 20, 1889. He had both Austrian and German citizenship. Hitler was a politician and leader of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, better known as the Nazi. He assumed office as the Führer of Germany on August 2, 1934, and also the Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. He held both offices until his death on April 30, 1945. Following his war plans which looked certain to fail, Hitler committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth but not before he shot and killed his wife Eva Braun.
Joseph Stalin was one of the most famous dictators and dominant figures of the 20th century. He is famous for being a communist revolutionary and ruler of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953. He lived between 1878 and 1953 and was born as Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili on December 18, 1878, in Caucasus Viceroyalty, Russian Empire (now Georgia). During the time of his governance, his subjects had virtually no authority, and Stalin had total control of every aspect of the country, socially, financially, and politically. His time in power brought about numerous executions, famine, and deaths. On March 5, 1953, Stalin was pronounced dead as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Idi Amin’s date of birth is not known specifically but research has it that the former OAU Chairman was born sometime between 1923 and 1928. Idi Amin was the 3rd president of Uganda, and he assumed the said office on January 25, 1971. Idi Amin served in the Uganda military and also in the British Army during the time the West African country was under their European colonial masters. After Uganda secured independence in 1962, his position in the army rose to major, and in 1965, he was appointed as the Commander of the Army.
During his time as the Commander of the Army, Amin embezzled army funds and was to be arrested. He learned of President Milton Obote’s intention to get him arrested, which led Idi Amin to launch a coup in 1971. His coup was successful and he declared himself the 3rd President of Uganda. During his time as Uganda’s dictator, he was referred to as “His Excellency President of Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE”.
In 1978, Idi Amin tried to extend the Uganda territory into Tanzania. His attempt of annexing Tanzania led Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere to send troops that invaded Uganda and took control of Kampala deposing Idi Amin from power. Idi Amin then went into exile, he ran off to Saudi Arabia where he lived until he passed away on August 16, 2003. He was married 5 times and had 43 children.
Saddam Hussein was best known as one of the world-famous dictators and Iraq’s president. He was born on April 28, 1937, in Al-Awja, Iraq, and died on December 30, 2006, in Kadhimiya, Baghdad, Iraq. He used to be in the Iraqi military, he held the rank of a Marshal in the Iraqi Armed Forces. During his time in the military, he was nicknamed “Butcher of Baghdad” and “VIC” which meant “Very Important Criminal”. He served as vice president under General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr’s regime and rose to become the president of Iraq on July 16, 1979.
During his time as the president of Iraq, he was praised in the Arab regions for continuously opposing the U.S. and constantly attacking Israel, but he was always condemned by the Western leaders for his brutal dictatorship. Saddam Hussein’s time in power ended in 2003 when the U.S. led a coalition that invaded Iraq and removed him from power, ending his 24 years run as dictator of the Middle Eastern country. Hussein’s trial was held in his home country, he was convicted by an Iraqi court of crimes against humanity for the killings of 148 Iraqi Shi’a in 1982 and was sentenced to death by hanging. His execution took place on December 30, 2006.
The founder of Italian fascism, Benito Mussolini lived from July 29, 1883, when he was born, to April 28, 1945, when he died. He ruled Italy as the nation’s prime minister between 1922 and 1943. At the time he assumed the office of prime minister, he was the youngest prime minister in Italy’s history. His leadership initially started as a democratic rule until his third year in power when he turned to his dictator side for the remaining period of his rule over the European nation. After his merge with Hitler during World War II turned sour, he became a fugitive in his homeland. In an attempt to flee to Switzerland along with his mistress Clara Petacci in April 1944, he was captured for a second time and was executed by firing squad on April 28, 1945.
Gaddafi was one of the toughest and most famous dictators the world has ever known, particularly across the shores of Africa. He governed Libya for 32 years between September 1, 1969, and October 20, 2011. The dictator ruled Libya as the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya, a position he established by himself. Like most dictators, Gaddafi was in the military and he served the Libyan Army until his death. He was regarded as Colonel Gaddafi.
Gaddafi was accused by world leaders as a violator of human rights. He was also accused of distorting world peace by sponsoring terrorism. The United States led a failed bombing attack on Libya in an attempt to kill Gaddafi. In 2011, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) took the same approach, and even though Gaddafi escaped the attack, this time he ran into the hands of a rebel militia group who caught Gaddafi and his aids and killed them.
Kim Jong-il was the second supreme leader of North Korea, he succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung the first supreme leader of North Korea. Kim Jong-il assumed the position of the supreme leader of North Korea in 1994 and held office until his death in 2011. The dictator was accused of various human rights violations. The former North Korean leader was born in the Soviet Union on February 16, 1942, and died in Pyongyang, North Korea on December 17, 2011, at the age of 70.
His principle during his rule was “Songun” which translates to “military first”, and this resulted in his people suffering from famine. He was called several names such as “Great Leader”, “The Dear Leader” and many more. Following his death in 2011, his third son Kim Jong-un succeeded him as the supreme leader of North Korea.
Francisco Franco is famous as the dictator of Spain. He was born on December 4, 1892, and died on November 20, 1975. The Spanish general ruled Spain from 1936 until his death in 1975. He served in the Spanish Armed Forces from 1907 to 1975. He was Captain-General of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. Before his death, he restored the monarchy in Spain. Franco died at the age of 82 and was succeeded by King Juan Carlos.
Kim Jong-un is the only member of our 10 worst but most famous dictators who are still alive and in power. He succeeded his father Kim Jong-il as the supreme leader of North Korea. He started his regime on December 17, 2011, following the death of his father. Just like his father, Kim is called several names such as “young general”, “great successor“ and many more. He adopted his father’s principle of “military first” and has likewise violated several human rights which have led to the UN condemning his acts. Kim has ensured North Korea’s continuity in developing nuclear warheads and has received sanctions from both the UN and the U.S.
Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno used to be Panamanian military personnel and politician. He was best known as the military leader of Panama between August 12, 1983, and December 20, 1989. He served in the Panamanian Defense Force from 1967 to 1990 and retired as a General. During his rule over Panama, he worked with the CIA and was known to be one of the CIA’s top valued intelligence sources. Even though he had a good relationship with the U.S. he still conducted underground crimes like money laundering, racketeering, and drug smuggling.
The U.S. invaded Panama and captured Manuel, who was then taken to the U.S. where he faced trial. He was found guilty of most of the charges brought against him and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He, however, did not serve half of his sentence as he was released early for good behavior. Manuel was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017. In an attempt to remove the tumor, the surgery cost him his life.