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10 Most Evil People in History

History is important for humanity because it helps us look back to see what happened, what went wrong, and what was successful. Usually, people use history as a door to the past and use it to compare it with today. 

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While history has had wonderful people, it has sadly had extremely ruthless and evil people as prominent figures as well. All of these people have become known because of the damage they caused to society and the terrible atrocities they committed on humankind. 

Evil people reach positions of power that enable them to make their twisted vision of the world a reality. This has cost humanity millions of innocent lives throughout history. 

Their acts have left a print in history that we shouldn’t forget because it’s proof that we’re capable of self-destruction in the name of ideologies. In this article, we’ve curated a list of the evilest people that have walked on earth. Are you ready? 

Ivan IV 

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible (1897). Public Domain. 

Ivan IV, better known as Ivan “The Terrible”, was the first Tsar of Russia. From the time he was a child, he showed psychopathic tendencies. For example, he killed animals by throwing them from the top of tall buildings. He was very intelligent, but he also had no control over his emotions and often exploded in bouts of rage. 

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During one of these fits of rage, Ivan reportedly killed his son Ivan Ivanovich, by striking him on the head with a scepter. When the heir to the throne fell to the ground, Ivan the Terrible cried out, “May I be damned! I’ve killed my son!” A few days later, his son died. This resulted in Russia having no proper heir to the throne.  

Ivan the Terrible killed his son
Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan – Ilya Repin. Public Domain.

Ivan was quite insecure and thought everyone was his enemy. Aside from this, he also liked to strangle, behead, and impale other people. 

The records of his torture practices are among the most horrid acts in history. For instance, in the Novgorod Massacre, around sixty thousand people were killed by torture. Ivan the Terrible died of a stroke while playing chess with a friend in 1584. 

Genghis Khan 

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was the ruler of Mongolia between 1206 and 1227. He’s credited for founding the Mongol Empire, one of the largest and most powerful empires of all time. 

Khan was also a warlord who led his armies to many victories. But this also meant that an incalculable number of people were killed. According to some stories, if his men were thirsty and there was no water around, they would drink blood from their horses. 

Because of his blood thirst and desire for war, his army killed millions of people on the Iranian plateau. It’s believed that around 40 million people died during his rule of Mongolia in the 13th Century. 

Adolf Hitler 

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany between 1933 and 1945, and the head of the Nazi party. Despite reaching the position of chancellor lawfully, he became one of the most brutal dictators of all time. 

Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust and was one of the cruelest figures of WWII. Hitler and his party promoted the idea that Germans were the “Aryan race,” a superior race that should rule over the world.  

Following this belief, he believed Jewish people were inferior and were also the root of the world’s problems. So, he dedicated his dictatorship to exterminating them. This discrimination also included other minorities, including black, brown, and gay people.  

Around 50 million people died during the time he was in power. Most of them were innocent people who tried to escape the horrors of war and persecution. Hitler died of suicide in a bunker in 1945, although some alternative theories have emerged over the years. 

Heinrich Himmler 

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler was the head of the Schutzstaffel (SS), which was an organization that enforced Adolf Hitler’s ideals. He was the one making the decisions that ended up exterminating around 6 million Jews. 

However, Himmler didn’t stop at killing Jews. He also killed and ordered his army to kill anybody who the Nazi party thought impure or unnecessary. He was among the leaders of the party and is thus responsible for many of the decisions that were made during the war. 

Some people believe that he kept mementos made from his victims’ bones, though this hasn’t been proven. Official reports say he killed himself in 1945.  

Mao Zedong 

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong was a dictator from China between 1943 and 1976. He had the goal of making China one of the world powers. However, in the process of achieving his goal, he caused terrible human suffering and chaos. 

Some people attribute China’s development to Mao’s rule. According to these sources, China became the world power it is today thanks to the late dictator. Even if it were true, the cost was too high. 

Around 60 million people died as a consequence of the country’s condition during the dictatorship. There was extreme poverty all over China, with millions of people dying from starvation. The government also carried out uncountable numbers of executions during this time. 

Mao Zedong died from natural causes in 1976. 

Joseph Stalin 

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin was the dictator of the USSR between 1922 and 1953. Before becoming dictator, he was an assassin and a thief. During his dictatorship, the Soviet Union had violence and terror run rampant. 

During his dictatorship, Russia experienced famine, poverty, and suffering on a large scale. Much of this was needless suffering caused by the decisions of Stalin and his cronies.  

He also killed indiscriminately, not caring whether the victims were from the opposition or from his own party. People committed many horrible crimes during his dictatorship. 

Experts believe that around 20 million people died during the 30 years he was in power. Strangely enough, he received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts during World War II

Stalin ended up dying of a stroke in 1953. 

Osama Bin Laden 

Osama bin Laden
Bin Laden. CC BY-SA 3.0

Osama bin Laden was a terrorist and the founder of al Qaeda, an organization that has killed thousands of innocent civilians. Bin Laden was born in Pakistan, one of the 50 children of self-made billionaire Muhammad bin Laden. Osama bin Laden studied business administration in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he became influenced by radical Islamists.  

Bin Laden is responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. From the two, the attack on the World Trade Center, in which two hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers, caused the death of over 2900 people.  

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and the national security team members
Obama administration members tracking the mission that killed bin Laden – the Situation Room. Public Domain.

These attacks resulted in former president George W. Bush leading an anti-terrorism campaign that resulted in the invasion of Iraq, a decision that would cause terrible civilian casualties and the destabilization of the Middle East.  

There were many attempts to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, but the US wasn’t successful. During the Obama administration, Operation Neptune took place. Bin Laden died in 2011 when Navy SEAL Robert O’Neil shot him. His body was disposed of in the sea. 

The Kim Family 

Kim Jong-Un

The Kim Family has ruled North Korea for over 70 years. The succession of dictators began with Kim Jong-Sung, who started the Korean War in 1948. This armed conflict caused the death of three million Koreans. Kim Jong-Sung was known as “The Supreme Leader,” and the title has been passed on to his descendants. 

The long-held rule of the Kim Family has been characterized by the indoctrination of North Koreans. The Kim Family created a system where they control information and decide what is shared and taught in the country. This control allowed Jong-Sung to depict himself as the savior of the people, helping him solidify his dictatorship. 

After his death, his son, Kim Jong-Il succeeded him and continued with the same practices of indoctrination. Since then, millions of North Koreans have died from starvation, executions, and dire living conditions. 

After Kim Jong-Il’s death in 2011, his son Kim Jong-Un succeeded him and continued the dictatorship. His rule is still going strong in the indoctrinated country, making him one of the most prominent communist figures in the world. 

Idi Amin 

Idi Amin

Idi Amin was a Ugandan military officer who became the president of the country in 1971. While the then-president was away in Singapore on matters of state, Idi Amin organized a coup and took control of the country. He promised the population that he would make Uganda a better place. 

However, one week after the coup, he declared himself the President of Uganda without using democratic means to reach that title. His dictatorship was one of the worst Africa has ever seen. So cruel and evil was Amin, that he would have people executed by feeding them to animals. Even worse, some sources believe he was a cannibal. 

During his dictatorship from 1971 to 1979, around half a million people died or were tortured. He became known as the “Butcher of Uganda” because of his atrocious crimes. He died of natural causes in 2003. 

Saddam Hussein 

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was the dictator of Iraq between 1979 and 2003. He ordered and authorized torture and attacks against other people during his dictatorship.  

During his tenure, there was generalized worry all over the world because of Hussein’s use of chemical and biological weapons to attack his enemies. He also invaded the neighboring countries of Iran and Kuwait.  

Around two million people died during his dictatorship, and he was later prosecuted for his crimes. He was eventually found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed in 2006. 

Wrapping Up 

As you have read in this article, there have been a lot of atrocious and evil people in power who have caused great harm to a lot of people. While this is not an exhaustive list (the human capacity for cruelty is unlimited!), these 10 people were among the most evil of all time, causing terrible suffering, death, and events that would change the course of history.   

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Juan Salazar Sanchez
Juan Salazar Sanchez

Juan Sanchez has been a freelance writer for years, with a particular focus on Mythology and History, especially Greek mythology. He has been a part of the Symbol Sage team for several years, and has contributed immensely to the team. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and reading.