The concept of the dictator, or an all-powerful ruler, has been around the term was invented in ancient Rome. Today, it is a word associated with the use of systematic violence against political opposition and the persecution of religious and ethnic groups.
Below are just a few of the most evil dictators to have blackened modern history with their deeds.
1. Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945)
This dictator who rose to power in the 1930s was responsible for the greatest ferocities in human history. He ordered systematic racially based murder of about 11 million people, of which 6 million were Jews; while his foreign policy provoked World War II which claimed 50 to 70 million lives.
Fearing his imminent capture by the Soviet Red Army that was advancing in Berlin during that time, Hitler eventually committed suicide on April 30, 1945.
From 1941 to 1945, Jews were systematically murdered in the deadliest genocide in history, which was part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazi regime. Under the coordination of the SS, following directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics and the carrying out of the genocide. Other victims of Nazi crimes included ethnic Poles and other Slavs, Soviet citizens and Soviet POWs, Romanis, communists, homosexuals, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the mentally and physically disabled. A network of about 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories was used to concentrate victims for slave labor, mass murder, and other human rights abuses.
Romani children in Auschwitz, victims of medical experiments. Image: wikipedia
The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages, culminating in what Nazis termed the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” (German: die Endlösung der Judenfrage), an agenda to exterminate Jews in Europe. Initially the German government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. Nazis established a network of concentration camps starting in 1933 and ghettos following the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In 1941, as Germany conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million Jews, partisans, and others often in mass shootings.
A mass shooting somewhere inside occupied Russia. Image by historyplace.com
By the end of 1942, victims were being regularly transported by freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers. This continued until the end of World War II in Europe in April–May 1945.
A Concentration Camp Mass Grave: The Nazis killed 50,000 people at the Bergen-Belsen camp before it was liberated in 1945 (Anne Frank was among those slaughtered). “Mass Grave 3” shows camp doctor Fritz Klein standing among the dead. He decided if prisoners should be sent to the gas chamber because they were unfit to work. He was later hanged for his atrocities. Image by Pinterest.com
Bodies at Dachau- the first German concentration camp in 1933.
A mother holding her child close just before being killed by a Nazi officer. Image by tumblr.com
Jews executed in October 1941 in Serbia. Image: nytimes.com