“Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem.” – Joseph Stalin
“You cannot run faster than a bullet.” – Idi Amin
“Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.” – Mao Zedong
Yup, there have been some pretty ruthless, horrific dictators. Democracy isn’t a perfect system, sure, but when you look at the violent insanity of these dictators, it sure seems like a solid option. Here are some facts about history’s most infamous dictators.
55. Dictator Breath.
Chairman Mao didn’t believe in dental hygiene. He refused to brush his teeth, insisting that the tea he swished around his mouth would do the trick. His logic?
“A tiger never brushes his teeth. Why are a tiger’s teeth so sharp?”
Brilliant. Mao’s teeth were so covered in plaque that one person described them as coated with green paint. His gums were so infected that they oozed pus.
54. Flatulent Führer.
Hitler farted a lot. He had extreme gastrointestinal issues and constantly had to let it rip. This startling butt-powered revelation came from Hitler’s medical records.
53. Horny Like Bull.
To boost his libido, Hitler would inject himself with bull semen.
52. Keeping it in the Family
Hitler spent an inordinate amount of time with his niece, Geli Raubal, and there were rumors that their relationship might have been sexual.
51. Wrong Side of History. Twice.
The grandson of the lady who created Hitler’s bunker made Saddam Hussein’s bunker.
50. Thanks, Charlie.
Hitler was a big fan of comedies, and an even bigger fan of the British comedic actor and silent film titan Charlie Chaplin. When Chaplin lampooned Adolf in The Great Dictator, Adolf wasn’t mad at all. In fact, he was rather flattered. The mustache makes sense now.
49. Hard Man to Kill.
There were 43 assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler’s life. He survived all of them. Then he later decided to kill himself.
48. One Ball Short.
Hitler is believed by many historians to have had one testicle. It started as a rumor that Hitler had lost a testicle to shrapnel during WWI, but a German Historian unearthed medical records that listed Hitler as suffering from cryptorchidism, a condition where one testicle is stunted and does not descend. Is it possible he felt the need to compensate for this by taking over the world?
Other historians disagree, suggesting that the one-ball myth simply originated from the British military song “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball.”
47. The Portrait of Evil.
Hitler was also an amateur painter, having once attended art school. He produced hundreds of works and sold them to make a living prior to becoming the leader of the Nazi party.
46. Meth Head.
Despite abstaining from alcohol, Hitler took as many as 80 different drugs a day. One of them, Pervitin, was basically crystal meth.
45. Doll Me Up.
Adolf Hitler, in an attempt to prevent the spread of syphilis in his soldiers, came up with what is considered the first blow-up doll. They were referred to as “synthetic comforters” and were designed with blond hair, blue eyes and small enough to fit in a backpack.
After extensive “testing,” at least 50 dolls reportedly went into production, but many soldiers refused to carry them. The blow-up doll factory itself was presumed to have been blown up during the bombing of Dresden in 1942.
44. Opportunistic Hate.
Benito Mussolini wasn’t really anti-Semitic. In the early years of Italy’s Fascist Party, Benito Mussolini declared, “Antisemitism does not exist in Italy… Italians of Jewish birth have shown themselves good citizens, and they fought bravely in the war. Many of them occupy leading positions in the universities, in the army, in the banks.” In 1938, Italy started moving towards anti-Semitism to appease and impress Adolf Hitler.
43. Garlic Breath.
Mussolini loved eating raw garlic, despite suffering from a painful stomach ulcer. He believed that it was the elixir of life.
42. Tom Marvolo Riddle.
“Joseph Stalin” was a pseudonym. Born in Georgia, Stalin was originally named Joseph Vissarionvich Djvugashvili. His name was changed to Stalin, which translates to “Man of Steel.”
41. Privacy Please!
Being a very private man, Stalin once gave the order that no one enter his bed chambers on pain of death. Later, while in his chambers, he decided to test his guards. He pretended to scream in pain and called for the guards stationed outside the door. After the guards burst into the room to rescue their leader, Stalin had them executed for failing to follow his instructions.
40. Never Cry Wolf…
Stalin’s little practical joke backfired badly. One night, while in his bedroom, he suffered a seizure. Fearing that they too would be executed, his guards delayed entering his room for hours the next day, despite hearing no signs of their leader. By then, the damage had been done. Stalin was found in a puddle of stale urine on the floor and died three days later.
39. Death by Cold.
Joseph Stalin created the gulags, forced labor camps to detain enemies of the state. These camps were often in very remote, very cold parts of Russia and Siberia. These camps were also terribly ill-prepared for the brutal conditions. The idea was that the cold and malnutrition would kill everyone off, not an organized killing machine like the Germans.
38. Brain Drain.
Joseph Stalin knew how dangerous a creative mind could be. He sent every artist and academic that hadn’t fled the USSR to the gulags. Many died in the there, while some survived and even wrote accounts of their horrific experiences.
37. Rewriting History.
Stalin would often have people he had killed edited out of pictures. This was a common practice during his reign, and acted as inspiration for George Orwell when he was writing 1984.
36. Writerly Genius.
Saparmurat Niyazov, the dictator of Turkmenistan, wrote a “Book of Soul” that “taught the right path and protected against negative influences.” To ensure that his book reached beyond the human sphere, he encased it in a space capsule and launched it into space in 2005. The official Neitralny Turkmenistan newspaper stated, “The book that conquered the hearts of millions on Earth is now conquering space.”
35. Who Needs Doctors?
Niyazov closed all hospitals outside of his capital and fired 15,000 public health workers. In 2006, one third of all Turkmenistan’s elderly had their pensions cancelled and were ordered to pay back the previous two years payments. Following these genius moves, thousands of people died as a result of poverty, sickness and starvation. Niyazov refused to admit that his policies had any negative effect on the populous.
34. The Dog Days Are Over…
President For Life Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, dictator of Haiti from 1957-1971, once had a heart attack. He chose Clement Barbot, leader of the Tonton Macoutes paramilitary group, to become acting president while he recovered.
Once back in good health, he accused Barbot of trying to take power from him. Barbot later actually tried to overthrow Duvalier in a coup, so Francois issued a massive search for him. When the police couldn’t find him, Duvalier believed he had turned into a black dog, so he logically ordered the death of all black dogs in Haiti. Eventually, Barbot was caught and executed. Duvalier kept his head for Voodoo.
33. From the Heavens?
Mobutu, the president of Zaire (Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), made a law saying that TV in Zaire cannot mention anybody but him by name. He commanded that all evening news begin with a scene of him descending from the heavens. He chose many names for himself, including one that translates into “the all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and will to win, will go from contest to contest leaving fire in his wake.“
32. The Pleasure Squad.
Kim Jong-Un of North Korea has a “Pleasure Squad,” a group of beautiful women who were recruited from schools. Some were as young as thirteen.
31. Probably Needs a Good Poop…
Kim Jong-Il was praised as the “Creator of the Universe,” along with his father. He was also praised as having had a supernatural birth, and claimed that North Korea is the most democratic, free, and respected nation on earth. He claims that he invented the hamburger and is is the greatest golfer in history. Schoolchildren were taught taught that he never defecated. Not once.
30. Defect Here, Please.
Kim Jong-Il built a village on the border of North and South Korea to try to trick South Koreans into defecting.
28. For the Love of Cinema.
Kim Jong-Il had two South Korean directors kidnapped to kick-start North Korea’s film industry by forcing them to make a remake of Godzilla.
27. Stupid Nazis.
Francisco Franco, a militant leader in the Spanish Civil War, achieved victory by gaining the support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. After he secured his rule in Spain, Franco then refused to assist Nazi Germany in their 1940 invasions at the start of WWII.
26. Traditional Values in a Modern World.
Moammar Gaddafi, in love with tradition yet terrified of drive-by shootings, had a bulletproof tent that would be flown ahead and dropped off for him during his political travels. In this bizarre merger of high tech and ancient tradition, he would often keep two camels tethered outside his tent.
25. Heels and Guns.
Nicknamed “The Amazonian Guards” by Western journalists, Gaddafi had 15 female body guards who were all trained in weaponry, had to wear makeup and high heels, and were reportedly virgins.
24. Not Very Hygienic Though…
Gaddafi claimed he washed his hands in deer’s blood, which he thought was sexy. He also was very into male beauty and had plastic surgery in 1994.
23. First Taste of Blood.
During his swearing in speech, Mengistu Haile Mariam (the military dictator of Ethiopia from 1977 to 1987) threw three bottles of human blood into the spectating crowd.
22. More Blood.
Haile Mariam initiated the movement to kill the “Kebeles” on the streets. It’s estimated that he was responsible for the deaths of 500,000 to 2,000,000 people.
21. Kill Me if You Can.
Vladimir Lenin holds the record for most attempts on his life. Though he often suffered injuries, none of the attempts were successful.
Lenin’s regime instituted the Red Terror after one of the many attempts on Lenin’s life. The Red Terror started in 1917 and ended in 1922, and consisted of torturing and murdering Tsarist Russians and other members of the bourgeoisie. The death toll is estimated at 10,000 to 1,500,000.
19. Listen to Me!
Gadhafi once gave a two-hour-long speech to the United Nations, during which he expressed support for Somali pirates, claimed that Israel was responsible for JFK’s assassination, and referred to Barack Obama as “My Son.” He was only allowed a 10 minute speech.
18. Super Dictator.
Yahya Jammeh, dictator of The Gambia from 1994 to 2017, claims to have mystical powers. He also claims to have discovered the cure to AIDS/HIV and said that Gambia was formerly the largest country in Africa. It wasn’t. Not even close.
17. The One True God…
Francisco Macias Nguema, President of Equatorial Guinea from 1968-1979, changed the national motto to “There is no other God than Macias Nguema.“ He also killed the head of the national bank and hid all the money of the National Treasury in his house.
16. The Ballad of Death.
On Christmas, 1975, Nguema ordered 150 opponents executed in a football field to the tune of “Those Were The Days.” His reign of terror and insanity was finally over when he was executed via firing squad “101 times.” He was replaced by a slightly less insane, evil and strange dictator.
15. Lifted Spirits.
Idi Amin, the “Butcher of Uganda,” decided to make a point to the Foreign Ministers of the OAU Countries. He chose four white males who were politically significant residents of Kampala and forced them to bend over and carry him around in a large, throne-like chair during their 1975 meetings.
14. Fly Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Dictator.
Idi Amin was a former heavyweight boxing champion.
13. Titles On Titles On Titles
Idi Amin’s insane ego led him to eventually style himself He awarded himself “His Excellency, President for Life Field Marshall Al Hadj Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC. Lord of all the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”
12. Brides and Groom.
Idi Amin is known to have married at least six women throughout his life, one of whom was found dead, her body horrifically mutilated, after falling pregnant to another man. Amin is also thought to have fathered as many as 43 children.
11. Slighted? Take it Out on the Whole Race.
Idi Amin banned all Asians from Uganda because the daughter of an important Asian family refused to marry him.
10. Royal Wedding
Despite claiming to have conquered the British Empire, he reportedly sent many love letters to the Queen Elizabeth of England. He even asked her to marry him, and to make him the King of Scotland.
9. Should Have Left Him There…
Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was beaten in prison during the Nazi era so badly that he suffered a permanent speech impediment. He was rescued in 1944 by Russian soldiers disguised as Nazis, Ceausescu rose to power in 1965.
8. A Little Compulsive, No?
Paranoid about being poisoned, Ceausescu had sealed coolers of food transported with him, protected by armed guards. He also feared that his enemies were trying to kill him by poisoning his clothing, so he naturally wore a different suit each day. Daily suit burnings and the selection of a new suit from his locked annual stockpile of suits ensured his protection.
7. The Dictator, The Genius.
Ceausescu was obsessed with promoting his and his family’s intellectual prowess. He styled himself “The Genius of The Carpathians.” He demanded that his nearly-illiterate wife be made part of the New York Academy of Sciences and the Royal Institute of Chemistry. All scientists in Romania had to include her name in their research. He also claimed that his son, Nicu, published several volumes on Nuclear Physics.
Ceausescu built a palace so huge that today’s Romanian Parliament can only use 30% of it. He met his end when he and his wife were overthrown and executed by revolutionaries. It’s a shame they had to execute people with such gifted minds… not.
5. Another Divine Dictator…
Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952, thought that he was God. He ordered that all churches put up a sign that read, “God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth.” He also made a law requiring that all license plates say “Viva Trujillo.”
4. Let Them Be!
Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, rulers of the Philippines, were huge Beatles fans. The Fab Four accepted an invitation to play the Philippines on their 1964 world tour.
When they arrived, they were greeted at their hotel by military personnel who told them they were required to meet with the Marcoses at the presidential palace for a luncheon. Having just flown in from Tokyo and needing rest, they declined.
First Lady Marcos was so outraged that she quickly spread the word throughout the country that the Beatles had snubbed the president and his wife. Chaos ensued, and the Beatles, were threatened by an angry mob as they fled to the airport. They had to run onto the tarmac to catch their plane.
3. Ever-Lasting Youth.
As Chairman Mao aged and his health deteriorated, he decided that the only way to get his youthful spirit and rigor back was to have sex with lots of women. Mao had a special bed for doing the dirty made, which had one side raised 10 centimeters higher than the other.
He then told his men to procure him women from the surrounding area, made them read a sex manual called Classic of the Plain Girl’s Secret Way, and then demanded the now-pro girls be brought to his chambers. Many of the women contracted STDs.
2. Teenage Crush.
As a teenager, Hitler had a crush on a Jewish girl named Stefanie Isak. He never actually worked up the courage to speak to her. He had fantasies of kidnapping her and even committing suicide along with her.
1. Mistress, Can I Please?
Mao had plenty of mistresses, but his all-time favourite was Zhang Yufeng. When they met, Mao was in his late sixties and she was only 16 years old. Mao made her his confidential secretary in 1973. That meant that every time Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, wanted to talk to her husband, she had to ask Zhang Yufeng first.