Famous 20th Century Dictators

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Rank the most Brutal Famous 20th Century Dictators

 1 Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler
Famous As: Dictator of Germany (1933-1945)
Birthdate: April 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Braunau am Inn, Austria
Died: April 30, 1945

One of the most powerful leaders of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler was a German dicator whose policies started the WWII that resulted in the death of millions of people. He had a visceral hatred for Jews and during his regime nearly six million Jews were killed in Holocaust.

 2 Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin
Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: December 18, 1878
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gori, Georgia
Died: March 5, 1953

Controversial Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, ruled the Soviet Union for around 25 years from 1929 to 1953 and is credited for making it a prominent industrial and military power of the world. During the Second World War, his army defeated the Nazis too. However, his regime was also one of terror and brutality where numerous Soviet citizens lost their lives.

 3 Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong
Famous As: Communist Leader of China
Birthdate: December 26, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shaoshan, Xiangtan, China
Died: September 9, 1976

One of the most significant and controversial leaders of the 20th century, Mao Zedong was a communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People's Republic of China which he governed as the chairman of Chinese Communist Party. He is appreciated for numerous development work but is criticised for his authoritarian regime and policies which resulted in millions of deaths .

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 4 Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein
Famous As: President of Iraq (1979-2003)
Birthdate: April 28, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Al Awja, Iraq
Died: December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq as its president from 1979 to 2003. Described as one of the last of the great dictators of the 20th century, his regime caused the deaths of at least 250,000 Iraqis. Saddam was deposed in 2003 when a U.S led coalition invaded Iraq. Accused of crimes against humanity, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death in 2006.

 5 Bashar al-Assad

Bashar al-Assad
Famous As: President of Syria
Birthdate: September 11, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Damascus

Bashar al-Assad is the current president of Syria and has been serving in this position since 17 July 2000. Over the years, he has also had a major impact on Syria as the commander-in-chief of the country's Armed Forces. In 2011, his decision to impose military sieges on protesters participating in the Arab Spring resulted in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

 6 Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini
Famous As: Dictator, Prime Minister of Italy (1922-1943)
Birthdate: July 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Predappio, Italy
Died: April 28, 1945

The dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1945, Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in 1919. It opposed class discrimination and supported nationalism. But when in power, Mussolini crushed rival political parties, trade unions, free press and free speech. He was overthrown by his former colleagues in the Fascist government in July 1943 and ultimately shot dead in April 1945.

 7 Pol Pot

Pol Pot
Famous As: Prime Minister of Cambodia (1976-79)
Birthdate: May 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prek Sbov, Cambodia
Died: April 15, 1998

Pol Pot was a Cambodian politician who served as the prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1975 and 1979. Widely considered a totalitarian dictator, Pol Pot was responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which resulted in the death of 1.5 to 2 million people. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and placed under house arrest until his death.

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 8 Nicolae Ceaușescu

Nicolae Ceaușescu
Famous As: Former President of Romania
Birthdate: January 26, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Scornicești
Died: December 25, 1989

Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian politician who served as the first president of the country. Ceaușescu's communist government was totalitarian and was responsible for human rights abuses and severe repression. An anti-government protest (the Romanian Revolution) broke out in 1989 and his government was overthrown subsequently. Ceaușescu and his wife were convicted of genocide and executed by firing squad.

 9 Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko
Famous As: President of Zaire (1965-97)
Birthdate: October 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lisala, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Died: September 7, 1997

Mobutu Sese Seko was a Congolese military officer and politician. From 1965 to 1997, Mobutu served as the president of Zaire. During his long reign as the president, Mobutu garnered notoriety for nepotism and corruption. His life and work inspired Belgian filmmaker, Thierry Michel, to make a three-part documentary titled Mobutu, King of Zaire.

 10 Fulgencio Batista

Fulgencio Batista
Famous As: Former President of Cuba
Birthdate: January 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Banes, Cuba
Died: August 6, 1973

Fulgencio Batista was the elected president of Cuba from 1940 to 1944. He formed the constitution of Cuba. He later became a dictator through a coup. He was finally ousted by Che Guevara at the Battle of Santa Clara, as part of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement.

 11 Manuel Noriega

Manuel Noriega
Famous As: Former Panamanian Dictator
Birthdate: February 11, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Panama City
Died: May 29, 2017

Panamanian politician and military officer, Manuel Noriega, was the de facto ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989. As an army man, he overthrew President Arnulfo Arias in a coup in 1968 and became the de facto ruler of Panama a few years later. He was a controversial leader and his rule has been described as a dictatorship.

 12 Omar al-Bashir

Omar al-Bashir
Famous As: Former President of Sudan
Birthdate: January 1, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hosh Bannaga, Sudan

Omar al-Bashir is a Sudanese politician who served as the seventh president of Sudan. A former military officer, he is the founder of the National Congress Party that remained the dominant political party in the country until 2019. He was deposed in a coup d'état the same year and subsequently arrested and convicted on multiple corruption charges.

 13 Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi
Famous As: Prime Minister of Libya (1970-72)
Birthdate: June 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Qasr Abu Hadi, Libya
Died: October 20, 2011
A revolutionary, politician and political theorist, Muammar Gaddafi seized power in Libya from King Idris in a bloodless coup in 1969 and became its authoritarian dictator for more than 40 years. He initially gained popularity and support; however, later, his increased dominance, support for international terrorism, and human rights violation turned people against him. He was eventually overthrown.

 14 Pervez Musharraf

Pervez Musharraf
Birthdate: August 11, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Daryaganj, New Delhi

Pervez Musharraf is a former Pakistani President and army chief who overthrew his country’s elected government in a coup to assume power as its chief executive. Kargil infiltration, confrontation with India and a steep rise in Pakistan’s GDP marked the presidency of the now-retired four-star general. He was awarded capital punishment for treason, but the court order was annulled later.

 15 Idi Amin

Idi Amin
Famous As: 3rd President of Uganda, Politician
Birthdate: 1925 AD
Birthplace: Koboko, Uganda
Died: August 16, 2003
Idi Amin started his career as a cook with the British colonial army of Uganda and became an army commander later. After deposing the Ugandan president, he declared himself the president. The “Butcher of Uganda” was known for his despotic rule and was responsible for almost 500,000 deaths.

 16 António de Oliveira Salazar

António de Oliveira Salazar
Famous As: Former Acting President of Portugal
Birthdate: April 28, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vimieiro (Santa Comba Dão), Portugal
Died: July 27, 1970
Portuguese economist António de Oliveira Salazar had been the prime minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. He had also been the minister of defense and finance, among others. He led to the Estado Novo, or New State, in Portugal. He opposed Nazism and fascism, and demilitarized his country.

 17 Juvénal Habyarimana

Juvénal Habyarimana
Famous As: President of Rwanda (1973-94)
Birthdate: March 8, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gisenyi, Ruanda-Urundi
Died: April 6, 1994

Juvénal Habyarimana was a Rwandan politician whose presidency, which spanned from 1973 until his death in 1994, was responsible for pushing Rwanda into extreme poverty. His assassination on 6 April 1994 helped spark the Rwandan genocide, which had lasting effects on Rwanda. The genocide resulted in the death of nearly 1 million Rwandans.

 18 Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina
Famous As: Former President of the Dominican Republic
Birthdate: October 24, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Cristóbal Province, Dominican Republic
Died: May 30, 1961

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina was a Dominican dictator. He ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961, serving as president for 18 years and as an unelected military strongman for the rest of the time. While he was in power, the Dominican Republic witnessed large-scale violence and his 31-year-rule is regarded as one of the bloodiest eras in the Americas.

 19 Lon Nol

Lon Nol
Famous As: Cambodian Politician
Birthdate: November 13, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Prey Veng Province
Died: November 17, 1985

Lon Nol was a Cambodian general and politician. He served as the prime minister of Cambodia from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1969 to 1971. A nationalist, Nol played a decisive role during the 1970 Cambodian coup d'état where he led the military coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The coup led to the abolition of the monarchy of Cambodia.

 20 Wojciech Jaruzelski

Wojciech Jaruzelski
Famous As: President of the Republic of Poland (1989-90)
Birthdate: July 6, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kurów, Poland
Died: May 25, 2014

Wojciech Jaruzelski was a Polish politician and military officer. From 1981 to 1989, he was the dictator of the Polish People's Republic. He also served as the prime minister and president of Poland during his influential political career. He also served as the Polish People's Army's last commander-in-chief; Polish People's Army became the Polish Armed Forces in 1990.

 21 Efraín Ríos Montt

Efraín Ríos Montt
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 16, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Huehuetenango

Efraín Ríos Montt was a Guatemalan politician and military officer. From 1982 to 1983, he served as the 26th president of Guatemala. His brief tenure as the de facto president was one of the bloodiest periods during the then-ongoing Guatemalan Civil War. In 2013, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison for crimes against humanity and genocide.

 22 Siaka Stevens

Siaka Stevens
Famous As: 1st President of Sierra Leone
Birthdate: August 24, 1905
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moyamba
Died: May 29, 1988

Siaka Stevens, known for his self-indulgent and corrupt rule, was overthrown by a coup in 1967, shortly after becoming the prime minister of Sierra Leone, but he was called back from exile in Guinea after a second coup a few months later. He was also the country’s first president.

 23 Juan Vicente Gómez

Juan Vicente Gómez
Famous As: Venezuelan dictator
Birthdate: July 24, 1857
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Antonio de Tachira, Venezuela
Died: December 17, 1935

 24 Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un
Famous As: Supreme Leader of North Korea (Since 2011)
Birthdate: January 8, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wonsan, North Korea

The supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is considered a ruthless man and rules over his people with an iron fist. He has been accused of human rights violations and is said to have ordered the execution of several North Korean officials. 

 25 Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-il
Famous As: Supreme Leader of North Korea (1997-2011)
Birthdate: February 16, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vyatskoye, Russia
Died: December 17, 2011

Kim Jong-il was the second Supreme Leader of North Korea. He assumed this position from his father Kim Il-sung in 1994 and served in this position until his own death in 2011. His reign was repressive and totalitarian and was marked by food scarcity.

 26 Emilio Eduardo Massera

Emilio Eduardo Massera
Famous As: Political figure
Birthdate: October 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parana, Argentina
Died: November 8, 2010

 27 Luis Somoza Debayle

Luis Somoza Debayle
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 18, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: León, Nicaragua
Died: April 13, 1967

 28 Jean-Baptiste Bagaza

Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
Famous As: President
Birthdate: August 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rutovu, Burundi
Died: May 4, 2016

 29 Georgios Papadopoulos

Georgios Papadopoulos
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 5, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eleochorion, Greece
Died: June 27, 1999

Georgios Papadopoulos was a Greek soldier remembered for leading a military coup d'état in Greece in 1967, which led to a regime of the colonels that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. After seizing power in 1967, Papadopoulos remained Greece's dictator until 1973, when he was overthrown by Dimitrios Ioannidis. Papadopoulos also played an important role during World War II.

 30 Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Famous As: Former President of Pakistan
Birthdate: August 12, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jalandhar, Punjab, British India
Died: August 17, 1988
Pakistani military general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq became the president of Pakistan after he deposed the erstwhile prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and declared martial law in 1977. He subsequently became longest-tenured head of state, reigning from 1978 to 1988. He died in a plane crash in Bahawalpur.

 31 Samuel Doe

Samuel Doe
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 6, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tuzon, Liberia
Died: September 9, 1990

Samuel Doe led a violent coup against Liberian president William Tolbert, executing him. Doe then led as the country’s military leader and later became its president. He was eventually brutally tortured and killed by INPFL Prince Y. Johnson’s men, and the killing was taped and showcased in news reports.

 32 Ne Win

Ne Win
Famous As: Burmese Politician
Birthdate: May 14, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paungdale
Died: December 5, 2002
Known as “the destroyer of Burma,” Myanmar’s former dictator, president, and prime minister General Ne Win practically reduced the once-prosperous nation to its mere shadow. The founder of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, he spent his final years under house arrest, and had only a dozen people at his funeral.

 33 Moussa Traoré

Moussa Traoré
Famous As: President of Mali from 1968 to 1991
Birthdate: September 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kayes, Mali
Died: September 15, 2020

 34 Artúr Görgey

Artúr Görgey
Famous As: Military leader
Birthdate: January 30, 1818
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toporc, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire
Died: May 21, 1916

 35 Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla

Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla
Famous As: 4th Chairman of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy
Birthdate: 1940 AD
Birthplace: La Güera