1. Mao Zedong
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Mao is famous for being the leader who brought communism to the Republic of China. In his first five years, he killed about 4 to 6 million people, indiscriminately sentencing them to death. His social programs such as the “Great Leap Forward” are said to have resulted in the starvation of nearly 20 million alone. He would also execute countless enemies of the State.
Before taking power, he worked on a Socialist movement to indoctrinate children through education so that they would eventually fight to take over the current regime. This was part of the “four cleanups movement”–cleansing politics, economics, ideas, and organization of “reactionaries.” Eventually leading to the formation of the “Red Guards,” who were organized to punish intellectuals and take out Mao’s political adversaries. He encouraged his followers to destroy buildings, sacred objects. They were told to stand up to their elders, punish them, and even kill them if they did not agree.
By 1968, Mao’s agenda showed success, which enabled him to implement his policy called the “Down to the Countryside Movement”–forcing young intellectuals to move out to the country to become farmers. These people who were pushed out to the countryside were mostly people from the Red Guards who helped him gain power.
Mao is responsible for the deaths of anywhere from 7- 40,000 million with some estimates holding his policies and political purges from 1949 to 1976 responsible the deaths of 49 to 78 million people.