Perhaps surprisingly to some, Joseph Stalin does not in fact top this list - although his death toll of 40 million is utterly disgusting and shocking in itself. Few leaders have run their empire with such an iron fist - even Hitler did not purge within his own nation to the extent Stalin did the Soviet Union - and few have cared as little for the welfare of their citizens at the leader of the USSR between 1927 and 1953. Stalin began his killing spree in Ukraine, during a period known as Holodomor, in which millions of natives - believed to range anywhere from 3 to 10 million - perished as a result of an orchestrated famine to remove the threat of Ukrainian nationalism. He continued in this manner during his campaign to become leader of the USSR during the power vacuum left by Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924. He played different Bolshevik leaders off against one another and ensured that they were tried and then executed for crimes against the state. Not content, however, and always paranoid as leader, Stalin embarked on the "Great Purge" or the "Great Terror" of his own Communist Party and of all political prisoners in the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1940. Show trials were used to justify some of the killings, but upwards of 700,000 were murdered or died as a result of forced labour in the "Gulag" concentration camps. Stalin's "victory-at-all-costs" attitude also resulted in 23.9 million Soviet deaths during World War II as he ordered his men to fight on through horrendous conditions and when all hope was lost. Plus Stalin ordered the execution of several hundred-thousand German soldiers and officers during and following World War II, taking his death toll to even greater heights. Joseph Stalin is the very definition of a tyrant - bloodthirsty, brutal and without compassion. He was even quoted during his lifetime as saying: "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic." That tells you all you need to know about Stalin's mindset.
NUFC editor for WhatCulture.com/NUFC. History graduate (University of Edinburgh) and NCTJ-trained journalist. I love sports, hopelessly following Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons. My pastimes include watching and attending sports matches religiously, reading spy books and sampling ales.