10 of the Most Ruthless Acts Throughout History

by Shivam Khandelwal3 years ago
Picture 10 of the Most Ruthless Acts Throughout History

Every one of us knows that Adolf Hitler was a cruel dictator and he did some really ruthless things in his reign, but is he the only one to carry out such horrible deeds? No! Little do we know about similar instances when people didn’t show any signs of humanity and executed some of the most inhuman moves. Read the list to the end to learn about 10 of the most ruthless acts throughout history.

1 Under the leadership of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, a network of doctors and nuns stole up to 300,000 babies from mothers who were either poor or anti-fascist and gave them to families who were in support of Franco. This operation continued even after the dictator’s death until 1980.

Francisco Franco
Portrait of Francisco Franco (Image to the left), Children during the Spanish Civil War, [between 1936 and 1939]. Image credits: Biblioteca Virtual de Defensa via Wikimedia, archies.gov

The “Lost children of Francoism” was the categorical name given to all the babies stolen by the doctors and nuns. The Republican parents of the babies were either killed or put behind bars by the Nationalist troops. Approximately 300,000 children were taken away from their parents. The babies went through child trafficking, illegal adoption, and some were even orphaned because of the civil war.

The kidnapping of children literally became a state-sanctioned policy and the Ministry of Justice was given the task of collecting the babies.

Most of the kidnapped children had working-class mothers. The idea behind selecting only babies from working-class women was that the working class had been the motor of the Republican revolution, and if not taken away, these children would have been raised to question the dictatorship.

When everything came to light, the misdeed was regarded as a crime against humanity. The names of the children were also changed so the criminals at fault could not be asked to pay reparations to victims and so they could not uncover their lost identities. (1, 2)


2 The Hundred Flowers Campaign was the campaign in which the Communist Party of China encouraged its citizens to openly express their views and opinions about the communist government in 1956. After the campaign, Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party, started an ideological crackdown on the people who actually criticized the regime in which thousands of people were imprisoned or executed.

Mao Zedong
Portrait of Mao Zedong (Image to the left), Hundred Flowers Movement. Image credits: Shutterstock, schoolhistory

The campaign was influenced by similar actions taken by the Soviet Union in February 1956. The campaign started with Mao Zedong’s famous slogan “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.”

The movment developed gradually and was at its peak in spring 1957 when intellectuals and articulated people began criticizing the government openly in public.

The criticisms grew very rapidly with posters against the specific faults of government, and students and teachers began criticizing members of the ruling party.

Mao saw the criticisms going too far, and by July 1957, it was completely called off. Instantly identified critics lost their jobs. Some were forced to do manual labor, and some were arrested. The act of punishing those who actually spoke against the right-wing ideology was justified by calling the process “re-education.”  This campaign of picking out critics lasted until 1959 and it re-established Maoist orthodoxy in public expression. (1, 2)


3 The communist government of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 under the leadership of Pol Pot was responsible for the death of at least 1.4 billion Cambodians. The deaths were caused by food scarcity, intensive labor, deadly diseases, or execution. Even some citizens loyal to Pol Pot were killed because they failed to find enough “counter-revolutionaries” to execute.

Pol Pot
Pol Pot (Image to the left), View of Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. Image credits: gulfnews, Thanachet Maviang via Shutterstock

Pol Pot was the Prime Minister of Cambodia beginning in 1976 and he formed a new Khmer Rouge government under him that killed millions of people by forced labor, starvation, diseases, torture, or direct execution.

All the former civil servants, professors, doctors, and basically all the professionals were forced to work in fields. The government called the process “re-education.”

Those who refused or complained about the forced labor were tortured to death in detention centers. Mass graves of skeletons of civilians who died in the processes created during the genocide were found later.

The children were taken away from their parents and were forcibly drafted into the military. Strict rules were also laid down on the subjects of sexual relations, vocabulary, clothing, etc.

Pol Pot was overthrown when the Vietnamese invaded in January 1979, but he fled to bases in Thailand and died naturally in 1998. (1, 2, 3)


4 Vlad the Impaler was the prince of Wallachia who literally impaled thousands of his enemies, including women and babies. Impaling is basically torturing and killing a person by inserting a wooden or metal pole into the victim’s body through their rectum or vagina and then forcing the object out from their shoulder, neck, or mouth. It is also said that he enjoyed his breakfast among the screaming agony of freshly impaled people. The name “Dracula” is also inspired by the same leader.

Vlad the Impaler
Illustrated image of Vlad the Impaler (Image to the left), Dracula leading a charge against Islamic troops in the Battle with Torches in Romania, 1492. Image credits: Shutterstock, Theodor Aman via Military Heritage

Vlad Third became the ruler of Wallachia three times between 1448 until his death, and his methods of punishment gained popularity in Europe.

He was so ruthless that once in a battle in 1462, he left a field full of victims after impaling them to deter the pursuing Ottoman forces.

He was captured, imprisoned, and tortured by the Ottomans for some period of time where he first witnessed impaling. It was done by the Ottomans to their other captured enemies.

After learning the process of impaling from the Ottomans, Vlad carried that ruthless act of torture and murder when he re-established himself as the king in his empire. He impaled the enemies that were imprisoned and also the individuals inside his territory that were to be punished. Sometimes it took hours and days for a person to die of impaling, and for all that time, the person had to endure unimaginable pain.

Thousands were killed by Vlad by impaling, from which 20,000 corpses were displayed outside the city of Targoviste. (1, 2, 3)


5 Shaka Zulu, the tribal leader of the Zulu Kingdom killed all the pregnant women along with their husbands after his own mother died in 1827. His grief hijacked his sanity. He ordered the execution of all the people who were supposedly insufficiently grief-stricken. Also, cows were to be slaughtered so that their calves would know what losing a mother felt like.

Shaka Zulu
Statue representing Shaka Zulu, A muster and dance of Zulu regiments at Shaka’s kraal, as recorded by European visitors to his kingdom, c. 1827. Image credits: Wikipedia

Shaka was the founder of the Zulu Kingdom of South Africa. He also carried out important reorganizations in the military to transform it into a formidable one through a number of wide-reaching and influential reforms.

The Zulu Tribe was composed of just 1,500 members when Shaka became the chief in 1816, but since he was a great military organizer, they conquered neighboring tribes and gained control over present-day Natal.

However, Shaka became severely mentally ill when his mother died in October 1827 because of dysentery. After what he lost, Shaka ordered that no crops should be planted and no milk should be produced during the following year.

Pregnant women along with their husbands were killed, and 7,000 people who were thought to be insufficiently grief-stricken were executed. Having all this chaos, Shaka’s half-brother Dingane and Mhlangana tried to assassinate him two times before they succeeded, and Dingane became the next king of Zulus. (1, 2)

Also Read:
10 of the Lesser-known Devastating Events in History

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