Imagine growing up in a world where money is no object, power is absolute, murder and death are the norm, and tyranny reigns supreme. Such was the “charmed” life of the children of some of the most malevolent and maniacal dictators to have ever graced the planet. Given their totalitarian parents, it’s easy to see how the offspring, raised in turmoil and instability, turned out to be tainted, corrupt, or unstable themselves.
10 Mao Anqing
Son Of Mao Tse-tung
Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-tung is best known for establishing the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The head of the Chinese Communist Party initiated campaigns such as The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution, which not only caused the death of 40 million people, but also brought economic and social ruin to China.
Before Mao became head of the Communist Party, he fathered three sons, one of whom was Mao Anqing. As a child, Anqing rarely saw his father and spent most of his time with his suicidal mother. After his father’s party suffered a major loss during the Chinese Civil War, Anqing’s mother was captured and executed. Mao Tse-tung made no attempt to rescue his wife and children.
Later, Anqing would watch his younger brother die of dysentery before ending up on the streets, hungry and homeless. He would eventually find his way back to China after stints in Moscow and Paris, only to fall victim to mental illness. Mao Tse-tung saw very little of his son afterward. If anyone knew the meaning of abandonment issues, it was Mao Anqing.
9 Yakov Dzhugashvili
Son Of Joseph Stalin
By far, Joseph Stalin was one of the most feared leaders to have ever risen to power. Reigning with an iron fist, Stalin placed the USSR front and center on the world stage through forced and rapid industrialization, major agricultural collectivization, and swift and brutal elimination of potential enemies. Ultimately, scores of people suffered and died under his tyrannical rule.
Yakov Dzhugashvili, whom Stalin was said to have despised, was the dictator’s eldest son. Lack of affection coupled with fleeting love once drove Yakov to attempt suicide by shooting himself in the face. The cold-blooded Stalin was alleged to have commented on his ailing son saying, “He couldn’t even shoot straight.” The second time was certainly the charm; after surrendering to the Nazis in 1941 and being abandoned by his “loving” father, Yakov committed suicide by throwing himself onto an electrical fence in 1943.
8 Edda Mussolini
Daughter Of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator who ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943, had aligned his country with Nazi Germany and Japan during World War II. Not only did Mussolini disassemble Italy’s democratic government, but he adopted Hitler’s policy of a Jew-free world and declared war against Britain and France in June 1940. He wasn’t exactly a model father figure.
Edda Mussolini (center in the picture above), who was known to be strong-willed and self-determining, was forced to grapple with having a fascist dictator for a father and the fact that her husband did not agree with her love of Hitler. Edda’s husband, Count Galeazzo Ciano, was considered to be a traitor by the Germans due to his disapproval of Mussolini’s war policies.
After the fall of Mussolini’s regime in 1943, Edda and her family fled to Germany, only for her husband to be denied entry. He was subsequently arrested and accused of treason. Despite Edda’s pleas to her father, Ciano was shot by a firing squad in Verona in January 1944. Afterward, Edda wanted to be referred to as the wife of a victim of fascism rather than the daughter of Mussolini. Talk about tough love.
7 Faisal Wangita
Son Of Idi Amin
Faisal Wangita, one of 40 confirmed children of the tyrannical Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, was fathered by a man who quickly rose to military prominence and eventually the post of president by way of a coup in 1971. Soon after, Amin’s reign of terror began. He dissolved the Ugandan parliament, canceled general elections, exploited the country’s resources, and created a team of secret police that abused power and authority (often killing at will). Amin ultimately left a legacy of genocide in Uganda, where it is estimated that at least 300,000 people were murdered.
The saying “the apple does not fall far from the tree” could not be any more true than in the case of Faisal Wangita. After racking up a handful of criminal offenses (including fraud, possession of a dangerous weapon, theft, and threatening behavior), Faisal found himself in the center of the mob-style killing of a young man in which hammers, knives, and bats were used during a clash between rival gangs. Wangita, after being charged with the crime, was jailed for five years and ultimately deported back to his native Uganda.
6 Nicu Ceausescu
Son Of Nicolae Ceausescu
Former Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu attempted to increase the country’s economic growth through agricultural and industrial development. Instead, Ceausescu’s mismanagement of resources plunged Romania into debt in the 1980s, eventually severely lowering the standard of living. Ceausescu, who was also known for surveillance of his people as well as violently thwarting any disapproval of his rule, was finally brought down in a revolution in 1989. He was shot by a firing squad along with his wife that same year.
Before his death, Nicolae hand-picked his son, Nicu Ceausescu, to take his place as leader of Romania. Like his father before him, Nicu was irresponsible and reckless with money and power, not to mention alcohol. He was infamous for squandering large sums of money on palatial parties and gambling. Nicu’s insensitivity to the poverty that ravaged his own country was a glaring representation of his father’s corruption and made the Romanian people’s disdain for him grow. In 1990, Nicu was sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering troops to fire on a crowd of protesters, killing 91 of them. He was a regular chip off the old Ceausescu block.
5 Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue
Son Of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, leader of the small African nation of Equatorial New Guinea, boasts the title of the continent’s longest-serving leader at an estimated 30 years. Mbasago began his rule by ousting and replacing his own uncle as president. The uncle was tried and executed. During his rule, Mbasago has been accused of embezzlement of public money, fraud, and theft. Even more horrid are reports that the president has engaged in the cannibalism of his opponents, acts of torture against anyone accused of rising up against him, and other bloody crimes.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Mbasago’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, has certainly been corrupted in the same way as his father. Teodoro lives the lavish playboy lifestyle of a young underprivileged man’s dreams. He reportedly possesses assets valued in excess of $71 million, money that is believed to have been stolen from his impoverished country. Among the extravagant possessions are a $500,000 Ferrari, a $30 million Malibu mansion, and a $38.5 million Grumman Gulfstream jet. The apple certainly didn’t fall far from the (stolen) money tree.
4 Uday Hussein
Son Of Saddam Hussein
Without a doubt, Saddam Hussein was one of the most murderous dictators to have ever lived. Iraq’s fifth president rose to power in 1979 and quickly ordered the execution of all opposing officers soon after. Hussein’s presidency was riddled with murder, corruption, war, and allegations of possessing chemical and nuclear weapons. Saddam, who praised the 9/11 terror attacks by calling them “heroic,” became a prime focus of George W. Bush’s anti-terrorism efforts. Even though Saddam left a legacy of terror behind him, the exploits of his son, Uday, nearly put him to shame.
From a young age, Uday Hussein exhibited lethal tendencies that would permeate throughout his life. He was so malicious that his own father disapproved of his antics. Uday reportedly clubbed Saddam’s food tester and bodyguard to death in a fit of anger in 1988 because the man had introduced Saddam to his (eventual) second wife. Uday was jailed for the murder, only to be released 40 days later by his father.
In the following years, Uday‘s reputation as a playboy, rapist, murderer, and sadist grew in the shadow of his father’s presidency. He was addicted to cars, expensive clothes, money, and sex. He also had very creative ways of intimidating and eliminating his enemies, too many to mention and too gruesome to elaborate.
3 Marko Milosevic
Son Of Slobodan Milosevic
For 13 years, Slobodan Milosevic ruled as the president of Serbia. Milosevic usurped (and possibly abducted and killed) the former leader of the Serbian Communist Party, which he was part of. Milosevic’s real claim to infamy comes from his involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity. Thousands of people were forced from their homes and killed.
Milosevic’s son, Marko, was involved in a large number of businesses, including a perfume shop, a bakery, and a disco. However, not all of his ventures were legal; it’s alleged that Marko’s main dealings were in the smuggling of fuel, drugs, and cigarettes. In addition to being a businessman, Marko was a playboy and was quoted as saying that he “had to have a girl, music, a car, and a gun.”
Marko’s life of organized crime was bolstered by allegations that the police and local authorities were firmly under his influence. Influence or not, he couldn’t avoid being named in the assassination of a business opponent, a Serbian guerrilla named Arkan. After a life of underhanded dealings, Marko fled to Moscow, leaving the sins of his past behind him.
2 Kim Jong Il
Son Of Kim Il Sung
Kim Il Sung, the oppressive North Korean dictator who single-handedly triggered the Korean War in 1950, which led to the deaths of nearly one million civilians, became known as “The Great Leader.” Before being elected president in 1972, Kim Il Sung was infamous for fostering a tumultuous relationship with South Korea and forbidding civilians from having any form of contact with the Western world.
Kim Jong Il certainly took a page out of his father’s political book, studying Marxist political economics and minoring in philosophy and military science at Kim Il Sung University. Soon after he graduation, his father began to prepare his son for leadership. The propaganda machine behind Kim Jong Il hailed him as “Dear Leader,” continuing his father’s trend of brainwashing the people and controlling all aspects of the government.
In 1994, Kim Jong Il took full control of North Korea following the death of Kim Il Sung. Not long after his ascent, he managed to thrust North Korea into severe famine due to misuse of resources, leaving an estimated two million people to die. Furthermore, Kim’s regime fell under continued scrutiny for talks of nuclear weapons and the fact that so much of its finances were channeled to the military, leaving the overall economy to suffer.
1 Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier
Son Of Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier
The impoverished and embattled country of Haiti struggles to move forward thanks to one of the most vicious dictators to have ever emerged out of the Western world, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. After the Haitian people elected him president in 1957, Papa Doc promised to better the lives of the country’s poor blacks. Instead, the dictator ruled through fear, using secret police (the Tontons Macoutes, Creole for “bogeymen”) to intimidate and murder any opposition. It is estimated that Duvalier was responsible for the murder of 60,000 people. After leaving a trail of theft, hunger, disease, national debt, and severed heads in his wake, Papa Doc passed in 1971.
Enter Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, then a teenager. Having led an exceptionally spoiled life growing up, Jean-Claude adopted the same ideologies as his father, as he had no regard for the suffering of his people or even life itself. As a young boy, Jean-Claude would reportedly fire guns wildly, once hitting and killing his limousine chauffeur and two bodyguards.
For years after becoming Haiti’s president, Baby Doc would continue to rule in the same way his father had before him, pillaging the country’s money and resources, living in superfluous extravagance, and ignoring the health and welfare of the economy and the people. It wasn’t until 1986 that the people finally revolted against Baby Doc and removed him from power.
The Duvalier regimes left Haiti as one of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. If this was the outcome that Francois had envisioned for his country, then he would certainly be proud of his son.
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