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Truth is often stranger—and scarier—than fiction. Some of fictions great bad guys—Lord Voldemort, the Joker, Hannibal Lector—pale into insignificance when compared to some of history’s real life bad guys. Who could ever have dreamt up a political party with the vision and drive for killing innocents on the scale that Adolf Hitler’s Nazis did? Who could have written a screenplay with a plot as twisted and bloodstained as the events that played out under the Khmer Rouge?
Sometimes such actions are the result of one person’s madness—a spate of murders, or a day of madness. Other times, these great acts of evil are the work of political parties or whole countries, driven by an individual seeking to satisfy some personal political or religious quest. Whatever their motivation, everyone in our playlist of history’s most evil people has blood on their hands.