When we think about what the face of evil looks like, we might picture a general image of a dark, cloaked figure cackling. Or, we might picture something concrete, like a frantic Hitler barking a speech to a cheering crowd. But evil isn’t born — it’s made.
Every murderer, despot, and evil-doer has the same thing in common: they were all once children. It’s hard to believe by looking at their childhood photos that these men would one day grow up to be the living embodiment of evil.
President Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania sought to improve the country’s economy by exporting almost all of their agriculture products. This lead to famine, which led to dissension. Ceausescu quickly had all these protestors killed.
Supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jung Il alienated his nation from the world, denied them basic human rights, and destroyed anyone who got in his way, from peasants to members of his own family.
Alexander Pichushkin murdered at least 49 people. He was described as a normal cheerful kid until he fell off of a swing and hit his head. Could this have changed him forever?
Japan’s Emperor Hirohito led his country to slaughter millions of Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Filipino, and Indochinese people. You’d never guess that was coming when you look at the young flag-brandishing tot.
Osama bin Laden was the founder and leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. He was also a rumored womanizer which is impressive — given that he also had six wives.
Benito Mussolini, the man who defined the fascist movement in Italy during World War II, was once a serious-looking youth who never met a photographer he didn’t scowl at.
John Wayne Gacy, better known as The Clown Killer, raped and murdered dozens of teenage boys and hid their bodies beneath the crawl space of his home… when he wasn’t volunteering at local charities dressed as a clown.
Mao ushered in the “Cultural Revolution” in China, paving the way for communism. It was a time of tremendous unrest, the death of many ancient traditions, and the loss of countless lives.
Dennis Rader, otherwise known by the moniker “BTK” (short for his preferred method of murder — “binding, torturing, and killing”) had a troubled youth. He may have looked like a matinee star, but he was also torturing and killing animals at a young age.
For years, the serial killer known as The Green River Killer evaded capture. When Gary Ridgeway was finally identified and caught, he admitted to killing more than 70 women. You’d never know it from him smiling, innocent school photo.
Even as a child, psychologists noted that Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik seemed cold and cut off from real emotions. He would go on to kill 69 people, mostly children, during a shooting spree.
This smiling young man would turn into Timothy McVeigh, the troubled former military man who would kill 168 people in the Oklahoma City Bombings.
Hitler’s right-hand man Heinrich Himmler didn’t change all that much from boyhood into adulthood. This seemingly mild-mannered bespectacled fellow would be responsible for managing the Nazi death camps.
Following in his father Kim Jong Il’s footsteps, Kim Jung Un continues to dominate and persecute the starving people of North Korea. He is also alleged to have had his own uncle killed when he perceived him to be a potential threat.
Serial killer Ted Bundy was just as charming as he was deadly. He traveled the country attacking and murdering women, sometimes keeping their heads as trophies.
Saddam Hussein rose to power as the brutal dictator of Iraq who guided the country into war with the United States. Even as a young man, he was exceptionally politically active.
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer may look innocent in his childhood photo where he poses clutching a kitten, but he was anything but. Dahmer would lure male partners to his home, where he would rape, murder, and eat them.
“Would you kill baby Hitler” is a question that’s been popularized lately. Knowing what we do about one of history’s most evil men, it’s easy to say yes. But looking at the photo of the monster as an infant paints the portrait of an innocent baby.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is responsible for the Syrian Civil War, which led to countless deaths and war crimes perpetrated by this leader.
This portrait captures a young Joseph Stalin before he became the dictator we all know and revile. He looks more studious than murderous.
The smiling teen in this family photo would turn out to be Albert DeSalvo, better known as the Boston Strangler. He killed 13 women via strangulation and raped 31 other women, which sent him to jail for the rest of his life.
Charles Manson was a charismatic cult leader who led a group of dazed and confused followers known as “the family.” Manson’s minions were responsible for the infamous Tate – Labianca murders.