Here are ten people who in 20th century changed the course of history, due to their actions or due to their beliefs and their ability to lead the masses. History may judge them as villains or as heroes, but their role as change makers is undeniable.
1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
A frail man, with a simple philosophy of non-violence, and the ability to lead an entire nation with just his words sounded the death knell of colonialism in the 20th Century. Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela have all followed his footsteps in their quests.
2. Adolf Hitler
A highly reviled man, nevertheless we tend to forget that he raised a defeated Germany into one of the world’s strongest fighting machines. His political ambitions, his quest for power and his belief in the supremacy of the Aryan race were his undoing, but due to his actions he changed the course of history in the 20th century.
3. Winston Churchill
A master statesman and strategist, he lead his tiny nation to victory in one of the most turbulent times in history. Considered to be Britain’s greatest war-time leader, his oratorical skills, and his bonding with Roosevelt helped the Allies to triumph over Hitler’s army.
4. Mikhail Gorbachev
Pushing open the doors of reform, he spelt the end of communism as an all pervasive system of governance. His effective summits with Ronald Reagan closed the doors on the Cold War, and he presided over the dissolution of the Soviet Union. History will remember him as a man who shaped the destinies of many nations.
5. Martin Luther King
Many believe that it was his struggles for racial equality which spelt the doom of segregation in the United States. He was at the helm of the movement, where blacks and whites alike stood up to fight centuries of discrimination, and to him goes the credit for the victory that they achieved.
6. Mao Zedong
Regarded by many in China as a political revolutionary and strategist and military mastermind, he ruled his nation with an iron hand for almost 30 years. He made his country into a world power but also left behind a legacy of a closed nation, and failed socialist policies.
7. Nelson Mandela
A symbol of the anti-apartheid movement, he spent 27 years in prison, and yet emerged from there as a leader and a pacifist. The first elected President of a fully represented democratic election, he lead his nation during the turbulent times of transition from a white rule to an all-inclusive regime.
8. Ho Chi Minh
He perfected the art of guerrilla warfare, his regime gave America its first defeat on foreign soil, and he prevented the French from continuing their colonization of Indo-China. Even though he died before the Vietnam War had ended, His legacy remains in the form of a unified Vietnam.
9. Sadaam Hussein
A man who ruled Iraq for over 24 years, he changed history by being responsible for one of America’s most controversial wars. Even though he led a very repressive regime, yet during his regime Iraq’s economy grew at a rapid pace. Vilified by many, and revered by some, he remains one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century.
10. Ayatullah Khomeini
A religious leader of immense eminence, he lead his nation against a brutal regime, and later with his open defiance of the West, he formed a new kind of religious government, and led to a tremendous revival of Islam in Iran. An ascetic religious leader, he is however better known for his political skills and his charismatic popularity in Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East.