The first jobs of 12 dictators: From Benito Mussolini to Joseph Stalin

From teachers to artists, here's what 13 despots did before they came to power

Elena Holodny
Tuesday 23 February 2016 17:38
comments
The USSR's Joseph Stalin studied at a seminary, but later worked as a tutor and clerk after he dropped out.
The USSR's Joseph Stalin studied at a seminary, but later worked as a tutor and clerk after he dropped out.

Dictators are remembered as larger-than-life political and military rulers.

From teachers to artists, here's what 13 despots did before they came to power.

Editor's Note: The original list included Jozef Tiso, a leading politician of the Slovak People's Party. We removed him from the list.

Italy's Benito Mussolini first worked as schoolmaster, and then turned to political journalism.

He left Italy for Switzerland where he worked odd jobs until he became well-known as an intellectual political journalist.

Benito Mussolini “for a time worked as a schoolmaster but soon realized that he was totally unsuited for such work,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

He then left Italy for Switzerland where he worked odd jobs until he became well-known as an intellectual political journalist.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

North Korea's Kim Il-Sung was a major in the Soviet army during World War II.

Kim Jong-il, right, and his father, Kim Il-sung, depicted at Mount Paektu, where the pair were both born, according to official records

In the 1930's, Kim Il-Sung joined a Korean guerrilla resistance against Japanese occupation.

He later led a Korean contingent as a major in the Soviet Army during World War II.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

The USSR's Joseph Stalin studied at a seminary, but later worked as a tutor and clerk after he dropped out.

Russian dictator Joseph Stalin

Stalin's religious mother wanted her son to become a priest, and so he attended the Tiflis Theological Seminary. Although he excelled in his studies, he left school in 1899. (Some records say it was because he could not afford tuition, others say that it was due to his anti-tsarist political views.)

He then worked as a tutor and clerk at the Tiflis Observatory.

Source: Biography.com

Germany's Adolf Hitler was a watercolour painter.

Adolf Hitler addresses a crowd at a rally in 1941

Hitler was interested in fine art, although his father disapproved.

He worked as a casual laborer and watercolor painter in Vienna, but was ultimately twice rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts.

Source: Biography.com

Cambodia's Pol Pot taught history, geography, and french literature at a private school.

Pol Pot, right, at a camp in Cambodia in 1986

Pol Pot studied radio electronics in Paris on scholarship. However, he spent most of his time involved in revolutionary activities, and his scholarship was nipped in the bud after he failed exams.

He taught at a private school when he returned home.

Source: New York Times

Uganda's Idi Amin was an assistant cook, boxing champion, and talented swimmer.

He was later a light-heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, and was reportedly a great swimmer.

Idi Amin joined the King's African Rifles of the British colonial army in 1946 as an assistant cook.

He was later a light-heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, and was reportedly a great swimmer.

Source: New York Times, Biography.com

Haiti's François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier was a physician.

Duvalier attends a court hearing in 2013

Duvalier graduated from the University of Haiti School of Medicine in 1934. He served as a hospital staff physician until 1943.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu started out as an apprentice cobbler.

Nicolae Ceausescu

Ceausescu only received an elementary school education. He started out as an apprentice cobbler after he left his village.

Source: Biography.com, Telegraph

Spain's Francisco Franco joined the army and became the youngest captain in the Spanish army in 1915.

Francisco Franco in the 1960s

Spain's Francisco Franco joined the army and became the youngest captain in the Spanish army in 1915.

Franco graduated from the Infantry Academy at Toledo, and after that volunteered for active duty in the colonial campaigns in Spanish Morocco.

He “soon won a reputation for complete professional dedication” and “paid more attention than was common to the troops' well-being.” In 1915, he became the youngest captain in the Spanish army.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

France's Maximillien Robespierre made good money as a lawyer.

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre

Robespierre was a lawyer, and later appointed a judge at the Salle Épiscopale, a court with jurisdiction over the provostship of a diocese.

“His private practice provided him with a comfortable income,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Chile's Augusto Pinochet taught geopolitics at a the War Academy.

Former dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet

August graduated as an infantry officer in 1937, and later taught geopolitics at the War Academy.

Source: The Guardian

Argentina's Jorge Rafael Videla was in the army.

This file photo dated 10 May, 1976 shows General Orlando Agosti (R), Admrial Emilio Massera (L) and leader General Jorge Rafael Videla (C) members of Argentina's military junta during an official ceremony.

Videla graduated from the National Military College in 1944, and then was commissioned for the Argentine army. He was appointed chief of the Army General Staff in 1973.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Read more:

• Sea levels are rising way faster than they have in the past 2,800 years
• The UK voting to leave the EU 'would open Pandora's box' in Europe
• This financial CEO showed us why Britain's housing market is 'living on the edge'

Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2015. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments