Despot of the Week #8 – Baron Ungern von Sternberg

October 27, 2009


“He’s out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops.”

General Corman on Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.

Back in the bad old days of Imperial Europe, before the two Great Wars of the 20th century finally reined in the long history of bloody conquest plaguing the continent, violent psychopaths did not become serial killers. They ruled nations. By the time the 1900’s rolled around, Europe’s aristocracy were the scions of a dozen centuries’ worth of treachery and inbreeding: sociopaths, perverts and lunatics all. Perhaps no other Empire had a crazier nobility than the Russians, and the Russians produced no more demented an individual than Baron Ungern von Sternberg, a fanatic nationalist who came to believe that he was the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. He pursued a bloody adventure of rampant lunacy through Siberia and the Asian Steppes, torturing, plundering and exterminating Jews along the way. He even managed (briefly) to conquer Mongolia. This is the story of a man so unhinged he was convinced that by shooting people, he was doing them a good turn.

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Despot of the Week #4 – Genghis Khan

August 18, 2009

Genghis Khan

“The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”

   – Genghis Khan

Some 750 odd years later, those same words would be paraphrased by Hollywood scriptwriter John Milius and recited by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian. Only in Schwarzenegger’s heavily mangled Austrian accent it comes out something like this: “Crush yoah enemies, see dem driven befoah you, and hear de lammentation of de vimmin!” Still, if Conan is lifting your lines, you know you must have been one seriously hard bastard. Through sheer force of bloody minded will, Genghis Khan united a rag tag bunch of savage, perpetually feuding tribes under the Mongol banner and turned them into the fiercest fighting machine the world has ever seen. The Mongols swept out of the Asian Steppes and across the length and breadth of the continent, vanquishing everything in their path with a ruthless abandon. Through the devices of pillage, rape and wholesale slaughter, Genghis Khan subjugated most of the known world. For their unfortunate victims, the coming of the Mongols was if the apocalypse itself was visited upon them.

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