Anyway, I was just wondering…does anyone happen to know what person has, with reasonable verification, personally killed the most other humans?
•Although projectile weapons count, I’m ruling out aircraft weapons, (So the bombardier of the Enola Gay doesn’t qualify.) or other really indirect methods, like giving orders to kill or let die. (So Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc. don’t count.)
•It doesn’t matter if it was legal at the time or not.
•The “reasonable verification”—that’s to, if nothing else, rule out figures of myth and/or legend. (So Achilles don’t count.)
And of course, the usual disclaimers apply: I don’t want or plan to become a killer myself, I don’t want anyone ELSE to go out and kill anyone or anything, I’m not saying it’s right or desirable to kill people…you get the picture.
So…right off the top of my head, I can think of sniper Vassili Zaitsev, and executioner Charles Henri Sanson. But I’m sure there have been others who’d be higher up on the list.
While I’m sure he killed a lot of people with his own hands, probably most were by others acting on his orders (i.e. against the rules.)
I would personally bet on one of the WWI guys who used a machine-gun turrets to decimate lines and lines of charging troops. Not “verifiable” nor could I give any name, but I think that that would be your best situation for pretty much non-stop mass killing by a single individual by his own hand.
Thug Behram of the Indian Thuggee cult is sometimes cited as the world’s most prolific serial killer, allegedly having personally strangled or otherwise taken part in in the murder of 931 people between 1790 and 1930.
Since there’s a lot of talk about Zaitsev, it’s worthwhile to point out that while the most famous military sniper, he isn’t the one with most kills. In this thread about female snipers at least two other Soviet WWII snipers with over 300 kills are named; and the sniper with most verified kills probably was Finnish Simo Häyhä who is usually credited with over 550 killed enemies, with an additional 100 or so with more conventional weapons like machine gun. (Note that while the information on Simo Häyhä in that Snipercountry site is spot on, the number of one million total Soviet losses on Winter War is exaggeration by Khrushchev; more correct losses are likely around half a million, some 200 000 of those killed.)
Not allowing the Enola Gay crew to be included as “indirect” seems a bit odd if we’re going to allow people who use other weapons that act at a distance (guns etc). Releasing a bomb is no more casually “indirect” (IMO) than spraying a large field with machine gun fire or throwing a cauldron of hot oil on a large crowd of soldiers storming the castle.
I also think the restriction on “aircraft” weapons is a little strange. Firing a torpedo into a passenger liner and dropping a bomb on a city are practically identical acts. Each is performed under orders from a position of relative safety and acts at a distance to deliver death to large numbers of people. If aircraft weapons are out, then submarine weapons should also be out. I would also exclude things like battleships’ main guns, Tomahawk cruise missiles (identical versions of which can be fired from an aircraft or the deck of a ship!), and so on.
As for direct deaths, there is probably an engineer or technician who made a mistake which cost thousands of lives. Usually it’s hard to isolate the one person to blame, however. The Sept 11th hijackers were teams, so no aircraft’s group of terrorists can get an entry; in the Marshal Nedelin incident, we can’t identify the technician’s name, but his mistake caused the rocket to explode on the pad and kill 100+ people.
For mass-murders, like the Holocaust, the shower operators certainly killed hundreds, but they were building on the work of others (clearing the ghettoes, rouding everyone up, building the camps, etc.). I think your best bet is going to be someone who manned a machine gun in the Pacific theater (WWII), or perhaps a Maxim gun during one of the British colonial wars. If anyone survived that Brits-vs.-Zulus fight – I still haven’t seen that movie – one of the Brits might hold a place in history.