The Women Behind the Worst Men in History

There's an old saying that goes: "Behind every great man, there's an even better woman." This statement, however, also rings true for bad men. From Adolf Hitler's long-term companion Eva Braun, to other so-called "dictator wives," each of the ladies on this list either willingly or unwittingly spent their lives with very bad guys. Take a look at the women behind the worst men in history.

Photo: Ruffneck88 / Wikimedia Commons

  • Eva Braun
    Photo: quapan / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Wife of Adolf Hitler

    Eva Braun met Adolf Hitler in 1929, when she was 17 years old. At 42, he was 23 years her senior. It isn't clear when they began formally dating. During their 16-year relationship, Braun attempted to take her own life on two occasions, though these attempts were reportedly not to escape Hitler, but rather to get his attention and bring him closer to her. While the couple was quite close, Hitler did not like appearing in public with Braun, because he believed being seen in a relationship would diminish his image as the tough Führer.  

    In 1945, as Allied forces zeroed in on his bunker in Berlin, Braun and Hitler were married, then sealed themselves in a room and ended their lives together.

  • Sajida Talfah
    Photo: Iraqi State Television / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Sajida Talfah

    Wife of Saddam Hussein

    Sajida Talfah was the wife of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. She was also his biological cousin, her marriage to Hussein arranged between their families in 1963. After 50 years of marriage, in 1986, Hussein took another bride, Samira Shahbandar, though he also remained married to Talfah. This enraged both Hussein's first wife and their son, Uday Hussein.

    Two years later, in 1988, Uday killed his father's bodyguard, Kamel Hana Gegeo, believing this man responsible for introducing Hussein to Shabandar. 

    Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Hussein's subsequent execution in 2006, Talfah fled the country. Reports surfaced in 2015 of her death, but Hussein's family quickly quashed the rumors. Talfah's current whereabouts are unknown.

  • Ko Young Hee
    Photo: Pollitoloco122ich / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Ko Young Hee

    Wife of Kim Jong-il
    Ko Young Hee was one of four women connected to Kim Jong-il. She was also the mother of North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong-un. Despite the secrecy surrounding her identity, it is believed she held a great influence over her dictator husband, often advising him on political matters.

    Ko Young Hee died in 2004 of complications related to breast cancer.

  • Safia Farkash
    Photo: EPA / Sputnik News / Fair Use

    Safia Farkash

    Wife of Muammar Gaddafi

    Safia Farkash was the long-time wife of extremist Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and mother to six of his eight children. She reportedly met Gaddafi sometime around 1970 while working as a nurse; she treated Gaddafi while he recovered from appendicitis.

    While Farkash lived a mostly quiet life away from the public eye during Gaddafi's rule, after his assassination, she became an outspoken proponent for investigations into her husband's death.

  • Amal al-Sadah
    Photo: Screenshot / via YouTube

    Amal al-Sadah

    Wife of Osama bin Laden

    While Amal al-Sadah was not Osama bin Laden's only wife, she is thought to have been his favorite. She allegedly stood by bin Laden during the September 11, 2001, attacks, all the way up to his death in 2011. Her uncle recalls al-Sadah telling her husband, "I want to be martyred with you and I won't leave as long as you're alive." Al-Sadah apparently incurred wounds to the leg during the raid that ultimately claimed bin Laden's life.

    As of 2012, she resided somewhere in Pakistan, living in relative confinement, though she did resurface in May 2017 to provide an account of her last night with bin Laden.

  • Paula Rader
    Photo: The Hunt For The BTK Killer | CBS Television

    Paula Rader

    Wife of Serial Killer BTK

    Dennis Rader, also known as BTK (for Bind, Torture, Kill), kept his heinous crimes hidden not only from the public, but also his entire family for a period of 30-plus years. After his arrest and subsequent confession in 2005, a judge granted Rader's wife Paula Rader (formerly, and possibly currently, Dietz) an emergency divorce, waiving the usual 60-day waiting period because he believed her mental health was at risk.

    Despite some speculation that Dietz knew of her husband's activities and turned a blind eye, authorities believed that, while she may have had suspicions, she did not actually know the details Dennis Rader's secret life. 

    Little is known about Dietz today, and it seems that is by design. She likely relocated following her divorce and keeps a low profile. While Rader's daughter Kerri Rawson occasionally grants interviews to reporters, she never mentions her mother's current whereabouts.

    Actress Donna Goodhand portrayed Paula Rader in the 2005 TV movie The Hunt for the BTK Killer.