Whether for power, wealth, or favor, betraying one’s nation, cause, or even friends can attract a lot of contempt from those directly or indirectly affected. Throughout history, there have been many traitors whose interests have been a hot topic of debate. In today’s list, we’ve compiled the most infamous traitors of all time.

1. Benedict Arnold

During the Battle of Saratoga, Benedict Arnold was a military officer whose tactics significantly helped America win against the British in 1777. After the war, his contribution was overshadowed by other military officers.

This didn’t sit right with Benedict. To add insult to injury, he was also influenced by his wife, Margaret “Peggy” Shippen, whose loyalty was conflicted. As a result, Benedict Arnold jumped ship and started sending coded messages to the British through one Major, John Andre. While the British officer was caught and hanged, Benedict Arnold managed to escape to England, where he lived for the rest of his life.

2. Mir Jafar

Mir Jafar, the first commander-in-chief of Nawab of Bengal, singlehandedly delivered India to British colonial rule in the 19th Century. As the Asian country was fighting against the invasion of the British, Mir Jafar helped the colonialists win the Battle of Plassey. He accomplished this by holding back his men while the British invaded them and leaked crucial military information about India.

After the British won, Mir Jafar was appointed as the puppet ruler of Bengal. To date, Indians don’t like him; they have labeled him the “Ultimate Traitor.” It is said that Jafar’s betrayal still haunts some of his descendants.

3. Vidkun Quisling

Vidkun Quisling, a former Norwegian military officer, betrayed his people so badly that his last name means traitor in Norwegian. He is known for helping the Germans occupy Norway in World War II. Vidkun Quisling enlisted in the army in 1911 and rose through the ranks to become the country’s minister for defense, who was strict against fascism.

However, after meeting Adolf Hitler in 1940, Vidkun Quisling encouraged the dictator to invade his country. Though successful, the military leader was downgraded from being Norway’s leader to a minister-president. During his reign, he sent hundreds of Jews to concentration camps, among other atrocities. He was executed for treason after World War II.

4. Robert Ford

Traitors don’t just betray countries; they can also be disloyal to families, as was the case with Robert Ford. He started out as a staunch member of the Jesse James Gang that terrorized the mid-west in the late 19th Century.

However, when the governor of Missouri put a $10,000 reward on the leader of the gang, Robert Ford shot and presented Jesse James to the authorities in exchange for the reward. Unfortunately for him, he was arrested and was pardoned later on without being awarded a dime.

5. Mata Hari

Mata Hari, whose real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was a spy whose story is quite complicated. She was born in Holland and married a Dutch military captain when she was only 19 years old. Her marriage didn’t work, so she went to Paris and started performing as an exotic dancer. There, she got the name Mata Hari, which means eye of the day.

In her line of work, she met several military leaders, so it didn’t take long before she was hired by the French and British to spy on the Germans. There are also claims that she was a German double agent, leading to her execution in 1917 in Paris.

6. Stella Kubler

Stella Kubler was a German Jewish woman whose treacherous acts got her the nicknames “The Blond Poison” and “The Blond Ghost.” During her time in Berlin, Stella worked as a Jew Catcher, where she would rat out Jews living in hiding in Germany.

Some argue that the Germans had initially threatened to kill her parents, so she somewhat had no choice. However, after betraying several Jews and the Germans started giving her money, she went full in. She went a step further to torture Jewish prisoners. Stella Kubler was caught by Russians and imprisoned for ten years.

7. Ezra Pound

Poet enthusiasts may remember Ezra Pound as being the first Bollingen Poetry Prize Winner, but very few know him as the traitor that he was. Born in Idaho, United States, Ezra Pound grew up to be one of the best poets of all time. However, he was an expat who spent a lot of time abroad in Paris and London.

During his time in Italy, Ezra Pound was radicalized by the messages of Benito Mussolini. As a result, he turned to fascism and started airing radio podcasts that talked ill about the United States government. He was caught in 1945 by Americans in Italy and charged with treason before being released – he fled back to Italy.

8. Robert Hanssen

The United States was shocked when they discovered that one of their longest-serving FBI agents, Robert Hanssen, was a spy for the Soviet Union. For more than 20 years, Hanssen passed crucial information about the identities of US spies to the Soviet government, which led to numerous killings of undercover agents.

Apart from names, Robert Hanssen also shared the US plans on attacking and neutralizing the Soviet nuclear projects. The main reason behind Hanssen’s betrayal was greed; he was allegedly paid up to $1.4 million and a couple of diamonds.

9. Sidney Reilly

Sidney Reilly was a British intelligence officer who was celebrated as one of the most successful spies of all time. Known as the “Ace of Spies,” Reilly’s treachery was so outstanding that he inspired the James Bond series. He was a spy for both the British and the Japanese.

The iconic spy also worked with the Russians during World War II. He was nearly caught by the British during the assassination of Vladimir Lenin and escaped to Russia. Interestingly, despite being a master of his craft, Sidney Reilly was baited and executed by the Russians.

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Last Update: June 27, 2024