When one searches the Internet for the biggest killers in world history, the general consensus seems to be:

  1. Mao (~60m fatalities)
  2. Stalin (~30m fatalities)
  3. Hitler (~10m fatalities)

However most sources refer to publications and estimates made by specific historians, which vary greatly (often by many millions - see Wikipedia entry on Stalin as a good example) between one another - which makes me wonder how much of that is based on sound data, and how much are really just historical "guesses". So my question follows:

How accurate (in historical terms) are all these estimates and, in particular, are there any peer-reviewe papers that can provide a systematic breakdown of their basic component numbers (i.e. deaths due to direct orders, particular failed policies, war efforts etc.) incl. data sources and error margins for each component?

Example sources: http://www.answers.com/Q/Who_is_the_Biggest_killer_in_world_history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stalin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler ... and a ton of other websites :)

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    I'm closing this temporarily until it can be made better: there is no claim that e.g. Hitler killed exactly 10m people. While I agree the number would be better with an error range, you are not asking whether the number is correct, but you are asking what is the error range. This doesn't seem to be questioning a claim. Can you clarify the question? – Sklivvz Sep 22 '14 at 9:50
  • @Sklivvz Perhaps he should be simply asking what evidence there is for the claim. If necessary, perhaps assume that the "claimed" estimates are given to one significant digit. – ChrisW Sep 22 '14 at 12:05
  • Maybe this'd be more suited to the History Stack Exchange site? – Andrew Grimm Sep 22 '14 at 12:41
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    @ChrisW fine with that, but it's quite different from what the author is asking. Note that he was also asking about "scientific" terms, adding to (my) confusion. – Sklivvz Sep 22 '14 at 14:13
  • Where the hell is that Hitler number coming from? Just 20 million Soviets died in the Eastern front. Total number of casualties that can be pinned on Hitler is far greater. – Davor Jul 16 '18 at 14:27

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