One of Histories Least Known Massmurderer … Leopold II of Belgium [History]

I don’t think I have ever heard one person talk about Leopold II of Belgium in the same sentence as Hitler or Stalin, all though this scumbag is on the same level as the other two lunatics. He slaughtered between 10-15 million people in Congo. Why is this not common knowledge and a topic in schools? Is it as simple as they were Africans and didn’t have the same value as white people? I certainly hope not, but not much surprise me anymore.

Just one example is that the sick twisted minds in Belgium 40 years after his death raised statues of him and in 1958 had a human zoo at the Expo 58 fair. How the f**k could this happen in the wake of WWII and Nazi Germany. Unbelievable! I can only come to the conclusion that it’s all about black lives didn’t matter!

You can watch a video from Project Nightfall here down below. Pay him a visit at https://www.facebook.com/ProjectNightfall.

Underneath the video I dig into the whole twisted history of Leopold II of Belgium.

It would turn out that a humanitarian aid projects
were the last Leopold II had planned for Congo

IN THE BEGINNING

Leopold II was born in Brussels in 1835 and became king of Belgium 30 years later. As a so-called constitutional monarch, he had limited political powers, which – combined with the fact that Belgium was surrounded by powerful nations – made him look beyond Europe.

When Leopold II took over the throne, what is today Congo-Kinshasa. Africa was the least explored area by Europeans. A couple of years later, the Welsh journalist Henry Morton Stanley became one of the first Europeans to penetrate the Congolese interior. Convinced that the inhospitable terrain hid large natural resources, he made several unsuccessful attempts to get England interested in colonization.

But it was Leopold II who realized the potential. In 1876, he formed the International African Society, an organization that set out to open up the field of trade in a philanthropic and scientific spirit. Stanley was hired to map the region and set up several transport and trading stations.

In 1882, the name International Congo Society was adopted instead. At the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, an occasion in which the European powers agreed on the future colonization of Africa, Leopold II argued that his organization – a neutral party – should rule over the Congo.

Convinced that the International Congo Society would engage in humanitarian projects intended to uplift the poor Congolese people, the conference’s participating countries agreed to let Leopold II’s organization take control. Which turned out to be a big mistake!

But in reality, the International Congo was not an organization, but a private company wholly owned by Leopold II. Thus, he gained sole control over an area larger than the whole of Western Europe. He hurried to name his new colony the Free State of Congo. It would turn out that a humanitarian aid projects were the last Leopold II had planned for Congo.

The Belgian King Leopold II was the great winner of the Berlin Conference and went from there as the sole ruler of the massive Congo region, The United States became the first country to recognize his colony: the Free State of Congo.

European mastodons such as France and England also agreed to let Leopold II rule, in part because they would rather see the area end up with the king of little Belgium than go to a rival superpower.

ENSLAVING THE CONGOLESE PEOPLE

To rule this vast region, however, was difficult and during the first years the colony bled money. Leopold II responded by implementing a series of radical measures.

He began by nationalizing almost all land, which meant that everything harvested from it was considered to belong to the state. This killed much of the competition and the inhabitants could only sell their products to the state, which bought them at a cheap price.

Leopold II’s main purpose was to enrich himself. Ivory used to be one of the most important exports, but the western world’s growing car and bicycle industry made the next step obvious. Because in the Free State of Congo, the plant landolphia owariensis was widespread. From it rubber could be made.

The kidnapped women were raped by soldiers while
the men were forced out into the jungle to collect rubber

In the 1890s, therefore, a system was introduced that defined work as a kind of tax. In practice, this made all the inhabitants of Congo forced laborers. Everyone would go into the jungle to collect rubber. Private companies were commissioned to oversee production. Without regulations, there was nothing to protect the workers. Under life-threatening and slave-like conditions, they were forced to collect as much rubber as possible, in an endless project to constantly maximize profits.

The extraction process itself was often primitive. The forced laborers made small holes in the plant’s long tendrils and smeared their bodies with the viscous liquid that flowed out. This then solidified into a kind of wax that could later be scraped off and collected in painful forms – there is evidence that skin and hair often followed.

At the beginning of the 20th century, it would dawn on the world just how horrific Leopold II’s rule was.

At the same time as the Belgian King Leopold II established the private colony of the Free State of Congo, he created the Force Publique, a colonial paramilitary army. West and Central Africans were the infantry and were led by Belgian and other European officers. It was the Force Publique that was commissioned to ensure that as many Congolese as possible participated in the collection of rubber, a process carried out in slavery-like forms.

MURDER AND MAYHEM

Those who refused to participate were whipped, often to death. Another tactic was to kidnap children or partners of the striker. These were held hostage until the rubber quota was met. In several cases, the kidnapped women were raped by soldiers while the men were forced out into the jungle to collect rubber. Other methods included that the private companies responsible for rubber production sent out their guards to steal village crops and livestock, to force starvation. Sometimes whole villages could be burned for not cooperating.

Leopold sanctioned the creation of “child colonies” in which orphaned Congolese would be kidnapped and sent to schools operated by Catholic Missionaries in which they would learn to work or be soldiers; these were the only schools funded by the state. More than 50% of the children sent to the schools died of disease, and thousands more died in the forced marches into the colonies. In one such march 108 boys were sent over to a mission school and only 62 survived, eight of whom died a week later.

… in some cases Force Publique soldiers received
bonuses based on how many cut-off hands they showed.

The constant pursuit of increasing the profits of the rubber industry meant that often unattainable goals were set for forced laborers. Anyone who did not collect enough was killed or had one of his hands amputated. The soldiers who cut off their hands collected them in buckets and later presented them to their boss – both proof that punishment was handed out and that expensive ammunition was not wasted in the process.

Cut-off hands eventually became their own currency. In the absence of a rubber quota, buckets filled with hands could serve as a substitute and in some cases Force Publique soldiers received bonuses based on how many hands they showed.

Indigenous Congolese were not the only ones put to work by the free state. 540 Chinese labourers were imported to work on railways in the Congo, however 300 of them would die or leave their posts. Caribbean peoples and people from other African countries were also imported to work on the railway in which 3,600 would die in the first two years of construction from railroad accidents, lack of shelter, flogging, hunger, and disease.

OUTCRIES FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD

Foreign missionaries, journalists and writers became spectators to the abuses and their testimonies contributed to outcries in the outside world. Leopold II offered to carry out reforms in his colony, but the protests became so great that in 1908 the Belgian state took control.

The official death toll has not been determined, but most figures indicate that 10-15 million Congolese died under Leopold II’s rule, more than halving the population. At the same time, rubber exports led to massive riches for the king.

Missionary with a Congolese villager who had his hand cut off.

Belgian King Leopold II’s ruthless looting of the Congo was lucrative for him. The rubber exported from his private colony, the Free State of Congo, generated massive profits which he turned into the construction of several skinny projects back home in Belgium.

Belgian King Leopold II’s ruthless looting of the Congo was lucrative for him. The rubber exported from his private colony, the Free State of Congo, generated massive profits which he turned into the construction of several skinny projects back home in Belgium.

Among other things, Leopold II had Oostende’s Royal Gallery, Antwerp Central Station, the Royal Central African Museum, Laeken’s Royal Greenhouse and the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels built. Leopold II started so many construction projects that in Belgium he became known as the “Builder King”. This at the same time as the rubber industry’s never-ending need for forced labor killed millions of Congolese.

Leopold II monument from 1951 on the outskirts of Luxembourg. The text reads
something like “I undertook the Congo in the interests of civilization and for the good of Belgium”.

50 YEARS LATER

In 1908, the Belgian state took control of the Free State of the Congo, after Leopold II’s abuses were discovered and turned into a public relations disaster. Leopold II, however, the following year. Since his three daughters were all married to foreign princes, he instead bequeathed large parts of his vast property to the Belgian state. With Leopold II out of the picture, the Free State of Congo became known as the Belgian Congo and would continue to be a Belgian colony until 1960.

Human zoo at Expo 58, the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belium.

Leopold II’s actions were condemned by the contemporary world, but a few decades later, numerous statues were erected in his honor around Belgium, part of the romanticization of colonialism.

Belgium ruled the Congo through the so-called colonial trinity: a division of power between the state, the Catholic Church and private companies. The state took care of the administration, the church was responsible for the education and the companies’ exports paid for the whole party. Although Leopold II’s abhorrent methods largely ceased, economic exploitation remained, as Congo was (and is) extremely rich in important natural resources such as copper, cobalt, gold and diamonds.

The Congolese population remained oppressed. Political organization was forbidden, Congolese had no voting rights and were not free to travel as they wished. They were not allowed to own land and in the cities there was a curfew at certain times of the day, while forced labor continued to occur in the countryside.

At Expo 58, the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, there was a large section dedicated to the Belgian Congo. A copy was made there of an “authentic” Congolese village populated with several hundred influential Congolese women, men and children.

Human zoo at Expo 58, the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belium.

They had been lured with the promise of participating in a cultural exchange, but once in place, they were allowed to wear more “primitive” clothes and live hanging behind a bamboo fence. According to contemporary testimonies, the visitors threw both money and bananas at the Congolese if they did not get the reaction they were looking for. Despite being marketed in Belgium as an ethnological exhibition, the result was a kind of human zoo, and a repeat of a similar kind of exhibition, Leopold II, was held in Brussels in 1897.

In the Congo, a small Congolese middle class emerged after World War II. However, it was unable, or unwilling, to campaign for equal conditions for all. But inspired by Ghana’s independence in 1957, a wave of independence demands swept across Africa. And in the Belgian Congo, a man would emerge as the main hope for freedom, Patrice Lumumba.

AFTERMATH

In the wake of the assassination of George Floyd and the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, the discussion about the removal of these statues have been a hot topic. You can read more about that HERE (opens in a new window).

Read more

  • “The Scramble for Africa” by Thomas Pakenham (1991)
  • “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa” by Adam Hochschild (1998)
  • “The Congo from Leopold to Kabila” by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (2002),
  • “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” by Walter Rodney (1972).

READ MORE ABOUT HISTORY HERE!

READ MORE ABOUT RACISM HERE!