December 16, 1909: King Leopold II of Belgium dies at 74 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Compared to Leopold, Hitler was a light weight, yet history barely mentions this monster’s extermination of over 15 million Africans in the Congo.
Leopold was the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken on his own behalf. He used Henry Morton Stanley to help him lay claim to the Congo, an area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, the colonial nations of Europe committed the Congo Free State to improving the lives of the native inhabitants. From the beginning, however, Leopold essentially ignored these conditions and ran the Congo using a mercenary force for his personal gain.
Leopold extracted a fortune from the Congo, initially by the collection of ivory, and after a rise in the price of rubber in the 1890s, by forcing the population to collect sap from rubber plants. Villages were required to meet quotas on rubber collections, and individuals’ hands were cut off if they did not meet the requirements. His regime was responsible for the death of an estimated 15 million Congolese. This became one of the most infamous international scandals of the early 20th century, and Leopold was ultimately forced to relinquish control of it to the Belgian government.
Letter from King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, 1883
“Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots: The task that is given to fulfill is very delicate
and requires much tact. You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire
above all Belgium interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach
the niggers to know God, this they know already. They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi,
one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know. They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s
wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they
know already. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which
means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in
that part of the world. For these things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from
the richness that is plenty [in their underground. To avoid that, they get interested in it, and make
you murderous] competition and dream one day to overthrow you.
Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your
followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven” and, “It’s
very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” You have to detach from them and make
them disrespect everything which gives courage to affront us. I make reference to their Mystic
System and their war fetish – warfare protection – which they pretend not to want to abandon, and
you must do everything in your power to make it disappear.
Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the
recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings. The children have to learn
to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul. You must singularly insist
on their total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to
read and not to reason. There, dear patriots, are some of the principles that you must apply. You will
find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference. Evangelize the
niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists, so they never revolt against
the restraints they are undergoing. Recite every day – “Happy are those who are weeping because
the kingdom of God is for them.”
Now, I want you to think. Constantly, we have other people’s “holocaust thrown in our face, and told we must acknowledge it, never question it, and do everything we can to make sure it does not happen to THEM again. Yet, why are our holocaust not acknowledged? Wasn’t the slave trade a holocaust? Wasn’t the colonization of Africa a holocaust? According to them, no. Slavery is something you need to “GET OVER”. Colonization is something you need to “forgive and forget”.
Anyway, If you want to read a good book on this subject, I suggest King Leopold’s Soliloquy, by Mark Twain. He actually traveled to the Congo, and documented what was happening, to the Congolese people. Enjoy.