King Leopold: The Belgian tyrant that committed some of the worst atrocities ever recorded
Thursday 25th May 2017 | Grace
In the year 1865, at the age of 30, Leopold II became the king of Belgium, bringing with him the promise of strength and prosperity to the citizens of this small European nation. Unfortunately, with this idea of riches also came a deep dark secret that is, at best, skimmed over in the history books today.
In a letter to his brother, Leopold II had made it clear that he wanted to gain this wealth for Belgium through the colonisation of a Central African country known at the time as Congo. And so in 1885, he proceeded to invade.
At first, Leopold gained wealth through the ivory trade but after discovering that the rubber trade was also starting to boom, Leopold II forced the Congolese natives to work under horrifically inhumane conditions on the plantations he had created. The land of Belgium grew, creating lavish architecture from bridges to buildings, all from the profits of the of the money being made in the Congo.
Whilst the Belgian government was creating unions for employees along with working rights for women and children, the King of their country was bringing pain and suffering to millions of people far away.
Punishments included having hands cut off if the quotation of rubber was not filled and stories of other sick penalties such as beheading became rife, and mutilated hands were well known to be used as currency.
The only way that Leopold managed to get away with what he was doing was through portraying his colonisation of Congo as a mission of humanitarian work to “improve” the lives of the natives. As a rich, affluent European with complete royal and white privilege, he could get away with anything without even an eyebrow being raised.
Once authorities finally figured out what was happening, punishments were justly made and the scandal spread throughout the countries. But the sad truth is, King Leopold II got away with these atrocities for almost 25 years with the deaths of an estimated 10 million+ Congolese nationals
It is generally accepted that more Africans were murdered under the rule of King Leopold II than Europeans murdered by Hitler in WW2. But the genocide of The Congo is not something that is widely known outside of Africa itself. These terrible atrocities may have been avoided if more people in power back in Belgium had questioned Leopold about where the wealth was coming from. Unfortunately at this time global attitudes towards slavery were only just beginning to change and so many a blind eye was turned to the suffering of the Congolese people in favour of the continuing prosperity of the Belgian nation.
They say that we should learn from the mistakes of the past.
But when the past is kept a secret, it’s not a mistake.
It’s a cover up.