He Killed 10 Million Africans But History About Europe's Forgotten 'Hitler' Was Erased
People may have heard names such as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Mao, but one name that should be alongside these is King Leopold II of Belgium as he caused revulsion that was very similar. He was behind the genocide in Africa that saw more than 10 million people lose their lives in the Congo.
King Leopold II Of Belgium Erased From History Lessons
People do not hear the name King Leopold II of Belgium in school and he is not often talked about in the media. This is due to the fact that his name is not mentioned when talking about oppression, including such as the Holocaust and slavery in the US.
King Leopold II, however, does play a part in the history of colonialism, slavery, genocide and imperialism in Africa and it would clash with the social narratives that are popular and which are taught in the today’s school system. It would not fit into the curriculum of schools today and it does not fit very neatly into a curriculum that is often looked down upon for making statements that are overtly racist. It seems as though it is ok not to talk about the genocide that was carried out by capitalist monarchs in Europe who were responsible for killing more than 10 million Congolese.
Crimes Of King Leopold II Were Worse Than Dictators Of 20th Century
The personal empire of King Leopold II of Belgium was said to be cruel and vast and it may have even exceeded crimes that were carried out by some of the worst dictators who were around in the 20th century. When Leopold II came to the throne he was said to have ruled the Belgians with a kind hand after the countries democratization following many reforms and revolutions. It was said that he great ambition to build an empire overseas and became convinced that the greatness of a nation was in proportion to resources that could be taken from colonies.
His so called business transactions were disguised as being scientific and philanthropic and came under the heading of the International African Society. He made use of slave labor and extracted the resources and the services of the Congolese. His reign was aided with work camps, torture, body mutilations, executions and he even had his own private army.
He essentially became the slave master of the Congo Free State and instead of it being a typical colony of European government, Congo was seen to be the property of King Leopold II and used for person enrichment.
Half The Population Of One Of Biggest Plantations Lost By 1924
One of the biggest plantations in the world, which was around 76 times bigger than Belgium, was home to agricultural resources and minerals that were rich. Half of its population was lost when the first census came in and only 10 million people were counted as living there in 1924.
When Africa is talked about in the US, people are taught about the HIV epidemic that was prevalent, slave trade surface level effects and perhaps Apartheid. The Africa that people get to see is one of the starving children covered in flies, safaris, photographs of savannahs and deserts are pictured on TV and in movies. One thing that people are not taught about and shown is the reign of terror of King Leopold II, the Congolese Genocide or the Great African War.
King Leopold’s Name Not Associated With Evil Like Hitler’s
The Congo essentially became Leopold’s own personal part-concentration camp, part- Christian ministry and part-plantation. However, history does not include lessons of the tyrannical endeavours of King Leopold II. Even if you have been behind the killing of ten million Africans, you do not have the name Hitler, so your name is not symbolic of evil and your photograph does not immediately produce fear along with hate and sorrow. Instead, it seems that the crimes are swept under the carpet and so the many victims remain unknown, forgotten and voiceless forever.