When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren’t Called ‘Hitler’

Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is?

Most people haven’t heard of him.

But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures. You see, he killed over 10 million people in the Congo.

His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.

He “owned” the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium. After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa, he settled on the Congo. He “bought” it and enslaved its people, turning the entire country into his own personal slave plantation. He disguised his business transactions as “philanthropic” and “scientific” efforts under the banner of the International African Society. He used their enslaved labor to extract Congolese resources and services. His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, torture, executions, and his own private army.

Most of us aren’t taught about him in school. We don’t hear about him in the media. He’s not part of the widely-repeated narrative of oppression (which includes things like the Holocaust during World War II). He’s part of a long history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and genocide in Africa that would clash with the social construction of a white supremacist narrative in our schools. It doesn’t fit neatly into school curriculums in a capitalist society. Making overtly racist remarks is (sometimes) frowned upon in ‘polite’ society; but it’s quite fine not to talk about genocide in Africa perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs.1

Mark Twain wrote a satire about Leopold called “King Leopold’s Soliloquy; A Defense of His Congo Rule”, where he mocked the King’s defense of his reign of terror, largely through Leopold’s own words. It’s an easy read at 49 pages and Mark Twain is a popular author in American public schools. But like most political authors, we will often read some of their least political writings or read them without learning why the author wrote them in the first place. Orwell’s Animal Farm, for example, serves to reinforce American anti-socialist propaganda about how egalitarian societies are doomed to turn into their dystopian opposites. But Orwell was an anti-capitalist revolutionary of a different kind—a supporter of working class democracy from below—and that is never pointed out. We can read about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, but “King Leopold’s Soliloquy” isn’t on the reading list. This isn’t by accident. Reading lists are created by boards of education in order to prepare students to follow orders and endure boredom. From the point of view of the Department of Education, Africans have no history.

When we learn about Africa, we learn about a caricatured Egypt, about the HIV epidemic (but never its causes), about the surface level effects of the slave trade, and maybe about South African Apartheid (the effects of which, we are taught, are now long, long over). We also see lots of pictures of starving children on Christian Ministry commercials, we see safaris on animal shows, and we see pictures of deserts in films and movies. But we don’t learn about the Great African War or Leopold’s Reign of Terror during the Congolese Genocide. Nor do we learn about what the United States has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing millions of people through bombs, sanctions, disease, and starvation. Body counts are important. And the United States Government doesn’t count Afghan, Iraqi, or Congolese people.

Though the Congolese Genocide isn’t included on Wikipedia’s “Genocides in History” page, it does mention the Congo. What’s now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo is listed in reference to the Second Congo War (also called Africa’s World War and the Great War of Africa), where both sides of the regional conflict hunted down Bambenga people—a regional ethnic group—and enslaved and cannibalized them. Cannibalism and slavery are horrendous evils which must be entered into history for sure, but I couldn’t help thinking whose interests were served when the only mention of the Congo on the page was in reference to regional incidents where a tiny minority of people in Africa were eating each other (completely devoid of the conditions which created the conflict, and the people and institutions who are responsible for those conditions). Stories which support the white supremacist narrative about the subhumanness of people in Africa are allowed to enter the records of history. The white guy who turned the Congo into his own personal part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry—and killed 10 to 15 million Congolese people in the process—doesn’t make the cut.2

You see, when you kill ten million Africans, you aren’t called ‘Hitler’. That is, your name doesn’t come to symbolize the living incarnation of evil. Your name and your picture don’t produce fear, hatred, and sorrow. Your victims aren’t talked about and your name isn’t remembered.

Leopold was just one of thousands of things that helped construct white supremacy as both an ideological narrative and material reality. I don’t pretend that he was the source of all evil in the Congo. He had generals, and foot soldiers, and managers who did his bidding and enforced his laws. He was at the head of a system. But that doesn’t negate the need to talk about the individuals who are symbolic of the system. But we don’t even get that. And since it isn’t talked about, what capitalism did to Africa, all the privileges that rich white people gained from the Congolese genocide, remain hidden. The victims of imperialism are made, like they usually are, invisible.

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For a modern day example of the callousness of Western imperialism, read my post about the famine in Somalia “20,000 billion dollars for banks, 1 billion for millions of Africans suffering from capitalist famine“, also on this website.

The moral rights of the author have been asserted.

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147 Responses to “When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren’t Called ‘Hitler’”
  1. Bea says:

    A facebook group must be made to force Education Boards or who is in charge of education to incorporate this into the National Curriculum.
    The West act as if the Holocaust is the worst atrocity ever to occur and quite frankly its not.

    • Nancy says:

      i think you are inappropriate in saying that the comment about the Holocaust not being the worst atrocity ever. I agree that this was a terrible event. I agree that he was a real jerk and innocent people died for no reason, but don’t ever say that the Holocaust was not an awful event. My family died at the hands of people who hated us for stupid and selfish reasons. Any atrocity such as this or the Holocaust or how about the slaughtering of Native Americans are horrible events, one not any better or worse than the other, just horrible, unnecessary events. Your comment is almost as bad as those who say it never happened.

      • An Archist says:

        he didn’t say it wasn’t awful. he stated his opinion about how the west views the holocaust in comparison to other genocides…and i agree with him. throughout my entire educational career aka indoctrination, the holocaust is always a point of focus and discussion in the context of world history, while other genocides, some that have a much higher death toll are completely ignored.

        • Natasha C. says:

          Thank you for that clarification.

        • Quetzalin says:

          Absolutely agree with your comment…makes complete sense and I absolutely share this point of view. While there are 10s if not 100s of movies made of the Holocaust, not many if any have ever been created, depicting the masacre of so many other peoples around the world…and some of which are STILL being killed now!

        • dirk says:

          bugger the number of deaths, an atrocity is an atrocity. the numbers don’t make it “better” or worse. the Holocaust has far more Attention because it is in living Memory. one day, perhaps 100 years from now, the Attention lies with an atrocity that is (sadly) yet to come.

          • Kate says:

            @dirk..what do you mean that Holocaust is a living memory? what about the many Africans living with the atrocities done by the colonialists where the impacts are even being felt today!..so the African has no living memory…seriously!

          • IngridBeya says:

            Did you know that the War in DRC is the biggest crisis since World War II? Can you explain why this is never(compared to the Holocaust) mentioned in schools, media etc.

          • Greg Laden says:

            I lived in the congo in the 1980s. I assure you Leopold is in people’s memory. The legacy of the free state, and many of the autrocities cited for Leopold, had become normal day to day things right up to 1960.

            You see, when Hitler was overthrown, the concentration camps were shut down and the survivors liberated, and the Nazi’s punished. When the Congo Free State became the Belgian Congo in 1908, the practices established there continued, until 1960. The atrocities of the wakati ya zamani in the Congo are very very much part of living history.

          • dirk says:

            Kate plese don’t put words in my mouth. I never suggested the african has no living memory. living memory is when these things took place, contemporaries and/or victims are still alive! the impacts go on forever!

        • HMan says:

          I was taught about him in grade 10. We were learning about globalization. We learned a lot about the scramble for Africa, and King leopold was the persona we mostly learned about. I think in most places in Canada students do learn about this.

        • Wisdom X says:

          Brilliant and articulate Reply to Nancy’s Comment

      • j taylor says:

        He didn’t say that! Reading is fundamental. Get the statements straight and don’t put words where they don’t belong!

      • Mark says:

        it’s his site. Its his views. What you think is inappropriate or not doesn’t matter. I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to say he said something he didn’t. I FIND IT OFFENSIVE as a human being that you would do that. Its a marginal slap at anyone’s intelligence. If you want to say that the Jewish Holocaust was worst than the Congolese, or the Inquisition just say it. We know it happened. The trials put it in the books along with the testimony of the people. As far as This King Leopold, Columbus and scores of others….There are no living witnesses. Have a heart and show some compassion. If your saying “never again” We are behind you, but we don’t want an again for others either. If you say you stand for truth and justice. Don’t insult people who are on your side. That’s not right.

      • Jesse Zimmerman says:

        I agree with Nancy that it was not appropriate to necessarily rank genocides and holocausts but to view them as equally horrible. It does bother me though when we in the West pay so much attention to the Holocaust and not other genocides.

      • chris says:

        Nancy please understand what Bea is trying to say without getting offended. The large amount of documentaries, films, books and other media about the Holocaust has been very effective in making sure we never forget how terrible this atrocity was, and it was a terrible atrocity. What Bea is trying to highlight is that there are a number of other atrocities that are not so evident in the public imagination because not many people have written or talked about them. Imagine how you would feel if your family were victims of one of these atrocities, one of these other holocausts, and no one talked about it, no film or documentary was ever made, no history book ever mentioned their story.

      • Mark says:

        I’m pretty sure that’s not what he’s saying, Nancy. He’s saying that it’s not the only atrocity out there, and that attention should be spread to many world atrocities rather than just whichever one is popular and socially acceptable to talk about. How could you disagree with that?

      • Surambaya says:

        Ok, it was the worst atrocity that ever happened…. See the writer is not trying to downplay the awfulness of any past genocide but pointing out that the Belgian foray into the Congo and the subsequent death of millions of Africans has been conveniently forgotten or left out of common literature. I don’t see how he downplayed the holocaust.

      • William Bentley says:

        She never said the holocaust wasn’t an awful event, she said, and I quote, “The West act as if the Holocaust is the worst atrocity ever to occur and quite frankly its not.” She said that the Holocaust is not the worst atrocity ever to occur, her use of the word atrocity to describe the Holocaust is evidence in itself that she views it as a horrible and ghastly event…

      • Rachel says:

        My family escaped Europe before they could be carted off, so we have no ‘memory’ of this, but I’d like to remind you that Eli Weisel himself goes around discussing current genocides and crying for peace and help because he knows there are as-bad and worse out there. So please, take your emotion-fueled judgment and lay it aside.

      • Ronell says:

        is that all you took from the article? Your comment proves the writer’s point.

      • sigh says:

        Apparently one cannot point out the fact that some genocides which killed millions more than the Holocaust should always be in deference to the Jewish narrative of the world. I’m surprised you didn’t call him an anti-Semite while you were at it.

    • John says:

      So, what? The Holocaust was not a genocide? We should just forget it because, what, they were Jewish? Rounding people up and putting them in cattle cars to extermination camps is a horror, call it whatever you like… do not ever minimize what the hell was done to these people.

      • An Archist says:

        at what point does bea state that the holocaust was not genocide and that we should forget about it? the irony here is that you u folks are proving bea’s point regarding how people treat the holocaust as though it is the only genocide worthy of importance and respect. unreal.

      • Beekeeper says:

        Numbers-wise, the Holocaust wasn’t the worst. That is all that was said.
        Nancy and John: it’s silly to follow up by putting words in someone’s mouth. Bea never said it wasn’t terrible or wasn’t a genocide or that we should “just forget it.” She simply said it wasn’t the worst, and that we shouldn’t ignore the others. That doesn’t minimize that fact that it was bad.
        One could easily react to Nancy and John’s statements by putting words in their mouths. If we aren’t allowed to say that more Africans died than Jews, does it mean that Jews don’t care about brown people? See? It’s not fair to put ridiculous words in people’s mouths.

      • Quetzalin says:

        It’s so absurd for people to get so defensive about the Jewish Holocaust issue. We all know it was a horrible chapter of human history, like so many others that came before. However, what is NOT clear on everyone else’s mind is precisely THAT – the other atrocities that have taken place prior to or some that are still taking place now. They’re all not the same, we can’t lump all atrocities in history and pretend that the Jewish holocaust experience is the sacred one, no it’s not. It’s the most recent and the one we have most evidence from – but don’t be fooled, many others (quite possibly worse ones, depending on your point of view) have taken place. So, why not shed a light on them as well and not be so defensive about it?

      • Larry says:

        Here we go again….EVERYTHING has to be about the holocaust. This article was an expose’ of another human evil, yet some prefer to interject the holocaust into the discourse furthering the attention to an atrocity that served to exemplify the savagery, and utter inhumanity that the homo sapiens are capable of. I applaud the article submitted for our edification about Leopold and the destructive construct of capitalism.

        While an argument about the equality of atrocities ensues, it is nothing more than a diversion from the truth that America is the epitome of the heir apparent of the capitalist ideal and is aggressively spreading destruction, and reigning its own brand of hate and inhumanity throughout the world and on its OWN citizens. The right wing factions that are taking control of the state and federal governments are no different than Leopold, Hitler, Pol Pot,or Mussolini. Yet EVERY conversation about the inhumanity meted out by the Europeans is misdirected right back to the holocaust. My suggestion to you Nancy, and anyone who does not like this article, is you have the option to go to another site that embraces the holocaust as its focus….the solution is simple…use it.

      • Dave Matthews says:

        John, I recommend you read everything again. You sound lost and clueless.

    • Beekeeper says:

      Numbers-wise, the Holocaust wasn’t the worst. That is all that was said.
      Nancy and John: it’s silly to follow up by putting words in someone’s mouth. Bea never said it wasn’t terrible or wasn’t a genocide or that we should “just forget it.” She simply said it wasn’t the worst, and that we shouldn’t ignore the others. That doesn’t minimize that fact that it was bad.
      One could easily react to Nancy and John’s statements by putting words in their mouths. If we aren’t allowed to say that more Africans died than Jews, does it mean that Jews don’t care about brown people? See? It’s not fair to put ridiculous words in people’s mouths.

      • Charly Nebeker says:

        Be careful with “Numbers-wise” as your criterion. A look at the percentage shows that about ½ the Jews were killed. That is considerably higher than the percentage of Congolese killed which could be used to define the deaths in Congo as less in almost all ways except total numbers dead. The Congo killings were not meant to make them all extinct. The “final solution” had that as a goal. The Congo actions are not denied and denied; the Holocaust is, some making academic and political careers by doing so. The documentation of the atrocities of the two do not compare, cannot because of the difference it technologies available and the time periods the happened in. The Jews did little to defend themselves, it was not the same in the Congo. Both sides of the argument are a bit vapid and senseless, claiming or defending proudly that the greatest evil is on their side of the argument. It would be better to admit both were horrendous evils? Or shall we claim that the Congo was greater or less than the Jewish Holocaust because it did not produce as good a section of poem against Hitler as is found in THE CONGO by Vachel Lindsay:

        Listen to the yell of Leopold’s ghost
        Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host.
        Hear how the demons chuckle and yell
        Cutting his hands off, down in Hell.

        If the souls of those who love to argue and degrade their antagonist live in their hearts, perhaps the ghosts of Leopold and Hitler will welcome them when they die. Rather, let us have charity for others and work to prevent the evil that surrounds us with love, tolerance and peace.

        • Rachel says:

          Can I just point out for one second that the Holocaust was much bigger than the 6 million Jews killed. That the total death toll was closer to 18 million but nobody talks about that either. Hitler was intent on wiping Poland off the planet, killing anyone who was Polish. The groups Hitler went after were Jews, Polish, Slavs, Blacks, Muslims and Gays. Leopold was a jackass and should be compared to Hitler, but if you want to play the Holocaust numbers game be sure you get the whole story. Which most Americans do not have. And while the Holocaust may not be the worst genocide in history (we didn’t actually have that word until after Hitler) it was most definitely the worst in the 20th century and embroiled an entire continent in war and fear.

    • William Howard says:

      There is no national curriculum. Thank God.

    • davon says:

      Listen they will never allow it to be taught in schools for fear of another uprising. The white man knows not to tell too much truth, that will cause a nation of black people to rise up. It is a grand idea, but what has to happen is Parents will have to teach their kids at home or start a separate school for this type of education outside of the school boards..IJS…

    • HMan says:

      I was taught about him in grade 10. We were learning about globalization. We learned a lot about the scramble for Africa, and King leopold was the persona we mostly learned about. I think in most places in Canada students do learn about this.

  2. Ariana says:

    Do you know why the event you dubbed the Congolese Genocide isn’t on that page? Not because nobody cares or knows about it, but because Wikipedia uses the official definition of the word ‘Genocide’, and the event King Leopold II of the Belgians (by saying ‘King of Belgium’ you’re breaking the Belgian Constitution which states that every power comes forth from the Nation) does not fit the description.
    Unlike Hitler Leo never ordered the mutilation or murder of any of his subjects, there was no intention, keyword if you want to label something as genocide.
    You can blame Leopold II that he expressed himself very vague.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      We can’t ignore reality and pretend that a monarchy didn’t once rule over Belgium and its colonies. Claiming that you can murder 10 million people “accidentally” is completely unbelievable. If it wasn’t a genocide than the word has no meaning. Was the extermination of the indigenous people of the Americas not a genocide?

    • Mac Coon says:

      if this wasn’t genocide, the ‘official’ definition should be changed. and leo most certainly did mutilate his victims considerably. and calling him ‘king’ wouldn’t violate any constitution here or in belgium. your assertions aren’t historically accurate.

      • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

        Which assertions? I’m writing from the United States. Perhaps in other countries young people are taught a rigorous history of the genocide that Leopold enacted against the people of the Congo – if so, please provide evidence of this so readers can learn more. But in the U.S. the vast majority of people are not taught this history. That is the point of this post. That some people are taught this history in the U.S. – a very small minority – does not change the fact that the *majority* of people do not receive this education.

        • CBinTH says:

          This is a silly article, I’n afraid. Why WOULD Americans learn in school about the brief existence of the Congo Free State? It has nothing to do with American history, it was an aberration even in its time, and it had little influence on world events. You might equally ask why Americans aren’t acquainted with a Central Asian genocide or some other event.

          I think that complaining – in effect – about the focus on the Holocaust, which was of huge historical effect, directly concerned Americans, and had huge cultural significance – the first factory system of mass murder, the logical end result of the racial fallacy, a big impact on American thought, – I think to criticise the focus on the Holocaust attracts all sorts of unpleasant people ; haters, who have a problem with Israel, will for instance love your article.

          • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

            Apparently you don’t know that most high school students in the U.S. have required classes called GLOBAL history… Its a pretty simple case to be made that a central part of a well-rounded education is learning about major events in world history, about people from different time periods and cultures, and so on.

            I’m not complaining about the focus on the Holocaust. Seriously, simple reading of my article and my comments above should make that clear. I think its important that people learn about the Holocaust. It was one of the worst events in human history. What I’m complaining about, as my whole article details, is that other genocides are given literally no attention in the vast majority of schools – and I’m point to racism as the cause and reason for why that’s the case.

            I would hope people who have a problem with the Israeli state would find my article informative. People should google the “Nakba” – which is Arabic for “the catastrophe” – to find out more about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that was part and parcel to the founding of the Zionist state.

      • Calling him King does not violate the Belgian constitution. Calling him “King of Belgium” does.

        Genocide is, according to the “Convention on the
        Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” defined “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such […]”

        The intention of the acts are what defines this category of crimes. In Nazi-Germany, this intention was there. In Congo it was not.

        This doesn’t make the crimes less serious. Only the term “genocide” does not fit these acts.

  3. anna rose says:

    And who would have though Belgium of all countries.


    Anna – SC

    • Mac Coon says:

      belgium is the birthplace of modern banking and business. logical that this would happen then on their watch…

    • Ryan Histo says:

      why not Belgium? “…of all countries”
      Before it was called Belgium it was a region in northern Gaul. History has seen much bloodshed and conflict in that region, by and against the people of that region.

  4. Sandra says:

    the definition of Genocide does include “intentionally causes mental harm and bodily harm” so this was a Genocide, one of the worst – http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html

  5. Bojan from Serbia says:

    Only Serbian people are meke genocide???? Who will procide Belgian people? Read about Serbia litle deeper and will see that we are not animals, and we take to world meny goods…

    • florentin says:

      Bojan: I am Romanian from Banat & I can witness for myself as a Romanian, that Serbian people are the only good neighbors that Romania has. In war, many dirty things happen & Albanians, Croatians and Bosnians are not innocent either. This is the Balkans! Everybody has committed a crime sometime (even we Romanians). So, yeah… Nikola Tesla did many great things in this world!

      • eye2 says:

        Liam: Brilliant piece.

        Florentin: Please look up the definition of genocide. Just because it’s “the Balkans”, doesn’t eliminate from survivors’ memories (very fresh memories, my friend) their experiences, and the daily traumas many of them continue to endure. And speaking of genocides, and very fresh genocides that is, a certain country (not Romania!;) owes another an apology, as well as memorials where thousands were “ethnically cleansed”. No doubt some atrocities were committed on all sides, which is what happens in the chaos of war, but let’s never, ever forget that there was a systematic plan to wipe out the Bosnian population from the face of the planet. One only needs to pick up any LA Times, any Christian Science Monitor, any New York Times, any Newsweek, any widely acclaimed book (i.e., Roy Gutman’s Witness to Genocide) from that time to familiarize themselves with the reality of the war in Bosnia. In the names of survivors and to honor the dead, let’s not trivialize any genocide or belittle any region.

  6. Rogério says:

    I must congratulate you for this post and denunciate the fact that in Brazil, the biggest slaver country on America, we don’t learn about King Leopold II too, non theless our population be massively formed of afro-descendents

  7. thabisosmith68@gmail.com says:

    ” the holcaust ” leads us to be of a mind that only one ever occured. The sqeeky
    wheel gets the oil. Im an African, I didnt know about what happened in the “Belgian Congo”
    I am ashamed of myself because I consider myself well read.

  8. TAO says:

    I do indeed know about Leopold and I recommend the great book “King Leopold’s Ghost” for anyone wanting an in depth view of the politics and tragedy
    of it all.

  9. Maxie says:

    I think there’s a fairly reasonable explanation for why Hitler and Mussolini’s names carry more weight than Leopold’s. The simple fact is Hitler and Mussolini deserve a lesson or two in American history courses. They played significant roles in the US’s involvement in WWII and the Cold War, which greatly changed the US’s course of history. It seems to me that, from an American perspective, Leopold’s actions would be discussed in world history/African history/history of imperialism-type courses, which there are fewer of. If you want to criticize the way American schools handle those types of courses, that’s totally and completely fair. But it should surprise no one (again, from an American perspective) that we know the names of Hitler and Mussolini before we know the name of Leopold.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      This seems to me to be a superficial explanation as to why a genocide against the Congolese people isn’t taught in our schools. While it is true that it was mainly a genocide committed by the operatives of the Belgium monarchy, no country compares to the level of slavery enacted by the U.S. plantation system. To fully understand slavery in the U.S., it is vitally important to learn about the whole history of the colonisation and genocide against the peoples of Africa. It is foolish to pretend that we only need to understand violence committed directly by U.S. agents in order to understanding slavery in the U.S. And isn’t it in any case important for U.S. students to learn about a genocide committed against TEN MILLION PEOPLE? To claim otherwise is to say that the history of the peoples of the world is unimportant – a claim that only serves the rich and powerful (who are mostly white in the U.S.).

      • bobdobbs says:

        Look, if you want to learn stuff like this, you need to go to college.

        Complaining that it isn’t taught in America’s overcrowded, underfunded public school system is just silly.

        King Leopold isn’t taught because King Leopold isn’t on the standardized test the school relies on for its funding.

        • Rachel says:

          The whole school system needs an overhaul, in part because things like this have no time to be taught due to an emphasis on standardized tests.

          It’s not a bad thing for the US to start being a little more world-centric, and not US centric.

      • Brendan O'Loughlin says:

        If it makes any difference, I was relatively recently an American High School student, and we learned all about this evil, crazy f**k. That day was one of the defining moments of my high school career. Pictures. Descriptions. First hand accounts. Horror. King Leopold has always been one of the pole-star of historical human evil and boundless, monarchic imperialistic greed for me and many of my peers. That and, of course, Andrew Jackson, and his ilk. In fact, many would argue, and only very recently academically, that the Great Irish Potato Famine was a genocide by the hands of the British Colonial masters because, of course… the Irish starved because they only eat potatoes right? Not the butter, milk, bread, fish, salted pork, and other essentials of the day that were being shipped in wee cratefuls out of the Western ports, in the most effected areas and darkest years of the blight. “For export only” Dole and United Fruit Company did it in South and Central America in the 80s and 90s. It is starvation. But then, it hid behind the idol worship of the “free market” that was all the rage in the reagan years.

        To me, genocide is when one group of people, who control the means of of subsistence of another group of people decides… eh, maybe these folks aren’t so important, and besides, we need it more… because we are superior. Either that or just outright exterminates them. I have no doubt that King Leopold, just like other mustachioed white, imperialist European garbage of the day looked at his victims as hunting trophies.

        In my perception, European “civilization,” and specifically those nations that chose to colonize the world, has always been a sort of pinky-out, rampantly selfish, barbarism to me. A joke, basically. A fraud.

        Fear not, folks. The kids are alright. We know the score.

        • Angela says:

          Your reply seriously just made my week. It is SO refreshing to know that SOMEWHERE in this country, there is a high school teaching their kids the real reasons that the greatest atrocities in recent human history have taken place. Eff capitalism and all its -ism cousins. Well done, sir.

    • Powers says:

      I do believe Yale is a well established, prestigious and long standing university within the United States. Here is a paper confirming both the estimation of number of deaths as well as the confirmation that this was indeed genocide by definition.


      Clearly this is a bit of history that should also be taught in public schools here in the states. We should all be spitting in disgust at the mention of his name.

    • chowderbeard says:

      *documents 😉

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      Thanks for your comment. This is true. But someone would have to know to *search* for Leopold. Most people don’t know this. It is still a fact that the page for genocide – a page most people researching genocide would look at – does not detail the genocide against the people of the Congo by King Leopold II. The point here isn’t to attack Wikipedia – a useful, cooperatively-produced resource – but to point out that human society ignores some history, and that there is a reason why that is so.

  10. Kathleen says:

    We think we master word, but in fact, words master us.

    Power fixes a very different meaning than reality.

  11. OK says:

    YO King Leopold isn’t exactly a secret, so I really resent the tone of this article. Like this isn’t a big revolutionary expose. If you read anything at all about the colonization of Africa, you will hear about him.

    Just like how if you read anything at all about WWII, you’ll hear about Hitler. TWO DIFFERENT EVENTS, TWO DIFFERENT TYRANTS.

    WHY does everyone HAVE to bring up Hitler whenever they want to talk about any unrelated genocide? WHY can’t we just discuss how fucked up the colonization of Africa is WITHOUT triggering every Jewish, Rromani person in the room?

    PS We did learn about this motherfucker in my high school history program, and the colonization, in excruciating detail. We also covered the Nanjing Massacre, but I guess that one isn’t popular enough for the genocide club either.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      I didn’t claim anywhere that it was a “secret”. The point of the post is to educate people who haven’t *heard* about the genocide – and to point out that our education system, for the most part, doesn’t teach people about this – and to question why that is so.

      Yes, two different events, so what? Both were genocides. And it is useful to question why VAST MAJORITIES of people have heard about the holocaust in Europe during WWII, and why an infinitesimal minority have heard about Leopold’s reign of terror in the Congo.

      “Triggering”? Not sure what you mean here. I think you are misunderstanding the point of the post.

      I’m glad you learned about it. The vast majority of people have not, as others above have testified, and as many would agree if they were to comment.

    • Darrel Williams says:

      and the genocide of native Americans isn’t mentioned either.Suppose its an American club ?
      I think we all forget that most countries have had there own genocides. And we all tend to point fingers at others instead of looking at our selves.there’s a little saying clean your own back yard before you point at your neighbors.Its not what was done but what can we do going forward.

  12. samba says:

    I certainly learned about this when I was young-and when I was high school age, everyone read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Leopold had to hide what he was doing,and when it was revealed through the efforts of investigative journalist E. D. Morel, there was international scandal and condemnation.
    If you want to develop an non- eurocentric understanding African history ,the best writer in English is Basil Davidson

  13. JustAsking says:

    I think this article is thought provoking and well written. However, I have to say while going to college in the American South, I did learn about Mark Twain’s “King Leopold’s Soliloquey” in English 101. Your conclusion is too general. Other thing, Orwell was anti-FASCIST.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      Huge numbers of people still don’t have the opportunity to go to college. And many people who go to college still don’t learn about this genocide – I know I didn’t.

  14. gordon roddick says:

    the best book on all this is “King Leopold’s Ghost”by Adam Hochschild

  15. jixiang says:

    I just wish people could discuss these historical events without using them to minimize the Holocaust.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      No one is minimising the Holocaust. Several people seem to think this. You can re-read the post line by line and try to find a statement that suggests this. You won’t find one. The point of this post isn’t to say the Holocaust is unimportant or to minimise it – that would be wrong and, in any case, ridiculous and racist. The point is not to attack Wikipedia – Wikipedia is a tremendous collective resource. The point is *certainly* not to attack teachers. The point, very simply, is to show that one genocide is considered important and worthy of telling people about by the establishment, while a mass genocide of Congolese people is not.

  16. Amber says:

    I suspect that part of why this isn’t told is that there’s no ‘happy ending’. The end of American slavery is the Civil War and emancipation and the Civil Rights Act (not really the end, I know, but it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?) The end of WWII is American victory (or Russian victory, if you ask a Russian). The Holocaust ended and the Jews got a country. Good guys won, bad guys lost.

    Genocide in the Congo? No happy ending. The Americans don’t get to be victorious, we don’t get to say that racism was defeated, and people are still feeling the long-term effects. Depressing.

  17. Mark says:

    Why must people compare atrocities.
    The Holocaust was a horrible atrocity against humanity.
    King Leopold’s reign of terror was a horrible atrocity against humanity.

    However, this article is definitely eye-opening and worthwhile. I don’t think the point is that one atrocity was worse than the other. I think the point is that we are made keenly aware of one of these historical events while the other is ignored. We should be taught about both of these events.

  18. pete johnson says:

    Why don’t you write the Wikipedia entry then?

  19. jovana backovic says:

    Excellent article. I haven’t been taught this in school either, but then again, probably because we were affected by Hitler’s fascism, and our history of that era (Serbia, Yugoslavia) is about the fight against it. However, I must say that there seems to be a problem in history teaching in general: pupils are mostly taught in detail only the events that directly involved their country or region. It is often one – sided, like I’ve been taught one perspective to the war, OUR perspective. Also, there is always a tendency among the historians to magnify the good deeds of their nation/country and ignore the bad ones. It will take time unfortunately for people to start calling things their rightful names. And, yes, history was mostly written by ‘white'( Western ) people. There is a book called ‘Orientalism’ by E. Said that exposes this Western-centric perspective to studying cultures, and Imaginary Balkans by Maria TOdorova with similar approach.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      Thanks Jovana. So that’s people from at least three countries who have confirmed the essence of the post: the U.S., Serbia, and Brazil.

      Thanks for your book suggestions. I haven’t read TOdorova’s book. Said’s book is very good.

  20. Jenny says:

    You bring up some food for thought and I appreciate the lesson. I wanted to point out a typo, though. In “but I couldn’t help thinking who’s interests were served when the only mention of the Congo on the page was in reference to multi-national incidents” it should read “whose interests”.

  21. maggie says:

    You can and should edit wikipedia pages. this is a problem in general with wikipedia. the vast majority of people who edit/contribute are white and male. there have been calls for women/people of color edit-a-thons to remedy problems like this. This article has a link to a how-to video if you’ve never done it before: https://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/toofew-feminist-people-of-color-wikipedia-edit-a-thon-on-friday-11am-3pm-est/47265

    • lucretia says:

      This. People tend to misunderstand how Wikipedia works. It’s not like an Encyclopedia edited by a particular publisher – it’s a free-for-all that is currently dominated by a very small group of people, predominantly white males.

  22. This article has too many holes and leaps of logic. Many teachers do step off the curriculum on a regular basis to tell their students about things like Leopold II and the politics of people such as Mark Twain and George Orwell. To say they do not is an affront to the many education professionals out there battling to enrich their students’ education beyond the curriculum they must deliver.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      People’s feathers get ruffled too easily. I’ve had many teachers that taught off curriculum. I greatly respect the work they do and greatly admire teachers in general. This isn’t a post about teachers, its a post about the general curriculum that most teachers are forced to teach, increasingly, with the threat of punishment if they deviate. The real affront to us all are the rich parasites who force us to learn ‘history-from-above’ that serves their own interests.

      • Greenie says:

        Liam, you are very wise. You are very wise, thoughtful, focused, and articulate. I admire your responses to these people.

  23. A great evil. But note that Leopold was a *king* who used *government* power to enslave and kill. It’s a sin of *feudalism*. I second the recommendation Adam Hochschild’s *King Leopold’s Ghost* (http://www.stephenhicks.org/2012/07/27/king-leopolds-ghost/).

  24. Rob F. says:

    This is a great article. I feel as if many of the readers comments of dissent further exemplify how many people, in the field of education or not, are unwilling to learn about the ongoing Congolese Genocide.

  25. Sandra Hansen says:

    Since anyone can add something to Wikipedia, have you added this stuff to see if it stays on the genocide page?

  26. Dave says:

    I did not like this article. I have read “King Leopold’s Ghost” and “The Poisonwood Bible” and yes, what King Leopold did was terrible, almost unbelievably terrible, and yes, there are still a lot of Eurocentric racists, and apologists, out there. But, there are also a lot of dreadful people who commit dreadful deeds that are not of European origin, and the tone of this article, incredibly sensational as it is written, seems to attempt to foment anger towards US and former colonial powers and anything based on the free market. You could highlight this atrocity in a more objective way. There are deep dark dreadful atrocities going on out there, sadly they are a result of the deep dark dreadful parts of every man being exposed through various circumstances. Colonialism is just a mega version of what humans have been doing all along. This bending over backwards to smell your own fart serves no honest purpose.

  27. Kudara says:

    I dont think the initial post was saying the Holocaust was not bad, I think the poster was saying it was not THE worst as we are made to believe. It is estimated that King Leopold killed between 2-15 million Africans. Also, he institute the cutting off of limbs in order to get Africans to work at Ivory, rubber and gold production. What you see happening in Africa today by other Africans inacting this same tactic is pshychosymatic, but they certainly was NOT the inititators. No one is saying to minimalize the Jewish Holocaust, we are saying do not negate the atrocities visited on us. I am a 5th generation Black American (American African) and I will minimize the murders, rape and pilliging of African people and lands. The Europeans have made a business of invading and taking what they think they have a right to despite the fact the people have 1000 of years of history. Ask the Chinese if they loved the Europeans when they invaded China and pillaged they land which led to the Boxer Rebillion and that is only one example.

  28. Tony says:

    Liam I just wanted to thank you for bringing this story to my attention.. I was born and educated in England and am a UK citisen this was something definetly NOT on the school curriculum when i was at school,(Maybe as the UK were also heavily involved in Slavery this was a hush hush subject .. this would of been too taboo to speak about or discuss) I left my studying years over 25 years ago and probably would of never knew about leopold if i hadnt read your article first.
    My interest is not to compare it with other atrocitys that have happened in this world past and present, I’m also not here to pick holes in your piece, the important thing for me is awareness without it nothing can be changed I’m a firm believer in Knowledge and education. its the key to rid this world of ignorance and hate,

  29. Levi says:

    I’m still waiting to hear how the west papuans have become a minority in their own country. And how the allies took part in the deportation of millions of sudeten germans after ww2.

  30. William Howard says:

    Yes, I am appalled at this. And the next time I teach Heart of Darkness, it will be an integral part. But I must take issue with this idea of suppressing this bit of history or Mark Twain’s 49-page satire. LAUSD has no “banned list.” I could include it in my class if I thought fit and (and this is important) HAD TIME. Much as we want to enlighten our students, we can’t cover everything. Yes, this is an atrocity. The history of humankind is fraught with atrocity. There is only so much that a history or English teacher can cover in 40 weeks and 57 minutes a day. I suggest that we make the information available, but stop the paranoia and teacher-bashing.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      I’m glad you’ll be teaching it.

      Please read the above comments. No where above did I “bash” teachers. The word “teachers” is not used at all. In fact, I’m quite explicit: “From the point of view of the ***Education Department***, Africans have no history.” I condemned the Department of Education.

      Nor did I claim that there was “banned list”. Like you said, its partly a time issue. Its also partly an issue of generalised racism in our society. In any case, what with the outrageous amount of standardised testing that is done in the U.S., there is often little time for anything outside of the dictates of what elites want taught. So, ‘formally’, that isn’t a ‘ban’. But its the equivalent of a ban – call it a ‘de facto ban’ – for most classrooms in the U.S. So the outcome is the same. And this isn’t blaming or bashing teachers; its talking about an *institutional* and *systemic* problem with racism in our education system.

  31. Roxee says:

    Yet another homicidal maniac using religion to excuse his actions. I think the atheist community should celebrate Mark Twain more than we do for his great humanitarian efforts throughout his literary career. He also wrote a lot about how harmful religion and religious beliefs were, but people seldom are exposed to those writings either.

  32. susan falcone says:

    Hello Liam, This is a truly informative post and I thank you for your effort and diligence in putting it together. I happen to be one of the ones who was never taught this piece of world history, and I always thought I had a pretty decent education. I heartily an enthusiastically encourage you to visit Wikipedia and add your knowledge to the pages you site as lacking. Wikipedia is, after all, formatted so that people like yourself, with important knowledge to share, can do so. I dare say that many young high school students, a well as adults, use Wikipedia as a go-to reference on any given subject. Here’s your chance to make an even bigger contribution to the education of countless people all over the world.

  33. alwayslearning says:

    The sad part is that a lot of people don’t know that the state of the Congo has not actually changed. If you look up the Congo (I think the whole name is the Democratic Republic of the Congo) you’ll see that they’ve been in a state of civil war and perpetual violence since the 50s when they got their independence. When I was studying abroad in Ghana I saw a documentary. I wish I could remember the name of it to recommend it to you guys. The documentary is about how Western powers facilitate instability in Africa using the Congo as an example. It was like something out of a government-conspiracy-spy-movie: CIA operatives brutally killed any leader who seemed to be making good progress in the Congo. This information was all classified at that time, but 50 years later the government released the information and the operatives did an interview, and that’s what the documentary is about. My main question was “why the Congo? what’s so special about that small part of Africa?” Turns out, an extremely important metal that’s used in technology is found ONLY there. I don’t know much about science so I can’t remember (this whole post is full of vague information, I know, I’m sorry, I can’t remember, feel free to look it up!) but I think it’s called bauxite? Something like that? It’s apparently absolutely necessary for cell phones and other modern technology. Anyways, the idea is that IF the Congo became stable with a good government, then other companies wouldn’t be able to come in and steal the resources (which is happening pretty much everywhere in Africa anyway…)

    So my overall point is that the atrocities have not ended.

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      I definitely agree that the struggle for the Congo is far from over. The legacy of genocide, slavery, colonialism, and imperialism live on, as a live issue, right up to the present. Thank you for raising this issue for other people to learn about. Competition by capitalist nation-states and corporations for access to the Congo’s rare earth minerals and other precious minerals is something that we should all know about. The re-conquest of Africa that is taking place today must be understood as a fight for access to these raw minerals, which capitalist elites want to turn into commodities, so that they may reap huge profits. “Accumulation! Accumulation! That is Moses and the prophets.” – Karl Marx

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      I definitely agree that the struggle for the Congo is far from over. The legacy of genocide, slavery, colonialism, and imperialism live on, as a live issue, right up to the present. Thank you for raising this issue for other people to learn about. Competition by capitalist nation-states and corporations for access to the Congo’s rare earth minerals and other precious minerals is something that we should all know about. The re-conquest of Africa that is taking place today must be understood as a fight for access to these raw minerals, which capitalist elites want to turn into commodities, so that they may reap huge profits. “Accumulation! Accumulation! That is Moses and the prophets.” – Karl Marx

  34. Buhlebesizwe says:

    Thank you for sharring knowledge is power. I am from South Africa, and in our educational system this part of history is not included in our curriculum, but we learn of Hitler, however with that being said our education system compared to that of the U.S. Or U.K. is way poor.

  35. chandra says:

    We did learn about ‘King’ Leopold II in the 9 standard history curriculam in India. After reading about the gruesome atrocies of the French, Belgian, Dutch colonists/army, I have often wondered why people in the west focus so much on Hitler. I find it a hard to believe when the Dutch or the French talk about the burden of guilt the Germans carry.

  36. Chris says:

    “I have often wondered why people in the west focus so much on Hitler.”

    Honestly, it’s probably because he’s what gets the most “press.”

    I appreciate this post—probably made a return reader out of me—I guess I see it less of a “Those racists are hiding genocide in Africa!” and more of “The Holcaust: You’ve read the book, now see the film!”. We know the “plot” of the story; we know the villain; and, as someone above smartly pointed out, we know the “good guys” who win in the end. It’s a easy narrative to sell.

    But “a bunch of poor people who look different than I do, miles and miles away in a far off country I’ve never heard of, a long long time ago”? Preposterous. (Before the inevitable response, I meant that facetiously.)

    As a fellow high school English teacher (teaching at an ESL school), I start my students w/ Holocaust literature, truly, because of the huge amount of accessible literature/films/documentation available. From there, though, I hope that other teachers do teach other genocides/democides around the world, specifically those happening today.

    Leopold sounded like a douche Looking forward to reading the Hochschild book!

  37. caesar says:

    Thanks for this educational post. Well-worth and eye-opening. Remember folks, its not about comparisons as to which atrocities are publicised more than the other, but its about information and enlightenment for those who fall short of it. An incentive to do more…..

  38. DianaAbasi says:

    I am African, Nigerian to be precise and this is the first time that I am learning that Leopold Killed over 10 million Congolese. Terrible things happen in war, and the human being is rather quick and determined to bring another down, especially where he has power on his side. It’s sad; these killing, and that’s irrespective of whether it is the Holocaust, WW1, WW2 or Leopold’s killings. WHjat’s sadder for me is that killings such as these still go on in varied forms even today

  39. Mathew says:

    So, after this, the suggestion is to create a facebook group? Because the schools have the materials to just go and teach this. Part of the issue is that companies who make the school materials leave this out, and the other part is that it’s taken out for some reason or other, and that’s up to the Board of Education, who won’t be swayed by a facebook page. Africa has a long and complicated history, and because of outside interference and opportunists within its own borders, it’s still struggling to rise.
    But a facebook page isn’t going to do anything. If you want this material to be taught, you have to take further action, and make a case for yourself.

  40. ChrisA says:

    The acts attributed to Leopold are awful atrocities, but I do not agree with calling it genocide. The understanding of the term genocide that I have, and that I think is probably the most commonly understood meaning, is the deliberate killing of people of a certain ethnicity, in order to get rid of that ethnic group. Not in order to stop a rebellion, not in order to maintain an empire, not in order to keep slaves or make money, but in order to get rid of them. That does not seem to apply here. We could, of course, decide that we want genocide to refer to the killing of people of a certain ethnicity for any reason, but then I think the term becomes a bit useless, as it refers to too much – most wars, for example, would suddenly become genocides.

    Hitler killed people because he wanted to wipe them out. Leopold killed people to maintain his control of a country and make money. Both are atrocious acts, but I think the distinction based on motive is one worth keeping. Whether you think one motive is worse than the other, or both are equally bad, is up to you, but we should only call one ‘genocide’ or the term becomes meaningless.

  41. Linda says:

    This lesson is taught in my world history class and my ap euro class. We read part of ‘Into the heart of darkness’ and the kids learn that genocide has been a plight of all civilizations thought human history.
    It’s a Florida standard for history and is included in all text books. Most teachers skip imperialism because they never studied it and are not comfortable explaining how Europe and the US tried to own the world.
    CNN and Anthony Bourdain do a special and it’s now on everyone’s radar. Good! Because the plight of Africa needs attention, sad that Americans learn mostly from TV these days.

  42. Phil says:

    I enjoy reading articles like this because it is enlightening and adds perspective. I think all the points have been pretty much made so far about the lack of value of ranking one genocide over another and that teachers should be striving to teach their students about genocides throughout the world and pull what applicable lessons they can from them.

    The only point I wanted to follow up with is also the extreme lack of coverage the plight of the Native American gets in history classes. I think anyone who isn’t an idiot knows that Europeans/Americans wronged the Native Americans over and over in horrible and gross ways but this is rarely acknowledged in history books. They make it sound like we got along except for a couple big battles and that we worked together. While some things went well we largely wiped an entire indigenous people and broke our promises repeatedly. The museum at the St Louis arch is especially good since that was built to symbolize the gateway to the west. The museum at the base walks through an entire timeline of things that happened with the Native Americans. It certainly opened up my eyes. I knew of the general arcs of what we’d done but seeing battle after battle, treaty after treaty being broken, and killing after killing really brought it home.

    That said there are plenty of other genocides like the Japanese invasion of China and things that took place in Nanjing and Shanghai. Or how about Australia/Britain wiping out the indigenous people of Australia and surrounding islands? Sadly the genocides in the Congo aren’t the only events that are glossed over in history. It really is up to teachers to help bring these out. And frankly beyond that it’s up to students to be curious and inquisitive about the world around them. I would safely say that the reason many students don’t know about different atrocities is their apathetic viewpoint towards them. For many students it’s easy to say it doesn’t affect me or it was so long ago. Many students don’t try to find the lessons in history. So for some teachers it may very well be an uphill battle against curriculum and student apathy.

  43. Sam says:

    Never again? More like……again and again!
    Horrifying truth.

  44. son of adam says:

    Man this guy is a devil, much worse than the devil Hitler!

  45. Joe Camel says:

    How defensive people got over the Holocaust here is a perfect example of the kind of western narcissism that lets these kinds of atrocities remain hidden.

  46. Bob says:

    Interesting discussion. I am Belgian, educated in Belgium and I believe you me: the dark legacy of Leopold II is cunningingly left out of the high school curricula. Not many people are aware of this aweful patch in their history. But on the other hand, there are also Belgian and German historians objecting to Hochschild’s these about Leopold 2. The thruth lies in between, i guess.

    But before pointing any more fingers to my little country as the one and true axis of all evil: we talking about the beginning of 19th century, different times, different norms. Genocide is genocide but don’t make the mistake of blindly transposing all contemporary morals to an other age. And he and his country who is without sin, throws the first stone, or something like that…i mean, awefulness happens in each country, make no mistake, history is drenched in blood, everywhere.

    If you want something truely shocking: when King Boudoin, decendant of Leopold 2, had to allow Congo to declare its independence in 1960, he was planning to give a speech in which he asked the Congolese population to thank the work of his great predecessor Leopold 2. Now that is something else! Luckily the prime minister made the king change his speech.

  47. Sam says:

    What should be ….never again…..has turned out to be…..again and again.

  48. Geve says:

    Every country, without exception, should introduce into its education curriculum, and also for general information of it’s people, by TV and press coverage, giving everyone a basic overall picture of how we humans have, over several millennia, committed horrendous atrocities over one another. And, reference all these incidences in human history which occurred over all continents that educate all of us that these horrors should never repeat again.
    It’s time to realize there is a hidden and huge propagande machine engineered mainly by the West which only gives us convenient half truths.

  49. Jessica O says:

    First of all, thank you, Liam, for bringing our attention to such an important topic. I’m glad I stumbled upon your post. The atrocities committed under King Leopold’s Reign of Terror definitely lack significant academic and media coverage, to say the least. Especially in Belgium.

    I would like to reply to a few comments criticising a somewhat comparison between Leopold and Hitler. The Holocaust should most definitely never cease to be a crucial point of focus in academia and literature, and the severity of the event should without doubt never be undermined. However, studies on the Holocaust and Leopold’s Reign of Terror are far from being mutually exclusive, are they? Liam, I much appreciate your stress on the importance of speaking of King Leopold’s Reign of Terror. The gap between what he did and what we know of what he did is outstanding.

    For all French-speakers or anyone particularly interested in delving into this period of history, my (Belgian) father translated Mark Twain’s ‘King Leopold’s Soliloquy’ into French in 2005 and adapted it into a play which was shown at the ‘Theatre de la Place des Martyrs’, in Brussels, that same year. Just as you seemed to show in your post, Liam, one of the aims was, in his case, to raise considerate awareness on King Leopold’s Reign of Terror in Belgium itself.
    It provoked significant reaction in Brussels and Mark Twain’s remarkable work could not have been left without a translation into French. The showing of the play lead to increasing debates on Belgian colonisation in Congo. For those who are interested, here is the French translation, part of a book collection called ‘L’Afrique au Coeur des Lettres’: http://www.amazon.fr/Le-soliloque-roi-L%C3%A9opold-ebook/dp/B005P3CUKU

    And here is a short review: http://www.congovision.com/images/Twain.Soliloque.2008.pdf

    Thanks again, Liam!

  50. ChrisA says:

    As a follow-up to my last post: I just noticed Chris above used the term ‘democide’ which I hadn’t heard before. Looking it up on wikipedia it seems far more appropriate than genocide to describe the kind of mass murder Leopold engaged in. It’s a general term for mass murders by a government, which encompasses genocide (essentially it’s very broad, and seems to be used in the same way some people are trying to use ‘genocide’ in this thread):


  51. Maurice Eldridge says:

    I commend to your attention Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”.

  52. Atek84 says:

    IN Belgium i made some time ago a graffitipiece against this king…
    Maybe you can check it out…
    People here are also aware of the massacres that he did, we have statues of this king that people destroy and cover with paint…
    Not that it helps a fuck, be just to mention that alot of people think this guy is a discrace for our country.



  53. Padraig Mc Goran says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the thrust of your article. However, your Title makes a statement which asks a question, and then answers with “Hitler”. Therefore, The Holocaust has come up for much discussion. I am sure you will admit this was not unintentional and serves to grab the attention of your reader.

    To my mind, The Holocaust is particular in it’s method to other types of Genocide by the use of the Gas Chamber. The Goal was efficiency; to kill the largest number of people by the cheapest means and minimise the psychological damage to those doing the killing. Whereas other types of killing in internment camps can be blamed on disobedience, anger or fear, even negligence or accident, the purpose built Gas Chamber has no reasonable excuse to exist.

    Are there any other cases of Genocide that can boast such Architecture with this final emphasis?

  54. Padraig Mc Goran says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the thrust of your article. However, your Title makes a statement which asks a question, and then answers with “Hitler”. Therefore, The Holocaust has come up for much discussion. I am sure you will admit this was not unintentional and serves to grab the attention of your reader.

    To my mind, The Holocaust is particular in it’s method to other types of Genocide by the use of the Gas Chamber. The Goal was efficiency; to kill the largest number of people by the cheapest means and minimise the psychological damage to those doing the killing. Whereas other types of killing in internment camps can be blamed on disobedience, anger or fear, even negligence or accident, the purpose built Gas Chamber has no reasonable excuse to exist.

    Are there any other cases of Genocide that can boast such Architecture with this final emphasis?

    • Liam O'Ceallaigh says:

      Mechanised killing of millions of people in the context of inter-imperial war was one of the primary distinguishing attributes of the Second World War and the Holocaust. I agree.

      But my post isn’t fundamentally about the Holocaust. Its about how other mass slaughters by emerging capitalist powers do not receive the same attention – and are sometimes ignored completely, not even mentioned in passing (as many commenters above, including some from Africa, have attested) – and to ask why that is the case, and whose interests it serves.

      • Padraig Mc Goran says:

        I will say it again,I agree wholeheartedly with the thrust of your article. I understand that your post isn’t fundamentally about the Holocaust. I merely point out that while your Title preference works cleverly to attract the attention of the reader you have invited comment on the issue which deviates from your main point. What Leopold II did in the Congo was abominable, but it was not Genocide, whereas the aforementioned atrocity was a particularly unique form of Genocide, something upon which we both agree.

        • ChrisA says:

          Yes I agree with Padraig, as this is a similar point to the one I made above. It is misleading to say ‘why isn’t this included in the list of genocides?’ as you do in the article, because it wasn’t a genocide. It may have been as bad as one (or not, that’s open to debate) but it wasn’t one. I think perhaps people feel a particular moral repugnance for the idea of killing people simply because they are of a certain ethnicity, rather than because killing them gets you land/wealth/resources, and that is why the holocaust and genocides are considered so awful. Especially when the killing is so mechanised, so controlled. You could perhaps have argued that all acts of democide (the killing of people by their government) are equally bad, and that genocide shouldn’t be considered a particularly repugnant case, but you would have needed to adopt a different tangent in the article to do that.

  55. kattatogaru says:

    There is an extensive page on the atrocities composed by King Leopold’s regime in Congo Free State. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State

    It’s not characterised as a genocide since the aim of the regime was not the elimination of a race. The deaths of millions of Africans were caused by the systematic use of slave labour, military repression, and disease.

  56. Ruben says:

    Still many feel called out, not objective, a lot of self-denial. People still aren’t ready for the truth, obviously. They hear it, but they can not accept it. It all speaks to me how important it is to know about this and how much is actually dreadfully for what happened in the Congo.

    And the source is simple: it’s all about the money.

  57. Laura says:

    Great article. I did, for the record, learn about Leopold II in high school, although I can’t remember which class. Might have been AP Euro, I had a really good teacher for that, or it might have been World History (not AP, but honors level). It wasn’t a huge part of the class or anything, but I definitely left with the impression that this was one of the most evil people and occurrences in history. My high school was pretty racially diverse, though, that might have had an impact on our curricula.

    Native American genocide was covered at some point as well, but wasn’t stressed probably as much as it should be (although we did spend more time on it than on Leopold II). Slavery was emphasized and taught throughout my educational career, but in the north (in my case, Long Island) you can teach slavery and still make someone else the bad guy, rather than America itself really being to blame. It’s almost part of someone else’s history.

    We have got to own the shitty things we’ve done. So many kids grow up thinking white, Western society is superior because we have more power and wealth now, without realizing that the reason we have that power and wealth is from exploiting and abusing others.

  58. Johnny D says:

    If you’re that concerned that the wikipedia page doesn’t list this as a genocide. Just add it yourself…

  59. Theo Koopman says:

    I understand the authors annoyance about this’cover up’, but this political manipulation of history cannot be a complete surprise. In fact, most of what we have been taught about history is to some extend biassed at least.

    Now, the horrors of WW2’s Holocaust are unique, and therefore incomparable, in the sense that it was the largest organized and minutely executed extermination of people in the history of mankind. But it’s hardly a competition, of course.

    Slavery is mentioned, too. Interesting to me is, that slavery, apparently, is to date still the historic moral burden of Europeans, while the role of Arabs is barely mentioned and that of Africans is left out altogether. I wonder what the authors view is on that.

  60. Deborah M says:

    The Daily Beast published an interesting article about one of this demon’s foot soldiers who is none other than the founder of Sanford, FL where Trayvon Martin was killed. Here’s the link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/04/the-city-of-sanford-s-racist-past.html

  61. Shaka Uluz says:

    There is no need to compare atrocities or the devastation felt by people they all hurt us and make most of us feel the same way. It brings tears to my eyes to know all those people suffered and nobody lifted a finger to help them, and until today i had no knowledge of this event.

    This is a great shame that we do not learn of this in school I believe not just this event, all atrocious acts like this one should never be repeated again and the only way to stop it is to educate our children so this does not happen again.

  62. Athiest says:

    Why you guys are not talking about genocide in sri lanka.

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  1. Do you want to learn more? Another great book to read on this topic is Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.

    Click here to get a copy! (A separate window will open and won’t interrupt your reading)

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