Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Silent Holocaust: The Belgian Genocide of the Congo

In our reflection upon the grand history and innumerable events of humanity’s past we are inevitably forced to once again encounter the horrors and inhuman transgressions that our forebearers have made against others as well as the transgressions that have been made against our forebearers by others. In contemporary history there is perhaps no event more horrid and incomprehensible as the Holocaust. Following the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, his Aryan Ideal was put forth with unforeseen adamancy. To better facilitate the securing of Germany (and eventually continental Europe) for Aryan people, his racial agenda called for the elimination of untermenschen (subhumans), most of whom were, in Germany, Jewish people. Over the duration of World War II (and preceding this conflict) Hitler and his Aryan henchmen facilitated the mass elimination of nearly 6 million Jews. In addition to this, 4 million Slavs, Poles, and rarer minorities such as blacks were systematically eliminated. While the Jews were obviously not the only victims of the Holocaust or the mass German onslaught against those they deemed enemies and inferiors, the incessant memorials to this heinous and savage crime have characterized this event as one that has solely affected Jews. The term “Holocaust” has become effectively synonymized with “Genocide of Jews” although this is highly inaccurate and extremely disrespectful to those of other faiths and ethnicities who also died at the hands of the Nazis, the label “untermenschen” seared into their corpses.

One may often wonder why the plight of the Jewish people has become so well known, so mourned over, and so thoroughly impressed into the global collective consciousness. Why have so many, even the ancestors of those who perpetrated the heinous acts against the Jewish people, shuddered at mere thoughts and reflections of the brutality and callousness expressed by the German people towards their scorned Jewish enemies? And why is it that the innumerable casualties of Africans, Native Americans, Asians, and virtually all non-white ethnic groups of the world are deemed unworthy of tears, mourning, and remembrance. For them, a mere “sorry” must suffice for the tens of millions they lost, and the plight and suffering of their ancestors is merely swept under the rug, cast into oblivion---forgotten. While our school textbooks devote entire chapters to the subject of Jewish suffering, especially the Holocaust, other genocides, such as that of the Congolese, have not merited even paragraphs.

In the West, they never fail to remind us of the plight of the Jews and the extreme, gory adversity that they have ostensibly endured throughout the history of man. Holocaust memorials are erected, dates are observed, reparation money is distributed to the victims and their descendants, nations are commandeered and offered as polite compensation. As for the memory of the millions of blacks who died en route in the Atlantic Slave Trade (not to mention their brethren who died either tilling fields or being beaten to their demise), the millions of Native Americans who died throughout the Americas after the arrival of Europeans, and the millions who died at the hands of European colonialists in Africa, there is no memory. There has been no effort to mitigate the residual effects of the atrocious acts, no effort to appease the disturbed and restless spirits of those wronged. Memorials are few, acknowledgment is scant, and nowhere are apologies to be found. “It wasn’t me who did it---it was those people back then.”

During the mid-19th century the infamous Scramble for Africa was at its pinnacle. Every European superpower that was anything readily and enthusiastically partook in military conquest of African nations. Though several sovereign African states proved themselves formidable and presented valiant reciprocation of European aggression (most notably the Zulu, Asante, Herero, and Ethiopians) most African states succumbed to European belligerence rather easily. European technology, political impetus, and a most rabid and feral type of aggression were simply too much for most Africans to resist. And so, upon Mother Africa, colonialism was imposed with great ardency, and for the first time Africa was under the yoke of Europe. It was unprecedented.

In 1885, King Leopold of Belgium surveyed a map of Africa and tacitly observed the territorial highlights of nations that had been conquered by his continental cohorts. He was less than satisfied at the many possessions of Great Britain, the foremost Empire of the world, as well as those Germany, France, and Italy. Both a sense of envy and consternation overtook him. If Belgium could not conquer African territory then its status as a legitimate European power bastion would be thereby threatened. Before his eyes, all of his rivals were declaring war on African people throughout and acquiring territory, slave labor, and abundant resources. Hell bent on capitalizing off of the violent exploitation, King Leopold appealed at the Berlin Conference of 1885 and was granted the territory that would become the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The Congo was unbelievably wealthy---her jungles, soils, and wildlife abounded in rubber, ivory, and minerals. King Leopold’s personal army, the Force Publique, was swept up in a desirous frenzy to acquire this wealth that by 1908, when European powers actually had to retake the Congo from Belgium because of the gross genocide and carnage that had been wrought, it was conservatively estimated that over 10 million Congolese had died. That would be around 50 percent of the Congo’s population, an undoubtedly astounding amount. It is often contested that these estimates are grossly inaccurate and in reality a figure significantly higher than 10 million would be more fitting to account for these gross tragedies.

Like the nations controlled by his relatives, King Leopold II was transfixed upon the idea of white supremacy and white colonial domination. To impose European control upon Africa, they would stop at nothing. King Leopold not only extracted tremendous amounts of wealth from the land and henceforth bolstered the economy of Belgium (as well as his own personal wealth) but he did so through enslavement of almost all of the native populace. To King Leopold, these Africans were “subhumans” and “savages” and “life not worthy of life”. Each and every Congolese soul who perished at his behest was victim to a man who assigned absolutely no value or worth to the lives of Africans. To him, their lives may as well have been nothing---animals exceeded them in significance. King Leopold was a man who believed wholly (and shared this belief with many of his European colonizing cohorts) that the value of white life was infinitely greater than that of a black life. After all, beyond labor or sexual satisfaction, the black life had no true worth.

If the black inhabitants of the Congo were “noble savages” then it is only fair to christen their Belgian masters as “savage nobles”. Though the whites characterized the Africans as primitive, feral, and less than human, closer to simian creature, it was not the Africans who committed savagery and animalistic barbarity upon “cultured” Europeans. King Leopold’s henchmen utilized almost every known form of torture and punishment to murder Congolese people. Congolese were beaten, shot, beheaded, burnt to death, hung, starved, stabbed, impaled, infected with disease, and whipped to death. Those who didn’t die from the cruel punishment often endured lifelong injuries such as castrated genitals, severed limbs, severe burns, loss of eyes, and permanent scars from whips. Those who managed to remain physically unscathed still endured the pain of slave labor and the psychological torment that such an imposing and cruel slavocracy imposed upon them. No man was free from the yoke of King Leopold’s fierce, callous oppression, and every single inhabitant of the Congo was in some great way victim to the bloody subjugation. Contending with more conservative, doctored estimates, some estimate that up to 30 million Congolese perished during the brutal regime of King Leopold II as a direct result of his vicious efforts.

What memorial stands today to honor the millions who died from Belgian subjugation in the Congo? Who is to dictate what tragic transgression is worthy of eternal commemoration and which one should merely be cast into oblivion? As Africans, perhaps we should blame ourselves for not calling for remembrance of these atrocities. Of course the perpetrators and the descendants of the perpetrators are going to try their best to eradicate all memory of these horrid transgressions---in their aversion to altruism, honor, and humanity, they would rather deny responsibility and tarnish the memory of these brave individuals who endured so much but inevitably succumbed, than concede wrongdoing. In a most audacious and affronting statement, Christoph Muzungu, the culture minister for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, advocated the erection of a statue of King Leopold II. Oblivious to the fact that millions upon millions of his countrymen were murdered by this bloodthirsty despot, likely some of them being his familial ancestors, he argued that, “people should see the positive aspects of his rule.” The Congolese people, a bit more aversive to the memory of such a savage tyrant, immediately dismantled the statue within hours of its erection.

Are our ears closed to their never-ending cries and screams and pleas that will forever echo throughout history?

Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters! When will we REMEMBER the plight of our ancestors? Will we remain oblivious and ignorant to their anguish forever? Hear their cries!


  1. OriginalBlackThought provides a though-provoking interpretation of African History for anyone wanting to understand the brutality Europeans have inflicted upon Africans. It’s a remarkably well-written account of facts. He shows how Europeans enslaved and colonized the Congo and how individuals were brutally tortured while being forced to succumb to the control of their wicked masters.

  2. Keep in mind that 5 million died in Congo alone over the last 20 years due to the international "wars" over their resources, with HUNDREDS MORE continuing to be killed every day. Add that to the 10-15 (or more) million killed under King Leopold of Belgium, where one group of blacks was forced to kill other blacks for not turning in their "quota" of rubber or other raw materials. It was the blacks who were the CONSTABLE(police) FORCE who did most of the dirty work of the colonists, killing, raping and maiming those who didn't WORK for the system. It is the same thing going on now even though they claim "rebels" are doing "illegal mining" in Congo forcing people to work at gunpoint. That is EXACTLY what was instituted by Belgian colonists under Leopold.

    * The use of Tippu Tip, a slave trader from Zanzibar, and his slaves (which constituted the Force Publique) , to enslave the rest of the Congo populace.
    * The severing of the hand of any person, be they man, woman or child, who did not fulfil the task required of them.
    * The forced separation of children from their parents, after which they were organised into three children’s colonies where they were indoctrinated, being taught Christianity and trained as soldiers.
    * The stipulation by the Belgian missionaries that only orphans were to be appropriated, so the parents were summarily executed.
    * The kidnapping of black women so as to force their husbands to work on the Belgian rubber plantations in the Congo.
    * These women were kept as hostages until their men had provided the required quota of rubber.
    * The wife of any man refusing to collect rubber would then be killed, and his children would in all likelihood also be killed. .
    * These atrocities were not just the transgressions of an isolated bunch of rebellious soldiers, as the official manuals handed out by the Belgian authorities actually recommended and endorsed these methods.
    * Hundreds of thousands of men were conscripted in this manner to work on the Belgian rubber plantations, and had to carry their heavy load of rubber for many a mile, many dying along the way.
    * Villages that did not meet the quota of rubber stipulated were then required to pay the outstanding amount in the form of a severed hand, each hand representing a “kill”.
    * This often resulted in wars between the different tribes and many deaths, as the quotas were not at all realistic, and the only recourse was to then “harvest” the necessary hands in order to avoid any punitive measures on the part of the Belgian authorities.
    * Whenever a village resisted in anyway, the Force Publique would then be ordered to terrorise them.
    * Their methods included tying up ten hostages in a tent with large stones attached, and then pushing the poor victims into a river.
    * Another method of oppression was to rape the women
    * Or they just simply shot as many people as it would take to intimidate the rest.
    * However, for every bullet expended, the soldiers would have to return one right hand.
    * The Belgians also resorted to beheading any recalcitrant tribes people.
    * In addition, the soldiers were told that the more severed hands they could collect the less time they would have to serve in the Force Publique, and thus this incentive also served to further fuel the “orgy” of killing and bloodletting.
    * Entire villages and towns were destroyed, and it is surmised that as many as 10 million native Congolese died as a result of King Leopold’s Tyranny! .

    These are the roots of the violence we see in Africa today as they follow the SAME PATTERN of violence implemented by European colonists 200 years ago. Africans were not killing each other off before this in this way. And the reason it goes on is because of the SAME international economic and industrialist interests as 200 years ago. Anyways, this is a very nice blog I came across on blackawakening!

  3. That's interesting. I never heard about Nazis killing blacks. Didn't they kill other white people?

  4. I find Mohammed's comment quite interesting because muslims used to castrate their black slaves.

    Is that a bit of taqiyya (holy hypocrisy)? Propaganda to deceive black people?

    In fact, slavery is still permitted in Islam and in places like Lebanon, black people are not allowed to swim in swimming pools that muslims use! That's Apartheid!

    1. I don't usually comment on obnoxious bigotry but I had to chime in even though this thread is kind of 4 years old. It seems like you, Sir or Madam, have so much time on your hands rummaging through unsubstantiated links while you should have checked Islam's views on self-mutilation, self-flagellation or harming others. You cannot project some long gone pathetic cultural practices upon Islam unless you bring me one single passage from the Quran or Hadith that says so. How about the bible promoting castration for the sake of heaven? is the answer from (Matthew 19:12): "For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."
      Is being eunuch a bit of taqiyya as well -though it is a chiaa term that has nothing to do with Islam (sunna)?...Oh speaking of Lebanon, Don't you know that it's a consociational country? It means that the highest political positions are restricted to certain religious factions. and that's what makes electing a Christian president mandatory, i.e. Lebanon is a Muslim-Christian country. You, Sir or Madam , have to move beyond stereotypes. Truth is always sought after but it seems you don't have enough dendrites to sprout but to feed upon others' vomit. Just leave thought-provoking subjects like slavery, and mass murder of black people by Europeans to the ones that are qualified for that. And Wish for heaven to open its arms to you provided it accepts castrated-minds like yours.

  5. Doug, did you know that Robert Mugabe killed 30,000 Matabeles (black tribe)? That was genocide. I think it was in the mid 80s.

    Recently they also had black people basically working as slaves in mines there (zimbabwe). Millions have fled the country, he really doesn't care about his people.

    Mugabe is also a tyrant, he often has any members of the opposition tortured (sometimes they die) and tried to have the main opposition's leader killed, but only the man's wife died. He (Tsvangirai) survived but was seriously injured and almost didn't pull through.

    And Muhammad, muslims are the ones killing black people in Sudan, and guess what, they call them "abd" or "abed", that means "slave" in Arabic.

    And BTW, muslims also used to enslave whites - the Barbary Pirates raided European towns and kidnapped Europeans, sometimes thousand at a time. The Barbary Pirates were the reason behind America's FIRST War on Terror, fought by Presidents Jefferson and Adams, as far as i remember. They used to attack ships and kidnap the passengers and crew, sometimes they were enslaved, other times held to ransom, just like those Somali pirates do today.

    Muslims colonized the European continent for about 800 years and were eventually kicked out during the Reconquista in Spain... that's like 3 times longer than Africa was colonized by Europeans.

    And what about the Armenian genocide and the 270 million people killed during 1,400 years of Islam? That's like almost 200,000 people every year on average!

    Muslims show plenty of brutality against Afrikans, even today. But today, white people are at least shouting about the situation in Sudan, while muslims are those behind the genocide of black people.

    So don't pretend to be so innocent.

  6. And PS. this colonizing and enslavement of the Europeans by muslims happened before the colonization of Africa. It was after muslims were kicked out that the colonization of Afrika by Europe started.

  7. So it's like originalblackthought said:

    "the horrors and inhuman transgressions that our forebearers have made against others as well as the transgressions that have been made against our forebearers by others".

  8. @Martin, yes the Nazis killed other whites.

    Similarly, according to SA's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), 14,000 of the 21,000 black people who died during Apartheid were killed in fighting between black people in the KwaZulu Natal province: the ANC and IFP after Nelson Mandela was released. And it's not just me saying something... A black journalist wrote about this and the new government organized the TRC, so we can know it's not lies. The article was called something like "The killing fields of post-Apartheid South Africa".

    Also, Winnie Mandela had a 14 year old black kid tortured and murdered, for which the ANC gov only gave her a fine! She famously said in 1986 that black people who want to live in peace must be necklaced. That's a horrifying way to die, being burnt alive. I did a quick google search and found this info at the first link I clicked on:

    And a while back, she said Nelson Mandela is a traitor and said he let black people down. Strange, because if I'm not mistaken, he won the Nobel Peace Prize and they got divorced because SHE cheated on him!

    All this senseless fighting and killing must stop already.

  9. this is so stupid! no one cares about it

  10. niggers aren't to be counted as people and comparing the deaths in congo to a genocide would be like comparing the deaths of pigs in a slaughterhouse to genocide, many more pigs have died than niggers

    1. Fucc u and europe the devils time is up u fuccing idiot .

  11. Of course your anonymous. Another. Coward

  12. I never learned about this in school, spent lots of time covering the Jewish holocaust but all the others in recent history are ignored or glossed over and it disgusts me. Thank you for your excellent post about an awful chapter in history.

  13. Something that they will never tell you at school , freedom of expression of information where is it.

  14. I'm half-Belgian. It saddens me so much that this happened. The question is; what do now? I am unaware as to whether or not current Belgian textbooks explain the truth of what happened. I know that when my mother was growing up, the atrocities were largely glossed over; not really covered. My mother didn't know the things I learned about the truth of what happened in Congo (BBC documentary). This helped me understand why the Congolese refugees in my area of the US say things like "You're ancestors, they cut off the hands" when they find out I'm half-Belgian.

    1. *Your* Sorry for my grammar error.

    2. Euhm as belguim citizen i know and was teached about the terrible things leopold did in the Congo he's known as the cutter off hands" so ..

  15. I used this posting in In Defence of Trotskyism No 17, last 4 pages here:

  16. This was a wonderful article. I have learned so much. My mommy also thinks this was wonderful, she wants to meet you and discuss this topic. She is a huge fan.

  17. Don't believe anything that Robert "Bob" Lindsay spews. He's really full of shit.