The Hidden Holocaust
The Hidden Holocaust.
In 1885, European leaders convened at the Berlin Conference, and discussed and negotiated the fate of a continent. That continent was Africa, and among the most noted speeches was that of Belgian leader, King Leopold II.
He emphasised the word "civilization" over and over again. He told European leaders how they would create a thriving new world and become custodians of this pursuit. The European leaders were very quickly persuaded, and what would be known as the "Scramble for Africa" had begun. The leaders agreed to give King Leopold 2m sq km (770,000 sq miles) in the Congo to forge a personal colony where he was free to do as he liked. He called it Congo Free State.
It quickly became a brutal, exploitative regime that relied on forced labour to cultivate and trade rubber, ivory and minerals. Colonial administrators also kidnapped orphaned children from communities and transported them to "child colonies" to work or train as soldiers. Estimates suggest more than 50% died there. Numerous massacres, famine and disease killed, what many believe, upto 10 million Congolese under the rule of King Leopold of Belgium.
By 1908, Leopold II's rule was deemed so cruel that European leaders, themselves violently exploiting Africa, condemned it and the Belgian parliament forced him to relinquish control of his territories. Belgium took over the colony in 1908 and it was not until 1960 that the Republic of the Congo was established, after a fight for independence.