White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
The events of the Congo Free State bear a striking similarity to another major genocide of the twentieth century: the Holocaust. Both are very influential events in our history that we can learn a lot from in order to prevent another tragedy from happening. On the surface, they seem like very different things: a European king exploiting the people of an African country for resources versus the leader of another European country attempting to exterminate an entire group of people because of their religion, but when you dive further in you will realize that these two historical events are not as different as you might think.
Firstly, the way in which King Leopold II gained the support of his people and the unknowing consent of the Congolese chiefs is very similar to the methods Adolf Hitler used to earn the support of Germany and the, again, unknowing agreement of the Jewish population. Leopold used nationalism and religion to convince his people that colonizing the Congo was a good thing, claiming that they would “civilize” the Africans and spread Christianity and the technology of the western world. Hitler used similar methods; claiming that Germany was the greatest country, the Jews were inferior, and they needed to be wiped from the Earth or it would be impure. Both leaders antagonize a group of people because of their way of life and use nationalism and brainwashing to make the citizens of their country believe that what they were doing was good. Both leaders also tricked their targeted groups into agreeing with what they were going to do to them; the Congolese chiefs were tricked into signing papers that handed the Congo over to Leopold and the Jews were tricked into going to the ghettos and concentration camps when the Nazi regime claimed that it would give them better lives.
Another similarity between the Congo Free State happenings and the Holocaust are the ways in which the oppressed groups were treated. The Congolese were forced to collect rubber as well as serve the men that had come into their country to exploit them for their resources, and they were paid nothing for it. They were whipped, tortured, or...