During the 1800s, over 10 million Congolese Africans suffered at the hands of King Leopold II of Belgium. King Leopold II was responsible for the death of these Africans and the mutilations of their bodies. When Europe was dividing up the continent of Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium laid personal claim to the largely uncharted Congo Free State. The 905,000 square miles (76 times larger than Belgium) of African rainforest held a vast fortune in rubber plantations, a commodity in high demand in late 19th century industrial Europe.
Leopold later went on to form the philanthropic organization International African Association and became its single shareholder. Under the disguise of missionary work and westernization of African people, Leopold II used the International African Association to further his ambitions of empire building in order to bring international prestige to relatively small Belgium. In reality, the International African Association was a vehicle to enslave the people of the Congo River Basin and enrich Leopold II.
While Leopold II ruled the Congo, he massacred 10 million Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals. Many were flogged to death and starved as well, as twenty strokes typically sent victims into unconsciousness and, 100 or more strokes were often fatal. The chicotte was freely used by both Leopold’s men and the French. Children were held for ransom and many villages burned to the ground. These brutal attacks happened because the African workers allegedly did not meet the rubber quotas set by the Belgian officers.
All of these atrocities happened without Leopold II ever having to step foot on Congo ground.