The Holocaust

1386 Words6 Pages
By the end of the Holocaust, the Nazis had killed eleven million people. This unspeakable mass murder has left its mark on the world; Hitler’s infamous leadership haunts modern society. Yet few people know about another genocide, of roughly the same scale, with a death toll of approximately ten million people: the murderous regime of King Leopold II in the Congo, which inspired Joseph Conrad's 1899 novel Heart of Darkness. The horror of the Belgian imperial project, which he witnessed first-hand as a mariner in the Congo Free State, was the subject of his most famous work. For years, the Congo was a mysterious land in the middle of Africa, “blank spaces,” as Conrad's narrator, Marlow, describes it in Heart of Darkness (Conrad 4). Centuries passed while the country sat, untouched by European hands, with a plethora of resources--ivory, rubber; everything that Europeans needed. Its formidable river rapids, rough terrain, and various diseases protected it from greedy colonialists like Leopold, who “yearned to rule a rich colonial empire.” Once explorers discovered and navigated the paths to Africa’s gold mine, however, it was no longer a faraway land; it became a new source of income. (“King Leopold’s ‘Heart’). Take Henry Stanley, an explorer and example of the celebrity status granted to those brave enough to endure the journey through the jungle of the Congo. Leopold, the so-called “philanthropic” monarch who selfishly wanted the Congo all for himself before others realized its beauty and wealth, contracted Stanley in 1878 to return to the Congo, paying him 50,000 franc per year for his time in Africa plus 25,000 franc in Europe. Eager to import the valuable ivory from elephant tusks, Leopold instructed Stanley to bu... ... middle of paper ... ...avis, R. Hunt, ed. "Berlin Conference." Encyclopedia of African History and Culture: The Colonial Era (1850 to 1960). vol. 4. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print. Karl, Frederick R. "Http://" N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2014. WRONG CITATION Axelrod, Alan, and Charles L. Phillips. “General Act of the Berlin Conference.” Encyclopedia of Historical Treaties and Alliances: From Ancient Times to the 1930s, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. 25 Jan. 2014. Popova, Maria. "Joseph Conrad on Writing and the Role of the Artist." Brain Pickings RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2014.
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