Little Catholic Belgium was worse than the Nazis

Cael

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As Vincent Brown pointed out in last weeks Sunday Business Post, John Redmond sent thousands of Irish men to their deaths to defend one of the worst criminal regimes in the history of the world. King Leopold 2 of Belgium turned the whole of the Congo region - an area as big as all Europe to Moscow, into one massive death camp. In the craze for rubber the Belgians would go into an African village, kidnap the women and force the men to go out serching for rubber before they could get their loved ones back. While in captivity the Belgian soldiers would gang rape the pretty young girls. Belgian soldiers forced African young men to kill or rape their own mothers and sisters. Villages which refused to co-operate were simply exterminated as a lesson to other villages. The black soldiers who were issued ammunition where forced to return one human hand as evidence that they used the bullets on killing Africans and not hunting game. Often, the soldiers would simply cut a hand off living people to make up for bullets. Its estimated that the Belgian terror took ten million lives. This is only a brief example of the catalog of horror. Joseph Conrad is thought to have based his Kurtz character on a head hunting Belgian officer called Léon Rom in the Congo. He liked to decorate his gardens with the heads of his African victims. Adam Hochschild fills over 300 pages of his book "King Leopold's Ghost" with a catalog of horror from the Belgian Congo.

All this was known, thanks to the work of Roger Casement, among others, at the time that John Redmond was peddling the lie that Irish people should give their lives to defend "Little Catholic Belgium." How sick that so many Irish peole died to defend what could never be defended. And how sick that some today try to present their wasted lives as something we should be proud of. The Irish soldiers of the British Army were victims of Imperialism, just as much as those ten million Africans butchered by Leopold 2 and his henchmen.
 


badinage

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Did Redmond want Belgium free so that it could continue to rule the Congo?

Did Irishmen join the British Army because they wanted the people of the Congo to suffer?

Did the actions of the Belgian government in the Congo vitiate the right of the people of Belgium to self-determination?
 

Cael

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badinage said:
Did Redmond want Belgium free so that it could continue to rule the Congo?

Did Irishmen join the British Army because they wanted the people of the Congo to suffer?

Did the actions of the Belgian government in the Congo vitiate the right of the people of Belgium to self-determination?

Would the Germans have treated the people of the Congo better or worse had they won the war and taken over Belgium's colonies?
Would you give your life to defend such horror?
 

Catalpa

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badinage said:
Did Redmond want Belgium free so that it could continue to rule the Congo?

Did Irishmen join the British Army because they wanted the people of the Congo to suffer?

Did the actions of the Belgian government in the Congo vitiate the right of the people of Belgium to self-determination?

Would the Germans have treated the people of the Congo better or worse had they won the war and taken over Belgium's colonies?
Did not the 2nd Reich rule over the neighbouring States of Rwanda and Burundi + Tanganiyka prior to WWI ?

I don't know how they fared in the first two but they managed to raise an effective force of locally recruited Askaris in the latter who proved to brave and loyal fighters on the side of Germany.
 

pogo

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Cael said:
Belgian soldiers forced African young men to kill or rape their own mothers and sisters.
Can you provide a rational explanation as to why they would have done this :?:
 

farnaby

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Leopold II ruled the Congo as a personal kingdom, not on behalf of the Belgian people. He died in 1909, unpopular/detested, after the horrors you mention were carried out, a year after this kingdom was taken from him by the Belgian parliament, and 5 years before WWI.

So Irish soldiers were not defending that particular despicable regime, nor are the Belgian people as a whole to be condemned as nazis. None of which denies the fact WWI was a war of imperialist nations, thus all tainted with evil from our perspective - but to link John Redmond to tolerating genocide in the Congo is stretching it.
 

Cael

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pogo said:
Cael said:
Belgian soldiers forced African young men to kill or rape their own mothers and sisters.
Can you provide a rational explanation as to why they would have done this :?:
No I cant. I think when people become so steeped in horror as the Belgians became in the Congo, then horror becomes a kind of pornography - each time you need something more horrific than the last.
 

Munion

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Cael one man does not represent a country. The Belgians hated Leopold II.

The Congo was that mad mans own private playground, a sick & twisted one at that.

Lizzy Windsor might be into a bit of kinky leather fetishism but that doesn't mean the entire population of the UK is into S&M!
 

Cael

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farnaby said:
Leopold II ruled the Congo as a personal kingdom, not on behalf of the Belgian people. He died in 1909, unpopular/detested, after the horrors you mention were carried out, a year after this kingdom was taken from him by the Belgian parliament, and 5 years before WWI.

So Irish soldiers were not defending that particular despicable regime, nor are the Belgian people as a whole to be condemned as nazis. None of which denies the fact WWI was a war of imperialist nations, thus all tainted with evil from our perspective - but to link John Redmond to tolerating genocide in the Congo is stretching it.
And the Belgians were still forcing villagers to collect rubber in 1948. It was a huge intrest free loan from the Belgian government which made Leopold's reign of terror possible in the first place. Leopold spent his ill gotten gains on blood drenched buildings and monuments littered all over Belgium. Many Belgian companies and individuals made their fortunes on African tears and blood. Im not saying that all Belgian individuals were murderers and torturers - but the Belgian state was up to its neck in the blood and severed limbs.
 

Pax

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badinage said:
Would the Germans have treated the people of the Congo better or worse had they won the war and taken over Belgium's colonies?
Who knows? Did anyone expect Hitler to emerge?

Redmonds intentions and the implications of them, in this regard, were as blind and inward looking as the rest of the 'World of Empire' that was Europe, as were most around the entire sick WWI milieau.

So while its incongrous its not unsurprising that the link to the Congo -or any of the other participants sick little adventures in hidden hot climates- failed to be obvious at the time. Afterall Casement probably had no Lancet...

It is obvious now of course in the periods pro-war recruitment advertising, and it's worth a mention by Browne as there's many modern day historians who want to wish away the down sides of empire.

Makes me think...I wonder what people will think of games such 'America’s Army' when the American empire goes the way of the Belgians?


Vincent Browne had an article on Casement and the Congo during the summer.
Another flawed brave hero

This reminds me of a truly harrowing documentary on what went on in the Congo, repeated on BBC4 recently titled "White King, Red Rubber, Black Death"*. I think it said the estimate of deaths could be as high as 30 million.
It's about time a 'Shindlers List' equivalent was made about this. The effects must ripple through to the present day.

*
King Leopold's legacy of DR Congo violence
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3516965.stm

"White King, Red Rubber, Black Death"
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0404551/
 

badinage

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Cael said:
badinage said:
Did Redmond want Belgium free so that it could continue to rule the Congo?
Did Irishmen join the British Army because they wanted the people of the Congo to suffer?
Did the actions of the Belgian government in the Congo vitiate the right of the people of Belgium to self-determination?
Would you give your life to defend such horror?
No I wouldn't. Do you think a single soldier died on the Western Front to defend such horror? I don't.
 

Cael

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badinage said:
Cael said:
badinage said:
Did Redmond want Belgium free so that it could continue to rule the Congo?
Did Irishmen join the British Army because they wanted the people of the Congo to suffer?
Did the actions of the Belgian government in the Congo vitiate the right of the people of Belgium to self-determination?
Would you give your life to defend such horror?
No I wouldn't. Do you think a single soldier died on the Western Front to defend such horror? I don't.
I think they died in ignorence and with ears full of lies. Redmond knew better. He was well aware of Casement's work.
 

badinage

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Cael said:
I think they died in ignorence and with ears full of lies. Redmond knew better. He was well aware of Casement's work.
And that's why he called for Irishmen to fight in the Great War? Because he wanted to ensure the Congo continued to be ruled by Belgium?

I don't believe you. I think he called for mass enlistment because he believed it would increase the chances of Home Rule for Ireland.
 

smiffy

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Cael, given the title of the thread you started, can you provide us with the specific basis you're using to argue that the Belgians in the Congo were 'worse' than the Nazis? Given that you haven't once referred to the Nazis in your posts on this thread, it's hard to see how you can justify this claim.
 

Marx

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smiffy said:
Cael, given the title of the thread you started, can you provide us with the specific basis you're using to argue that the Belgians in the Congo were 'worse' than the Nazis? Given that you haven't once referred to the Nazis in your posts on this thread, it's hard to see how you can justify this claim.
This is about WWI NOT WW2!

British, Belgian, German, French were all as bad as each other. Their imperial ambitions has wreaked havoc over Africa the legacy of which lasts to the present day. The British had the Boer War in South Africa with concentration camps etc. Belgians are responsible for the Hutu, Tutsis divide. France's invasion of Chad caused uproar in Paris for its brutality in 1900. There were as brutal as each other when it came Imperialism
 

badinage

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Marx said:
There were as brutal as each other when it came Imperialism
So you don't believe the Belgian Congo was any worse than the average colony on Africa? I was under the impression that the Belgian atrocities were a scandal even at the time - you think that was just anti-Belgian propaganda?
 

Pidge

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Cael said:
Would you give your life to defend such horror?
That's not really the point that Badinage is making.

If Ireland was committing such horrible crimes and a country invaded it for a reason other than that, would you want someone to defend Ireland?

(And don't try to dodge the issue with any "But Ireland is invaded..." stuff.)
 

Marx

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badinage said:
Marx said:
There were as brutal as each other when it came Imperialism
So you don't believe the Belgian Congo was any worse than the average colony on Africa? I was under the impression that the Belgian atrocities were a scandal even at the time - you think that was just anti-Belgian propaganda?
Leopold's Congo was horrific without a doubt, I am not defending the Belgians I am merely highlighting that the other major powers were capable of atrocities themselves
 

smiffy

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Marx said:
smiffy said:
Cael, given the title of the thread you started, can you provide us with the specific basis you're using to argue that the Belgians in the Congo were 'worse' than the Nazis? Given that you haven't once referred to the Nazis in your posts on this thread, it's hard to see how you can justify this claim.
This is about WWI NOT WW2!
Exclamation marks notwithstanding, what's the title of the thread?
 

Cael

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Pidge said:
Cael said:
Would you give your life to defend such horror?
That's not really the point that Badinage is making.

If Ireland was committing such horrible crimes and a country invaded it for a reason other than that, would you want someone to defend Ireland?

(And don't try to dodge the issue with any "But Ireland is invaded..." stuff.)
The Germans really didnt impose any reign of terror in Belguim that could be compared with the terror in the Congo. If the Irish wanted to liberate somebody, then they could have started with themselves, or failing that sailed to Africa and attacked the Brits, Germans, Belgians etc.

Basically, the Germans were just giving Belguim a taste of their own medicine - and a very watery taste at that - the Irish should have kept well out of it. As for believing that going off and getting killed or maimed for such a rotten cause, and thinking that your wasted life would somehow melt Britain's heart into giving us our basic rights - well, I can only say that that's one of the most pathetic of Irish jokes.
 


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