Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part One: King Leopold II: The First Modern Bastard

Part One: King Leopold II: The First Modern Bastard

Tue, 12 Jun 2018 10:00

Have you ever heard of King Leopold II? In Episode 7, Robert is joined by Andrew Ti (Yo, Is This Racist?) and they discuss the King of Belgium, who was the first world leader to be crappy in the true modern sense of the word. His life’s work was the blueprint for being the kind of terrible that we recognize in modern leaders like Dick Cheney or Vladimir Putin. He pioneered screwing over tens of millions of people for petty personal gain.

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My name is Alex Fumero and I host the new podcast more than a movie, American Me, a film directed by and starring Edward James Olmos. I'll be diving into the behind the scenes controversy, including an alleged backlash from the Mexican mafia. Several people who worked on the movie have been murdered. I don't want to speak about why would people be murdered for being in a movie. Listen to more than a movie, American me on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. My name is Lauren Ober, and in addition to being a charming podcast host, I am also a newly diagnosed autistic person. My new show, the loudest girl in the world, is all about my weird, winding path to diagnosis. My decision at age 42 to finally get evaluated for autism. Listen to the loudest girl in the world on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Peace to the planet. I go by the name of Charlemagne the God, and this summer I'm bringing my show back to Comedy Central with a new title and a new podcast. It's called hell of a week, but don't worry, every Friday I'll be keeping that same calling out the ******** energy, and I'll have some of the biggest names in comedy, politics and entertainment with me. So if the news is terrorizing your timeline and causing your anxiety to rise high in gas prices, don't worry, we got you. Listen the hell of a week with charlamagne the God on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcast. Hello, friends. And welcome back to behind the ******** the show where we tell you everything you don't know about the very worst people in history. On this show, we cover monsters like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Eric Prince, Will Wheaton, and today's topic, King Leopold. But before we get to King Leopold, I'd like to introduce my guest for the week, Andrew T, host of YO is this racist? And general man about town. Hello, Andrew. What's up? Well, today we're talking about a little Belgian dude named. Leopold, you've ever heard of King Leopold of Belgium? Not particularly King Leopold the 2nd, if that makes. Yeah, I feel like the closest I'm going to come is I feel like at some point I got a box of fancy chocolates that might have had a Leopold. Maybe not the bad Leopold. I assume. A good Leopold. This is not a good Leopold. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. So probably not this particular Leopold. Yeah. Leopold the second, was King of Belgium Once Upon a time, and he was, in my opinion, the first world leader to be truly ****** in the modern sense of the word. Ohh, snap. Like, like, like the kind of ****** that like Putin and Trump, right, right, right. So not right. We're discounting our Genghis Khans and yeah, yeah, yeah. Because Genghis Khan, like, did what he did, but he didn't have, like, a bunch of newspapers that he justified. He was just like, I'm going to conquer some **** right? Right, right. This is the transition from barbarian ******** into media ********. Exactly. And I think Leopold of Belgium is really where it happens in a modern, like, obviously other people had toyed with aspects of this, but he really nailed it. So King Leopold the 2nd's dad was obviously King Leopold the 1st, and he was the first King of Belgium. Is that obvious? Is that is it always like a like 1 piglets 2 or is it like a, uh, your grandfather was Leopold the 1st. I'm Gerald of Belgium, but you're going to be Leopold too. I think that's more how it happens most of the time. Not this time. This time, Leopold the first was like, this went so well, yeah, we're going to have it the 2nd going. So Leopold the first was like the again, the very first King of Belgium at all, because Belgium had just been made a thing in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. So during the whole fighting between Napoleon and everyone else in Europe, Belgium was generally the battleground where like the everyone would sort of Duke it out between the Germans and the French and the French and everybody else. Yeah, Waterloo is in Belgium. So after Napoleon's **** gets kicked, the European. Powers who win are like, OK, we can't have France and Germany fighting over Belgium for. Yeah, we're going to make it its own thing. Yeah. And since it was going to be a new country, obviously it needed a king. Yeah. So they pulled the first gather job because he was a German Prince who didn't have a Kingdom of his own. So he was just like split off, right. This is like, we're going to give Megan Markle whales or whatever don't. Part of Wales. Part of Wales. Yeah, it's that exactly that sort of. They actually. Get him out to be King of Greece first. But he didn't, like, didn't fit for whatever. Yeah. Why? That's an option. We're going to find you with something, buddy. Don't worry, Leopold. Oh my God. We're going to put you in a Kingdom. Greece isn't the right one. Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course you try Starter Kingdom. Everyone has a Kingdom to start. Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah. Greece was his unsold pilot. Yeah. And he he was, by all accounts, a pretty good king of Belgium, if you're into that sort of thing. Falls waffles and chocolate chocolate. Getting beer, I guess, by the German beer, yeah, great beer. Getting jammed by the germs. Great beer. Great at getting jammed by the Germans. That's Belgium in a nutshell. But yeah, he was a good king while he was king. Midway through his reign in 1848, there was like this big year of revolutions all across Europe, and all these European countries had their monarchs overthrown except for Belgium. So the Christian spring we call that. The white white man's spring. That's the last 300 years. What a time. What a time for the whites. Give it up for the whites. Yeah. So Leopold the first solid king. I've got 2 main sources for today's podcast which I should note now. The 1st is a biography called Leopold, the second King of Belgium. It's a pro monarchist book that was written in 1910. Great. The article is critical about of Leopold sometimes, but he thinks he was like a great king and he thinks kings are a good idea. Yeah. So it's an interesting book because it gives you an idea of how Leopold himself would sort of present himself and defend himself and let you know what the propaganda at the time was. Well and also right. Just critical enough to be. Legitimate? Well, no, no, it's totally. I guess for the time it wasn't bad. You you put it in just the the faintest of criticism to give the exact of it more than you know. Yeah. This is a real investigation. Yeah. It's like the monarchs equivalent of one of those, like, celebrity biographies, items out of Ben Affleck or whatever. Yeah. Yeah. Geraldo interview of books. Exactly. Exactly. And then the other book is a book called King Leopold's ghost by Adam Hochschild, which takes the stance that Leopold was one of history's great monsters anyway. So these are, these are most of what I come from. A sort of. The contrasting views that these two books presents. You read two books for a podcast out of your mind. Dying. There's a lot to dig into here. Oh, and there's not a lot. You're making me feel real bad. I'm like, usually good for half a Wikipedia article. Holy ****. Well, this is at least the equivalent of like 4 Wikipedia articles, so buckle up. Geez, go ahead. All right, so Leopold, the second mom, Louise was almost a love match, is the term the book uses for his dad, the king. And it says this because the king was already in love with her before they got married. She? So they're nice that makes it a love match so nice. He liked her when she was 14, yeah, so with love. The 1800s were hell of it. And she had the right land. I assume she had some nice land I'm related to the right enemies she was with, I think, from the oily own family. So she was like, she had some solid *** royal pedigree. You know, you get some German from King Leopold the first, you get a little bit of French from his wife, and then their baby is sort of a mix. So maybe Germany and France won't fight over Belgium and. Oh, wow. What a brave. Yeah. Yeah. So Leopold the second was born. Leopold Louis Philippe, Marie. Victor. And he was his parent, second child. His older brother died 11 months before he was born. So if you think about that timeline a lot, it's not very fun because Leopold's older brother is born. He dies. 11 months later, they pop out another son. Yeah. Immediately. Immediately. Not a lot of morning time. Yeah. Or maybe they just kind of, you know, **** the pain away. But yeah, yeah, that's probably what happened. The optimistic look. Yeah. All right. So at age 5, Leopold's father declared him Duke of Brabant, which is how he was addressed right up until his coronation. He's had 585. Yeah. Yeah, you can. You're enough to be a Duke at age 5. And he looks, he looks like, he looks like he should be ruling people in this. What, a Pretty Little Duke. We'll have the pictures up on our website. He has no chin and a kind of a lopsided face, but maybe that's just the painting looks a little bit. Like a ghost, like a human ghost. It looks like the painting of a ghost that you find in the basement of an old house. And then, like, there's a rush of wind and the camera falls over and like, yeah, your friend gets mauled by a spirit. Yeah. And that's this guy's selfie, essentially. That's this guy's like, this is the image we want to put out into the world. Yeah. This was like, hanging in palaces and tight. So he looks like a creeper from Dale Little Spooky Boy, but he's still a baby. The biography notes that Leopold and his siblings were brought up in quote the simplest manner and taught to behave as if they were. His siblings were brought up and quote the simplest manner and taught to behave as if they were normal citizens rather than royalty. That sounds great until you get to the next part. Quote The King further expressed the wish to develop in the children the sentiment of duty and not to allow them to have an opinion of their own with regard to their duties and their studies. Basically, the king was trying to crush the individuality of his kids so that they would just fit the role of King. That's kind of, yeah, good actually, is it is that, well, what else are you going to do? Because I got to do this dumb job. Well, I mean, you could try to make them be healthy, fully formed people. Yeah, but why then they got to be king. Yeah, well, OK, that's fair. I mean, you're taking Leopold the first side. Yeah, well, he's the good one again. I'm probably his chocolate. No, but right. Isn't that the the He's he's he's just as trapped as everyone else, you know? Yes. So if he's got to do this thing, you might as well make it so he can do this thing. OK, so you're expressing some motivation maybe to why you would do this? Why you would do what? He winds up. And you don't even know what he winds up doing, does he do? Yeah. What did I just defend? Let me just say right now, whatever he does, I stand behind it. Well, he kills about 10 to 15 million people. Yeah, it's fine. OK. Well. What's that? So when Leopold is 15, his mom dies of some illness or another. It's one of those things where the writers at the time aren't specific. They're just like she took ill and was sick for like, and then she and then she dies. Like, yeah, it's probably diphtheria or some weird named disease. Yeah, if it was, the flu would be a big deal, I guess. I mean, it's probably is a flu like that killed everybody back then. Yeah. In King Leopold's ghost, Adam Hochschild describes Leopold's childhood as being kind of stark and cold. Quote, if Leopold wanted to see his father, he had to apply for an audience. When the father had something to tell the son, he communicated it through one of his secretaries. I mean, look, this is not just 18th century Arrested Development. Yeah. Nice, yeah, yeah, that's kind of kind of what's going on. Like, he definitely has a Buster Bluth vibe to him again. Especially once you see this ******* painting, you'll get it. Audience. The biography that was written at the time says that it is worthy of note that the late King never had any comrades or playmates. His childhood was passed among his teachers and tutors, and the disciplinarian father made even more the relationship with his brother and sister. A very formal 1 frank, childish Gaiety and brotherly expansion and confidence were banished the Princess. Thoughts thus became concentrated upon himself and his natural activity and vitality, his exuberant strength, were expended on work and study. Tight. Yeah, about it. No friends does nothing but work. He is a Duke. Yeah. I mean, he's already achieved a lot. And he is kind of a boss baby. Yeah. Just throwing that out there. So he he he grows up. He serves in the Belgian military. He apparently does OK. By his early 20s, Leopold becomes an influential figure in Belgian politics. You know, he's the Crown Prince. Everyone is going to wind up being influential. Yeah. And he kind of looks a little like Adam Driver. He yeah, he looks here. He looks like a anime Adam driver yeah, yeah, that's who you would cast as anime Adam Driver. Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the movie. So. Like many rich young people, he traveled far and wide. In his early 20s, he went all throughout the Middle East, North Africa, parts of Asia. But he was not traveling for his enjoyment. It was basically traveling. The biography says it's like a commercial employee. So he was essentially looking for financial opportunities for Belgium because this is the period when all of Europe is colonizing the entire world. Yeah, Belgian doesn't have a colony, so he's traveling all around the Middle East and Asia, basically being like, what can we lose? Yeah, whose land? Can we take. Yeah. Yeah. What can we get does this hop ahead to the Congo? Oh yes. Oh nice. Yeah. That's where we're headed. Tight. OK how do I know that tiny bit of history. It's one of those things that drops in every now and then you'll hear like, Oh yeah the Belgians did something bad in the Congo but you don't ever get, I don't know any details story. In fact, I probably know more plot points from Michael Crichton's the Congo than the than realities the Congo. Yes. I mean there's unconfirmed reports that he he tried to find the lost city of Zenge, but no. Alright, great movie. Is that what they were doing there? Yeah, they're trying to find diamonds. That a monkey. There was a monkey city. Yeah, find diamonds and the monkeys were evil. Yeah. Yeah. That's more what I remember. Solid, to be honest. Really solid. Yeah. Yeah, there's a laser. There is a laser. There's definitely a laser in that movie. Man, what a weird. It's a ride. We're still watching this ********. I can't believe Westworld. OK, so Prince Leopold, one of his favorite books as he's a young man studying trying to find a new colony for Belgium, is a book about the Dutch E Indies called Java how to manage a colony. Yeah. Why would you. Oh my God. I mean, I guess that's what you have to tell people your favorite book is. But yeah, that's. Well, no, I mean because so the book is all about how the Dutch colonized the island of Java and how they got a **** load of coffee and sugar and like dyes and tobacco. And it it made basically made so much money that they were able to buy a bunch of railroads and canals back in Holland. So, like the book is all about that. So. So it it outlines sort of how they were able to monetize. Java so well and like it talks about how the king basically brought in a bunch of private companies and became a major shareholder in those companies. And it was the company's job to farm the land and to produce the resources and export them to Belgium. So the king didn't have to send Dutch government workers over to do anything. The king just said, I own Java. Corporations come in, give me a stake in your profits and do whatever you want. I think it's just cool to have political leaders also own corporations. That has never been a problem and never will be. Problem? No, it seems to always work out great. It seems to work out great 100% of the time. The book also did note that the Dutch profits in Java would have been impossible without a huge amount of forced labor. And young Prince Leopold agreed with this and said that forced labor was, quote, the only way to civilize and uplift these indolent and corrupt peoples of the Far East. Yeah, yeah, he ain't wrong. Go ahead. What else? What else you got? Thought you said this guy was bad. All right, so late in his dukedom, you know? Years before he becomes King, Leopold gets him in front of Belgium Senate and he urges them to take up foreign colonies. So they got a king and a Senate. Yeah, yeah, that works. So basically, the King of Belgium is kind of a ceremonial figure he's got. He's got more power than like the Queen and England has today heading towards, but it's heading towards that. There's no formal power, lots of soft power, lots of soft power and a little bit of formal power. But you can't do things as the king, like just make colonies, right? You can't do things. Of the king likes in the army places, yeah, yeah, and so Leopold's dad seems to be OK with that. But Leopold the second, is growing up chopping at the bent to do **** and doesn't want to become a monarch who just waves at the crowd. So he gets up in front of the Senate and he says, quote, I am profoundly convinced of our vast resources and I passionately wish that my beautiful country would show the necessary pluck to derive all the benefit which, in my opinion, it can derive. I think that the moment for our expansion abroad has arrived. We must not lose time, otherwise the best positions and markets, which are becoming more rare every day, will be occupied by nations more enterprising than ourselves. And when he talks about positions in markets, he's talking about whole countries and stuff. Millions of people. It's more chilling in the original. Flemish, yeah, Flemish, yes. Yeah, he nailed it. Although he probably would have been speaking just French. Yeah, all right. So Flemish, well you can say, you can say Walloon if you want. I'm getting what is that? That's the other group of people there's Belgium is made-up of Flemish people and Walloons lunatics, of course, Band-Aid on their face, we got it. It's a rough name to grow into the world stage taking on. Well, you know, you gotta get and you get enough rifles, get enough cutlasses. Everything starts to make sense. I don't feel like it does. I feel like Germany was so fierce in part because German is like, that's like an yeah, name. Like, the Germans are coming. Like, imagine if if the name got switched and the Belgians were called the Germans and, like, the Nazis had tried to invade and everyone was like, oh, the Walloons are invading. Yeah. That's not going to go. Yeah. Yeah. Well, listen, let's boot up. Risk game. We'll figure it out. Right. So yeah, uh, Leopold the first. Leopold, the 2nd's dad died in December of 1865, the same year the American Civil War ended. Leopold is now the king and 30 years old. This appears to be the point when he decided to grow a gigantic mountain man beard tight, which he would maintain for the rest of his day. Needed a yeah, well, there's a lot of pictures of Leopold with a beard. We'll post them on the site. Some of them look uncomfortably like me, and some of them are clear missteps in the beard growing process where he's got. Like gigantic mutton chops. And it's he looks like a ******* hair octopus style of the time. Yeah, he he went through some rough patches in his sartorial history, for sure. That's pretty. That's not an easy kind of thing we're looking at. Yeah, that's a rough picture. Dumb shot, and almost. He's almost wearing bell bottoms in that picture. It's the 60s. It is the 1860s. Boom. All right. So yeah, leopolds the King of Belgium. He's super frustrated because the king doesn't have that much in the way of power. Leopold takes to sort of mocking the the restrained role that he has in Belgian politics. There's a story of, like, this guy who came to visit him because, like, you know, the kings got a visit with like, his donors and benefactors and whatnot. And this guy complains about the poor state of the roads around his property. And Leopold interrupts him and says, I have no authority to change the roads. You ought to address yourself to the press, especially to the small papers. Municipality in the government will do anything they ask. So he was like, he was like making the point of them frustrated that, like, I can't do anything, so I'm just kind of like take it to the press. The King's not allowed to do anything. He sort of set to work, making himself into kind of an image. For the Belgian people. He was the aristocratic equivalent of an alpha male. He spent a lot of time doing science work and and and, you know, supporting the Arts and Sciences, 19th century sciences, just like beakers of lead. And she's pouring colored water into beakers. He's got goggles on, you know, you know how the hell goes. Yeah, there's a quote from his biography that says he used to sleep in a camp bed, so like a military cot, and had a general horror. Of everything that could innovate or render him effeminate. So he's kind of like a he's a he's a proud boy. Boy, yeah. That's what they call people who aren't racist. Soy boys. Is that right? Yeah. Because eating soy feminizes you again. Yeah. That's what the that's the alt right thing. OK, well, at least we know that they have a a nice historical antecedent. Leopold would have been all about that stuff. So he's he's growing a giant weird beard, he's sleeping in a palace in a military cot. He's scared of girls. He hates spending money. His biography says. Quote, his pocket handkerchief was only renewed on Sunday mornings when going to mass, and on no account would he take another in the interval. If his valets changed his towels more than once a week, they were sure to receive a good scolding from His Majesty. So he's like a gross miser. Yeah. Don't clean those dells. Which one of those wasn't one of the alt right guys living in their mom's basement? I think most of them are definitely one. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That guy. Yeah, the the pickup artist guy that was found living in his mom's basement, literally living in his basement. That's what this guy was. Leopold was missing. Yeah. Yeah, I guess the beard. The beard. Experiment clearly on that vector. His mom died young. So he became a king. Yeah. Yeah. Instead. Called Peacocking everyone, I attract women Kingdom. Yeah, I mean, having a castle is pretty solid peacocking. That's true. Yeah, undeniable. Pulled the second was noted in his biography as the first King to treat his kingship as a corporate endeavor. His primary concern was making money not for Belgium but for himself is all about the bottom line. So there's like when you talk about dictators and warlords and terrorists, there's like a tendency to call them psychopaths and sociopaths. Yeah, sociopath is like an actual medical diagnosis. And I don't think guys like Hitler or Stalin really fit it because they all had histories of like warm family life and like people who cared about them and people that they like sacrificed for. At times, Leopold might have been a straight up like level monster because that's that's what they say. Right is like so many CEO's and Fortune 500. Whatever the ****. Yeah, corporate leaders, yeah. Psychopathic traits, yeah. Even his positive biography says that while he was charming, he was, quote, devoid of enthusiasm and set himself and was quite incapable of arousing any and others. So he just can't actually touch people's heart. And yeah, you can't motivate people. Umm, so yeah, we're going to get more into the soulless Leopold the second, his scheme to find a colony, and the colony that he eventually founds. But first, we've got some ads. Of course, we all realize it's a pro corporate podcast, so let's keep it real. Here's some buying advice. So by now we imagine that you've seen the theories on Tik T.O.K. You maybe even heard the rumors from your friends and loved ones. But are any of the stories about government conspiracies and cover ups actually true? The answer is surprisingly or unsurprisingly, yes. For more than a decade, we hear at stuff they don't want you to know have been seeking answers to these questions. Sometimes there are answers that people would rather us not explore. Now we're sharing. This research with you for the first time ever in a book format you can pre-order stuff they don't want you to know now. It's the new book from us, the creators of the podcast and video series. You can turn back now or read the stuff they don't want you to know. Available for pre-order now, it's stuff you should read or wherever you find your favorite books. In the 1980s and 90s, a psychopath terrorized the country of Belgium. A serial killer and kidnapper was abducting children in the bright light of day. His unspeakable crimes and the incompetence or unwillingness of the police to stop him brought the entire country of Belgium to the brink of revolution. From Tenderfoot TV in iHeartRadio this is la Monstra. A story of abomination and conspiracy that led to the demise of the entire institution of Belgian federal police and rattled the foundations of its government. A story about the man who simply become known as La Monster. Listen for free on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. What's up you guys? It's your girl Betty who here? And you know this about me. It has always been very important to me to stand out and be authentically me, not only with my music, but my style and my vibe. And JBL really gets that. They know your headphones and speakers should look as original as the music you're listening to, or in my case, making. That's why I'm obsessed with my JBL headphones and speakers that help me reflect who I really am, from true wireless headphones to pulsing party boxes. Ohh yeah, party boxes guys. JBL has a wide and colourful range of products that help me feel myself when I wanna vibe my way. I literally record this entire podcast on my favorite JBL headphones. They are absolutely incredible. So JBL wants us all to listen on our terms living in the moment. Our moment unfiltered. The JBL podcast at And we're back. We're back. We're talking about King Leopold, who is searching for a little colony somewhere in the world to fill that hole in his heart. The Deuce, of course. Yeah. Leopold the deuce. Leopold 2 electric boogaloo. Whenever you want to call him. We were just talking about what a soulless, sociopathic creepy is. Allegedly. Yeah, allegedly. Well, here's another quote again, this is from, like, a positive Prolia biography that he probably paid for. He disliked music. Hunting tobacco and had no taste for physical exercises except walking. Although a frequent visitor at Austin, which is like one of his palaces, he never learned to swim. He was seen yawning at a gala performance of Faust. So he doesn't like plays, he doesn't like art, he does. He hates music. Like that's a thing. Any book you read about and anyone who knew him, he hated music. Like, not like he hated popular music, but music itself was offensive to him. So that's a fascinating. Well, that's cutting into the. American Psycho narrative, yeah, unfortunately, yeah, a little bit, yeah. He's he's a weird guy. He's very vain, but his main vanity was quite odd. He thought he had the most beautiful hands in all of Europe type his biography, what his biography notes. Another of Leopold's hobbies was his dislike for gloves. And although he often wore uniform, he is never reported to have put on gloves. It may have been a hatred of restraint, but more probably it was a pardonable vanity on the part of the late. Thing for he possessed the shapely and beautiful hand of the Oreon family that rules so hard. Here's the only picture I could find. No, no. He's holding the gloves in his hand, so his hand is not even stronger, actually. Like reminding people you could be wearing gloves. I'm the master of the and his. I mean, in fairness to him, his hands are beautiful in this picture. I mean, they're just just look at the bone definition. Yeah, they're they are shapely. They're good *** hands. Yeah, they're good *** hands. Oh, man. So that means that he made some painter do multiple drafts on those hands. That's like, this is like our, isn't it? Wait, rested development where the guy has a fake hand. He's always thought. He always thought you were the guy, the lawyer, and always sunny always has fake hands. And then there's some things to be said about our president and hands. It's weird. It's it's it's weird that you would even, like. I never think about my hands like how they look like when I'm thinking about someone taking a picture of me. Like, 0% of the time I'm like, Oh my God, my hand. Do they look shapely? Do you know what's crazy is I had to send a picture. Of a piece of equipment for this job I'm on to a technical person and I just took a picture of my phone and sent it to them and I realized as I was sending the e-mail I was like, my hands look ****** ** in this. I'm having a real low hand self-esteem day. Oh, I think you have the shapely hands of the Orlean family. No, you're being really nice right now. But it's actually a little hilarious that the one day possibly in my life that I've noticed my hands, like, these are horrible. Like, what the **** is up with my hands? Only these were feet. Yeah, I've been an ARM model before. My friend was doing some, not like you know, elbows down. I was doing was doing some stock photography and was like, I want to take pictures of your. Arms. And it was like you're whiling out. So you know what? I'm good. I'm good. Wrist to elbow. Wrist to elbow. Yeah, I got. I got forearm, my forearms, arm. I'm bout it. Well, Leopold was a handman, so we've got this frustrated, greedy, gorgeous handed king on the throne of Belgium. He keeps trying to get his countrymen to jump on board the having a colony train, but the people of Belgium expressed 0 interest in this. Oh, OK. Wait, why? What do you mean? All right, because obviously all European. Colonial. It's pretty much the root of almost everything that's wrong in the world right now. But, but I don't understand why they, I mean, they certainly didn't, I'm going to guess, not want to do it for the reasons why I don't think they should have done it. I think the Belgians, for one thing, so the Belgians of this era, anyone who's like a mature adult lived through what was at that point the equivalent of World War 2, the Napoleonic War was like, we just don't want any trouble. Like we just want to stay in Belgium and eat chocolate and drink beer we don't really want to go to. Africa? Yeah. Or Asia. And I see the first of die, not the first. Can I say continue an incredibly list. Long list of ignorant ***. **** I'm about to say. You do you Belgium. Landlocked? No, no, it has a Antwerp. Antwerp, that's right. OK. Yeah, yeah. OK. It's it's a wheel little country. You can drive across it in a couple of hours. Yeah. OK. I was just like. OK, yeah, I was just like, it's funny to imagine a landlocked country ownings and stuff, but of course they can. Who gives a ****? They're not landlocked, so **** me. Yeah, no, they're not. They didn't have a colony at this point, and they seem to have zero interest in in having one now. At the same time. From 1874 to 1877, when Leopold's like a decade or so into his kinghood, there's this explorer named Henry Morton Stanley. And yeah, from 74 to 77, he completes a 7000 mile expedition across central Africa. Much of his travel centered upon the still undiscovered by like, white people Congo. No one had like mapped the extent of the Congo River. We didn't know where it like originated from at this point. So and and at this time in European history, like different explorers mapping Africa are kind of like the Marvel Movie franchise of the day. Yeah, like each of these guys is world famous. And like, newspapers breathlessly cover every expedition and whenever they finish an expedition, they write a book and millions of people buy it. So automatically profitable. Exactly. This is like the thing people care about at this point in time. It's like what these explorers are doing all in Africa and all over the world. Like that just means if I were alive then and a white person too big. I would be, like, struggling to get on one of the good expeditions. Yeah. You really, you really like, fingers crossed. It's not one of the ones where people eat each other. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Which statistically a lot of them are. Yeah. So Stanley maps like a huge chunk of the Congo, more than anyone had ever done before. And it's like big news. He gets back to Europe from Africa and he goes on tour. He's doing, like, speaking engagements. He's a big celebrity. I feel like there's a lot of, like, skulls and calipers and a talk like this. And probably buckets of racism. Yeah, like, like, totally unexamined racism. Why? Look, don't look. If you don't look, it's not there. Yeah, that's the racist motto. So he's he's touring around and King Leopold winds up meeting with him. Stanley had been bullish on the idea that the Congo would be a great place for a colony, and he wanted the British to set up a colony there. You want to go to the the best colonizing studio first? Yeah, exactly. That's like the the is paramount. Good? Probably not. I don't know anything about Warner Brothers. We all live in the Disney. Disney, Britain's, the Disney of colonizing. And and instead he goes to, I don't know who's making DC's garbage movies? Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers. OK, so Leopold's Warner Brothers. They're not even in it. Leopold is like, this has gotten very confusing. Leopold is like a Snapchat making stuff like technically they got the OR YouTube, like it's a YouTube show. Yeah, you know, like they got the money. Let's actually tell no history for it, but who knows? I feel like we actually hit upon the right thing to compare him to, which is Amazon. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So Stanley tries to sell his Congo idea to Disney Slash Britain and it fails. And King Leopold, AKA Amazons like, well, we might be interested in this plan. Yeah, we'll fund this. Why don't you, why don't you give me your elevator pitch? Colony in the Congo, huh? I like it. I like this idea. Yeah. So Leopold contract Stanley to work for him, and he sends him back to Africa with a new mission. So Leopold's master plan here. I'm going to peel back for a minute, and we're going to zoom into the different pieces. It's a complicated asplan. His master plan is to create the Congo Free State, which is a supposedly independent African nation that just happened to also be ruled by King Leopold the 2nd. So. He went about doing this in a few ways. In 1876, he hosted the Brussels Geographic Conference, where he invited a bunch of European experts to form the so-called International African Association, which of course had no Africans as Members. Association was a supposedly philanthropic organization. I'm going to read you a selection from Leopold's speech at the conference, where he sort of lays out what he wants to do. The subject that calls us together today is one that demands a first place in the attention of friends of humanity to open up to civilization. The only part of our globe where she has not yet penetrated to Pierce the darkness that envelops entire populations is, I may venture to say, a crusade worthy of this century of progress, and I am glad to observe how very favorable public feeling is to its accomplishment. The current is with us. So he gets this association together and he says this is an international group and we're trying to civilize Africa and improve lives of people who are there. I didn't realize that back then. The rhetoric was already like the kind of like, oh, this is this is to help them double speak. I actually just assumed they were like, yeah, we're going to take this **** from black people. No, they they are. And these guys, the people that he invites to the, the geographic conference and forms the International African Association with. These guys are a lot of people who legitimately want to make things better for Africans who aren't even thinking about making. Yeah. Yeah. These are the well meaning liberal white people. Yeah, exactly. And like missionaries who are like, well meaning liberal white people because there's an Arab slave trade in Africa, like traders moving through the Congo. And the abolition movement is very big at this point in time. And so these people are being like, we've got to stop the slave trade in Africa. So Leopold's like, we can do that. And there's a bunch of people, like, we've got to Christianize the Africans and Leopold, like, we can do that and. Like that. So that's that's what he's claiming, this association. OK, so this is right. This is like definitely like colonialism, 2.0 or 3.0. He's steps ahead of everyone. Yeah. Yeah. He's not even framing this as colonialism. He's framing this as a charitable endeavor to. Right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So he suggests that Belgium would be a great place for this new international body to meet because it's a neutral country and it's centrally located in Europe. And then he suggests that he might be a good person to run the association just for its first year, got hit yourself, you know, you gotta be cut for its first year. And he assures them all that he's doing this from the goodness of his heart. He says Belgium is small. She is happy and satisfied with her lot. I have no other ambition than to serve her well. And it was true that Belgians were pretty happy with their lot. But Leopold did have some ambitions. So he gets elected ahead of the International African Association the first year, and then he gets elected the head of it the second year. Too, even though that was supposed to be illegal. back-to-back and then the association kind of stops existing, and Leopold replaces it with the Committee for Studies of the UPPER Congo, and then he replaces that with the International Association for the Congo. On paper, these are all different international philanthropic groups. Their names were deliberately forgettable and similar, so the public would assume they were all the same thing. In King Leopold's ghost, Adam Hochschild writes that Leopold directly told his aides quote care must be taken not to let it be obvious that the association of the Congo and the. African Association are two different things. The public doesn't grasp that. So in reality, all of these philanthropic groups are shadow fronts for Leopold's plan to conquer the Congo. So they're all charity organizations that he gets international aid money getting sent into, and he's able to pour Belgian government funds into as loans and donations, just like Hillary Clinton. Exactly like Hillary Clinton. Yes. You've watched the documentary Clinton Cash by Dinesh D'souza, yes. The thing that's amazing about this is it's so complicated. A plan that doesn't feel like, I mean, I, you know, I'm a super smart person. Of course, I'm not finding a place where you could improvise your way into this. You just gotta wait because we're not even halfway through the. He is a legitimate, like, OK, so the villain that Marvel keeps trying to write and like, failing to write my opinion, where it's like the Loki character, where they're he's got all these plans within plans. He's a step ahead. Leopold actually was that guy to the whole world, but in sort of the same villainous way. You're like, this is insane. There's so many things that could go wrong in this. So he's now created three different philanthropic associations just because, like, the backers will start realizing that the association's fake and they'll pull their money, but he'll keep. The organizational ever whole role its assets into a new organization and nobody who got caught who realized that this was some weird show company wants to admit that they got caught so they just don't say anything and the public just hears like oh it's the the new thing is out the International African Association. It's that group of people trying to make life better in Africa. Right. So he all these groups are basically funneling money into the work of Henry Morton Stanley that explorer who Leopold sent back to Africa so. Leopold sent him back in 1879 and his job was to start building, using the association Money, a series of stations along the Congo River to act as like waypoints for Steamboat traffic. He also met with hundreds of local chiefs all throughout the Congo, all the different people who had chunks of land throughout the Congo, the different villages and chiefs, hundreds and hundreds of them. He meets with these guys and he gets them to sign treaties giving up their rights to the land. Here's a quote from Hauschild's book The Very Word Treaty is a euphemism for many chiefs had no idea what they were. Meaning, if you had ever seen the written word before and they were being asked to mark their existence documents in a foreign language and in legalese. These guys weren't ignorant of the concept of diplomacy. They knew what it meant to write treaties of friendship with neighboring tribes or villages. They understood the idea of a non aggression pact and that's what they thought these were. The reality was somewhat different quote in return for one piece of cloth per month to each of the undersigned Chiefs, besides present of cloth and hand, they promised to freely of their own accord for themselves and their heirs and successors. Forever give up to set association, the sovereignty and all sovereign and governing rights to all their territories. So basically, he gives them cloth. They think that they're getting some sick *** clothes just for like, aggression pact. Like, this is this is a thing. Here's our everyone gets a jersey, you give us shirts, we promise we won't shoot you. We don't want to shoot you anyway. That sounds great. In reality, these are all statements saying that they give up their rights to the International African Association, and the Association will have the right to collect taxes on the people who gave up their rights to their land and those taxes because there's no currency in most of the Congo. Those taxes can be paid in labor. So Leopold gets hundreds of chiefs from Stanley to sign these agreements. Yeah, Jesus. So Europe thinks Stanley's over there doing valuable philanthropic work, fighting with the slave traders, and trying to open the Congo up to free trade. That's the big buzzword everyone's using. It's like we're going to open the Congo up to free trade and it'll benefit the Africans, it'll benefit Europe. Everyone will benefit if there's free trade in the Congo. Meanwhile, what he's actually doing is getting pieces of paper that give Leopold the rights to the Congo, that make it look like all these chiefs have come together and said we want this guy to be our king and we want to be a country. So I feel like I should break for just a second and talk a little bit more about Henry Morton Stanley, who's the guy who's actually doing all this legwork. He was one of the greatest explorers in history, and he was also a human garbage fire sort of a Darth Vader. Definitely a Darth Vader. He was terrified by the thought of being touched by a woman, just like Darth Vader. He once cut off his own dog's tail, cooked it, and feed it to the dog for no real reason. And he basically, when I say he was an explorer, he shot his way through Africa. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Here's a quote from a description of one of Stanley's expeditions in King Leopold's ghost. To those unfortunate enough to live in its path, the expedition felt like an invading army, for it sometimes held women and children hostage until local chiefs supplied food. So, yeah, he he's shooting his way through these tribes, taking their food, taking their **** burning down villages if there's any resistance. One of his men. Describe just hunting people like the predator. Like laying in wait and just shooting random strangers. Yeah. Like less ethical than the predator who has a certain code. Yeah. Yeah. Way less ethical than the predator. So these guys are predatory in their way through through Africa, but they're not particularly worse than any other explorer of the time. I would. He's one of the worst. They vary. So Henry Morton Stanley, you know, the doctor. Livingston, I presume that he's that guy and doctor. Livingston was apparently a pretty nice guy. He was also an explorer and actually would like get to know people and like and cocaine himself into the local culture. So some of these guys are legitimately just in it for the sake of exploration, and they're scientists and they're good to the people they encounter. And some of them, like Stanley, just want to make a **** load of money and they're creepy, violent weirdos. And Stanley is one of the kills thousands of people while he's exploring. Got it, got it. I just want to I guess what I meant. Not as a mitigating thing of like, everyone was doing it, but. Like, if not the only standard practice, it was not. What you're describing is not, not standard. It's definitely common practice on a lot of these guys, but he's not nearly the only one, but he's one of the worst. Yeah, for sure, OK. So yeah, while Stanley's expedition is going on, Leopold also hires a bunch of other expeditions to explore their parts of Africa. These were deliberately showy expeditions meant to distract public attention. One of them involved a team of four Indian elephants being sent to Africa to see if they could breed with African elephants. All of the elephants died horribly, but the news covered the story the whole time, so nobody's reading about what Stanley's doing because they think it's a boring, philanthropical mission. And there's this crazy story about elephants. Let's read about that. So *******. Easily shift. So he's clearly understands the media well enough that he's not just thinking about how to accomplish his plan, but how to distract public attention while he does it. When Morton Stanley gets back from his expedition, he writes a book. It's an instant bestseller. King Leopold edits it himself. That's one of the things he insisted on, is that Stanley could write a book about this, but King Leopold would get to edit it. And most of what he did was correct. The times when Stanley mixed up the different associations and committees that he was. Supposedly working for because nobody could keep it straight. But Leopold, that's such an attention to detail that's unbelievable. Like I said, he's the first modern, truly modern *******. So this book is sort of framed as, like, Henry Morton Stanley is helping the the Congo Free State be born and helping these these Africans, like, take their stab at nationhood and joining the international community and whatnot. So that's how all this is being played on the outside world. The reality in the Congo is very different. And what happens next is not what anyone but Leopold had expected. And we're going to get into that in a minute. But right now, Andrew, do you have too much money? Oh, hell yeah. Well, one of the great things to do with too much money is spend it on products. Products like the ones that I'm going to talk about now. Here's ads. So by now we imagine that you've seen the theories on Tik T.O.K. You maybe even heard the rumors from your friends and loved ones. But are any of the stories about government conspiracies and cover ups actually true? The answer is surprisingly or unsurprisingly, yes. For more than a decade, we hear at stuff they don't want you to know have been seeking answers to these questions. Sometimes there are answers that people would rather us not explore. Now we're sharing this research. With you for the first time ever in a book format, you can pre-order stuff they don't want you to know now. It's the new book from us, the creators of the podcast and video series. You can turn back now or read the stuff they don't want you to know. Available for pre-order now, it's stuff you should read or wherever you find your favorite books. In the 1980s and 90s, a psychopath terrorized the country of Belgium. A serial killer and kidnapper was abducting children in the bright light of day. His unspeakable crimes and the incompetence or unwillingness of the police to stop him brought the entire country of Belgium to the brink of revolution. Just December. From Tenderfoot TV and iHeartRadio this is la Monstra. A story of abomination and conspiracy that led to the demise of the entire institution of Belgian federal police and rattled the foundations of its government. The story about the man who's simply become known as. Lamaster. Listen for free on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. What's up you guys? It's your girl Betty who here? And you know this about me. It has always been very important to me to stand out and be authentically me, not only with my music, but my style and my vibe. And JBL really gets that. They know your headphones and speakers should look as original as the music you're listening to, or in my case, making. That's why I'm obsessed with my JBL headphones and speakers that help me reflect who I really am, from true wireless headphones to pulsing party boxes. Ohh yeah, party boxes guys. JBL has a wide and colourful range of products that help me feel myself when I wanna vibe my way. I literally record this entire podcast on my favorite JBL headphones. They are absolutely incredible. So JBL wants us all to listen on our terms living in the moment. Our moment unfiltered. The JBL podcast at So we're back, and King Leopold has sent an explorer off to the Congo to trick a bunch of tribes people into signing away their rights to the land while he's distracted the rest of Europe with a bunch of showy expeditions. It's just like it used to be. Just like cannons and soldiers swords, I guess. And now it's PR and incredible fake treaties and stuff. Yeah. Wow. It's really modern in a lot of ways. Yeah. So Leopold has this new best selling book that's talking about the great stuff he's trying to do in the Congo that gets the public jazz. And he's able to sort of further push the legitimacy of his project by getting the US President, Chester A Arthur to recognize the Congo Free State. Leopold had charmed the former US minister to Belgium. The guy who called himself General Sanford even though he wasn't actually a general? Sure. But he was a rich guy who had a lot of money and like an orange plantation. And because he was a rich guy, he was able to get the president's ear. General Sanford appealed to President Arthur's dislike of Arabs because, again, there were all these Arab slave traders. Just yes. Nothing's changed. You know, yeah. So Chester A Arthur was he also pointed out that the Congo had been discovered by an American because Henry Morton Stanley called himself an American. He wasn't. He was actually British. But he lied his whole life and said he was American. Everyone lies about everything. In the 1800s. There's no Internet. There's nothing like you. You run into thousand kernels when you're reading anything in this. And none of them are kernels. Sure, none of them were ever in the military. Could be a kernel. Fried chicken kernels. Yeah. And in this case, the general. Anyway, Chester A Arthur was like, sounds great. Congo Free street. Sounds like a great idea. You're going to fight some Arabs. Best part? Hooray. So he included this next bit in his state of the Union speech recognizing the Congo Free State. Quote from Chester A Arthur, the rich and populous valley of the Congo, spelled with a K in this is being opened by a society called the International African Association, of which the King of the Belgians is the president. Large tracts of territory have been seeded to the association by native chiefs, roads have been opened, steamboats have been placed on the river, and the nuclei of states established under one flag, which offers freedom to commerce and prohibits the slave trade. Oh my God, so that's how Chester a Arthur pictures it. So he got paid placement for his propaganda in the state of the Union. In the state of the Union. So far the people of Belgium and the other European states are fooled pretty well. But France? And some other folks and like the British government and whatnot, are starting to catch on to Leopold's plan and realize that he's making a power grab. This helped to spark a general what's known as the Scramble for Africa, where all of these European powers are like, Oh my God, we're running out of Africa to take over. So they start shooting out expeditions to claim the last pieces of the continent before it fills up. This all culminates in the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 85, and a bunch of stuff is decided there. But Leopold's main goal is to get recognition for what he starts calling the Congo. Three state. He's basically like, I've got all these treaties. Like he he gets up in front of Europe and he's like, I got all these treaties. Look, the people of the Congo want to be their own state. They want me to be their king. They've given this the state, the rights to their land. And if you all back me in establishing the state, it'll be a free trade zone. So all, everyone will be able to trade freely and buy and sell freely in there. It'll make a bunch of money for everybody. So that's Leopold's pitch, man, and Europe buys it. In 1885, the Congo Free State is established. Leopold had to go in front of Belgium Senate to ask if he could be 2 kings at once. He promised that the Congo would be its own independent nation and that it would pay its own way in the world. He told Belgium he thought it was his duty to, quote, help the nations of second rank become useful members of the Great family of nations. Then he asked for money, a little loan to help the fledgling new Nation, and he asked his fellow Belgians to volunteer to help. In this bold project quote more than any other, a manufacturing and commercial people like ourselves ought to strive to obtain a market for all its workers, for thinkers, capitalists and workmen. So the Congo Free State is on paper a country with Leopold the second as its absolute ruler. So he's gone from the King of Belgium, where he doesn't really have any power, to the absolute. Yeah. Of of a country like 20 times the size of Belgium. Jesus Christ. The Congo Free State is, to all intents and purposes, a state. It has its own army, the force public, which is made-up of African soldiers led by Belgian officers. It's illegal for black men to be officers in the army of the Congo. Yeah, that sounds. That sounds about. Sounds about right. Yeah. So. Leopold has acquired himself an African empire. Unfortunately, he didn't want an empire. He had no desire to actually rule another, just wanted money. He just wanted money. So the Congo Free State is entirely a money making scheme, and it's all based around rubber. So the late 1800s is when rubber really started to take off. That's like in the mid 1800s or so is when they figure out how to vulcanize rubber, which is what makes it like, nice and shiny and stable. It doesn't smell weird and fall apart. It's so the Mackintosh coat becomes popular around this time. People like in Europe are just like covered head to toe and rubber, like it's it's it's everywhere. It's like the the fashion of the time. People are just flipping out over rubber. Fetishes are born. Tons of fetishes are born. Exactly. Hot air balloons rely on it. It's like this one. It's a wonder material. It's like the first time people, they don't have to use glass for everything. Yeah, so everyone's in love with rubber. But there's only two ways to make rubber at that time. Vines and trees. Now, rubber vines grew wild all around the Congo. Wait, sorry. The the two ways are vines and trees. There's rubber vines and there's rubber. Got it. I thought it was going to be vegetation and chemistry. No, they haven't. They didn't. They do. Now we can make rubber, but they hadn't figured that **** out. So actually harvesting all of the rubber from vines like the ones you grew in the Congo required thousands and thousands of people climbing trees in the jungle. There's the risk of snake bite and monster attacks, and it's just, it's just a nightmare. Harvesting, yeah, at large scale in the Congo. Harvesting rubber from trees, on the other hand, is really easy. And some enterprising people had already started planting Groves of rubber trees in South America. But those trees took about 20 years or so to really get going. So Leopold, standing here in charge of the Congo, knows that he has about 20 years. Be the world's leading producer of rubber. The Congo Free State was basically just a giant rubber factory. That was his whole vision for this land filled with millions of people. This is like. The actual story of Willy Wonka. He's the real Willy Wonka. Yeah. Jesus Christ. So now, remember when I said that Leopold had the right to collect taxes in the form of Labor? Well, he used these taxes to make Congolese people go harvest rubber for him. In theory, I think he was allowed to only demand like 40 hours a month from them or something. But what happened is that he would have his soldiers go from village to village and take hostages. These hostages would be put in concentration camps where they'd be starved. Beaten until the village met its rubber quota. So if you didn't get all the rubber that you were supposed to get soon enough, your family would just starve to death. Leopold's government did have a problem because obviously it needs soldiers to enforce these nightmarish rules. But white people die like crazy in the Congo. Like a more than 1/3 of the Belgians who went there died there. And it's since, again, it's illegal for Africans to be officers in the force. Public there would wind up being like four or five Belgian guys commanding hundreds and hundreds of African soldiers. So that's like, obviously you're treating these guys terribly. You're making the massacre of their own people, and there's five of you for every 500 of them. That's like a recipe. For a revolution, or it would be if the soldiers had free access to bullets. One of the ways the Belgians controlled their army was by heavily restricting when anybody would get bullets and by policing their ammo so they couldn't hide any away. So each soldier would only be issued a certain amount of ammo when they go out to get rubber, and if they fired any rounds they had to account for them. The general policy in the Congo became that if you fired around, you had to provide a right hand from a corpse for every round that you shot. This was meant to stop people from stockpiling. Well, it was meant to stop them from, like, hunting for animals. Yeah. When they should have been, you know, shooting people. What this actually meant. Yeah, exactly. So. But that creates a market for right hands. Exactly. So possibly go wrong. For one thing, these soldiers aren't fed enough, so they're starving and they start hunting. And then once they fired a couple of rounds to hunt an animal they need to pick up. OK, we well, we fired 3 rounds getting that that, whatever it is now we need three hands. So we need to go into a village. We need to take some people's hands. And in addition to that, like, it becomes common if if a village refuses to provide rubber, like people like, we're not going to work to you, we're not going to give up our relatives as hostages. The forcible leak would just burn down the whole village. Sometimes they just kill everybody in the entire village. And this, this is happening on basically an industrial scale. In 1903, a single rubber collecting post was sent more than 40,000 replacement rounds of ammunition to every round that they're being sent. They've got a hand. Yeah. So, like the military units and the force publique even would have a keeper of the hands whose job was to smoke all of the severed hands so that they'd preserve, so that you could go back to the authorities. Evidence. We need 20,000 more bullets. Here's 20,000 human hands. Jesus Christ. Yeah. So in 1885, when this whole operation is just getting off the ground, King Leopold is named in British court as a client of what the British called a disorderly house. Can you guess what a disorderly house was? Probably not enough. It's attachment is a widow. Go for it. Yeah, I know it's a brothel. So, so while this is all starting off, King, sorry, ********** in England, I thought, I thought you disorderly house meant like his dukedom didn't have like X or Y like paperwork filed. No, no, no. While he's freshly the king of the Belgian Congo, he's named in British court as a client of a **********. And they say that he had been paying £800 a month for a steady supply of young women, some of whom were 10 to 15 years old. That's so that's what Leopold's doing in between administering the Congo. Yeah, and while he's doing that, his men in the Congo are building a system of roads, railways, posts, and steamboats that are meant to allow the rubber making operation to prosper. Leopold doesn't want to pay for all this himself, so he claims the infrastructure is necessary so that the Free States army can fight those dastardly Arab slavers. You got the US to pay for it, or just generally he got everyone else to pay for it. So he he got in Europe on board with this by saying the Congo was going to be a free trade zone. Yeah, but then he's like, we need to build all this infrastructure in order to fight the slavers. So we're going to have to collect import taxes now. Nice. He's just he like the one that you can trust Leopold to do is he will **** over every single person. Yeah, so now even these countries who had, like, gotten on board because they thought this was a free trade zone, they're getting screwed. And of course, the millions of people whose hands he's having severed screwed. I guess the key is just never stop lying. Yeah, no, that's the thing. Whenever you read about any of these guys, that is the most important thing. Yeah. Never, ever stop lying. If you're going to be a monster, you have to lie consistently. For decades about everything alright? Yeah, I'm in. It works. Yeah. No, I mean I'm in. Well, you'll be a great king of the Congo. So to Leopold's credit, his men did fight Arab slave traders, but most of the fighting was done by conscripted African soldiers who were themselves basically slaves. Yeah, yeah. King Leopold personally endorsed a system where white agents of the Free State got a bonus if they were able to find more recruits for the force public. Many agents wound up buying them in from various chiefs and affect doing the same thing as the Arab slavers they bragged about fighting. State agents also got bonuses for quote reducing recruiting expenses, so if they outright. Enslaved people, rather than paid them to join, they got more money in their pocket. As many as 3/4 of all volunteers for the force public died before they could receive training. Most of those volunteers were teenagers, right? So they're just volunteers, quote UN quote. That's ******* incredible. So it was like we have our indentured servant army is going to fight your slave army. So basically the Congo at this point is groups of white guys with soldiers going into the jungle to. Collect a bunch of other soldiers, and they'll put them in chains and, like, March them through the jungle and most of them will die. And then they'll train those guys up to fight. And they'll take those guys into the jungle to tell people to collect rubber from people and to kill everyone who doesn't provide enough rubber, and to kill a lot of the people who do provide enough rubber. Just because these kids are like starving to death and maybe they have to shoot an animal. Or maybe there's rebels and they get into a firefight, but they don't have one, and then you got to take hands from these, so it just keeps spiraling out of control. Becoming like even more of a nightmare to everybody but Leopold because again, he's sitting back in Belgium this time. Since Leopold was the absolute monarch, he got to rule by royal decree. His first decree was that all quote vacant land was now property of the state. He didn't explain what vacant meant because obviously farmers don't live on every inch of their farmland. So basically most of the land in the Congo is now just his. He leased this land to a series of private corporations and this gets to the real brilliance of his scheme because Leopold didn't have to dirty his hands actually running any of the rubber harvesting. He was able to privatize it. Yeah, other people paid for their right to mine rubber. And cut off hands and do all the actual work. And Leopold owned the rights to a huge chunk of their profits. So basically these companies would come in and give him an owning stake in the corporation would license the scheme of. Enslaving people, cutting off their hands, etcetera. Yeah. Adam Hochschild in King Leopold's ghost compares the Congo Free State to a venture capital firm quote. He had essentially found a way to attract other people's capital to his investment schemes while he retained half the proceeds. In the end, what with various taxes and fees the companies paid the state, it came to more than half Jesus. So in the 1890s, the Congo Free State really starts putting out rubber, and suddenly King Leopold is one of the richest guys in the world. He starts buying gigantic monuments. Palaces and **** for Belgium. Big, showy projects, some of which are still there, is to make people like him. It's to keep him popular at home. He's succeeding beyond his wildest dreams in the business side of things, but his personal life is just kind of 1 Series of train wrecks after the other. Yeah, his son had died in 1864, which led to an understandable estrangement between Leopold and his wife. It took eight years before they could stand to be around each other and try again. This passage from Leopold's biography tells you a lot about the relation was promptly punished. I did not realize that the King counted his Peaches. So while Leopold is running a nightmare hand harvesting rubber making scheme in the Congo, he's got enough time to make sure that his daughter doesn't steal a Peach from his garden because it's like at least. Ivanka Trump has the decency to pretend that she loved her tie with her dad, even though, like, all those like stories she tells. It's sad and weird, too. But it's like, at least she's like, I love him. He's my dad, you know? And I believe in all this ****. He couldn't even get his daughters to be like, I love him. Well, there's going to be more about his daughters coming, and he's he is not a great dad. Yeah, if you can't tell that already. There's in fact no evidence that Leopold cared about any of his children as anything more than vehicles for his legacy. Even that fawning 1910 biography can't make it seem like Leopold had a single **** for his family as King Leopold. I'm going to be honest, that's so far the most relatable thing about it. Just not liking his family. Yeah, just kidding. I love you, fam. As King Leopold grew older and richer, he also became a full on hypochondriac he took to wearing a waterproof bag around his gigantic beard whenever he went outside in the rain. Or when he swam, he required his palace tablecloths to be boiled every day to kill any germs, which is at least a character evolution from not letting them wash his sheets. Yeah, napkin. Yeah, good for him. So he's changing. He's had his own little heroes journey. Yeah, yeah, we all get there. Yeah, hypochondria. This wound up being a another really, really long one. There was just so much research. So this is going to be a 2 parter podcast and the second part is going to drop on Thursday, so we'll be getting into the rest of Leopold's story and the tremendously dark story of the Congo. So, so stick around. Check back out on Thursday. It's going to be great. In the meantime, you can check out Andrew T's podcast. Yo, is this. Racist. You can also check out every other episode of behind the ********. You can find us on Twitter at Bastarde Pod and Instagram as well. You can find us on the Internet at and you can find me on Twitter at I write. OK, so Andrew and I will be back on Thursday with more Leopold, so check us out then. My name is Alex Fumero and I host the new podcast more than a movie, American Me, a film directed by and starring Edward James Olmos. I'll be diving into the behind the scenes controversy, including an alleged backlash from the Mexican mafia. Several people who worked on the movie have been murdered. I don't want to speak about why would people be murdered for being in a movie? Listen to more than a movie American me on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. My name is Lauren Ober, and in addition to being a charming podcast host, I am also a newly diagnosed autistic person. My new show, the loudest girl in the world, is all about my weird, winding path to diagnosis, my decision at age 42 to finally get evaluated for autism. Listen to the loudest. Girl in the world on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts piece of the planet. I go by the name of Charlemagne the God, and this summer I'm bringing my show back to Comedy Central with a new title and a new podcast. It's called hell of a week, but don't worry, every Friday I'll be keeping that same, calling out the ******** energy, and I have some of the biggest names in comedy, politics, and entertainment with me. So if the news is terrorizing your timeline and causing your anxiety to rise high and gas prices, don't worry. We got you. Listen to hell of a week with charlamagne the God on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcast.