Leopold II was a king of Belgium and well known for brutal exploitation of the Congo Free State because his policy of forced labor resulted the death of more than 3 million Congolese.
Leopold II was the second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 and, through his own efforts, the owner and absolute ruler of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908. If we simply consider body count, the number murdered by those under Leopold’s personal command are staggering, if hard to be precise about. We can hazard a guess that he belongs in the top 20 or at least 50 by sheer scale of monstrousness.
Leopold's administration of the Congo was characterised by atrocities, including torture and murder, resulting from notorious systematic brutality. In 1890, George Washington Williams coined the term "crimes against humanity" to describe the practices of Leopold II of Belgium's administration of the Congo Free State.
The hands of men, women, and children were amputated when the quota of rubber was not met and millions of the Congolese people died. Colonial accounts typically emphasized Leopold's modernizing changes in the Congo and not the genocide he facilitated.
These and other facts were established at the time by eyewitness testimony, on-site inspection by an international commission of inquiry, and the 1904 Casement Report. Modern estimates range from 1 million to 15 million deaths, with a consensus growing around 10 million.
Some historians argue against these figures, citing the lack of reliable censuses, the enormous mortality caused by smallpox and African trypanosomiasis, and the fact that there were only 175 administrative agents in charge of rubber exploitation.
In 1908, the reports of deaths and abuse and pressure from the Congo Reform Association and other international groups induced the Belgian government to take over the administration of the Congo from Leopold as a new territory, Belgian Congo.
Leopold II's rule was deemed so cruel that European leaders, themselves violently exploiting Africa, condemned it and the Belgian parliament forced him to relinquish control of his fiefdom.