CHAPTER TWO: PROLOGUE TO TRAGEDY
To fully understand this Christmas tragedy in Katanga, one must be familiar with at least a few events and personalities that were the principal parts of the prologue. It is not necessary to go into the rich and interesting history of Africa itself over the past two or three centuries, although such an exercise would undoubtedly be intellectually rewarding. Nor is it necessary to catalog the vast and varied mineral wealth of Africa and particularly of Katanga. Let it suffice to say here that such wealth is considerable. It is undoubtedly one of the factors which has caused behind-the-scenes manipulators from both East and West to bring their full influence to bear on the international "front men" who have seemingly shaped the events in Katanga.1
In fact, we need only go back a few years in time and concentrate our attention on a rather small number of actors in this tragic play. We can safely ignore the cast of millions and the supporting roles of hundreds of walk-ons and bit players who have paraded across the stage. Most of these either have been written into the play to dazzle the critics or else they were never really part of the play at all--just a collection of stagehands and stand-ins who were accidentally caught in the shifting spotlight.
Let us set the stage. The date is now June 30, 1960. For many months radio stations in Red China, Communist Czechoslovakia and Romania have been beaming inflammatory propaganda broadcasts into Africa, attempting to agitate the populations into active support for the traditional Soviet program of anticolonialism.2 As defined by the Communists, this slogan means to break away all colonial holdings from non-Communist countries like Belgium, Portugal, France, and England. The Communists, of course, are not acting out of humanitarian instincts when they do this. Their purpose is twofold. First, they know that breaking away these colonial holdings will unavoidably weaken the non-Communist countries that have them and depend on them for much of their economic viability and, to some extent, for their military national security. The second reason is that a newly-emergent government with its inexperienced leadership is relatively easy to infiltrate and subvert to the cause of international Communism. So, in one fell swoop the Communists' program of anti-colonialism not only weakens their enemies but also provides them with golden opportunities to capture still more of the earth's terrain and population. Needless to say, the Communists are not interested in discussing the granting of independence to their own colonial holdings, the captive nations behind the iron curtain.3
Be that as it may, by mid-1960 the worldwide Communist drive of "anti-colonialism" had reached an all-time high. The Communist press in America was repeatedly instructing its readers to whip up mass popular support for the cause. All those who questioned the wisdom of this trend were branded "imperialists" and their comments were buried in an avalanche of emotionalism. "Exploitation," "cruel and inhuman treatment of the natives," and "humanitarian consideration" were phrases shouted at anyone who doubted the wisdom of granting immediate independence to colonial areas. The great advances that had been made, the miraculous transplanting of civilization into regions totally primitive and savage, the progress that had been made in the cultural and educational levels of natives even in the bush country--these and many other considerations were rarely mentioned. Apparently they were not thought to be as good a vehicle for selling newspapers or gaining acclaim at the lecturn as the more sensational stories of exploitation and profiteering.
In keeping with the prevailing mood, Communist and Afro-Asian delegates at the United Nations had initiated a series of resolutions calling for the immediate independence of the Belgian Congo. The United States also went on record in favor of this position and exerted no small amount of pressure on the Belgian government to comply. Finally, after a few sporadic anti-colonial demonstrations in the Congo, Belgium yielded to international pressure .4 On June 30, 1960, the Congo was granted independence.
The first character of importance to appear on-stage is one Patrice Lumumba. What kind of a man was he? What were his motives? His objectives? These questions can be answered succinctly. He was a deranged and degenerate dope addict; he was a willing agent of the Communists; he worked tirelessly to bring chaos, anarchy and bloodshed to the Congo as the necessary first stage toward his ultimate goal of complete and unlimited dictatorship with himself nominally at the top and with Communist power to back him up.
This may come as quite a shock to many who remember the glowing praises sung for this man a few years ago in the highest echelons of our Government and in our communications media. But for the skeptic who still can't quite bring himself to believe that government officials and news editors ever could be mistaken, let the record speak for itself.
It was well known that for at least two years the Soviets had been supplying Lumumba with arms, ammunition, military vehicles and other necessary supplies to insure an appropriate spontaneous" uprising of the people against their "colonial-imperialist masters." In addition to the hardware, they provided $400,000 a month with which to buy followers and provide them with the little extras that insure loyalty, such as cars, extravagant parties, and women. Lumumba's Communist backing was widely acknowledged and had been described in detail in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.5
Writing in the Brooklyn Tablet on April 15, 1961, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said:
Although few Americans knew it at the time (or know it even now) evidence of Communist support for Lumumba was so plentiful and undeniable that Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold felt obliged to reassure the non-Communist world that Soviet aid to Lumumba was actually in support of United Nations policy, and therefore presumably quite all right.7 Even Conor Cruise O'Brien, chief United Nations representative in Katanga, admitted that the Soviets had given Lumumba 100 trucks, 29 transport planes and 200 technicians.8 These figures, of course, were an underestimation. For one thing, they did not include the more than two hundred Russian and Czechoslovakian "diplomats" who were by then swarming all over the Congo.9 And finally, as revealed later by Colonel Joseph Mobutu, who had been serving under Lumumba, Red China had promised Lumumba $2,800,000 in aid.10
Lumumba had written: "if necessary, I shall not hesitate to call in the DEVIL11 to save the country. . . . I am convinced that with the unreserved support of the Soviets, I shall win the day in spite of everything!"12
Joseph Yav, a former Lumumba associate and economics minister of his government until July 17, 1960, made the following statement to Philippa Schuyler, an American reporter in the Congo at the time of independence:
This, of course, is the general pattern of recruitment into the Communist party in those parts of the world where there is not a sufficient group of so-called "intellectuals" from which to draw. The Communists much prefer the intellectual type since they are more easily ensnared and it is less expensive to keep them hooked on the party line. But in Africa they have to use money and flattery to accomplish what intellectual deception and flattery will accomplish for them in the more "advanced" countries. This point was graphically brought home by Gabriel Kitenge, national president of the Congolese Union party, when he told the same reporter:
If further evidence is needed of the bond between Lumumba and his Communist masters, one need only note that Khrushchev changed the name of the Peoples Friendship University near Moscow to the Patrice Lumumba Friendship University in honor of this "great African leader."15
The Arabs were the first to introduce hashish cultivation to the Congo. It has since become one of the chief vices throughout the entire region. Lumumba was well acquainted with the custom. Stewart Alsop of the Saturday Evening Post summed it up when he said: "The notion that Lumumba was worshipped by Congolese masses was a myth. Lumumba was an accomplished demagogue, when he found the time between bouts of gin-drinking and hashish-smoking. . . . He was also roundly hated for many reasons, most of them good."16
Lumumba's character and Communist loyalties will be revealed even further as the Congo tragedy unfolds. But this is a fairly accurate description of the man for whom Washington rolled out the red carpet.
Moise Tshombe was the second protagonist on our stage to receive world attention, though not the same type Lumumba received. To start off with, Tshombe was an anti-Communist--a handicap he never quite overcame in the American press. He was almost universally depicted as "shrewd," "a Belgian puppet," "opportunistic," and the usual journalistic innuendoes carefully designed to turn public opinion against a person about whom nothing specifically bad can be found. The truth of the matter is that Tshombe is the son of a successful African merchant, has earned a college degree, is a devout Christian, and had the overwhelming support and respect of the people who elected him to the presidency of Katanga. Not only is he a staunch anti-Communist, he is an ardent advocate of the concepts of limited government and the free enterprise system. He is a student of history and a great admirer of the success of the American experiment. He fully understands the wisdom of the traditional American political system of checks and balances with a further division of power between the Federal Government and the states. Explaining his views, he said: "We would like something rather on the American model. We are willing to have a federal president and to give the central government control of the army, the customs and that sort of thing."17
Even after the United Nations had initiated a bloody war against Katanga to force it to abandon this position, Tshombe held firm. Returning to Katanga after the December United Nations attack, he said, "Katanga must be unified with its brothers in the Congo but remain sufficiently free so that its fate will not be sealed on the day the shadow of Communism spreads over this country."18
With this background in mind, it is not hard to see why Tshombe was anathema to the Communists. Khrushchev ranted, "Tshombe is a turncoat, a traitor to the interests of the Congolese people."19 It is interesting to note that Tshombe was also anathema to U.S. officials. While wining and dining almost every Communist dictator on the face of the earth from Khrushchev to Tito to Castro to Lumumba, our State Department flatly refused to grant a visa for Tshombe to enter the United States.20
Plans for complete chaos in the Congo had been well laid. Many uneducated Africans were told that just as soon as independence came they would automatically own all the property of the white settlers--and the settlers too! One of the campaign promises made by Lumumba was that the Congolese could have all of the European women they wanted after independence.21
It did not take very long. A few days after independence, the Congolese army mutinied against its Belgian officers. Lumumba reacted immediately by discharging the officers and expelling them from the country. He promoted every one of the mutinous soldiers at least one rank and moved up several to the level of general. All men received a substantial pay raise. The lowest paid soldier was getting about twice that of an American GI of equivalent rank. Devoid of professional military command and whipped up by Lumumba and his followers, the Congolese army went on a spree of plunder, murder and rape. European residents fled in terror by the thousands leaving behind their homes, their possessions, their businesses, and everything they had worked for. Currency was frozen and most of them left with only a hastily packed suitcase.
Few Americans understood what was going on. Their news sources did not help them much. All attention was focused on the pictures of crying women being helped off planes and the sensational accounts of widespread rape. We were not given any insight into why this chaos had happened or who had triggered it. It was made to appear as something that just happened. Editors by the droves speculated, "Well what can you expect? After all those years of exploiting the natives, the Belgians are just reaping the harvest that they themselves have sown."
Newswoman Philippa Schuyler shed a little light on how it "just happened" when she reported:
The Reverend Mark Poole of the Luluabourg Presbyterian Mission and other missionaries in the Congo confirmed that the outbreaks of violence were undoubtedly Communist inspired and that they were too widespread and well coordinated to have just happened by cbance.23
As soon as word of the chaos reached Brussels, Belgium ordered its troops back to the Congo to protect the lives and property of its citizens there. In a fit of rage Lumumba officially declared war on Belgium and called on the United Nations for military help against Belgian intervention. The United Nations complied, as we shall see. At the outset, however, Belgium called on its NATO friend, the United States, for help so that it could not be accused of trying to perpetuate its influence in its former possession. Washington refused, saving it would rather act through the United Nations. Khrushchev lashed out against the Belgians, calling them "criminal aggressors." The very same day, July 14, 1960, the United States delegation at the United Nations sided with the Soviets in a resolution stoutly condemning Belgium, demanding immediate withdrawal of her troops, and authorizing the United Nations to send troops of its own to assist Lumumba.24 Within four days, the first four thousand United Nations troops were flown into the Congo by U.S. Air Force planes. Many additional thousands were on the way. By July 23 most of the Belgian troops had withdrawn. The territory was now in the hands of Lumumba's mutinous army and the United Nations "peace-keeping" forces.
The plunder and rape continued and spread. Smith Hempstone reported:
Newswoman Schuyler reported:
The following account appeared in the New York Daily News under the heading "Congo Rebels Attack UN Train, Slay Kids":
Roger Nonkel, the assistant high commissioner of Sankuru in Kasai province, stated:
The Communist plan for taking over the Congo was progressing as planned. Step one: Capture control of the leadership at the top. Step two: Bring about utter and complete chaos to justify the harsh police-state measures which must be used to establish firm dictatorial rule. Step three: Put the blame on non-Communists. Step four: Maneuver as many non-Communists as possible into actually doing the dirty work for them. Now came the visible beginnings of step number five, the police-state measures themselves.
On August 2, 1960, the Congolese central government decreed that any Belgian business which had been abandoned during the mayhem would be confiscated by the state unless reclaimed within eight days.
The Congo's largest and most influential newspaper Le Courier d'Afrique was seized by the government, forced to shut down, and its editor was thrown in jail for printing critical remarks about Lumumba. The editor was finally expelled to Belgium and the paper resumed operation with a more "acceptable" editorial policy.28
Lumumba moved swiftly to consolidate his totalitarian control. On September 15 he issued the following lengthy and highly revealing directive to the heads of the various provinces throughout the Congo:
A few months later, Lumumba issued a follow-up memorandum which said: "Get to work immediately and have courage. Long live the Soviet Union! Long live Khrushchev!"30
When Lumumba came to the United States he was royalty received on behalf of the American people by President Eisenhower who even had him stay in the official presidential guest house. He conferred with Henry Cabot Lodge, Dag Hammarskjold and Christian Herter, then our secretary of state.31 And a few weeks later, Eisenhower announced that be had sent the first five million of an expected 100 million dollars to Lumumba to help the Congo meet its most pressing needs.32
1. For background see Congressman Donald C. Bruce, "Is Katanga on the Auction Block?" Congressional Record (September 12, 1962).
2. Pieter Lessing, Africa's Red Harvest (New York, The John Day Company, Inc., 1962), p. 13. Pieter Lessing was born and educated in South Africa. He comes from an old Afrikaans family (descendants of early Dutch settlers in South Africa). He was a war correspondent during the Second World War, and has since served as a foreign correspondent for various British and American news services, including the BBC and the Christian Science Monitor. He has lived in many countries and has spent a considerable amount of time behind the iron curtain. He has also traveled extensively in Africa.
3. In 1920 Stalin wrote: "We are for the secession of India, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and the other colonies from the Entente, because secession in this case would mean the liberation of those oppressed countries from imperialism, and a weakening of the position of imperialism, and a strengthening of the position of the revolution. We are against the secession of the border regions, a weakening of the revolutionary might of Russia, and a strengthening of the position of imperialism." Stalin, A Collection of Articles on the National Question (October 1920), author's preface. Republished in Selected Works (1953), vol. 4, pp. 385-386.
4. In all fairness, it should be noted that there were and are many sincere Africans who had no ulterior motives in wanting independence. They believed what the Communist radio and press told them--that they would lead better and fuller lives after independence. Some of them, too, had very real grievances against the Belgians. But the fact remains that very little support for independence came-from the Congo itself. Practically all of it came from outside interests.
5. Senator Thomas Dodd, Congressional Record (August 3, 1962). Also, Congressman Donald C. Bruce, Congressional Record (September 12, 1962).
6. Statement by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in the Tablet (Brooklyn, April 15, 1961). Entered in the Congressional Record by Congressman Donald C. Bruce (September 12, 1962).
7. Hempstone, p. 123.
8. Conor Cruise O'Brien, To Katanga and Back (New York, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1962), p. 93.
9. Lessing, p. 142).
10. "Bare Red Plot by Lumumba," Chicago Tribune (November 2, 1960)
11. There is much evidence to indicate that "devil" is actually a code name used by African Communists when referring to the Soviet Union.
12. Serious and Irrevocable Decisions Reached by the Government of the Republic of the Congo, UN document (A/4711/ADD 2 (March 20, 1961), pp. 41-42.
13. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), p. 154. Philippa Schuyler has been a news correspondent for UPI, the New York Mirror, Spadea Syndicate, and the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leader.
14. Ibid., pp. 167-168.
15. Lessing, pp. 110-111.
16. As quoted by Schuyler, pp. 152-153.
17. As quoted by Hempstone, p. 95.
18. As quoted by Hempstone, p. 221. Also, as quoted by Schuyler, p. 293.
19. As quoted by Hempstone, p. 68.
20. Visa Procedures of Department of State, report of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (also referred to in footnotes and text as the SISS) (August 6, 1962).
21. Schuyler, p. 218.
22. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), p. 238.
23. Ibid., p. 219.
24. UN document S/4387.
25. Hempstone, p. 134.
26. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), p. 238.
27. Ibid., pp. 189-190.
28. Ibid., p. 231.
29. Situation in the Republic of the Congo, report of the UN Conciliation Commission for the Congo, UN document A/4711/ADD 2 (March 20,1961), pp. 42-46.
30. "Bare Red Plot by Lumumba," Chicago Tribune (November 2, 1960).
31. New York Times (July 27, 1960), p. 1. Also, Schuyler, p. 222. Also, Newsweek (August 22, 1960), p. 40.
32. "Lumumba Gets Pledge of
U.S. Aid," Los Angeles Examiner (July 28, 1960), sec. 1, p. 16.
Also, "Added U.S. Funds Voted for Congo," Los Angeles Examiner
(August 17, 1960), see. 1, p. 7. Also, Department of State Bulletin
(October 3, 1960), pp. 510, 530; and (October 10, 1960), p. 588.