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Author Topic: Belgian Force Publique  (Read 3371 times)

Offline gloriousbattle

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Belgian Force Publique
« on: November 18, 2011, 02:31:54 PM »
Just doing a little research on these guys.  I confess that what I know about the Congo is strictly Conrad, so bear with me.

Anyway, did the Force Publique have any white troops at all?  From the photos I have seen, it seems to have been a mix of Askaris and European officers only.  Was it simply an African formation, like the KAR?  Did any regular Belgian units serve in the Congo?

Thx

Offline Dewbakuk

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 02:45:16 PM »
As far as I'm aware, the only white 'soldiers' were officers.
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Offline Plynkes

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 03:46:47 PM »
No Belgian regulars in the Congo. Until 1908 the Congo Free State was a private colony, no official connection to the country of Belgium (it just happened to be owned by King Leopold). Even after it was annexed and became the Belgian Congo the Force Publique continued as its armed forces.
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Offline Arthur

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2011, 10:00:03 PM »
As my esteemed colleagues said : the Force Publique was entirely made up of native African soldiers, with only the officer corps and senior NCO's being theoretically Belgian. I say theoretically as since this was effectively Leopold's private colonial army, some of the white officers were foreign mercenaries of dubious military background and even more dubious character. Most of the C.O's were on loan from the royal Belgian army, but a few Englishmen, Germans or Scandinavians were also found among them - usually adventurers and ne'er-do-wells that no self-respecting army would have hired to lead men into battle.

So there you have it : an army of desperate askaris with nothing to lose - some of them cannibals - led by a bunch of thugs, psychopaths and hard cases. What's not to like ?      
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 10:01:46 PM by Arthur »

Offline Dr Mathias

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2011, 11:40:04 PM »
The previous two posts sum it up quite accurately.
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Offline gloriousbattle

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2011, 02:15:30 PM »
As my esteemed So there you have it : an army of desperate askaris with nothing to lose - some of them cannibals - led by a bunch of thugs, psychopaths and hard cases. What's not to like ?      

These guys sound even cooler than the FFL.

Offline Plynkes

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2011, 02:26:01 PM »
Yeah, fictional murderous psychopaths are real cool.



Real life ones, not so much.

Offline Grimjack

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2011, 04:38:09 PM »
Totally with Plynkes on this, will be creating my own Belgian Force Publique army but they were always dubiously worthwhile mercenary soldiers with a non-existent sense of the need for 'hearts and minds'  - when I start an army, I like to roleplay it, so these are going to be the equivalent of the Big Bad Bastards That No-One Likes in the games I play.

BTW, know that the FFL were not choirboys but, based upon the research I have done, they were still professional, committed soldiers with high esprit de corps - to mention them as similar to Leopold's mercenaries is perhaps a disservice?
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Offline Arthur

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2011, 08:07:24 PM »
Yep, there's not much about the Force Publique that qualifies as 'cool', to the extent that even some of its Belgian professional officers privately confessed to being appalled by its behaviour. Transposed to Vietnam or Chechnya, the atrocities it committed in the Congo would quite justifiably raise accusations of crimes against humanity : noone knows exactly how many Africans the Force Publique killed during the Congo Free State era, but the number must range at the very least in the hundreds of thousands (some historians claim up to five million deaths, but that may be on the high side), either through forced labour or direct extermination.   

The Force Publique occasionally proved itself as a fighting force - notably against the Mahdist at Bedden and Rejjaf in 1897 - but its raison d'être was the enforcement of the policies of a brutal and rapaciously inhuman régime whose sole purpose was to enrich Leopold and his cronies.     

Offline gloriousbattle

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2011, 08:13:56 PM »
Gentlemen, let me please clarify something.  I do not think anyone should chop off people's hands.  I also have forces of orcs and Nazi Germans; my games do not include eating people or stuffing them in gas chambers either.

But I think everyone here knew that.

Offline Geudens

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2011, 08:47:50 AM »
Its raison d'être was the enforcement of the policies of a brutal and rapaciously inhuman régime whose sole purpose was to enrich Leopold and his cronies.     

Same can be said of several political parties right now in Belgium, I'm sad to say...
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Offline Arthur

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2011, 06:54:46 PM »
Well, at least De Wever and the Vlaams Belang frothers don't go around chopping off hands... yet.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 06:57:34 PM by Arthur »

Offline H.M.Stanley

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Re: Belgian Force Publique
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2011, 05:10:58 PM »
Yeah, fictional murderous psychopaths are real cool.



Real life ones, not so much.

I was thinking much the same ...

However, you should read about the the British Officers' actions on Stanley's expedition to the Congo. None of the Colonial powers come out with much credit

« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 05:17:59 PM by H.M.Stanley »
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