To open to civilization the only part of our globe which it has not yet penetrated, to pierce the darkness which hangs over entire peoples…” With these words the “King of the Belgians”, Leopold II. welcomed the participants of the “Geographical Conference” that took place in September 1876 at the Royal Palace in Brussels. Only nine years later nearly one million square miles in central Africa, an area that Joseph Conrad once called “the blankest of all blank spaces”, has been named the “Congo Free State”. For the next 23 years it was the private property of Leopold II. During that period at least 8 million people lost their lives under a regime of terror and exploitation.