Heart of Darkness: Genocide in the Congo

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12144

The name Adolf Hitler has endured for generations as a symbol of evil for trying to eliminate certain peoples from the Earth. He was not unique. Read about one of the worst mass murderers in history!


World, World Cultures

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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There have been periods in history when attempts were made to eliminate groups of people from the Earth because of ethnicity, nationality, color, religion, and every conceivable, hateful excuse. What can be done about it?

The study of history is pretty brutal.

The most significant events are very often the bloodiest, and the most important figures are often some of the most violent. One of the grim features of history is the frequency of genocide in the past — the attempt by one group of people to eliminate another group of people.

The most widely-known case of genocide is perhaps the Holocaust, the killing of millions of Jews, Romani people, and others by the Nazis during World War II. Sadly, that is just one case among many, and instances of genocide have taken place in the recent past. What exactly is genocide and how do we know when it has taken place?

Read the article, What is Genocide?, courtesy of A&E Television Networks, L.L.C., about the definition of genocide under international law. As you read, write down information and ideas that answer the following questions:

  • What were the events leading up to international laws against genocide?
  • How is genocide defined under international law?
  • What are some examples of genocide given?

Write down the answers to the questions above. Then, share your answers with your parent or teacher and discuss the following:

  • What do you think caused the nations of the world to become serious about genocide?
  • What do you think are the factors that make genocide possible?
  • What do you think makes it especially hard to stop genocides from taking place?

Regretfully, most cases of genocide, and some of the most brutal of all, took place long before there were international laws to help prevent it or punish those who committed it.

In the Got It? section, explore one of the truly horrible chapters in the history of European colonialism, the Congo Free State.

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