105. Memorandum by the Vice Consul at Leopoldville (Gross)1


[Here follows a summary of Vice Consul Gross’ discussions with various white residents of Katanga.]

In summary, my impressions of the Katanga from this and the preceding five visits over the past year are as follows:

The Katanga is geographically, economically, politically, and socially entirely separate from the tropical rest of the Belgian Congo. The political evolution of the Congo now being initiated by Leopoldville and Brussels is and will be strongly resisted by the white population of the Katanga, which in its way of life and thinking is closer to the settler population of East Africa than to the white population of the tropical, Western part of the Congo. It is not entirely improbable that these differences may lead toward a secession of the Katanga from the Congo should the Africans take over in Leopoldville in the future, or a federation of the Katanga with Rhodesia. At present there is a quasi-organized movement among Europeans in the Katanga in this direction.
The political evolution of the African in the Katanga is far less advanced than in Leopoldville. The African seemed to me to be content with his economic prosperity, but several observers have told me that there is mounting tension beneath the surface.
The combination of economic prosperity for and political suppression of the African in the Katanga, plus the all important fact that the future of the region will be in the hands of the European, seems to me to provide an extremely fertile soil for outside subversion of the African. The African in Leopoldville appears to be willing to bide his time, knowing that the direction of political change is in his favor. Such assurance is lacking in the Katanga. The Europeans in the Katanga seem capable and willing to suppress any political threat by the Africans, at least for the short run.
Despite the racial situation, the Europeans in the Katanga appear to be less resentful and hostile toward the African policy of the United States than are the Belgians in Leopoldville. Partly this is due to the aristocratic upper-class social level of many of the Katangais. Many of them have visited the United States and are [Page 314] aware of its world position. Many of them are technically very highly trained and respect American technology. Finally, the non-Belgian white population seems little concerned with politics. The relative indifference or friendliness of many Katangais to Americans makes the job of gathering political information much easier than is the case in Leopoldville—among the Europeans.
There appears to be no avenue of contact with the African in Elisabethville. Immatriculés are not around town or at social occasions. Attempts to cultivate the African évolué in Elisabethville would probably not bring positive results commensurate with the suspicion that would be aroused among Europeans.

Richard L. Gross
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 755A.00/5–2957. Confidential. Enclosure to despatch 262 from Leopoldville, May 29.