In 1899 King Leopold II of Belgium, who was the then private owner of the Congo Free State, knew there many scientific secrets, resources to plunder, hidden and unclaimed in his newly bought property, which happened to be larger than Westen Europe in size.
So it was a stroke of luck that the king’s German great nephew, Count Wolfgang Von Strassenberger desperately wanted to lead an expedition to traverse the innermost and until this day undiscovered (to western eyes) parts of the Congo and the secret treasures it held, on a steam boat down the Congo river.
Count Von Strassenberger had no experience in colonial expeditions especially in the most hazardous unknowns in the world, having only been somewhat of a observer on a Polynesian expedition in his his youth. But he was a philosopher, keen man of science and truth-seeker and was adamant that he would discover much on his expedition which would be funded entirely by his great uncle. Fame and monetary riches meant little to the German count who was a black sheep in his family.
There isn’t much information as to what happened to him next on his expedition apart from him and his crew went missing and were presumed dead, until the Count emerged 16 years later in 1915.
He is said to be a sickly and aged madman, when he presented himself to the the Belgian officials in Stanleyville now known as the city of Kisangani in the now Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the Count’s mad ramblings, he spoke of cannibalism , the grotesque deaths of his entire crew, strange lost cities of devils not of this planet, juju magic spells, shamans with tentacled limbs, river monsters, visiting a fairytale world called Xüaz and and other tales that would and still does make even the most rational of men quiver with fear. All of which was recorded by the Belgian colonial officials.
The Count would die a few days later, never making it back to his native Europe.
On the Count’s person he had a rolls of film which were later developed in Paris and a yet to be released diary. These are some of the photos that have been kept under lock and key in the museum of Brussels, until now.