Can anyone explain Tom Lehrer's Stanleyville reference?

Back in the 1970’s while in High School (I know, I’m really dating myself here) I was first exposed to the song stylings of Tom Lehrer. I soon memorized all his songs, and actually learned a few things along the way. But one lyric has always stumped me. Given the intelligent, ecclectic and sarcastic group the SDMB seems to attract, I thought I’d ask for your help.

The lyric is from the song MLF Lullaby. For the uninitiated, here are the lyrics, preceded by his explanatory comments:

“A considerable amount of commotion was stirred up during the past year over the prospect of a Multi-Lateral Force, known to the headline writers as MLF. Much of this discussion took place during the baseball season so the chronicle may not have covered it but it did get a certain amount of publicity, and the basic idea was that a bunch of us nations, the good guys, would get together on a joint nuclear deterrent force including our current friends, like France, and our traditional friends, like Germany. Here’s a song about that called the MLF lullaby.”

Sleep, baby, sleep, in peace may you slumber,
No danger lurks, your sleep to encumber,
We’ve got the missiles, peace to determine,
and one of the fingers on the button will be German.

Why shouldn’t they have nuclear warheads?
England says no, but they are all soreheads.
I say a bygone should be a bygone,
Let’s make peace the way we did in Stanleyville and Saigon.

Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
But that couldn’t happen again.
We taught them a lesson in nineteen eighteen,
And they’ve hardly bothered us since then.

So sleep well, my darling, the sandman can linger,
We know our buddies won’t give us the finger.
Heil–hail–the Wehrmacht, I mean the Bundeswehr,
Hail to our loyal ally!
MLF
Will scare Brezhnev,
I hope he is half as scared as I.

This song was on Tom Lehrer’s third album, called That Was the Year That Was (and included 9 songs used on the NBC show That Was the Week That Was) and was recorded in 1965.

OK… so while I enjoyed the obvious sarcastic intent, I did not immediately understand a couple of references. The “Heil - [er, I meant to say] hail” remark was obvious, but not having lived during WWII or taken up a fascination with studying every military battle involved I had to find out independently that the Wehrmacht was roughly the German “offense” while the “Bundeswehr” was the “defence”. So that now made sense. But I have never, despite my efforts (admittadly undertaken at the time, before the was such a thing as the internet) been able to find out what the heck happened in Stanleyville. Saigon I understood - America was (in my time) just getting over the Vietnam war, and in his time (1965) just starting to get heavily involved in the Vietnam war, so he is obviously referring to the USA making “peace” by blowing up everyone there, or something like that. So when did the USA bomb Stanleyville? Where was Stanleyville, anyways?

I am posting this now because I have just been exposed to a big clue. I now think I understand the idea, but not the details, which I am now asking for. I just saw a new film (a small independent film, but a film nevertheless) called Lumumba. It is about a man called Patrice Lumumba, and the Independence of the Congo from Belgium. Lamumba became the first president of the independent Belgian Congo in 1960 or 1961. He was killed about two months later. As described in the movie, there is much violence among the populace, after the Belgians leave, partially because of the factions vying for control. While he is not a communist, Lamumba toys with the idea of inviting Russian support (some research tells me he was ignored in his pleas for American support, due to the Eisenhower affilliation with certain business interests which would have benefited from a breakup of the Congo; for more details, visit here). Anyways, the movie portrays the US CIA guy making good friends with an opponent of Lamumba who was in charge of the military, who then imprisons Lamumba under house arrest. Lamumba manages to escape, and along with his wife and kid and several supporters, drives off in an attempt to reach Stanleyville. He never makes it there, and is captured and later killed.

So that must be the Stanleyville Tom Lehrer is referring to. It was apparently Lamumba’s headqurters or base (more details in the above link). I imagine that in the ensuing days or weeks or months there was some sort of “operation” backed by the CIA, that eliminated one way or another the rest of Lamumba’s supporters. The movie does not deal with that at all. My guess is that whatever happened, it was in the public’s conciousness enough for a few years for Tom Lehrer to refer to it in 1965, but was soon enough forgotten as a footnote in history on faraway foreign shores. (You think anyone will understand a reference to Joan Benet Ramsy you make 30 years from now?).

Does anyone know what happened in Stanleyville back in the early 60’s? I haven’t been this happy since someone explained Tom Lehrer’s “As someone once remarked to Schubert, ‘Take us to your Lieder.’” from his Whatever Became of Hubert? song from the same album.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Stanleyville (founded by the Stanley of “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” fame) was renamed Kisangani by the execrable Mobutu Sese Seko (who was Jospeh Mobutu before he renamed himself).

Stanleyville/Kisangani was a stronghold of Lumumba, and, after his assassination, was the seat of a rival government under Gizenga, and launched a revolt against Kinshasha in 1964 (and would do so again in 1966 and 1967).

Here. Everything you wanted to know about the Congo in the 1960’s. It looks like it was one of the world’s hot spots when Tom Lehrer was writing his songs.

http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v2/v2n3/congo.html

The “Congo Crisis” was very complex with many players and Stanleyville (now Kisangani) was something of a side show, the critical areas being the capital, Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), and “mineral-rich” Katanga (later Shaba, now Katanga again I think). To really have much hope of learning what really went on, you probably need to read a good history of the Congo (later Zaire now Democratic Republic of the Congo). I’m not sure there is one good history. Most books are biased so you probably should read several. If you don’t have the rest of the summer to do it you could just read the on-line Encyclopedia Britannica article. Here is the teaser from: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=114574&tocid=40814&query=stanleyville
You may notice it doesn’t even get around to mentioning Stanleyville.

The Congo crisis
The triggering element behind the “Congo crisis” was the mutiny of the army (the so-called Force Publique) near Léopoldville on July 5, immediately followed by the intervention of Belgian paratroopers, ostensibly to protect the lives of Belgian citizens. Adding to the confusion created by the collapse of the Force Publique, the constitutional impasse arising from the opposition between the president and the prime minister brought the machinery of government to a halt. President Kasavubu revoked Prime Minister Lumumba from his functions; Lumumba responded by dismissing Kasavubu. Meanwhile, on July 11, the country’s richest province, Katanga, declared itself independent under the leadership of Moise Tshombe. The support given by Belgium to the Katanga secession gave a measure of credibility to Lumumba’s claims that Brussels was trying to reimpose its authority on its former colony, and on July 12 he and Kasavubu appealed to UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold for UN security assistance.

While intended to pave the way for the restoration of peace and order, the arrival of the UN peacekeeping force added yet another source of tension between President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba. The latter’s insistence that the United Nations should use force if necessary to bring Katanga back into the fold of the central government met with categorical opposition from Kasavubu. Lumumba then turned to the Soviet Union for logistic assistance to send troops to the Katanga, at which point the Congo crisis became inextricably bound up with East-West issues.

BTW, the specific refence to the names is that Wehrmacht (literally, if ironically, “defense force”) was the official name of the German army until the end of WWII. When Germay was allowed to re-arm as a NATO ally, the new army was given the name Bundeswehr (“Federal defense/army”).

But then who else would date you?
HAHAHA!

God, I’m so sorry. I just had to make that joke.

Well, I wouldn’t date him, either, but this thread is making me feel really old by describing as ancient history events that I watched on TV.

take a look at this, it might help, the fiasco, devastation and death http://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-horror-of-stanleyville

I always thought that “Patrice Lumumba” sounds like the name a heavyweight boxer might have.

Here’s the announcer at the start of a prize fight:
And in this corner we have… Pa-TREESSSSSS Looooo-MUMMM-ba!!!

OK, then can anybody explain the “Massachusets has 3 senators” gag?

Robert Kennedy was elected Senator in New York in 1964.

Thank you!

Coincidentally, I had “Oedipus Rex” going through my head this morning.

One thing on which you can depend is
He sure knew who a boy’s best friend is

My father worked for the UN and got sent there in 1961 and we followed, so I lived in Leopoldville during the Katanga secession.

If you really want to know about this look at some source material The Congo Cables giving diplomatic cables from both the US, the UN and the Soviet Union.
There is also a book by the CIA station chief which gives a lot of deep background, and which others say is fairly accurate. Devlin tells some weird stories you might not believe - trust me, they sound plausible to me.
As for Stanleyville, they put up a monument to Lumumba, consisting of a life-sized photograph. One of the guys my father shared a villa with before we got there stayed after we left and somehow wound up in Stanleyville and took a picture, which I have. He hightailed it out of there as they started shooting at him.

Though Stanleyville was hardly on the level of Saigon in terms of making peace - I can only guess it was in the news (those songs were written for That Was the Week that Was) and fit into the song.
US troops were not part of the UN force. The ones who were, or can remember, were Candians, Ethiopians, Indians, (the hospital), Irish, and Nigerians, who did the policing duties.

who was the senator who ‘could really sing and dance’???

George Murphy.

and what is his significance to get mentioned in a lehrer tune?

At the time, it was considered humorous for a lightweight like a former movie song-and-dance man to aspire to become a major politician like a US Senator. Murphy was the first well-known actor to do so, paving the way for Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Times have changed.

In fact, Reagan is mentioned in the song - rhymed with Gahagan http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Gahagan_Douglas

The spritely piano tune he plays after each verse always kills me.