Did you know that only 35 years ago Cambodia suffered from a severe civil war where one-fourth of all people were killed? No? Well, I didn’t know it either before. The first time I heard about that war was in Vietnam when friends told me about the killing fields in Phnom Penh.
In 1970 the Khmer Rouge came to power and attacked all the big cities in Cambodia and send them to the rural areas and on the countryside where they should work and grow rice. The Khmer Rouge was a communist party and the leader, Pol Pot had the total control. Under the extreme form of communism, nobody should possess something, and the government would own everything. It was so severe that you could get killed by eating a Mango or a Banana from a tree in the jungle. Everyone who could have been the smallest enemy to the regime got tortured and killed after. If people haven’t been killed on the killing fields, they died during the work on the grounds. Nearly no food was provided, and the people had to work up to 14 hours a day. Like this, the regime killed over 3 million people which is more than ¼ of the whole population – in only three years.
Today two sides in Cambodia remember and show the cruel things that happened.
It is here where over 20.000 people were killed in only three years. Most of the people came from the S-21 prison in the night and got then killed there. The worst part is that bullets were too expensive, so they used hammers, bamboos, axes, or anything they could kill with. After that, they threw the people in mass graves and buried them. The killing tree got me the most – it is a tree were children got beaten against with their head. The guards took the children by their feed and throw their head against the tree so that they would die – in front of their mothers. For the whole tour, an Audio device is provided, and everything gets explained very detailed.
After the killing fields, I visited the S-21 Prison. The prison is located in the middle of the city and was formerly a school. It was transformed into a torture prison to get out confessions of the prisoners. This place is even more shocking and disturbing than the killing fields. Again, with an Audio player, all details get explained. I won’t tell the methods here because it may be too much disturbing. The goal was to get a confession out of the prisoners, something they never did, to kill them afterward. Some of the prisoners got tortured up to 3 times a day, and little to no food was provided to the prisoners. On the floor is still real blood from the prisoners and the photos are disturbing.
Even though it is very shocking and a day on the beach is maybe more relaxing, please do these things and visit these places to learn about the history and about a part of history which so few people know about. Traveling is not only about lying on the beach, but such things are also part of it, and I find it very important that the outside world knows about it and don’t close the eyes anymore.