Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Photos and Background Info

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - Photos and Background Info

It was built as a school but this place is better known as S-21, the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Between 17,000 and 20,000 people were killed here between 1975 and 1979.

Today, the site houses the Tuol Sleng Genocide Musuem which serves to ensure this place, only one of around 150 execution and torture facilities, is remembered. This place and others like it killed around a couple of million people around the country while the Khmer Rouge were in control.

The Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, had gotten hold of power in a brutal and complex civil war and spent their entire reign repeatedly killing off people deemed to belong to troublesome elements. Doubtless driven by fear their newfound power would crumble the same way as it came, Pol Pot’s lot wasn’t content to carefully round up selected adults that might have genuine intent, preferring instead mass imprisonment and murder of thousands.

Women, old men, young children were all thrown into prisons like Tuol Sleng before being tortured into confessing to ludicrous offences (spying for foreign powers like the United States and Russia, at that time locked in the Cold War, was a favourite). Confess or not, they would be killed anyway. Today it is considered genocide.

A school is hardly ideal for a prison, but Khmer Rouge weren’t interested in doing things right. Makeshift cells were thrown up by placing walls inside classrooms. A bit of barbed wire and some bars for the windows was all else needed to make the perfect prison. Inmates would be kept blindfolded and shackled to the ground. Up to 1,500 would be incarcerated at any given time.

In order to find new inmates for the hungry murder machine, those tortured into confessing would next be made to name innocent friends who were working with them. The friends would become the next batch of inmates. Amongst the endless stream of Cambodians, foreigners would also be rounded up and sent to Tuol Sleng.

Tuol Sleng means “poisoned hill”, or some variant thereof (several translations are available, but they all amount to much the same thing). Torture methods included burning people alive, waterboarding, electrocution, beatings and breakings of bones, and pulling out fingernails and toenails.

Early 1979 sparked the end of the line for Tuol Sleng and for the Khmer Rouge regime generally. A flood of fleeing refugees and endless border skirmishes left Vietnam extremely pissed off. Pol Pot did what he did best: He used his fear as an excuse to kill, and ordered an invasion of Vietnam because he was shitting himself that Vietnam might invade first.

It was a pretty stupid idea because not only did Vietnam repel invasion, but by the start of 1979 was marching into Cambodia and captured Phnom Penh. The Tuol Sleng prison guards fled, taking the prisoners with them. The prisoners were led into open countryside and gunned down. Vietnam ultimately defeated the murderous Khmer Rouge regime.

Most of those behind the atrocities at Tuol Sleng and elsewhere have evaded justice but in the last few years, war crimes tribunals have begun taking down those that remain. While our old friend Pol Pot died in the late 90s having never truly been held accountable for his crimes, Kang Kek Iew aka Comrade Duch was the man in charge of S-21 Tuol Sleng prison and the Khmer Rouge first war criminal to be tried. He was initially given 30 years but that was later upgraded to life.

Gallery of pictures from one of history’s most infamous prisons is below:

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29 thoughts on “Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Photos and Background Info

  1. I would never go to Cambodia, there is something so terrible and horrifying about the legacy it would upset me. I’ve seen images and documentries from what happened there that are the absolute stuff of nightmares.

  2. I watched a documentary about this place, one person walked out alive. One person out of the 20 thousand they imprisoned. The poor slobs we’re fed feces and roaches to eat, among the more nutritious items on they’re varied menu. Nice place to visit….not a fuckin chance.

  3. Pol Pot was supported by the US and by the Chinese, as a way to counter the Soviet influence on the region.

    The fucking chinese were so angry after their puppet was taken down, they invaded Vietnam, but luckily, the well trained vietnamese guerrilla was able to defeat them.

  4. The short conflict between the Khmers and the Vietnamese clearly provided an example of conflict between inferior and superior races. Why Vietnam didn’t just take over all of Cambodia, annex the land, and replace the population with it’s own is beyond me. By now we could have a Vietnam vs Thailand war.

  5. The short conflict between the Khmers and the Vietnamese clearly provided an example of conflict between inferior and superior races. Why Vietnam didn’t just take over all of Cambodia, annex the land, and replace the population with it’s own is beyond me. By now we could have a Vietnam vs Thailand war.

    • I think you mean “superior people” instead of race in this case. Since they’re the same race.
      Furthermore supriority brings great responsibility in securing the future.
      A superior people or race would never replace another people or race but uses intellegence to cultivate the strongest assets of a diverse population to evolve in intellegence, skills, behaviors and health. To know the past is to know the future. Every race has weak elements. If you breed too much within one race or people those weaknesses will evolve and become stronger. It is a common thing that still occurs and most visual or noticable in terms of intellegence and health. Even in groups of people that claim to be part of a superior race most are the result of inbreeding

      • In addition; my grandfather was ss. My grandmother a gretchen. She was part of a so called “joy division” and gave birth to my mother. My father had a Prusian grandfather and Dutch Frisian mother. We have a strong genetic pool and it would be tempting to stay within the boundries of our immediate backgrounds. I found my love in Netherlands with pure Frisian bloodline but I would have considered other opportunities with a strong genetic background if occurred.

  6. I think I’ll stick to visiting museums with dinosaur bones, mummies, and old military airplanes… Tuol Sleng would be too depressing, and I might ironically end up trying to kill somebody while I’m there out of disgust for human nature.

  7. Everytime I hear Poi Pot’s name I can’t help but smile…not because of he was or what he did but because of his name lol. Poi Pot has got to be one of dumbest fucking names to ever be given to a person…even by Cambodian standards. Baby Poi Pot’s parents must’ve really hated him to give him such a stupid sounding name and as a little Poi Pot he was probably always picked on by other kids which is why he grew up to be such a dick head…could you imagine a ruthless dictator with such a stupid name people probably never took him seriously till he started killing, hell even then I’m sure they still made fun of him. Such a dumb has to be what made him so paranoid…but with that much power why not just change it. Poi Pot lol.

  8. I have heard rumors that they have a torturing machine which drills open the skulls of inmates alive, and the officials would use spoons to spur and sometimes eat the brain.

  9. Wasn’t Cambodia where they had ‘the dying rooms’ for kid who were left to die without food and water, often they were disabled. I saw a documentary about them once, but can’t remember if it was in Cambodia or not.

  10. OH ?? LETS JUST DENIE…… denie denie demand the truth denie denie denie …never happened? all a intricate involved settup….right….just like the jewish settup ?? (yea your right , what a load , bunch of little whiny “picked ons)

  11. I hate posts like this one…
    They remind me that shit like this has happened before and after Nazi-Germany and STILL everyone points their fingers at us germans.
    Stuff like this doesn’t appear in history books. Nazi-Germany does.

    • Stuff like this does appear in history books. And yes it happened before. To my knowledge the nazi’s and stalinistic regime were highly motivated and well organized in the process. So that attracts some attention and is very often used as example. But many countries have a dark history. In all cases it takes a large number of sheep to make things happen. “wir haben es nicht gewust” doesn’t fly but could be translated for hypocrits in many languages.

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