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Cambodian Genocide

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We all continue to remember the genocides, of Cambodia and the Holocaust and all of their horrors. They each killed millions of people, but if you dig into the genocides even more you will see distinct similarities and distinct differences. Although both the Holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide both were caused by powerful leaders seizing power and they both have similar ways of killing large amount of people, they differ in the effects of the genocide such as the minority race in Holocaust getting new land (Israel) and no land was given in the Cambodian Genocide.

The Cambodian Genocide and the Holocaust were very similar in their cause. The Cambodian Genocide first truly started when Lon Nol took power and allowed the US to move in and bomb Cambodia to try to drive out the Viet Cong. This killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodians causing a movement to overthrow Lon Nol. Here is a quote from Doctor Susmit Kumar explaining what the US did to influence the genocide; “In 1970, a U.S.-backed coup by Lon Nol dethroned Prince Norodon Sihanouk. This allowed pro-U.S. forces to attack the communists who had been using Cambodian soil to launch guerrilla raids in South Vietnam. The large scale bombing of Cambodia and the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975 saw the rise of the Pol Pot-let Khmer Rouge at the same time.”(Kumar, Susmit)

The Khmer Rouge groups quickly started to grow with leader Pol Pot and soon their numbers rose to 750,000. Soon after the Vietnam War was over the Khmer Rouge group seized power from the old government. In the Holocaust, a bad economy led to the rise of the Nazi party with a strong leader in Adolf Hitler. Soon Adolf was appointed chancellor of Germany and soon after the holocaust started. As you can see these have very similar starts. First, terrible events like war or depression cause civilians to want stability and order so they turned to strong leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot, who actually overcorrected the problems, by going to the opposite wings which the society was in(Far left and Far right). You should also see that they both have a very strong military which is important for any type for any genocide, which helps carry out the genocides.

The Cambodian Genocide and the Holocaust were also very similar in their course. Soon after Pol Pot seized power he started to try to reconstruct Cambodia (Changed to Kampuchea now), trying to make it like communist China with collective farms. Anyone who opposed these plans, which intellectual people were assumed to be, were ordered to be killed. So afraid of death civilians were forced out of towns, even the old or disabled. Those who did not leave were shot. Here is a quote from a victim of this genocide; “They ordered the city evacuated. Everyone was to head for the countryside to join the revolution. They killed those who argued against leaving. Two million frightened people started walking out of the capital.”(Cambodian Genocide) All civil rights and political rights were destroyed. Children were separated from their families and put into different forced labor camps.

These forced labor camps caused many to die due to overwork, malnutrition, and disease. They had a diet of one tin of rice, 180 grams, per person every two days. While this was going on purges killed all people who reminded soldiers of the “old life”. Many doctors, lawyers etc. were completely murdered, along with their stores and businesses. Basically, Pol Pot attempted to wipe out anyone who had anything to do with the “Old Life” because they were “threatening” his power. In the Holocaust, first Jewish people were stripped of their rights by the Nuremberg laws. Then they were sent to ghettos, sealing them off from the rest society. If still breathing, they were sent to labor or extermination centers where they were killed or overworked.

Here is a quote from Elie Wiesel’s book Night that helps describe these labor camps and death camps; “A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes I did see this, with my own eyes…children thrown into flames.”(Wiesel, Elie) As you can see they have many similarities. First the people were stripped of their rights by their leaders. Next, they were sent to away from their homes, in ghettos or just sent out of city. Next they were forced into labor camps where they were treated absolutely awfully. They starved and died of disease and malnutrition by the thousands. As you can see the course of the Holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide were very similar.

The Cambodian Genocide and the Holocaust were very different in their effects. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge Groups got driven out of Cambodia by the Viet Cong. The economy completely collapsed and since all the intellectual people were killed in Genocide it took a while to come back. It is estimated that 25% of population was killed in the genocide, right around 2,000,000 people. In the holocaust, over 6,000,000 Jews, Slavs, Communists, Disabled, and Gypsies were killed. The UN was formed to help keep these disasters from happening again, although these events have occurred since, including Cambodian Genocide. Also, after the war was over for a couple of years, Israel was formed, so the Jewish people had and still have a place to live. As you can see the effects of the genocide are much different, a much higher percentage of people in Cambodia were killed, Holocaust victims were given new land, and Germany’s economy did not collapse afterward.

The holocaust also differs from the Cambodian Genocide, because it still affects us today and is remembered more. Indirectly caused by the holocaust, we still see Middle Eastern conflicts over the country of Israel. Also, in the holocaust, and the Nuremberg trials, Nazi officials were actually convicted, Cambodian leaders were not (Only 1) in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Here is a quote that talks more about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal; “The government, meanwhile, made plans for a tribunal to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. Not surprisingly, those who have spoken publicly all lay the blame for genocide on Pol Pot, and claim no knowledge of the killing.”(Cambodian Genocide)

As you can see the effects of the holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide are much different. We will always remember these genocides as horrific but also different in many ways. Although both the Holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide both were caused by powerful leaders seizing power and they both have similar ways of killing large amount of people, they differ in the effects of the genocide such as the minority race in Holocaust getting new land (Israel) and no land was given in the Cambodian Genocide.

Work Cited

“Cambodia Profile.” BBC News. BBC, 17 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. “Cambodian Genocide | World Without Genocide.” Cambodian Genocide | World Without Genocide. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. “GENOCIDE – CAMBODIA.” GENOCIDE – CAMBODIA. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a D Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print. Kumar, Susmit. “Dr. Susmit Kumar.”
Dr. Susmit Kumar. N.p., n.d. Web. F 3 30 Apr. 2013.

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