The Killing Fields

Never in my life would I have thought I would see anything like this. I was born in January of 1972. Three years later in Cambodia- genocide was in full force. In school (relatively small town in Wisconsin) we learned about Hitler and Germany. I never learned about Cambodia. The horror in Cambodia was actually an offshoot of the Vietnam War. The US decided to heavily bomb Cambodia in a last ditch effort to assert power and drive out any Vietcong that may be hiding there. What it actually did was pave the way for the Khmer Rouge (guerrilla soldiers) to gain control of parts of the country. The bombing destroyed much of Phnom Penh. So much so, that the Khmer Rouge came in looking like saviors and then quickly turned to tyrants. They set up work camps where literally worked people to death. Anyone could be sent to a camp – there were even reports that people with soft hands were targets. Any member of the Khmer Rouge could label someone as an “enemy of the revolution” and they would be sentenced to death.
The Khmer Rouge said that it was Year Zero. All history, art, family ties – anything from the past was eradicated. There was even no smiling. Your job was to work for the Khmer Rouge so they could grow in power. That was it. The “mastermind” (power hungry, insecure megalomaniac) behind the plans was a man named Pol Pot. He targeted young men to get involved in the movement, then used fear to keep people in line. If you didn’t follow a rule- you would die.
If a person didn’t die from being worked, walked or starved to death, they were blindfolded then taken in big trucks to the killing fields. The killing fields were exactly that- fields where they killed people then shoved them into mass graves. The pictures we took here can not begin to describe the experience. An excellent guided walking tour (via a headset) takes you around the compound.
This happened so recently (within the last 38 years) and there are so many bodies buried there that every time there is a rain, more bones and clothing are unearthed. You are literally walking on jaw bones and spines. What looks like an old rag is someone’s shirt or pants. There is a large tree where they would hold small children and babies by the ankles and beat them to death in front of their mothers. They killed everyone so no one would seek revenge in the future.

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One picture is of Maddux looking at one of the mass graves. In another I am pointing at old clothing and what appears to be a backbone. You can make out teeth in the other photo. Unbelievable!

Categories: cambodia | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The Killing Fields

  1. Kerri

    unbelievable! 😦

    • Kerri, oh it was unbelievable, my sister! I think about it every day. Hard to even try and comprehend. Any more snow by you? Love!

      Sent from my iPad

      • kerri

        I can only imagine how haunting that is! We have had quite the snowy winter. Its just starting to feel like spring.. mid 50’s and sunny. Love you guys! Happy Easter 🙂

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