By: Daelin Bright

Cambodian Genocide

Cambodia got their independence in 1954 after being under French control for over 100 years, this then began their 16 year rule under Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Prince Sihanouk ruined their relationship with the United States for a while. A man by the name of Saloth Sar returned to Cambodia after he learned about Marxism. He joined the underground communist movement, they organized an army and then in 1970 took out Prince Sihanouk, he then joined Pol Pot to try and resist the new government. The United States invaded Cambodia and bombed certain areas, more than 100,000 peasants were killed, because of these deaths it pushed more people to join the movement lead by Pol Pot. Pol Pot led an army with mostly teenage boys, he led his army and got control of Cambodia ("Cambodian").

Pol Pot then began his mission, he want to create the “perfect utopian society.” He expels ideas of capitalism and the life of the city, all religion and foreigners were terminated. He shut down embassies, foreign languages were not allowed. Media is taken away and communication was very limited. Education was gone, healthcare too, same with businesses, they were all shut down. Any parental authority was banished, foreign economic and medical assistance was rejected. Cambodia was no longer in contact or in sync with any one from the outside. Two million people in Phnom Penh were forced to leave at gunpoint, an estimated 20,000 people died on the way. The people were forced to become slaves and work in rural areas, most of them died from diseases because they were overworked and had no nutrition, this began what is known as the “killing fields”. The killing fields was where they took people when they were no longer able to work and they would kill them all. Cambodia was then hit with a variety of “cleansings” these cleansings were there way of getting rid of the “old society.” The people who were executed were based off occupation and wealth, or their level of education. Ex soldiers were killed , as was their families, anyone who was suspected to not being loyal to Pol Pot, was killed. Vietnamese, Chinese, and Cham Muslims, were targeted. An estimated 1.7 million people were killed during this genocide, this was 21% of the population at the time ("Cambodian").


The Holocaust, is the most well known genocides ever, and for many reasons. It began when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the Jewish population being 566,000. February, a month after he is appointed this position the Nazi’s burned down Reichstag building to create a chaotic atmosphere. After that in March was when they set up the first concentration camps, after this everything else just followed. The end of 1934, Hitler had complete control of Germany and his mission to get rid of the Jews was in full force. The Nazis believed that the Jews had created a corrupted environment and ruined German culture with their influences. Hitler restricted Hews with legislation and terror, this included burning books they wrote, removing jews from their professions and schools, confiscating their businesses and property and excluding them from public events. The Nuremberg Laws were put into effect in 1935, these formed the legal basis for the Jews’ exclusion and laws from the German society. After all this began many jews tried to leave Germany, thousands succeeded by leaving Germany, but leaving Europe was much more of a challenge (Introduction).

In 1938, the attacks became more violent. A night of destruction, known as Kristallnacht, came about. They looted and destroyed Jewish homes and business and burned synagogues, many jews were beaten and killed, 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. The Germans invaded Poland in 1939, and then began establishing ghettos for the Jews, this is where they were forced to live, isolated away from everyone and everything. The ghettos lacked food water, space, and were not clean, this caused many deaths. They all had to wear a patch so they could be easily identified. In 1941 the “Final Solution” began. The “Final Solution” was the plan to exterminate all Jewish people. It began in the Soviet Union, they gathered jew, marched them together, dug huge pits, lined them up and shot them. 30,000-35,000 Jews were killed in 2 days and by the end of 1942 and estimated 1.3 million jews were murdered. They then established death camps, this made the killing much easier. The purpose of each camp was different, some being slave labor, some transit, others are concentration and sub camps, they also still had the famous death camps, all of which were insanely harsh on all the people. This genocide, took out an estimated 7 million people, most of whom were Jewish (The History).

Cambodian Genocide and The Holocaust

Both of these genocides are very different, but also extremely similar. They both had the idea of destroying a certain group that they believed was destroying their “perfect society.” The Holocaust had a much bigger number of deaths, but the Cambodian genocide is still just as heartbreaking. The people in both situations were starved, over worked, and deprived of all necessities to live a healthy, fulfilled life. They both had a way of mass killing, both of which were horrible, Cambodia had killing fields and the Holocaust had the countless numbers of camps. They both had very influential leaders, Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler were both extremely influential and had a way of persuading people to follow them and believe what they were doing was right. The both had the idea of getting the "utopian society", they wanted to get rid of all the impurities and make there world good again. Both there ideas of how to do this were relatively similar, but their reasonings behind it were very different. Pol Pot wanted to get rid of influences, he wanted the old society back, so he got rid of the wealthy, the educated, basically anything and everything that had an influence of the outside world. Adolf Hitler wanted to exterminate a whole race, he wanted to abolish all the Jews. They both have changed society and how we are today and both affected our lives in a major way (Washington).

A Survivor's Story

Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust was young when the tragedy struck his life, but it is something he will never be able to forget. "Never shall I forget that night...Never (Wiesel 43)."At the age of 16 Elie was sent to a concentration camp with his family, his father, mother, and 3 sisters. His mother and sisters were separated from him and his father. After being separated, Elie and his father stick together, the likelihood of his mother and sister being taken immediately to the gas chamber was very high. Elie and his father stuck together, they went through the unimaginable. They witnessed the death of thousands of people, some by burning, hanging, or just deprivation of the necessities you need to live. They worked, slept, ate very little, and fought to survive (Wiesel).

Elie and his father undergo a certain amount of pain that is unforgettable. The Nazi's striped them of who they were, they took away all pride, their identity was snatched away. Elie was moved from camp to camp and witnessed many different things. He has surgery on his foot, he was also involved in many different beatings. He was beat for the smallest of things, he would not give up his gold tooth, so he was beaten. Elie and his father stuck together for the whole journey. His father could not bear the suffering he was under. Elie did not give up on him, he gave him food and did everything he could to take care of him. Nature took over and his father's time had come. His father knew it was better for Elie, if he was to pass, so he told Elie to no longer protect him. He got very sick and was tired, he passed away (Wiesel).

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Why do Genocides continue to happen?

There really is not a known reason on why genocides still happen. I believe they happen when the wrong people get the right power they need and they use what they believe and try to force it on everyone. The people behind the genocides really have no reason, they just kill to create what they want. They also have no sympathy for others, they are blinded by what they want they ignore the feelings of everyone else. Crisis can sometimes spike genocide, which makes more sense, because in a time of need you look up to someone and try to follow them and get it through, so they are common then. Bystanders never really do anything, this is a big problem, people just let it happen. Genocide is something that should have never happened and definitely should not happen today, it can be prevented, everyone just has to stick together.

Works Cited

"Cambodian Genocide « World Without Genocide - Working to Create a World Without Genocide." Cambodian Genocide « World Without Genocide - Working to Create a World Without Genocide. World Without Genocide, n.d. Web. 24 May 2016. <>.

"Introduction to the Holocaust." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 24 May 2016. <>.

"The History Place - Holocaust Timeline." The History Place - Holocaust Timeline. The History Place, 1997. Web. 24 May 2016. <>.

"The Holocaust Wing | Jewish Virtual Library." The Holocaust Wing |"The Cambodian Genocide - United to End Genocide." United to End Genocide. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016. <>.

Washington State University." Spring 2015 Cambodian Genocide Comparing It to the Holocaust with Political Targeted and Similarities Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016. <>.

Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.