Death Of A Nation: The Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia

We didn’t come to Cambodia to talk about the genocide. We came here to talk about the country, the past and present alike. But to truly explain the backdrop of modern Cambodia, it’s just something we can’t ignore. Let’s look at the Khmer Rouge. But before we get into today’s story, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s watched, who’s liked, who’s commented, subscribed, taken part in any way. It means so much to us. This is a unique and new thing and it is so cool to have you along for the ride. In addition, we’re in a new country. Welcome to Cambodia. And with a new country, we’re gonna implement a couple of new styles, maybe change up the camerawork a little bit. We really hope you like it, but either way let us know in the comments below. But for now, let’s get back to this story. Okay, so back to Cambodia. This country is primarily inhabited by the Khmer people. They were once rulers of a great empire based in Angkor. But their golden age was in the 1200’s and that was quite some time ago. Since then, Cambodia has been constantly invaded by Vietnam and Thailand, and in the Colonial Era, France. And when French colonialism collapsed, America stepped in as part of its war in Vietnam. And the war brought unrest. The revolution came to Cambodia in the form of Viet Minh soldiers camping in jungles across the border to hide from the French and American bombs. But it was a bit too Vietnam-focused for the nationalist Cambodians. They banded around the leadership of a Paris-educated elite called Saloth Sar, or more commonly known by his pseudonym, Pol Pot It formed the basis for what would eventually be called the Khmer Rouge. They’d started small, just a rebel group in a distant jungle fighting against a beloved king. But everything changed when America began to bomb Cambodia. Without even declaring war, they began bombing the country in force. The United States dropped more explosives on Cambodia than were dropped in the entirety of World War II by all the Allies combined. It was meant to stop communist guerrillas, but it only made more of them. After all, you can imagine what this was doing on the ground. Civilians were being blown out of their homes with their only sources of income destroyed. Tens of thousands were killed indiscriminately. It drove people right into the arms of the Khmer Rouge and thoroughly weakened the central government. And then there was the coup. The king didn’t suppress communism loudly enough. He was walking a tightrope, but America was fighting a war. They installed a military dictatorship that hated communists the proper amount. And the king, with nowhere to turn for support, publicly promoted the Khmer Rouge. They promised to reinstate the throne. And this opened the floodgates. The average person joining didn’t understand the ins and outs of Pol Pot’s doctrine, but they understood loyalty to king and country. As the Vietnam War ends and Saigon falls, Cambodia’s dictatorship falls with it. They’ve been heavily reliant on U.S. money, support, and military to stay in power, and now the U.S. is gone. The Khmer Rouge come out of the forest and replaced this military dictatorship with something far more brutal. And they waste absolutely no time in implementing their evil plans. They immediately make the city disappear into the countryside. Leave everything behind, give all of your money and items and food over to the Khmer Rouge and start walking. They kill administrators, soldiers, teachers, anyone they consider elite immediately on the spot and turn everyone else into a countryside peasant. Within hours, the government decided that education was unnecessary. After all everything you needed to know in life you could learn working in a rice field. They killed people who wore glasses simply because they seemed elitist. They started to turn all the schools into prisons and work camps like the infamous S21 here in Phnom Penh. Once a high school, it was quickly turned into the most infamous prison in the Khmer Rouge regime. 99% plus death rates of prisoners. It didn’t matter your age, your gender, your creed, your position in the party, if you entered the walls of that prison you would eventually end up here, in the killing fields just outside town. The Khmer Rouge believed that they were making a perfect society. In their eyes they would change everything until all people were the same. Not equal, but the same. The same thoughts, the same ideas, the same life, the same experiences. An impossible ideal, but they were willing to kill for it. Loving someone without party permission meant death. And they weren’t giving up jobs based on skills or experience because that would imply that people weren’t the same. They were giving them out based on loyalty, on who was a member of the party. There was even a 12 year old who ended up running an entire section of the country. An administrative task that she definitely was not up for. And so, you end up immediately with starvation, of course. But once starvation comes in, people aren’t allowed to forage for food, because foraging implies individuality. It implies that you’re not eating the same as everybody else and therefore you can’t be the same. The government literally preferred that their people starve to death then show even the slightest hint of individualism. Soon as the country began to collapse, the party decided to blame spies from within. This is always so common. It’s not our fault. It must be saboteurs within the party who are stopping us from achieving these lofty goals. And the only way to get rid of saboteurs is to kill them. They didn’t just kill them though, because whenever they tortured them they made them give names. There were no names to give. These were innocent people. They had not done the crime they were being accused of. So what names would they give? They gave the names of people they knew. Maybe they didn’t like them. Maybe just whoever, under torture. It ended up killing families. These prisons would take friends, families, co-workers, anyone you’d associated with, and kill them alongside. And for 3 years straight, around the country, in killing fields such as this one, the regime repeated their terrible pattern. It wasn’t sympathy from abroad that stopped the Khmer Rouge but hubris from within. Even though their population was starving, their leadership had been purged and their army was weak, they decided to invade Vietnam. It was the sort of tactical leadership you’d expect from the Khmer Rouge. It was the sort of idea that could only come up if everyone was afraid to say no to you. Vietnam wiped the floor with them. It was barely even a war. Within a few days, they had already taken almost every major city. The Khmer Rouge fled back into the forest and Vietnam set up a government of its own like it. But the Khmer Rouge weren’t dead yet. They’d survive for another roughly 20 years in the jungles, actually keeping some power and putting a lot of pressure on the government to change, to fear them. It was because they had major powers backing them abroad. People who were so opposed to what was happening with communist Russia. How the Soviets were coming down to Vietnam to impose their style of communism, that they were willing to back the Khmer Rouge despite what they’d done internally. Knowing that the genocide had happened. So the Khmer Rouge stay in the jungles until the late 1990’s. Not really keen on fighting a rebellion in Cambodia, the Vietnamese try to step back but they can’t let the Khmer Rouge take over again. So they sort of find themselves in limbo up until the 90’s, whenever the UN steps in and puts the king back in power. The king from the very beginning. So they’ve basically reverted 30 years before as if none of it’s ever happened. The Khmer Rouge are still in the jungles. The king is in power. There are external threats constantly deciding the fate of Cambodia. Almost as if it’s reset. But of course it hasn’t reset. This terrible thing has happened. This trauma, this homicide, this genocide of the people is looming over everything. To convince the Khmer Rouge to come out of the forest and disband to become part of normal society again, they make a deal that gives them near amnesty. Despite these leaders having committed a holocaust, a genocide of their people, they go unpunished. To this day, despite UN efforts, not a single one of their leading members has been to prison for their crimes. Some have been on trial, but nothing came of it. So 40 years later, the trauma remains unfinished. There’s no catharsis to end this experience. It’s just sort of trickled out. And you can see how it affects everything in the modern day. Cambodia is more than just the story of the Khmer Rouge. It is the story of Angkor. It is the story of modern Phnom Penh. It is a story of a bright, friendly nation seemingly worlds away from the struggles of their recent past. It’s a country of skyscrapers, smiling faces, and optimism for the future. Yet the legacy remains. The Khmer Rouge era is over. It’s gone. But it can’t be forgotten. This is Rare Earth.

100 comments on “Death Of A Nation: The Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia”

  1. Rare Earth says:

    Thanks to everyone who asked about our Patreon. I'll put out a full video when I get the time, but for those who want to jump the gun and get on board from the start, here's the link:

    It means a huge deal that so many have asked us to start an account. I never thought anyone would watch these videos, let alone support them.

  2. Enlightened Neutral says:

    Great content!

  3. Tom 1 says:

    I m Cambodia

  4. Roger Xavier says:

    Thanks 🇺🇸 always destroying lives around the world ! What a wicked nation

  5. Phyreak Playz says:

    They killed all the smart people they destroyed factories
    Before Khmer Rouge we can build motor bike cars boots hats everything
    Can’t believe this

  6. Phyreak Playz says:

    Say thank you to Vietnam

  7. Look at my avater god damn it You will not regets . says:

    They decided to invade vietnam .
    Vietnam : I'm gonna end this whole mans career

  8. Dalton Ballerini says:

    If you want to learn more read the book “never fall down” it is about this!

  9. aleksander suur says:

    A challenge! Can anyone, from entire world history, think of a more insane regime than Khmer Rouge? There have certainly been rulers who have been individually more insane, but honestly I can't think of any country or nation as a whole in any period to rival the sheer insanity of Cambodia under Khmer Rouge. That little bit of history just forms an entire league of it's own when it comes to insanity.

  10. Mr Crazy says:

    Such is the way of Socialism and Low IQ

  11. Sophia Cox says:

    This video is absolutely perfect… really good.. thank you

  12. Daniel Heng says:

    After Pol Pot's death in 1998, Cambodia's population and economy grew a lot. As of 2019, Cambodia IS THE 6th fastest growing country in the world.

  13. piotrzielonka1987 says:

    Man, I dont want to say that Americans are only good but saying that "Americans step in as a part of war in Vietnam" is just unfair, because it were vietcong forxes who first violated Cambodia neutrality and established Cho Chi Min trail.

  14. Shadow Windz says:

    I Luve TuRtleZ

  15. Sian Pipps says:

    i come from cambodia , I was born there

  16. W Miller says:

    Well put together and very educational, well done

  17. Willem Blom says:

    Great content! One comment: you can't apply the term Holocaust for the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. What distincts a holocaust from a "regular" genocide is the industrialozation of mass killings, which was not the case with this genocide.

  18. Black Pill says:

    The only good communist is a dead communist.

  19. Mila Thomas says:

    This is going to be India soon

  20. Mila Thomas says:

    Imagine this people, he was a teacher, he was given education, he was send abroad for higher studies, he was soft spoken, was smiling, and yet was able to even convert schools to places of tortoure…all dictators were and still are people who are seen as saviours by their uneducated, poor(also the educated and elite minority) country men and women and we are executed for being of a different race, class, political view, choice of food, language, culture that is different from that of the dictator to whom power was/is handed over by the masses who think that the grass is greener on the other side, but no matter what, doesn't matter how many mass graves are marked, or concentration camps turned into museums, people will make money out of that for tourism, but of course will say that we should do it so that people are not forgotten, people will not do this again,etc. But the truth and grim reality is that people will do it again and again, and the people who do it will always have the justification for doing it and give fiery speeches and inspire people to murder, rape, torture and whatever, justifying the means to their ideal, glorious past and promising a utopian future… and that's hard for the masses to say no to, and the dictators know that the people will do anything to achieve it…

  21. Doctor Otis says:

    Took in boat people in 75. What a pleasure to help these innocents

  22. Fabio Henrique says:

    Socialism being Socialism

  23. David Satria says:

    Polpot is people China😡 if Polpot live in think Cabodia is China and very people China…..fuck Chinadog

  24. Logos Nomos says:

    Communism kills and SJWs/Antifa can"t wait to take over and do the same as Pol Pot.

  25. boson96 says:

    Communism and Cultural Marxism are the most atrocious ideologies ever conceived by man.

  26. Alex and kevin Fuck says:

    Fuck U trup

  27. vivek kumar says:

    Wearing a George Orwell 1984 t-shirt while covering a dictatorship that doesn't like individualism subtle 🤷‍♀️

  28. Kieran Cooke says:

    It’s so sad how my school just brushed over the Cambodian Genocide. It wasn’t part of the curriculum but my teacher decided to do a one day lesson on it and my whole class was so intrigued, but since it wasn’t part of the curriculum we all ended up doing our own research on it

  29. MrCowboyJesus says:

    All of the Khmer Rouge Killers remain free today. It was a genocide that remains entirely unpunished. Only a very few top leaders were ever brought to Justice. That was what is so horrible about this Mass killing. The president of Cambodia today is a former Khmer Rouge Cadre. And he has refused to allow any justice to take place. It is a shame that the people in Cambodia do not rise up and do something.

  30. Xàm LoL TV says:

    That is the reason why we, the Vietnamese, fought to the bitter end against the Khmer Rouge. We fought to protect our people, to save our neighbor, to fight for what is right.

    No thanks, no recognition, and we were condemned for that

  31. Xàm LoL TV says:

    That is the reason why we, the Vietnamese, fought to the bitter end against the Khmer Rouge. We fought to protect our people, to save our neighbor, to fight for what is right.

    No thanks, no recognition, and we were condemned for that

  32. Xàm LoL TV says:

    That is the reason why we, the Vietnamese, fought to the bitter end against the Khmer Rouge. We fought to protect our people, to save our neighbor, to fight for what is right.

    No thanks, no recognition, and we were condemned for that

  33. Xàm LoL TV says:

    That is the reason why we, the Vietnamese, fought to the bitter end against the Khmer Rouge. We fought to protect our people, to save our neighbor, to fight for what is right.

    No thanks, no recognition, and we were condemned for that

  34. Xàm LoL TV says:

    That is the reason why we, the Vietnamese, fought to the bitter end against the Khmer Rouge. We fought to protect our people, to save our neighbor, to fight for what is right.

    No thanks, no recognition, and we were condemned for that

  35. Xàm LoL TV says:

    That is the reason why we, the Vietnamese, fought to the bitter end against the Khmer Rouge. We fought to protect our people, to save our neighbor, to fight for what is right.

    No thanks, no recognition, and we were condemned for that

  36. The Shpee says:

    My grandma barely survived the Khmer Rouges. I just learned this a couple days ago

  37. Akabeurjub says:

    Nice America, you stopped communism

  38. Nathaniel Bables says:

    One of the world's biggest displays of stupidity and irrationality, with shit loads of people dying for no reason.

  39. Jon Christian Andersen says:

    sosilism works. komunism works. ask sovjet, cuba and venzuela!!

  40. thai bloodline says:

    Cambodia has many magicians. They are keen on superstition. The result of using superstition It affects people and Cambodia to be like this.

  41. ADRIAN G says:

    SJWs should watch this.

  42. Stephen Sanderson says:

    Wow I have no idea I knew I knew of the mass genocide it was horrible to hear about it but I have no idea our involvement I had no idea that in the seventies we were giving the money and I had no idea of any of this I wasn't following politics a government changes I was raised to never talk politics religion at the dinner table therefore I never took interest and this ideology is so wrong because it doesn't teach your kids to delegate and have good conversation that's just as rich as the food you eat with nourishment with Dums are children down biblically constitutionally just so Hillary can have it and the Democratic Party wow

  43. Mike Bond says:

    No punishment for the USA for the bombing? This camt be forgotten remember the USA are also the only one to ever trop the atomic bomb on another country

  44. MaGiCMushroomClouds says:

    I don't think the ancient Khmer built Angkor. Like many ancient sites around the world I think it was part of a much older civilization. Not knocking modern Cambodians, this is a worldwide trend. They likely rediscovered it and moved back in like humans in Peru, Athens, Lebanon, Giza, India, China and so on. I didn't build my home either, I found it and moved in too. We still all belong to the same species that built these places, so it doesn't make us any less great. Surviving a cosmic impact is fairly impressive in and of itself.

  45. Michael Dyer says:

    Very good summary. Usually I can find something to complain about in a presentation, like this, but you did a very good job.

  46. Marius says:

    Fucking United States…

  47. Binh Bui says:

    It’s a shame that the countries like USA & china had supported Khmer Rouge against VN. How can they did that when more than 3 million cambodians have been killed by there evil.

  48. ang xin says:

    Those yankee who drop the bombs… aren't being punished either…

  49. Eli Tjen says:

    I'm in Cambodia now sihanoukville.i very impressed.Khmer people so nice…after hear this story my heart was broke…it's a really dark side part they can pass through…salute for Khmer

  50. GrassPossum says:

    You're right there has been almost nobody held responsible for the horrors and most former Khmer Rouge remain living peacefully and more often than not with privileges still. I've spent a lot of time in Cambodia a few years ago and know the place and people well. A Khmer hotel owner and well connected older woman there whom I know was a school teacher who somehow survived. Her obvious wealth and connections today make clear why that it. The UN history in Cambodia is atrocious too. They are known for having debauched so many of the young girls there's even a standing display depicting this at a village museum in Siem Reap.

  51. rattyflood says:

    I’m here after I watched Angelina Jolie’s movie. “First they shot my father” to learn more about this.

  52. Mr.Xdomerex YT says:

    Pol pot is good but vietnam try to take our land. Now 2019 vietnam move their borther more 30 km in to our country. We neeedddd help …..

  53. J C says:

    Pol pot the most evil man earth. Communism is the deadliest disease

  54. J C says:

    Death to all Communists!

  55. Jai Nepal says:

    Please have the balls to say it as it was…The AMERICAN GOVERNMENT continued to finance and provide arms to this group…Cambodia and the great Khmer people suffered on for over a decade more due to support provided by USA to PolPot gangs to further ferment division and conflict….same tactics we can see being used even now over and over from Ukraine to Syria to Libya etc etc….

  56. j d says:

    There is a Pol Pot hiding in the black heart of every radical Leftist…In the USA..we call them democrats

  57. Ben Quinney says:



  58. ツLazyloafPaStry says:

    SEE MOM the internet IS useful >:,0

  59. Rainbow Sprinkles says:

    I want to thank Rare Earth for covering such a dark past in history. Im Malaysian and I’ve never even heard of the Khmer Rouge before until I briefly came across it in my school textbook. I hope for the leaders to receive their punishment and for the victims to recover from such a traumatic incident which still feels recent.

  60. heekyung Kim says:

    american government did a big part of creating pol pot regime.

  61. UDR Sa says:


  62. K So says:

    China had supported the KHmer Rouge regime of Cambodia.

  63. Magister Ludi says:

    Communism kills.

  64. lor saloeun says:

    You are wrong i am cambodian 3M poeple was dead in 3 year

  65. HomeTownVideo says:

    khmer rough invade Viet Nam? lol Why? u guy are suck at history! VN population, ten time more than Cambodia. Like 1 fight 10

  66. Silly Goose says:


  67. Sy Hong says:

    My family survived this horrific regime! Please check out my sister’s book “Beautiful Hero” by Jennifer Lau, winner of 5 Gold awards!!

  68. Lay Official says:


  69. zhy yu says:

  70. Jedi solo says:


  71. luuvxemi says:

    I hate that schools never teach abt the Khmer Rouge some kids need to learn abt this before making fun of Asians.

    My cousins aunt was killed by the Khmer Rouge.

  72. Aaron In Cambodia says:

    A piece of me dies every time I see these videos. My beloved Cambodia 😢❤️🇰🇭🇺🇸

  73. suwan K says:

    t never ended one of the leader is the minister hun sen

  74. Keisuke Keta says:

    I am wondering that how Lee Hsien Loong feel when he watch this clip, he maybe not believe in what happened in Cambodia. He is still proud of what his father did, that is supporting Pol Pot and lasting the war longer than it should have been.

  75. Electric Boba says:

    I live in Cambodia, Siem Reap. I flew to c Phnom Pehn in Cambodia and went to the Killing Fields, and Tuol Sleng.

  76. Electric Boba says:

    This is technically the Khmer Rouge is basicly hell but on earth.

  77. Saifudeen Muthu Ahamed says:

    America caused holocaust in vietnam and what has been done to those tyrants? Which American was punished???

  78. Nguyen Huy Tu Quan says:

    And you know what? Behind Khmer Rough was China's support. Throughout the 1980s, they had consistently demanded Vietnam not only to retreat its army, but also to constitute a new Campuchia Government includes Khmer Rough. China had always declared that there was no genocide at all, and Vietnam just told a fake story, using it as a cause to invade Campuchia to reunite Indochina. In my opinion, Vietnam interfered Campuchia not only because its needs of peace and security but also for humanity reasons.
    Now we see. Khmer Rough is a devil which killed so many people in vast brutal ways. And we can also see, China is a liar, a big big liar in Asia. It is (not was) because it continue to lie about their nine-dots sovereign in South China Sea. Actually, they has legally occupied those islands by forces. They took some from South Vietnam (1974) and took some from Vietnam (1988). They shot and killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers.
    South East Asia, be careful and thoughtful with China.

  79. Keisuke Keta says:

    It is so strange that the Cambodians fear Khmer Rouge but they don't try to wipe them out of the country. They think that it will disappear naturally without do anything.

  80. Phong Le says:

    If Viet Nam don't come to aid,Cambodia would still be Communist.That's why a loy of Cambodian talk about this and show disrespect toward Vietnamese

  81. reiokei says:

    My mom and dad survived, thankfully.
    My dad told me stories of how he travelled with my grandma and his sisters and brothers through the jungle to escape. He said that he once saw the Khmer Rouge paint a grenade orange to resemble an orange and watch them throw it into a hole. And the starving people would go into the hole to eat, but they all died. Eventually my dad escaped to Thailand, where the French were setting up safety camps.

    My mom lost her biological father due to the war. She said that her dad was shot but didn’t die, rather, he was burned alive. She also remembered stories of sleeping in a house with her mom and sisters. And she heard the Khmer Rouge invade their land. She explained that there was a guy who couldn’t speak. ( he was mute and “stupid”, which is just a disability.) the Khmer Rouge interrogated him, but he couldn’t talk. My mom said that they hit him in the head with a shovel, multiple times, just hearing his screams. She eventually escaped to Thailand as well. Thankfully both of my parents didn’t step on a mine.

  82. Zavd Dkah Arda says:

    The WORLD cannot define where the foundation of many conflicts has taken its form. Theyd forgotten something: THE COLONIZERS. Why not demand the Vatican-raised Spaniards, the Portuguese and the French to answer for the debacles wrought by their destructive adventure at the South East?

    What must be the good derivatives of the modern world to the former monarchial states of SE Asia? Nothing! France , divested The kingdom of its precious heritage. Adulterated and disturb its ancient culture. Colonist France installed a puppet monarch and after the people suffered much from their mistakes under a protracted length of time, brought another defective monarch from the same puppet line of Sihanuok.


  83. Zavd Dkah Arda says:

    Its the French who did all these catasthrope.

  84. Zavd Dkah Arda says:

    And theyre still there remotely manipulating Cambodia by way of their puppet monarch and their patron government.

  85. Iosif Stalin says:

    How many people died by american bombing?

  86. ny preap says:

    This is so good. Thank you for sharing this with us 🙏

  87. Dalen Sopheak Phorn says:

    My grandpa almost got killed, but thank god his neighbors hid him when the army was looking for him

  88. JPR says:

    “Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under the omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    -C.S. Lewis

  89. Linh Hoang says:

    China's dog China's dog China's dog China's dog

  90. Joshua Flohr says:

    I visited these places yesterday.. The history lessons back in school didnt do it justice. What a hell it mustve been, heartbreaking

  91. Najib Masghouni says:

    Thank you for this amazing and eye-opening documentary. It is really sad to see what happened to a great nation under the oppressive regime of the Khmer Rouge. Yet still the spirit of the nation will help it rise again and build a brighter future for the generations to come…

  92. SpangeBab says:

    This video proves that the United States is the enemy of world peace.

  93. GHEBALOU Hacène says:

  94. brother gamer says:

    Thank you for a glimpse in to what happened in Cambodia. One point that is rarely mentioned is the role that China played in supporting the Khmer Rouge.

    It has been my observation is that to this day, the Cambodian people were/are too traumatized to speak of what happened and that too many, even to this day, do not understand what happened because they way of knowing what was going on outside their own village. Their overwhelming concern was simply being able to survive today so they could live until tomorrow.

  95. hernan canaveral says:

    You guys are awesome thank you for helping us learn

  96. Stomedy Fan says:

    shouldve burned up the khmer rouge leaders

  97. I don’t know YouTube wanted a name for me says:

    “You can work harder with a gun on your back and a bowl of rice a day”

  98. Shehin Muhammad says:

    tankyou amireca

  99. Andrew says:

    I think Adolf Hitler demonstrated what happens when a right wing government loses its damn mind. Pol Pot demonstrated what happens when a left wing government loses its damn mind.

  100. Yvon Moua Moua says:

    Cool blood learned from China communist.

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