Visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - History

    Travel to Cambodia is becoming increasingly popular for many people all across the world. Cambodia has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions and historical sites that you can visit to expand your knowledge. One of the most prominent sites that people frequent when visiting Cambodia is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. 

    This site is a memorial to the S-21 detention & interrogation center that was present during the Khmer Rouge regime. There is a very rich backstory to the present day Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and we are going to cover it all down below.

    Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    History of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

    In 1975, Tuol Svay Prey High School was overrun by Pol Pot's security enforcements who then converted the school into what was known as Security Prison 21. Soon after it's the formation, S21 was transformed into one of the largest torture and detention centers in the country. What was previously S21 is now the Tuol Sleng Museum to showcase the crime committed by the Khmer Rouge.

    Between the years of 1975 & 1978, an estimated 20,000 people were held and killed at the S21 facility. The Khmer Rouge took pride in making sure that they kept detailed records of all their killings and every prisoner who was held at S21 had a photograph taken before and after their torture session was complete.

    Perhaps one of the craziest twists in the story of the Khmer Rouge is that once the regime rose to power, they began killing the very executioners who worked for them. This was a display of just how far the regime was willing to go in order to prove their dominance in the country. In 1979, the Vietnamese army was able to liberate Phnom Penh however only 7 prisoners were still alive at S21.

    The remaining survivors used skills such as painting to survive the brutality of the regime.

    Tuol Sleng Prisoner Room

    Visiting the Museum today

    When visiting the Tuol Sleng Museum today, you will find rooms upon rooms filled with the B&W photos of prisoners who were held there. The experience of seeing all the torture and pain that prisoners were forced to endure at S21 Is something that you won't find anywhere else.

    When traveling inside Cambodia with a visa, it's important to gain a clearer understanding as to why the country operates the way it does today. You can tell the exact year a prisoner's photo was taken according to the style of the number-board that it was plastered on.

    You would also be shocked to know that there were several foreign prisoners held at S21 including citizens of New Zealand, Australia, & the USA. If you really want to get the full experience of the museum, you should hire a guide who will be able to tell you details about each area inside.

    In 1977, an average of about 100 people was killed each day inside of the S21 facility. The Tuol Sleng Museum is what to do in Cambodia if you're looking for a culturally rich experience. Most of the displays present inside of the museum have been donated by the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

    The organization was started in 1995 for the sole purpose of documenting all of the crimes caused by the Khmer Rouge. While there is a lot of history buried underneath the ruins of the S21 facility, you shouldn't expect much excitement in terms of design.

    The museum itself has remained largely untouched so that visitors are able to get an accurate representation of how things were for prisoners during that time. The bleak school buildings and plain architecture do a great job of transferring the feelings of how prisoners must have felt during their captivity.

    Modern Day Cambodia

    What can be done with Cambodia visa in today's times are much different than what was allowed during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Visitors can enjoy plenty of beautiful landscapes and natural architecture to keep you entertained while on your trip.

    If you want to take a deep dive into the history of Cambodia, you should definitely visit the Tuol Sleng museum. This short article is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what to expect when you actually visit. 


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