15: Les Khmers Rouges: Double Lives in Sihanouk's Golden Era
How does the Communist Party of Kampuchea form? How does Saloth Sar become a married man and teacher? What are the consequences of Sihanouk’s neutral foreign policy?
Time Period Covered 1955-1960
As peace broke out over Cambodia in the wake of the First Indochina War, the fledgling communist movement had to learn to survive in a newly independent country under the rule of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Numbers dwindling and unable to openly resist the government, the ‘revolutionary organisation’, as they began calling themselves, found an avenue for recruits in the schools of Phnom Penh. The man who would become Pol Pot became a teacher.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to navigate a neutral path for Cambodia in the Cold War era, Sihanouk opens relations with China as well as the United States. This agenda will have consequences, as the CIA begins trying to undermine his government and even seek his removal. The resulting “Bangkok Plot”, a series of conspiracies against him, will be explained.
The Khmer Rouge, as Sihanouk had begun calling the communists in his country, will also meet to discuss a new kind of organisation - the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Saloth Sar, Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary will all find themselves in high-ranking positions as the seeds of their revolution are sewn.
Philip Short Pol Pot: History of a Nightmare
David Chandler The Tragedy of Cambodian History, Brother Number One
Ben Kiernan How Pol Pot Came to Power
Milton Osbourne Sihanouk
Elizabeth Becker When the War was Over
Norodom Sihanouk My War with the CIA
Peter Froberg Idling Song for an Approaching Storm
Craig Etcheson Overview of Hierarchy of Democratic Kampuchea