The Tuol Sleng Museum is located in an old high school. That's because when the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, they swiftly converted the high school into a detention center that would come to symbolize many of the great horrors that took place during the Khmer Rouge's reign until the Vietnamese invaded in January 1979. So that when you enter the compound, the first thing that strikes you is not the grim horrors that took place, but wondering what it must have been like to attend high school in Phnom Penh during peaceful times, picturing teenagers coming in and out of the shuttered classroom doors carrying books and lunches and hopes and dreams.
But as you move from room to room, you realize how quickly things can turn on a dime, how one wooden desk can be quickly transformed into a work station for an interrogator, and how all the other furniture can be removed to make way for torture facilities and imprisonment. It is, after all, just a building.Read More