Pol Pot is the former prime minister of Cambodia and leader of the Khmer Rouge. He was also General Secretary of the communist party of Kampuchea (1963-1981). Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia in April 17th, 1975 and ran a totalitarian dictatorship. Throughout his rise in power Pol Pot caused executions, bad working conditions, malnutrition, and poor medical care which resulted in 25% of the population (7-8 million) to die under his rule. In 1979, the Vietnamese Army invaded and deposited the Khmer Rouge, which was the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Pol Pot’s form of government controlled every aspect of a civilians life from money, property, jewelry, and even having a religion was outlawed. His brother in law was Ieng Sary also known as “Brother Number Three” who was also a co-founder of the Khmer Rouge. The Viet Minh was a Communist Organization led by Ho Chi Minh, it elevated a lot of nationalism and was made to fight back the French and Japanese forces. Later in 1956 there was the Dien Bien Phu Battle which ended the French involvement. One thing that I found interesting from learning about this was the phrase “year 0” and that a country can declare that and essentially re-do they’re entire way of life. Year 0 was announced in this case in 1792 and even resulted in the re-doing of the calendar.
Khmer Rouge (April 1975)
The second part of the Rwandan genocide, Gourevitch labels as “Part Two” in his book. It is mainly focused on reprisal killings, the flight of the Tutsis, and the endless Zaire civil war. Throughout Philip Gourevitch’s writing however, he seems to give a pro-Kagame, pro-tutsi view. Paul Kagame was at the time the Vice President of Rwanda but is now the 6th and current president. Kagame has also maintained relatively close relations with the US. He was also the commander of rebel force that ended the 1994 genocide. The main event that occurred after the genocide was the The first Congo War which was from October 1996 – May 1997. The war took place mainly in Zaire and was a foreign invasion of Zaire led by Rwanda. One important result of this war was the renaming of Zaire to the Democratic Republic of Congo which is what it is known as today. Another important event was Operation Turquoise which was a French military led peace making-op. The violence in this region in these years were massive and catastrophic, roughly 4-6 million died in total. Many tried to flee the region and became refugees that were sent to camps. These camps carried deathly diseases that spread quickly and caused even more deaths. The camps of Zaire were known as “Goma” because that is where they were located. Today Joseph Kabila is the current president of Congo and his term ends in 2016. There is still presently killings and violence happening in the area which leaves the country open-ended for the possibility of another civil war occurring.
I found the movie Hotel Rwanda very inspirational. Paul Rusesabagina was the main character in the film and played as the owner of a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. He was a Hutu man but was married to a Tutsi which made matters difficult. The movie portrayed the time when Hutu power was rising and violence was increasing in Rwanda. Rusesabagina was portrayed as kind of the hero in the movie, by taking in countless Tutsi children, families, and anyone trying to find a safe haven into the hotel. He protected them any way he could and strived to stop the killings. Georges Rutaganda was a supplier for the hotel but also the leader of the local interahamwe which was the violent Hutu militia. Rusesabagina later bribed him to help protect the hotel until he could figure out how to save them from dying. Rutaganda also knew of Ruseabagina’s Tutsi wife and was only a matter of time till he acted upon it. There was rising violence between the Hutu’s and Tutsis but the violence got extremely bad when the president Habyarimana was killed and his death was blamed on the Tutsis. There was mass violence on the streets and it spread everywhere. People were armed with machetes and guns ready and fired up. Rutaganda told Rusesabagina that the local interahamwe bought thousands of machetes “from China for 10 cents each”. I found the use of radio propaganda quite interesting. It was their main media outlet and the Hutu power used it to almost brain wash all Hutu’s. Constantly saying things like “remember one cockroach can start an infestation”. Once the president died they were saying “killed by the Tutsi cockroaches! Let us go to war, let none of them escape”. The UN was there from time to time, but didn’t do much to help the situation, they were portrayed as almost an accessory or task force that was there to help but didn’t do much helping till the very end when the refugees of the Hotel finally got to a safe zone to be transported out. One thing that I was curious about was the children of intermarried parents. All people had ID cards that were labeled either Hutu or Tutsi but there were children of mixed identity. It made me wonder what their cards are labeled as or if checked did the Hutu parents just show their card for them?
“The dead of Rwanda accumulated at nearly three times the rate of Jewish dead during the Holocaust” (Gourevitch)
The book We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families – Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch is an informative read. It’s a narrative of many personal stories containing a lot of facts and useful information. I found it had the perfect balance to make it a enjoyable to read yet hard at times due to the content. The book is based on the Rwandan genocide, one of the most tragic events in history. Rwanda is overwhelming catholic, which was something I hadn’t known before and played a big part in society. Catholic schools were very popular but once the violence started discrimination spread into the educational system also. Catholic schools started discriminating against Hutu’s and were in favor of Tutsi’s. I think this must’ve added to the tension between the two greatly since many were religious people. I can’t imagine a religion discriminating against a race and in this case Catholicism. Hutu’s were Bantu, cultivators, vassals, mostly peasants/farmers, and were generally darker, shorter with curlier hair. While on the other hand Tutsi’s were herdsmen, cattle workers, and generally taller, more slender, with lighter skin. These were the most popular distinctions between the two. I found the whole concept and uprising very interesting since it was not in their nature before. In Kigali there was a plane that was shot down and everyone was killed and thats when the real violence started. In 1994 the French led a military operation in Rwanda in efforts to establish a “safe-zone”, this movement was called Operation Turquoise. The Rwandan genocide was a genocidal mass murder led by the Hutu government against the Tutsis. It began by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali and lasted from about April 7th – July 1994. With casualties ranging from 500,000 to 1 million.
“It was the most efficient mass killing since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (Gourevitch)
Operation Turquoise- French military with Hutu refugees
This political cartoon illustrates the relationship between the executive branch and legislative if Donald Trump were to become president. Also depicting how he wants to be portrayed to the nation and to the world. The first thing noticed is that the White House definitely does not look like the White House. The author exaggerated the architecture and also made it look quite similar to the Trump Tower in New York. The normal White House today looks like only the first level of the White House in the cartoon. While the Trump Tower is an extravagant 58-story skyscraper which a majority of Americans are familiar with when thinking of Donald Trump, like a symbol. The author is showing people’s common perception of Trump, that he’s more of a successful businessman than the next president. The author’s illustration of the White House can also be perceived as looking more powerful and intimidating to the world than the White House today. Therefore, exaggerating Trump’s goal of making America such a big superpower that no other country would try to compete or harm it.
Another interesting factor of the cartoon is the sign in front of the White House labeled “Trump White House.” The author used labeling to also magnify Trump’s popularly known ego. It depicts that Trump is labeling the White House as his own almost territory, making it clear that he’s in charge and leaving the capitol building almost in the clouds. Instead of showing a balance of power, all the power looks held in only the executive branch.
I chose this political cartoon of Hitler and Stalin because it reminded me of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or German-Soviet non-aggression pact. It was named after the Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov and German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop as an agreement of non-aggression or “neutrality pact” between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. However, things escalated quickly between the two nations. Only lasting roughly two years until Hitler launched an attack on the Soviets in Eastern Poland during Operation Barbarossa on June 22nd,1941 which ended the pact. In this cartoon the author used labeling and said “wonder how long the honeymoon will last?”, I took it as referring to the short period of time the two countries had the pact lasting.
Presidential Forum Thoughts:
After watching the presidential forum for Clinton and Trump, I would say I’m pleased with how the discussions went. Hillary Clinton did a good job of standing her ground and really strived to get her point across. I was surprised as to how well she defended herself and had a strong answer for every question asked. I had a feeling the personal email server would come up again, and it did. You could tell Clinton was getting heated and more defensive when it was brought up. She said several times that she apologized and realized it was wrong but that kind of mistake and secretive work can’t be something brought to the White House. I did however agree with her point to better analyze ISIS, online, on ground, and by air in order to defeat them. I think whoever is next as commander in chief needs to take this as a first priority and goal. Trump on the other hand, remained his confident self and has gotten less fired up in discussions. It was almost like they switched places and now Clinton was the aggressor. I agreed with his idea of working out a solution for illegal immigrants that want to serve within the military to be able to. He didn’t have a clear plan or idea yet, but he sounded like he was considering it which I think is a valid reason to stay in the country. I also agreed with his idea of building good relations with Russia and coming together to defeat ISIS. I think its a good plan if handled very carefully and with all the right decisions. It’s important for candidates to have an actual plan especially this late in the race rather than just a broad opinion on what to do about situations. For example, when both candidates were asked on what they will do about the veteran suicide rate in America, both candidates did have a plan in mind. Which personally, I would have liked them to expand more on. As a whole, the topics discussed were touchy subjects but important ones that I think both candidates handled well.
Clinton vs. Trump Debate thoughts:
Both Clinton and Trump had very different views on different foreign policy issues. One being ISIS, Trump has a much more strategic yet some may say “more careless” plan to take care of this issue. I think it’s just more detailed and straight-forward than Clinton’s proposed plan of working with the governments of different muslim countries. You can tell that Trump wants to take care of it once and for all and kind of be done with the whole situation and Clinton wants to take a slower more careful approach. Although terrorism and especially the rise of ISIS is a touchy and dangerous issue to be dealt with it has been a problem during the Obama administration and not much has been done about it. In our next president it’s important for real action to be taken.
Another thing I found interesting was the discussion on Russia. Clinton and Trump had opposing opinions on accused Russian activity. Clinton supported and brought to light that Russia is hacking US government websites and national security information. Whereas Trump denied the accusations and acted in more support of Putin. Which wasn’t surprising to me since in the Presidential Forum Trump was talking about how he thinks America should team up with Russia to put an end to ISIS.
On October 1st, a few of my classmates and I took a trip to Washington, DC. Our first stop was the Holocaust Museum. This was not my first time visiting the museum however it was definitely much different than my previous visit. The first time I had gone was my sophomore year in high school for a project I was doing in my world history class. I walked all around the museum casually skimming the pictures and blurbs on the walls without really taking the time to analyze and understand the depth of the events. Now having background information and while currently reading a 524 page book on the Holocaust it was much different. I noticed myself examining every picture I saw and reading the captions and stories. Having more knowledge on the events, I almost felt more emotionally attached to the little things that I had seen. It was like walking through the Holocaust step by step. “A Shtetl- The Ejszyszki Shtetl Collection” These photographs were taken between the years of 1890 and 1941 in a small town in what is now Lithuania. All of the photos were taken to portray the life of the small town by taking pictures of 100+ families and different events.
“Prisoners of the Camps” These portraits are all of common Nazi targets during the war. They’re Soviet prisoners of war, roma (gypsies), homosexuals, and political prisoners/ jehovah’s witnesses. Seeing all of the faces of the people that were victims of the war really stood out to me and caught my attention. Most gypsies were sent to different concentration camps or ghettos where they were forced to work till death or gassed. Roughly 10,000 homosexuals were sent to camps where they commonly also were worked to death.
“We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses. We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers from Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam, and because we are only made of fabric and leather and not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire” -Yiddish Poet Moses Schulstein (1911-1981). The shoes exhibit was really hard to walk through for me. Realizing that these were the actual shoes worn by victims that died at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland was indescribable. The shoes were all different sizes and styles; heels, sandals, flats. Some belonging to children others to women and men, it was horrible and heartbreaking. However the shoes weren’t the only artifact in the museum. There was also a Nazi uniform worn by an officer, a concentration camp uniform, and a bunk from Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Along with the visit of the museum, we had the opportunity to meet a Holocaust survivor. Her name was Jaqueline Mendels Birn. It was amazing and difficult to hear the story of how her and her family crossed the demarcation line to escape the war and reach safety. She spoke about how they managed to leave, how they were helped along the way, near death experiences, and personal short stories of things she specifically remembered. Following that, we proceeded to the MSF exhibit which was very interesting and educational. MSF “Doctors Without Borders” is an organization that helps people in different countries around the world that have been effected by natural disasters, war, disease, etc. I really enjoyed going through the exhibit due to how involved it was for participants. Entering, we were given an ID card saying what country we were fleeing and what we are. I was an asylum seeker escaping the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Going along the exhibit you were guided by a leader that talked about what refugees go through in the process of seeking safety. You were literally put in the shoes of a refugee yourself.
2007- Conflict Grips Somalia: MSF came to aid in Somalia after thousands of civilians fled the capital.
2010- Earthquake in Haiti: MSF treated more than 173,757 patients and conducted more than 11,748 surgeries.
2012- Civil War in Syria: MSF provided medical care by setting up hospitals for victims.
2013- Chaos in Central African Republic: Aided to the victims of violence.
2013- Civil War in South Sudan: Aided to the victims of the war.
2014- Ebola Outbreak: MSF helped Guinea in the Ebola epidemic.
2015- Kunduz Attack: MSF emergency trauma hospital was bombed.
The book Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder is an educational eye-opening read. It really goes into the small details of the Holocaust time period including everyone from the important people that played a role to an average civilians personal story. Snyder portrays the Holocaust in a different way than most people do. In the common Holocaust thesis, Hitler is to blame for everything and is seen as the biggest villain however he wasn’t the only one to blame. In fact, countless people are to blame for the horrific events that occurred before, after, and during the Holocaust but one in particular is somehow forgotten about, and that is Stalin. Under Stalin’s rule, the Soviet Union was the only state in the whole continent of Europe to be carrying out mass killings in the 1930’s. The Soviet Union had killed and starved millions of civilians before the Nazi regime had even come to the peak of their power. It was a gruesome time period all across Europe. But the worst of events happened in an area called the “bloodlands”. The bloodlines was a stretch of land from central Poland to western Russia including Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States. It occurred in these places due to the USSR and Germany’s battle over the land.
Another common misconception is that the Jews were the only victims of the Holocaust. The Nazi regime targeted Jews, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, Balts. Specifically also, the mentally unstable, homosexuals, gypsies (Roma), the disabled, and people thought to have been addicted to drugs or alcohol. “The Germans murdered about as many non-Jews as Jews during the war” (Snyder x).
Twins were also among the targets of Nazi’s, most of which were children. In my own personal research I found that there was a specific doctor that performed many of the experiments done on twins. His name was Dr. Josef Mengele, nicknamed “Angel of Death.” Dr. Mengele was sent to Auschwitz where he was the chief provider of the gas chambers and the leader of torture of many children. Injecting chemicals into the eyes of children to change eye color, sex change operations, and removal or organs and limbs were only a few of the gruesome acts performed by Mengele.
“German soldiers had been instructed that Poland was not a real country, and that its army was not a real army. Thus the men resisting the invasion could not be real soldiers.” This quote from chapter 4 stood out to me because it was a connection to my previous reading of Killing Civilians by Hugo Slim. In Killing Civilians, Slim discussed anti-civilian ideologies, one being dehumanization. When I read this quote the first thing that popped into my head was that it was a clear example of this ideologue used during the Holocaust time period.
1908- Abdulhamid II overthrown by coo, Young Turk Revolution
1909- Abdulhamid II was put back on the thrown by a counter-coo and then taken off again.
1912-1913- Balkan War: Big loss for the Ottoman Empire (disaster), Greece and Bulgaria ganged up on the Ottoman’s, Greece doubled in size, and Macedonia gained their independence.
1913- C.U.P takes over leading to Enver (Minister of War), Talat (Minister of Inferior), and Cemal (Minister of Navy) to be in charge of the Ottoman Empire creating a “dictatorship of 3”.