Holocaust denial about the Nazi death camps is gaining traction in part because witnesses are dying. After all, the camps were liberated more than 60 years ago, and both the camps’ victims and their liberators are an increasingly shrinking breed. There’s not much left of the world that bore witness to the staggering scope of the Nazi genocide. (Although newly released documents should help convince rational people that what happened actually happened.)
It turns out, sadly, that the West is not the only one with that memory problem, and that there are even shorter memories in the Far East. I’m one of those who remembers the first reports coming out about the Khmer Rouge massacres. That is, while I’m not a direct witness to that horrible piece of history, I am a witness to contemporaneous reports about the slaughter in those far away Killing Fields. Living on the West Coast, I also grew up knowing people who had escaped the Killing Fields, or whose parents or grandparents had escaped. Apparently, though, even 30 years ago is too far away to sustain belief:
A documentary film dealing with the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime is opening in Cambodia.The film, Waiting To See The Truth, includes interviews with Cambodians who describe the forced labour, starvation and mass killings under Pol Pot’s rule.
But it also shows footage of young Cambodians who do not believe stories of the atrocities of the late 1970s.
The period is not taught in schools, and the producers plan to screen it to children to boost awareness.
The Khmer Rouge regime killed, starved or worked to death up to two million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.
The BBC’s Guy de Launey, in Phnom Penh, says the 35-minute film makes for occasionally staggering viewing.
Throughout the film older Cambodians describe the horrors of life under the Khmer Rouge, when up to two million died because of the regime’s brutality.
The camera then pans to giggling teenagers who declare that they do not believe a word of what their relatives have just said.
You can read here the rest of the story about a complete absence of memories of things past.