103 Facts About Pol Pot


Pol Pot was born on Saloth Sar; 19 May 1925 – 15 April 1998 and was a Cambodian revolutionary, dictator, and politician who ruled Cambodia as Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea between 1976 and 1979.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,210

Pol Pot transformed Cambodia into a one-party state called Democratic Kampuchea.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,211

In declining health, Pol Pot stepped back from many of his roles in the movement.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,212

Pol Pot was born in the village of Prek Sbauv, outside the city of Kampong Thom.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,213

Pol Pot was named Saloth Sar, the word sar referencing his comparatively light skin complexion.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,214

Pol Pot's family was of mixed Chinese and ethnic Khmer heritage, but did not speak Chinese and lived as though they were fully Khmer.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,215

Pol Pot's father Loth, who later took the name Saloth Phem, was a prosperous farmer who owned nine hectares of rice land and several draft cattle.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,216

Pol Pot became literate in French and familiar with Christianity.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,217

Pol Pot learned to play the violin and took part in school plays.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,218

Pol Pot took a room in the Cite Universitaire's Indochinese Pavilion, then lodgings on the rue Amyot, and eventually a bedsit on the corner of the rue de Commerce and the rue Letelier.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,219

Pol Pot failed his first end-of-year exams but was allowed to retake them and narrowly passed, enabling him to continue his studies.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,220

Pol Pot returned to Yugoslavia the following year for a camping holiday.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,221

Pol Pot nevertheless became familiar with French literature, one of his favorite authors being Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,222

Pol Pot was a member of Vannsak's discussion circle, whose ideologically diverse membership discussed ways to achieve Cambodian independence.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,223

Pol Pot helped to duplicate the Cercle's newspaper, Reaksmei, named after a former Russian paper.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,224

Pol Pot believed the Khmer Viet Minh's relationship to the Viet Minh and thus the international Marxist–Leninist movement made it the best group for the Cercle Marxiste to support.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,225

Pol Pot courted society belle Soeung Son Maly before entering a relationship with fellow communist revolutionary Khieu Ponnary, the sister of Sary's wife Thirith.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,226

Pol Pot continued to oversee many of the Marxist–Leninists' underground communications; all correspondence between the Democratic Party and the Pracheachon went through him.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,227

Pol Pot took over from Sary as the Secretary of the North East Zone.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,228

Pol Pot stressed to Le Duan that while he wanted the Vietnamese to supply the Khmer Rouge with weapons, he did not want troops: the Cambodians needed to oust Lon Nol themselves.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,229

Pol Pot's residence was set up on the northern side of the Chinit river; entry was strictly controlled.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,230

In early 1972, Pol Pot embarked on his first tour of the Marxist-controlled areas across Cambodia.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,231

In 1972, Pol Pot suggested that Sihanouk leave Beijing and tour the areas of Cambodia under CPK control.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,232

In May 1973, Pol Pot ordered the collectivisation of villages in the territory it controlled.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,233

Pol Pot ordered the internment of many of the Khmer Rouge who had spent time in North Vietnam and were considered too sympathetic to them.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,234

Pol Pot concluded that the Khmer Rouge should start talking openly about its commitment to making Cambodia a socialist society and launch a secret campaign to oppose Sihanouk's influence.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,235

Pol Pot left Saukham Khoy as acting president, although he too fled aboard a departing US Navy ship just twelve days later.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,236

Pol Pot declared that "agriculture is key both to nation-building and to national defence"; he believed that unless Cambodia could develop swiftly then it would be vulnerable to Vietnamese domination, as it had been in the past.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,237

In China, Pol Pot received medical treatment for his malaria and gastric ailments.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,238

Pol Pot then travelled to North Korea, meeting with Kim Il Sung.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,239

Pol Pot then relocated to the city's tallest structure, the 1960s-built Bank Buildings, which became known as "K1".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,240

Later in 1975, Pol Pot took Ponnary's old family home in the rue Docteur Hahn as a residence, and subsequently took a villa in the south of the city for his own.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,241

Pol Pot was aware that if left abroad, Sihanouk could become a rallying point for opposition and thus was better brought into the Khmer government itself; he hoped to take advantage of Sihanouk's stature in the Non-Aligned Movement.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,242

Pol Pot instead wanted to double or triple the country's population, hoping it could reach between 15 and 20 million within a decade.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,243

Pol Pot tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to get him to change his mind.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,244

Pol Pot was instead kept in his palace, which was sufficiently stocked with goods to allow him a luxurious lifestyle throughout the Khmer Rouge years.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,245

Pol Pot described the new state as "a precious model for humanity" with a revolutionary spirit that outstripped that of earlier revolutionary socialist movements.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,246

In September 1976, Pol Pot publicly revealed that Angkar was a Marxist–Leninist organisation.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,247

In September 1977, at a rally in the Olympic Stadium, Pol Pot then revealed that Angkar was a pseudonym for the CPK.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,248

In September 1976, it was announced that Pol Pot had stepped down as Prime Minister, to be replaced by Nuon Chea, but in reality he remained in power, returning to his former position in October.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,249

Pol Pot initiated a series of major irrigation projects across the country.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,250

The government became aware of this, and by the end of 1976 Pol Pot acknowledged food shortages in three quarters of the country.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,251

Pol Pot suspected senior military figures were behind the bombing and, although unable to prove who was responsible, had several army officers arrested.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,252

In November 1976, Pol Pot travelled secretly to Beijing, seeking to retain his country's alliance with China after the Gang of Four were arrested.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,253

Pol Pot saw the Khmer Rouge as an example that should be copied by other revolutionary movements across the world and courted Marxist leaders from Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, allowing Thai Marxists to establish bases along the Cambodian border with Thailand.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,254

Pol Pot believed that Vietnam was committed to expansionism and thus was a threat to Cambodian independence.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,255

That month, Pol Pot travelled to Beijing, and from there to North Korea, where Kim Il Sung spoke out against Vietnam in solidarity with the Khmer Rouge.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,256

At this point, Pol Pot ordered Cambodia's military to take an aggressive, proactive stance, attacking Vietnamese troops before the latter had the chance to act.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,257

Plans for a personality cult revolving around Pol Pot were drawn up, based on the Chinese and North Korean models, in the belief that such a cult would unify the population in wartime.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,258

Large photographs of Pol Pot began to be placed in communal dining halls, while oil paintings and busts of him were produced.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,259

Pol Pot ordered a purge of the Eastern Zone, with over 400 CPK cadres from the area being sent to S-21.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,260

Aware that they would be killed on Pol Pot's orders, increasing numbers of Eastern Zone troops began rebelling against the Khmer Rouge government.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,261

Pol Pot sent more troops into the Eastern Zone to defeat the rebels, ordering them to slaughter the inhabitants of any villages that were believed to be harbouring any rebel forces.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,262

Early in 1978, Pol Pot's government began trying to improve relations with various foreign countries, such as Thailand, to bolster its position against Vietnam.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,263

In September 1978, Pol Pot began increasingly courting Sihanouk in the hope that the latter could prove a rallying point in support of the Khmer Rouge government.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,264

Pol Pot cautioned the army to avoid direct confrontations which would incur heavy losses and instead adopt guerrilla tactics.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,265

In July 1979, Pol Pot established a new headquarters, Office 131, on the western flank of Mount Thom.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,266

The group members stopped wearing uniform black outfits; Pol Pot himself started wearing jungle green fatigues and later Thai-made safari suits.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,267

Pol Pot proposed a new Movement of Nationalists that would replace the party, although this failed to fully materialise.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,268

Pol Pot commented that his previous administration had been too left-wing and claimed that it had made mistakes because he had placed too much trust in treacherous individuals around him.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,269

In 1983, Pol Pot travelled to Bangkok for a medical check-up; there he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,270

In September 1985, Pol Pot resigned as commander-in-chief of the Khmer Rouge forces in favour of Son Sen; he nevertheless continued to wield significant influence.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,271

Pol Pot then travelled to Beijing to undergo cancer treatment at a military hospital, only returning to Cambodia in the summer of 1988.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,272

Pol Pot deemed this too soon, for he feared that the Khmer Rouge had not gained sufficient popular support to produce significant gains in any post-war election.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,273

Pol Pot agreed to these terms, fearing that if he refused the other factions would all unite against the Khmer Rouge.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,274

Pol Pot established a new headquarters along the border, near Pailin.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,275

Pol Pot called on the Khmer Rouge to redouble their efforts in gaining support across Cambodia's villages.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,276

Pol Pot moved to Anlong Veng, but as that was overrun in 1994 he relocated to Kbal Ansoang, on the crest of the Dangrek Mountains.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,277

Pol Pot placed renewed emphasis on those living in Khmer Rouge territory imitating the lives of the poorest peasants and in 1994 ordered the confiscation of private transport and an end to cross-border trade with Thailand.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,278

Pol Pot suffered from aortic stenosis and no longer had access to follow-up treatment for his earlier cancer.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,279

Pol Pot spent increasing amounts of time with his family, in particular his daughter.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,280

Pol Pot had grown suspicious of Son Sen and in June 1997 ordered his assassination.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,281

Khmer Rouge cadres subsequently killed Sen and 13 of his family members and aides; Pol Pot later stated that he had not sanctioned all of these killings.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,282

Mok rallied troops loyal to him at Anlong Veng, informing them that Pol Pot had betrayed their movement, and then headed to Kbal Ansoang.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,283

Pol Pot stated that his "conscience is clear" but acknowledged that mistakes were made and told Thayer that "I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,284

Pol Pot rejected the idea that millions had died saying "To say that millions died is too much" and that "You know, for the other people, the babies, the young ones, I did not order them to be killed".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,285

Thayer, who was present, claimed that Pol Pot killed himself when he became aware of Ta Mok's plan to hand him over to the United States, saying that "Pol Pot died after ingesting a lethal dose of a combination of Valium and chloroquine".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,286

Pol Pot's body was preserved with ice after an improvised embalming with formaldehyde had failed, so that his death could be verified by journalists attending his funeral.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,287

Pol Pot's aim was to plunge the country into an inferno of revolutionary change where, certainly, old ideas and those who refused to abandon them would perish in the flames, but from which Cambodia itself would emerge, strengthened and purified, as a paragon of communist virtue.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,288

Pol Pot considered himself a communist, and described his CPK as adhering to a "Marxist–Leninist viewpoint", albeit one that had been adapted to Cambodian conditions.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,289

Pol Pot took up ideas of orthodox Marxism–Leninism but, contrary to Marx and Lenin's concepts, he believed in the ideal of an entirely self-sufficient and agrarian socialist society that would be entirely free from all foreign influences.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,290

In re-interpreting the revolutionary role of classes and questioning the Marxist focus on the proletariat, Pol Pot embraced the idea of a revolutionary alliance between the peasantry and the intellectuals, an idea that Short linked to his reading of Peter Kropotkin while he was in Paris.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,291

Pol Pot disbanded his Communist Party during the 1980s because he wanted to emphasise his desire to wage a unified national struggle against the Vietnamese occupation.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,292

Short observed that decision-making in Pol Pot's Cambodia was "unruly", making it dissimilar from the centralised, organised processes which were found in other Marxist–Leninist states.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,293

Pol Pot's government was totalitarian, and he has been described as a dictator.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,294

Short suggested that Pol Pot had been "an authentic spokesman" for the yearning that many Khmer felt for "the return of their former greatness", the era of the Khmer Empire.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,295

Pol Pot repeatedly stated or implied that Cambodians were an intrinsically superior group to other ethnic or national groups and that they were immune to foreign influences.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,296

Pol Pot was highly reclusive, obsessed with secrecy, and fearful of the threat of assassination.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,297

Pol Pot's recorded statements to small gatherings often sound more brutal than those he made to larger groups, but he never gives the impression that he is raising his voice or losing his equanimity.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,298

Pol Pot displayed what Chandler called a "genteel charisma", and what Short described as a "magnetic personality".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,299

Chandler noted that when meeting with people, Pol Pot displayed an "apparent warmth" and was known for his "slowly uttered words".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,300

Pol Pot was friendly, and everything he said seemed very sensible.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,301

Pol Pot suffered from malaria and intestinal ailments, which left him ill several times a year whilst he was in power.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,302

Chandler suggested that the seven years that Pol Pot primarily spent in jungle encampments among his fellow Marxists had a significant effect on his world-view, and they "probably reinforced his sense of destiny and self-importance".

FactSnippet No. 1,113,303

Pol Pot had a nationalistic attitude and displayed little interest in events outside Cambodia.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,304

Pol Pot was self-righteous, and typically rejected compromise or attempts to gain a consensus.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,305

Pol Pot wanted his followers to develop a "revolutionary consciousness" that would allow them to act without his guidance and was often disappointed when they failed to display this.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,306

Short argued that while Pol Pot's administration was clearly responsible for crimes against humanity, it was misleading to accuse it of genocide because it never sought to eradicate an entire population.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,307

Chandler noted that while "Cambodia's revolution" under Pol Pot produced "millions of victims", it had some beneficiaries.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,308

Those who were empowered by the Khmer Rouge administration either "probably believed" Pol Pot's claims regarding the construction of a socialist society or "vigorously pretended that they did", according to Chandler.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,309

Pol Pot met with Pol Pot, but was murdered shortly afterward; the culprit was never identified.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,310

Pol Pot told her he was hot during the day and cold at night.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,311

Pol Pot's held a feast in his honor, slaughtering a pig at his gravesite.

FactSnippet No. 1,113,312