Tuol Sleng Museum, Phnom Penh

4.5 out of 5 stars 89 Reviews

Corner of Street 113 and Street 350

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    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

    by cal6060 Updated Sep 7, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Tuol Sleng means " Hill of the Poisonous Trees" in Khmer. This horror museum is located between street 113 & street 350, southwest of the Phnom Penh City Center. It was the local high school named "Tuol Svay Prey. The high school consists of 4 main buildings, block A & B with L shape allocation south of the compound, and block C & D being allocated transparent position A & B north of the compound.

    In 1975 the Khmer Rouge took power under the leadership of Pot Pot, Tuol Svay Prey High School had been transformed into a prison called "S-21" or Security Office 21. S-21 was surrounded with a double wall of corrugated irons, and surmounted by electrified barbed wire. The classrooms on the ground and first floor were pierced and divided into individual cells, and second floor used for mass detention. Most of the victims are peasants, workers, technicians, engineers, doctors, students, Buddhist monks, ministers, Pol Pot cadres, solders of all ranks, the Cambodian Diplomatic corps, and even foreigners.

    You can check out the instruments of torture & photo of victims in my travelogue page.

    During your visit, you can visit building A, B, C & D, and talk to one of the survivors at secretariat of Tuol Sleng Museum. Building A & B exhibit photos of victims. Building C exhibits of former cells, vestige of Pol Pot regime. Building D exhibits on certain aspects of genocide in general under Pol Pot.

    The museum comes with a movie room on the 3rd floor building B. The show starts at 10am and 3pm.

    The Khmer Rouge History Classroom is held on Building A, 2nd Floor 3rd room. Wednesday class 9am-10am; Friday class 2pm-3pm.

    This museum is a must visit in Phnom Penh. It reflects part of the horror history of Cambodian under the dictatorship of Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge between 1975-1979. The locals often tell me that this is a horrible experience as " Cambodians kill Cambodian people"

    Opening Hour: 8:00 - 17:00 ( closed during lunch hour 12:00-14:00) everyday.

    Admission: US$2 per adult.

    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Phnom Penh Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Phnom Penh Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Phnom Penh Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Phnom Penh Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Phnom Penh
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    TUOL SLENG MUSEUM: Security Prison 21 (S-21)

    by ancient_traveler Updated Mar 24, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In 1975,Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security force and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). S-21 has been turned into the Tuol Sleng Museum, which serves as a testament to the crimes of the Khmer Rough.

    The Khmer Rough was meticulous in keeping records of their barbarism. Each prisoner who passed through S-21 was photographed, sometimes before and after being tortured. The museum displays include room after room in which such photographs of men, women and children cover the walls from floor to ceiling; virtually all the people pictured were later killed.

    Altogether, a visit to Tuol Sleng is a profoundly depressing experience. There is something about the sheer ordinariness of the place that make it even more horrific; the suburban setting, the plain school buildings, the grassy playing area where several children kick around a ball, rusted beds, instruments of torture and wall after wall of harrowing black-and-white portraits conjure up images of humanity at its worst. Tuol Sleng is not for the squeamish.

    $2.00 - Open everyday, including holidays, 8AM-5PM - Closed for lunch

    the gallows the building
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    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

    by DaHongHua Updated Jan 30, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We spend more than a hour to understand what had happened in the country, the history. Buy a book at the entrance if you do not have a guide. Do stop at displayed reading materials and the sad story about the victims display. It was a sad history. Underage and older must be told first as the scene are all very horrible.

    The story on board a few, out of millions victim horrible skulls The fencing The fencing, the coridor, hard to escape
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    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh

    by chizz Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This former high school became the main torture and interrogation centre for the Khmer Rouge and was the former S-21 Prison for individuals who were against the Angkor regime. Children between 10 and 15 years were selected and trained by the Khmer Rouge to work as guards and subsequently became cruel and disrespectful towards the prisoners. Many different nationalities from all over the country were taken prisoner here as well as their families and there were as many as 5,765 prisoners by 1978. Prisoners were shackled with chains or iron bars and were subjected to a harsh regime with many rules. The museum opened in 1980 after the fall of the Khmer rouge regime and you can see the torture rooms, photos and biographies of some of the prisoners and the cells. It is a place that some may find distressing, but is interesting nevertheless.

    Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh Torture room, Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh Prisoners, Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh Through the barbed wire, Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh Prisoner photographed, Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh

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    Tuol Sleng Museum

    by kelnsha Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In 1975, Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). This soon became the largest centre of detention and torture in the country. Between the years 1975 and 1978, more than 17,000 people held at S-21 were taken to the extermination camp at Choeung Ek.

    S-21 has been turned into the Tuol Sleng Museum which serves as a testament to the crime of the Khmer Rouge. It is usually possible to visit any time of day, despite the official opening hours (8am to 11:30am and 2pm to 5:30pm). It costs USD5 to take in a video camera. Admission is USD2.

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    Genocide Museum Tuol Sleng S-21

    by Jasen71 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is a well presented museum that shows the horrors of genocide. I have been to Auschwiz, but this place I rate more highly. It's thought out and informative... I was moved to silence as I walked thru.. A must see....

    Faces
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    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

    by so_alex Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Former Khmer Rough Concentration Camp, Security Office 21 (S-21). During 1975-1979, innocents were tortured, interrogated & executed here. Their bodies would be buried at Choeung Ek mass grave.

    After the liberation of Phnom Penh, only 7 survivors were found in Tuol Sleng.

    Interrogation Room

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    Pol Pot's secret prison

    by sweetie_inc Written Mar 12, 2011

    Be prepared to feel, see, smell the horrors that happened here..

    Between 1-2 million Cambodians and many thousands of foreigners were starved to death, tortured, or killed, during this reign of terror.

    When the Vietnamese Army invaded in 1979 the S-21 prison staff fled, leaving thousands of written and photographic records. Altogether more than 6,000 photographs were left; the majority, however, have been lost or destroyed.

    Admission $2.00

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    Tuol Museum

    by easterntrekker Written Feb 16, 2011

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    This is the site of the S-21 dentention center. Once a school in the middle of the city it became in 1975 a center or torture and death.
    For some horrific reason the Khmer Rouge deemed it necessary to photograph each victim before they were killed.

    Today their face line the walls of the Museum and help us to visualize this sad a shameful time in History.

    Admission $2.00

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    VISIT TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM & PRISON

    by DennyP Updated Sep 30, 2010

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    TUOL SLENG S21 I visted the "Tuol Sleng" Museum while in Phnom Penh and the Museum is part of ,and situated in the Genocide Prison that what was known as "Kampuchea Democratic Office number S 21" ..Created and put into operation by Pol Pot the so called Office of S 21 and was designated for the detention of people arrested , and who were mostly government workers and all of the educated population were detained by political police (soldiers) photographed, interrogated and then brutally tortured until a cofession was obtained ,these mostly completely innocent people that had been detained and for those who did not succumb to the torture were then killed either at S21 or taken by truck on the outskirts of the city to the notorious "killing fields" at Choeung Ek..
    Set up on the seventeenth of April 1975 as a detention Centre for political prisoners this previously was the Tuol Sleng Primary School and also the Tuol Svay High School and had four major buildings that were designated A,B,C,D and most were divided up into different rooms for interogation and detention some were fitted with panneled windows to reduce the noise made by the prisoners while being tortured...

    My arrival on a very wet and overcast day was to first see this grey walled prison with its barbed wire and previously having second thoughts of my visit here, I thought I knew what to expect but , was really amazed at the sense of forboding that I felt upon entering the gates and immediately looking at the surrounds I thought how different it was for me to just walk in and out , compared to the terror the detainees must have endured upon entering this frightening establishment..So many innocent men women and children..
    The different buildings here are open for visitors and contain the photos of the many thousands that were detained and died here, some, just innocent travellers...backpackers and the like..so noticeable it is that this is an extremely eeriely quiet place and that while looking at all the different rooms of torture and the implements used, the many visitors that are here this day are all quietly in awe of their surroundings and noticeably disturbed by what they are viewing..A truly mind altering experience..Some 20,000 people died here.. A true view of mans inhumanity to man..
    There is an admission fee of US $ 4.00..goes to aid museum upkeep and poor childrens education..

    TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM AND PRISON SIGN AT THE ENTRANCE TO TUOL SLENG THOUSANDS OF VICTIMS PHOTOS LINE THE WALLS IMPLEMENTS OF TORTURE RULES SND REGULATIONS OF INTERROGATION
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    Cells

    by Willettsworld Updated Jun 16, 2010

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    These are some photos of the tiny prison cells that were built in the former schools classrooms using bricks and wood fashioned into cell walls in a hurried fashion. A typical cell measures about 2ft wide by 5-6ft long. You'll also find passageways knocked through the interior walls from one classroom into another in order to provide access for the guards instead of using the external balconies.

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    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21)

    by Willettsworld Written May 2, 2010

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    Security Prison 21 (S-21) or Tuol Sleng (meaning "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill") was the Khmer Rouge's primary interrogation and extermination centre, designed to purge anti-Khmer Rouge elements from the new society Pol Pot and his henchmen were hell-bent on creating. Before the 1975-79 regime, the building was the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, named after a Royal ancestor of King Norodom Sihanouk. Smaller interrogation centres were scattered across Cambodia, but S-21 was by far the largest and most important. All of the classrooms were converted either to tiny prison cells or interrogation rooms, while the upper balconies were covered in barbed wire so that prisoners could not kill themselves by throwing themselves off.

    Like the Nazis before them, the Khmer Rouge were meticulous in their record keeping, taking photos of every new arrival and painstakingly retaining detailed confessions made by prisoners. Many of these haunting photos are displayed in the museum along with torture equipment such as a water board where the prisoners legs were shackled to a bar, their wrists restrained to brackets and then water was poured over their face.

    Up to 16,000 people were interred, tortured and eventually executed here or at the nearby killing fields. Victims included Khmers, Vietnamese, Laotians, Thais, Indians, Brits, Pakistanis, Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians. The vast majority, of course, were Khmer, and many were former Khmer Rouge themselves, victims of the regime's systematic and paranoid internal purges.

    When the Vietnamese ousted the Pol Pot regime, they arrived in Phnom Penh far faster than expected and the authorities at S-21 barely had time to execute the last prisoners before fleeing. The first row of cells on the left as you enter the school have been left largely as found by the Vietnamese, including photos of the remains that were found in each cell. At the time, the Vietnamese kept S-21 largely as it was as a means to justify their invasion.

    While it makes for a rather grim couple of hours, a visit to S-21 is an integral part of understanding what happened during the Khmer Rouge period.

    Open: 7-11.30am & 2-5.30pm. Admission: $2.

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    Nothing can possibly prepare you.

    by planxty Updated Feb 23, 2010

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    I would like to start this tip by saying that my intention is not to distress anyone writing a tip about what is an essentially heartbreaking subject. I will construct a seperate travelogue with a suitable advisory and further details and content myself with one of the less graphic images here. Should you wish to know more, have a look at the travelogue.

    I am not normally a sensitive soul. My time in the forces exposed me to things that were less than pleasant and I have learned to deal with that. I first visited the Tuol Sleng (S21) Genocide Museum nine years ago, and lef the place in a state of physical shock. It had a profound effect on me, and I had thought that I would be slightly immune to it the second time round. Wrong. As the title suggests nothing, not even previous exposure, can prepare you for the sheer calculated evil and brutality that it represents within (my) living memory.

    For readers not aware of the history, let me give you a brief outline. After the French colonial power had been ousted in the late 1950's and a period of various political changes, in 1975 the Khmer Rouge (Red Khmer), led by a card-carrying psychotic called Pol Pot took over the country and began a regime lasting nearly five years in which up to 25% of the populace were killed in a search for a socialist agrarian utopia, the results of which are still crippling the country to this day. Naturally, Pol Pot was not his real name, that was Saloth Sar or Blood Brother #1. Blood being the operative word. All the professonal classes were slaughtered purely by virtue of the fact they were the professional classes and therefore, by some perverted logic, against the people. Everyone else was worked literally to death producing rice, much of which was exported whilst the poeple starved.

    Imagine, if you can, a country where you could be tortured to death for wearing spectacles. Ridiculous as it sounds, that was the case. If you had spectacles it meant you read too much, therefore were one of the intelligentsia and therefore guilty of some sort of crime against the working people. The hypocrisy is interesting as most of the leaders were not themselves workers and were all pretty well-educated. Many of the high officials themselves were not even Cambodian but from neighoburing Vietnam.

    What followed for about five years has been well-documented and by people much better equipped than I, including many who were there. There are many books on the subject and I would urge you to read them. I have read many of the VT pages on the subject, and would not hope to equal them, I recommend you read them yourselves.

    This was a regime that surpassed anything the Nazis ever did and managed to reduce an already poor country to a state of ruin not often equalled in the modern world. What, for me, makes it even more disturbing is that, unlike the Nazis, it was not done in pursuit of some imperialist ideal, world domination was never Pol Pot's thing. He concentrated his evil on his own people. And evil it certainly was.

    Central to the Khmer Rouge apparatus was a system of Security Centres, of which this was number 21. What is shocking is the sheer ordanariness of the place. It was a converted school building in the Southern suburbs of Phnom Penh, and that is still what it looks like, save for the (once-electrified) barbed wire fences outside and the further barbed wire on the balconies, put there to stop inmates jumping to their death to avoid the horrors of the place. To visit today is like walking into a school complex, at least until you enter the first room. Then it becomes a place of nightmares.

    I shall leave the narrative here, and continue it on the travelogue. As I said, I have no wish to offend and the descriptions and images are beyond horrific.

    My advice? I think everyone should see this although if you are sensitive, perhaps it is best left alone. Open except Monday from 0800 - 1700, admission and the (recommended) film show is in Block D, top floor at 1000 and 1500.

    Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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    S.21 - the premier security institution

    by CEP1863 Written Dec 23, 2009

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    I visited Toul Sleng on my way back from the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and I can't begin to describe the exteme contast of emotions that I went through. I had experienced unexpected feelings of peacefulness at Choeung Ek, but here the real horrors of what went on hit me with full force. Why? I still honestly don't know - was it because formerly S.21 had been a primary school, was it because of the hundreds of photographs of the prisoners who passed through here? I think that it was the sheer ordinariness of the place that hit me, it was a school in a suburban setting, "monkey bars", where children had previously played, were used as instruments of torture, classrooms had been converted into cells, barbed wire was strung up on the walkways of the upper floors to prevent prisoners committing suicide by jumping to their deaths.

    The figures are startling: over 14,000 prisoners passed through Toul Sleng being tortured here before being sent out to Choeung Ek to be exterminated. This number included children and babies to conform to the theory, "To dig up the grass, one must dig up the roots". There is room after room of harrowing black and white photographs of prisoners. Only seven prisoners survived, they had skills that were useful to the regime - carpenter, electrical engineer, painter, photographer. The corpses of fourteen prisoners who were found by Vietnamese troops are buried in the courtyard.

    Overall, I was glad to leave. I think that it is one of those places that you need to see in order to realise how cruel man can be. I will go back to Phnom Penh again in the future, but here never.

    Two of the victims of S.21 The graves of the final 14 prisoners The One of the cells. Barbed wire to prevent prisoners from jumping

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    Tuol sleng.

    by cachaseiro Written Feb 19, 2009

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    Tuol sleng is what used to be the torture chambers of the khmer rouge.
    They are located in a former school in Phnom Penh and is as grueling to watch as the KZ camps from the second world war.
    People who were considerd a threat to the regime were tortured and forced to sign papers saying they were guilty of crimes against the nation and then they were taken to the killing fields for execution.
    In many of the rooms you have a photos of the people who went through Tuol slenf before execution and you will see that it was not just grown men who was totured to death in there but several women and children too.
    As i am writing this, in march 2009, the former leader of Tuol sleng "duch" is finally going to trial for ordering the torture and executions of thousands of people here.
    Tuol sleng is a cruel place, but it's an absolute must in my opinion if you want to understand the modern history of Cambodia.

    Tuol Sleng. Tuol sleng. Tuol Sleng.
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