In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2009. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, S. 329–347
Three decades after the fall of the Pol Pot regime (January 1979) the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge have now been put on trial at a UN-backed Criminal Court for their crimes against humanity. During the four years of Democratic Kampuchea, as the Cambodian Communists officially called their state, one of the most radical and brutal social revolutions in modern times took place. According to various estimates, up to one-fifth of the Cambodian population of eight million lost their lives between April 1975 and January 1979. Forced labour, a deliberate policy of famine, and mass-executions of real or perceived opponents were much more widespread than in any other Communist revolution. For a long time many details of the monstrous political crimes and their personal responsibilities were not fully understood. This has changed during the last two decades largely due to the research of scholars associated with the Documentation Center of Cambodia and the Cambodian Genocide Project at Yale University. Based on this scholarship the present article examines the course of the Khmer Rouge revolution as well as its underlying ideological roots.