A Virtual Phnom Penh 2012 was, hardly that in Latvia a few weeks ago “A Virtual Memorial Riga 2012” had been taken place
an exceptional event, because on first sight a venue in South East Asia seemed to have not much in common with SHOAH for presenting Shoah Film Collection.
The motto of this manifestation was the “Freedom of Memory”. Although one might think, in mind one would have all possible freedom, because nobody would control one’s mind,
this is not true, of course, because one has to learn to use about this kind of unlimited freedom, oneself has to allow that kind of freedom. Cultural, geligious and ideological ideas are restricting individual freedom by setting limits on many levels and take influence on people’s behaviour by controlling people’s mind.
The big ideologies, either religious or political are afraid of nothing else than the uncontrollable freedom of thinking, the uncontrollable freedom of memory.
Memory is never absolutely “objective”.
But on the second sight, becoming aware, that one of the most horrible genocides happening after World War II had overcome Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, when the Khmer Rouge –
fundamentalist Communist rulers were killing – massacring – the entire intellectual elite of Cambodia in order to establish a kind of Stone-age civilization of peasants.
And by facing the whole a third time by exploring this insane ideology, it became obvious how similiar this totalitarian idealogy was compared with Hitler’s Nazism and how similiar the methods were in succeeding the idealogy.
Before I came to Cambodia, I had no idea how much the whole nation of Cambodians was still suffering from this genocide, how many generations of inttellectuals were missing causing a gigantic black hole of nothing, because the Khmer Rouge were also killing the children and in this way any future of any nation.
Although Cambodia deeply rooted in the Asian culture and Buddhist religion and can therefore not be compared with the Western orientated Europe and especially Germany, Phnom Penh was certainly one of the best places for the manifestation of Shoah Film Collection outside of Europe.
While the European countries, and especially Germany – widely destroyed during World War II – were recoving economically, politically and culturally
by being supported massively by USA and its allies, Cambodia did never receive nay of such support und was left alone not only during the genocide, but also during the post-genocide era because there was no economical and political strategic interest by the Western super-powers in this South East Asian country, and only today more than 40 years later, some new young generations grewing up in Cambodia are able to change the country and its society to the better. If there would not be the countless foreign NGO’s (Non Governmental Organisations) keeping the country running, the weak political system in Cambodia would not be able to care for the own people.
There are good reason why the Cambodian genocide is also called the “Cambodian Holocaust”. Cambodia is a place where we (those people who are dealing with totalitarianism and the especial Nazism and Fascism or Stalionism) can learn from, in order to get a better understanding what the Holocaust and the erasure of millions of Jews in Europe really means, whereby I basically mean the human aspect.
Our world in which we live is the result of World War II, and this again was only possible due to the same insane ideology which was causing the Holocaust. The world map, as we know it today, is the result of the Holocaust, millions of humans who wanted to live a life in dignity and peace were massacred in an industrial scale so that we Westerns societies can live these days in welfare and peace, but we became arrogant, and have now to pay for this vice, because barbars is shape of islamistic terrosists are threatening our freedom and system of values. It is the same insane und inhuman ideology striving for world domination which was causing the Holocaust, and all the other genocides whereever in the world. So, the Holocaust is happening in a kind of different shape before our very eyes.
A Virtual Memorial Phnom Penh 2012 was already a success because it happend, it attracted on location in Cambodia, however mainly Western people living in Cambodia, but hit hardly any native Cambodian, too much rooted are the Cambodians, even the young generation, in the passivity of the ancient Buddhist believe, which is restricting not only the freedom of memory, but also the freedom of creativity.
The German Cambodian Cultural Center META House is one of a few cultural instaitutions in Phnom Penh that work, also by offerring young Cambodians education in different ways, teaching them not only professional skills, but also how to become initiative by overcoming the brain-washed passivity in order to change the given situation. Associated to the META House is a film school, teaching young Cambodian the skills to become (documentary) filmmakers.
So, one of the results, and an intervention of a special kind, of “A Virtual Memorial Phnom Penh 2012” was establishing the “Collective Trauma Film Collection” “Cambodia 1975-1979” incorprating documentaries by those young Cambodian filmmakers running courses at the film school of META HOuse and the Department of Media and Communication @ Royal University of Phnom Penh. It’s meaning is not only to support this great initiative, but also offering people confronted with these films during the manifestations of Collective Trauma Film Collections the films for learning about the Cambodian genocide and it human tragedy and how life is slowly to a territory which was completely destroyed, but also why the Holocaust may happen all the time again and again all over the world if we are not very careful.