Identification Photographs from the Killing Fields
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
• One hundred gelatin silver prints were made
from negatives in the archive of what was once
the secret prison S-21, and is now The Tuol Sleng
Museum of Genocide in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
• The prison was turned into a museum shortly
after Phnom Penh was liberated by the
Vietnamese Army in 1979.
• A museum archive was established to preserve
the approximately 6,000 black and white
• From 1975 to 1979, Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge
in a reign of violence, fear, and brutality over
• The human costs of the revolution were horrific.
• According to conservative estimates a million
people - or roughly one seventh of the country's
population - died from starvation, malnutrition
and misdiagnosed or mistreated illness during
• Another 200,000 were executed as enemies of
• S-21 was an important secret prison operated by
the Pol Pot regime in the capital city of Phnom
Penh from mid-1975 through the end of 1978.
The focus of S-21 was on those who were inside
the Khmer Rouge, and thought to have betrayed
• The families of offenders were often brought to
the prison as well in order to keep the deaths of
their loved one from being avenged. Almost all of
the prisoners had worked in the armed forces,
factories, or administration.
Upon arrival at S-21, the prisoners were photographed,
tortured until they confessed to whatever crimes their
captors charged them with, and then executed.
The prisoners' photographs and completed confessions
formed dossiers that were submitted to Khmer Rouge
authorities as proof that the "traitors" had been eliminated.
Of the 14,200 people who were imprisoned at S-21, there
are only seven known survivors.