ABSTRACT

In the Cambodian case, the first “switch” dynamic differs in a number of respects from the reconceptualization of German Jews as foreign or alien to German society. The identification of Jews as an alien “race” to be incrementally separated from the German mainstream – economically, civically, socially, culturally, and then physically – preceded the genocide of the 1940s, while the identification of Jews as a dangerous threat to the future of the German national community or “Aryan race” (the second switch) was increasingly articulated in the period leading up to the Holocaust. The Democratic Kampuchea (DK) period in Cambodia involved the first-switch reconceptualization of not one but several groups of people at different points in the Khmer Rouge’s rule. As well, the first-switch conceptualization of victim groups occurred virtually simultaneously with the second switch, which further defined these same groups as not only alien to the revolution, but also inherently threatening and dangerous. Further, while the victims of the Khmer Rouge were targeted for destruction by direct means (execution) and indirect ones (malnutrition, lack of medical care, abuse, and so on), the act of physical separation of the victims did not occur, as it did in the lead-up to the Holocaust.