News | History - Southeast Asia - 30 Years 89/90 “Brothers’ Help”

Cambodia, Germany, and the Cold War—a multimedia project

Solidarity with the peoples of the world belonged to the German Democratic Republic’s raison d'être. In line with the ruling party’s foreign policy, solidarity actions and fraternal socialist aid from the small country were well-received on the international stage. Wherever a people managed free itself from the shackles of “postcolonialism” and “imperialism” and found itself politically in the socialist camp, GDR aid was not far away.

In the 1980s, the GDR successfully assisted Cambodians who had survived the Pol Pot genocide, one of the largest of the twentieth century. By 1989, over 4,000 Cambodians (“Khmer”) had come to East Germany for training or studies, while West Germany sold weapons to the perpetrators during the Cold War and supported a trade and aid embargo enforced by the Western Allies. Without the socialist fraternal aid of the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and the GDR, many more victims would have had to suffer in Cambodia.

On the thirtieth anniversary of German reunification, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and the German-Cambodian Cultural Center Meta House in Phnom Penh present the multimedia project “Brothers’ Help”. For ten years, German journalist and filmmaker Nico Mesterharm and an international team have been collecting films, photos, and documents dealing with this almost forgotten topic, which also includes an investigation of German-German relations from the 1960s to 1989.

More information can be found on the new website,