Gunnar Bergstrom, a Swedish communist who supported the Khmer Rouge, has returned to Cambodia for the first time since he was a guest of the regime in 1978. Bergstrom will be donating his archives from that trip to the country, promoting a photography book and speaking at several different public events -- at least one of which I will be attending.
Bergstrom was part of a Swedish Cambodian Friendship Association that undertook a 14-day "public relations" tour organized by the Khmer Rouge in 1978. The regime intended to use delegates from other countries to rally support abroad, according to a release from DC-Cam. The group saw factories, hospitals and schools, and even dined with Pol Pot and Ieng Sary and the Royal Palace.
"After the Swedes returned home, they proclaimed that Cambodia was at the early, albeit imperfect, stages of creating a model communist society," the release reads. "They said communism would save the Cambodian people. It was not until Gunnar had heard the stories of thousands of miserable refugees who poured into Thailand a year later that he realized he had made a grave misjudgment."
* Pictured: AP photo of Bergstrom being interviewed by journalists as he arrives in Phnom Penh on Sunday (above); old AP photo of Bergstrom touring Democratic Kampuchea (at left).