Saloth Sar, later known as Pol Pot, was born in a small village in 1925 to a peasant family. Although he was from a family of farmers, Pol Pot was not subject to working in a rice field as he was sent away for schooling. He made his way to Paris, as most future communist leaders did, after being awarded a scholarship to study there. He soon became involved in the French Communist Party. When Pol Pot returned to Cambodia in the 1950s, he, along with his brother, joined the Khmer Viet Minh. They took over the country's Labour Party and renamed it the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Pol Pot travelled throughout the early and mid 1960s to avoid being taken down by Sihanouk's government. During his travels, he stayed in a Viet Cong camp. In the late 1960s, Pot returned to Cambodia to start his government takeover.
The Communist Party of Kampuchea and its followers became known as the Khmer Rouge. They would hold power in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge army was built up in Eastern Cambodia with the help of the North Vietnamese. Pol Pot, along with Nuon Chea, leng Sary, Son Sen, and Khieu Samphan, led were the leaders of this soon-to-be regime. After overthrowing the Khmer Republic, the Khmer Rouge took control of the country and started evacuating people from the cities to the countryside. The regime sought to bring about a utopian agrarian based society. Unfortunately, this system brought about a widespread famine that would kill many. The Khmer Rouge also sought for national purity. Anyone who did not fit their idea of national purity was either killed or subject to forced labor. The Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh on 17 April 1975. The Khmer Rouge were able to evacuate the cities, because the citizens were told that the U.S. was planning to bomb Cambodian cities and that they would be able to return to their homes in a few days.The property and belongings of the upper and middle class of the urban areas were destroyed. The Khmer Rouge did not only attack the urban class but the rural class as well. In order to transition the majority of Cambodian peasants into communists, the Khmer Rouge collectivized farms.