The period 1945-1975

Posted at: WEDnesday - 07/07/2010 00:00 - post name: Bùi Hồng Ninh


On 23 September 1945, the French army, under the protection of British troops, opened fire and occupied Sài Gòn. On September 26th, President Hồ Chí Minh issued a letter calling on the southern people to rise up and the whole country to support them.

After their occupation of Sài Gòn, the French dispatched their troops to fight and occupy Hà Nội.

On 19 December 1946, President Hồ Chí Minh appealed to the whole country to wage a resistance, war against the French aggressors, while all offices of the new government left Hà Nội for Việt Bắc (northern mountain area) to build up a resistance base.

Death-challenging soldiers in Hanoi during the anti-French resistance (1946-1954)


On 7 October 1947, the French forces launched an assault at the base of Việt Bắc. They suffered heavy defeats at Bình Ca (on the Lo River), Thất Khê, Bông Lau and Vũ Nhai. On 22 December 1947, they withdrew from Việt Bắc. The leading bodies of the government in the base were safely protected.

On 18 January 1950, the People's Republic of China, established diplomatic relations with Việt Nam, followed by the Soviet Union, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Czechoslovakia.

In September 1950, the Việt Nam People's Army launched the Border Campaign (Highway No.4) and recorded a resounding victory. The anti-French resistance war changed from defensive to offensive. The next campaigns were Hoà Bình in December 1951, Tây Bắc in September-December, 1952 and Upper Laos in April 1953. The Vietnamese army won successive victories and the French were put on the defensive.

On 20 November 1953, Navarre dispatched troops to occupy the valley of Điện Biên Phủ (Lai Châu) in an attempt to build up a strong entrenched group to lure in and weaken Việt Nam's regular army.

On 6 December 1953, the Political Bureau of the Vietnamese Workers' Party (the name of the communist Party at the time) decided to launch the Điện Biên Phủ Campaign and appointed General Võ Nguyên Giáp as Commander-in-Chief.

On the afternoon of 13 March 1954, the campaign began. On 7 May 1954, the campaign ended in victory.


Atop General de Casteries’ headquaters


The victory at Điện Biên Phủ carries great significance for the country as well as for the world: it was a great blow against old colonialism, pushed it into decline and forced the French to sign the Geneva Accords on Indochina.

On 8 May 1954, in response to the Soviet Union's initiative, the Geneva Conference was held with the participation of nine parties (five powers, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam and three delegations of the three puppet Việt-Lao-Cambodian governments). Through eight plenaries and 23 exclusive sessions, the Geneva Accords on ending war in Việt Nam, Laos and Cambodia were signed on 21 July 1954.

Under the Geneva Accords, Việt Nam was temporarily divided into two zones with the 17th parallel being the demarcation line, until 1956, when free nationwide elections were to be held to reunite the country.

In the south, on 17 July 1955, the Americans take the place of the French, and replaced Bảo Đại with Ngô Đình Diệm. On 23 October 1955, Diệm became president of the so-called Republic of Việt Nam.

The regime of old colonialism ended here and South Việt Nam became a colony of the neo-colonialist US.

On 17 July 1955, Diệm declared the Geneva Accords void. The US and Diệm imposed Law 10/59, suppressing patriots and former guerilla-men. In the south, from the time when Ngô Đình Diệm came to power until 1959, over half a million ,former participants in the resistance and those opposed to the US-Diệm regime were jailed and around 70,000 were killed.

Confronted with the situation that the US was becoming increasingly involved in South Việt Nam; the people became so angry. Their movement became so intense to the point where, when talking with the Le Figaro newspaper, Ngô Đình Nhu (Ngô Đình Diệm's younger brother and advisor) admitted that, "the southern regime is sitting on a volcano that is going to erupt." The 15th Plenum of the Standing Committee of the Việt Nam Workers' Party, (2nd Tenure), was convened and decided that, "The fundamental tasks for the Southern Revolution are to liberate the south from the yoke of imperialism and feudalism; to achieve national independence and to allocate land to the tillers, contributing to build a peaceful, unified, independent, democratic, strong and prosperous Việt Nam."


“The Hùng kings had the merit of building the nation. You and I must safeguard it” (Hồ Chí Minh’s address to the soldiers on the way back to Hà Nội after the anti-French resistance)


On 17 January 1960, the general uprising was officially launched at Mỏ Cày (Bến Tre), and quickly spread all over the south. By the end of 1960, the movement had disintegrated the ruling machinery in . 1,383 of the 2,627 communes in the south. Self-governing administrations were set up in these areas.

On 26 January 1961, John Kennedy, the newly-elected president of the United States, defined his program of "Special War" in South Việt Nam (the recipe: American advisors and equipment mixed with a puppet regular army) to annihilate the revolutionary forces, impose neo-colonialism on South Việt Nam and use the south as a springboard for attacking and occupying the north.


A raid by US troops in Bình Định


However, their "Special War" failed. America then concocted the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident" on 5 August 1964 and used their air force to raid North Việt Nam. War then spread all over the country.

On 22 November 1963, Kennedy was assassinated. Lyndon Johnson came to power and continued to intensify the "Special War". In 1964, the situation went from bad to worse for the American advisors and the puppet army on the battlefields. Johnson decided to replace the "Special War" with "Local War" - a form of fighting in the "flexible reaction" stratagem of the American imperialists. The real goal of this stratagem was to pave the way for US troops to become directly involved in the battlefields in the south and intensify the war of destruction in North Việt Nam.

By the beginning of 1965, 540,000 American troops and 72,000 lackey troops were brought to the south.

The American and lackey troops were badly beaten on the southern battlefields. The "Local War" failed completely, the adversary was forced to sit down and negotiate with the Vietnamese side. On 13 May 1968, the Paris Talks on Việt Nam were officially opened.

On 20 January 1969, Richard Nixon was elected US president and put forth a new plan: "Vietnamized War" (defined as Vietnamese fighting Vietnamese with American aid).

The struggle at the negotiation table at the Paris Talks dragged on for four years and nine months, with 500 press-roundups, 1,000 interviews and eventually ended with the signing of the agreement on ending war and restoring peace in Việt Nam on 27 January 1973.


Members of Trần Văn Hữu’s injured by US boms - Thượng Lý sub -district Hải Phòng 16/04/1972


The Agreement forced the United States to recognize the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam in an international legal respect and withdraw all foreign troops out of South Việt Nam.

“Thunder” airplane incinerated in Hà Nội air space 12/1972Downed from “Thunder” airplane to buffalo-driven cart.

Captain Gedeon Willart Selleck piloting a US F105 plane captured in Sen Hồ - Lục Ngạn - Bắc Giang on 7/8/1966


Since the signing date of the Paris Agreement until 30 April 1975, the Vietnamese revolution entered a decisive stage: to liberate completely the south and reunite the country through the historic Hồ Chí Minh Campaign. The General Offensive in spring 1975 started with a battle at Buôn Mê Thuột (on 10 March 1975), and ended with the liberation on Sài Gòn (on 30 April 1975).



Vietnamese tank breaking through the Độc Lập Palace gate



The whole country entered an era of national freedom, independence and unification.


1. Mai Ly Quang: Glimpses of Vietnam - The gioi Publishers, Ha Noi, 2004, 223p.

2. Nguyen Hong Sam: Vietnam Today - Van hoa Thong tin publishers, Ha Noi, 1997, 206p.

3. Vietnam - Lanscape, Ha Noi, 40p.

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