The early days - 1000 years of chinese domination- Liberation from china - China bites back - Le lo enters the scene - The coming of the europeans - Lording it over the people - Tay son rebrllion - The last of the nguyens - The french takeover - Independence aspiration - WWII breaks out - A false dawn - War with the french - A separate south vietnam - A new north vietnam - The north south war - Enter the cavalry - The turing point - Nixon his doctrine- Other foreign involvement - The fall of the south - Reunification of vietnam - Opening the door - Vietnam today


The French had managed to regain control of Vietnam, at least in name. borrowed
liberally from But when the French shelled Haiphong in November 1946, killing hundreds the American Declaration of civilians, the patience of the Viet Minh snapped. Only a few weeks later of Ind ependence. Such fighting broke out in Hanoi, marking the start of the Franco-Viet Minh War.
Ho Chi Minh (Bringer of Light) is the best known of some 50 aliases assumed by Nguyen Tat Thanh ( 1890 - 1969) over the course of his long career. He was founder of the Vietnamese Com­munist Party and pres ident of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 1946 until his death. Born the son of a fiercely nationalistic scholar-official of humble means, he was educated in the Quoc Hoc Secondary School in Hue. In 1911 he signed up as a cook's apprentice on a French ship, sailing the seas to North America, Africa and Europe. He stopped off in Europe where, white odd-jobbing as a gardener, snow sweeper, waiter, photo retouched and stoker, his political consciousness began to develop. Ho Chi Minh moved to Paris, where he adopted the name Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot). During this period he mastered a number of languages (including English, French, Ger­man and Mandarin) and began to promote the issue of Indochinese independence. During the 1919 Versa illes Peace Conference, he tried to present an independence plan for Vietnam to US Pres ident Woodrow Wilson. Ho Chi Minh was a founding member of the French Communist Party, which was established in 1920. In 1923 he was summoned to Moscow for training by Communist International and from there to Guangzhou (Canton). China, where he founded the Revolutionary Youth League of Vietnam. During the early 1930s the English rulers of Hong Kong obliged the French government by imprisoning Ho for his revolutionary activities. After his release he travel led to the USSR and China. In 1941 Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam for the first time in 30 years. That same year, at the age of 51, he helped found the Viet Minh, the goal of which was the independence of Vietnam from French colonial rule and Japanese occupation. In 1942 he was arrested and held for a year by the Nationalist Chinese. As Japan prepared to surrender in August 1945, Ho Chi Minh led the August Revolution , and his forces then established control throughout much of Vietnam. The return of the French shortly thereafter forced Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh to flee Hanoi and take up armed resistance. Ho spent eight years conduct ing a guerrilla war until the Viet Minh's victory against the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. He led North Vietnam until his death in September 1969 - he never lived to see the North's victory over the South. Ho is af­fectionately referred to as 'Uncle Ho ' (Bac Ho) by his admirers. The party has worked hard to preserve the image of Bac Ho who, like his erstwhile nemesis South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, never married. His image dominates contemporary Vietnam more than three decades after his death and no town is complete without a statue of Ho, no city complete without a museum in his name. This cult of personality is in stark contrast to the simplicity with which Ho lived his life. However, a surprise spate of sensationalist stories pub lished in Vietnamese newspapers during the early 1990s alleged that Ho had had numerous lovers , two wives - one French - and a son born to a Tay minority woman. She later died in mysterious circumstances. Perhaps time will reveal the true story. For the ful lest picture of Ho's legendary life. check out Ho Chi Minh, the excellent biography by William J Duiker. Ho Chi Minh and his forces fled to the mountains, where they would remain for the next eight years. In the face of determined Vietnamese nationalism, the French proved unable to reassert th eir control. Despite massive US aid (an effort to hall the communist domino effect throughout Asia) and the existence of significant indigenous anticommunist elements, it was an unwinnable war. As Ho said to the French at the time, 'You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours, but even at those odds you will lose and I will win . After eight years of f ighting, the Viet Minh controlled much of Vietnam and neighboring Laos. On 7 May 1954, after a 57-day siege, more than 10.000 starving French troops surrendered to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu (p 168). This was a catastrophic defeat that brought an end to the French colonial adventure in Indochina. The following day, the Geneva Conference opened to negotiate an end to the conflict. Resolutions included an exchange of prisoners; the temporary division of Vietnam into two zones at the Ben Hai River (near the 17th Parallel) until nationwide elections could be held; the free passage of people across the 17th Parallel for a period of 300 days;and the holding of nationwide elections on 20 July 1956. In the course of the Franco-Viet Minh War, more than 35,000 French fighters had been killed and 48,000 wounded; there are no exact numbers for Vietnamese casualties, but they were certainly far higher.