Vietnam Recent History

Vietnam Recent History

Colonial times and the Indochina War

After the suppression of the 1908 uprising, France introduced economic reforms. Governor General A. Sarraut introduced school lessons for locals.

In 1926 Annam and Tongking received parliaments with an advisory role. However, the measures taken by the colonial power could not prevent the emergence of an independence movement. Their radical wing sparked the 1930 uprising. After its bloody suppression and the smashing of the nationalist groups supported by a narrow bourgeois class, the Indochinese Communist Party, founded by Ho Chi Minh in 1930, took over the leadership of the independence movement.

After France’s defeat in World War II, the French government under P. Pétain had to allow the Japanese occupation of Tongking in September 1940. In 1941, Ho Chi Minh founded the communist-dominated movement Vietminh , Vo Nguyen Giapbuilt up its guerrilla groups. On March 8, 1945 the Japanese occupying power, which had meanwhile ousted the French colonial authorities in all of Indochina, allowed the formation of a state of “Vietnam” from Tongking, Annam and Cochinchina under Emperor Bao Dai .

After Japan’s surrender (August 1945), the Vietminh deposed Bao Dai on August 25, 1945; On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi, of which he became President and Head of Government. In September 1945 the French returned to Indochina. Your contract with Ho Chi Minh (March 6, 1946) could not resolve the differences of opinion about the state future of Vietnam. The Viet Minh wanted “liberation”, but France wanted partial recolonization. The Indochina War began with the French cannonade in Haiphong (November 23, 1946).

During the war, France tried to admit Vietnam as an associated sovereign state (capital Saigon) to the French Union in 1949/50 (with Bao Dai as “head of state”). While the US and Great Britain recognized the Saigon regime, China and the Soviet Union (in January 1950) officially sided with the Ho Chi Minh government. From 1950 onwards, the Viet Minh units increasingly took the offensive against French bases. In the spring of 1954 they were able to inflict a crushing defeat on the French colonial forces at Dien Bien Phu. At the Geneva Indochina Conference (Geneva Conferences) France agreed to withdraw. Until elections are held in the whole of Vietnam, the communist forces should withdraw to a northern zone and the non-communist forces to a southern zone of Vietnam. Between the two areas there was a neutral zone on both sides of the 17th parallel.

North Vietnam

In the northern zone, according to vaultedwatches, the Viet Minh movement built the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on the model of a people’s democracy. At the head of the Vietnamese National United Front, the communist Lao Dong (German party of the working people of Vietnam) exercised sole power. Head of state and party was Ho Chi Minh , Prime Minister (from 1955) Pham Van Dong.

Even before the communist seizure of power, a mass exodus of North Vietnamese, mostly farmers and craftsmen, began to the south. The majority of them were Catholics. The communist government implemented a land reform – also using violent means. With rigorous human intervention, she initiated the industrialization of North Vietnam and received extensive support from China and the European Eastern Bloc countries, especially the Soviet Union. The Chinese also provided military aid. The government of North Vietnam, which saw itself as the only legitimate representative of all-Vietnamese interests, supported and directed the communist rebel movement (Viet Cong) in the Republic of Vietnam, created under the protection of the USA in the southern zone. The North Vietnamese government increasingly sent troops to southern Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In the course of the expansion of the civil war between North and South Vietnam into an international military conflict (Vietnam War), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam came more and more on a course of confrontation with the USA, which was active on the side of the Republic of Vietnam in the south of the country. North Vietnam has been badly affected by American area bombing since 1965. After long efforts to end the war, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States signed an armistice in 1973.

In the ideological conflict between the Soviet and Chinese communists, Ho Chi Minh sought to steer an intermediate course. After his death (1969) Le Duan became leader of the party and Ton Duc Thang became president.

South Vietnam

In June 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem became Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam. With diplomatic support from the USA, his government did not recognize the decisions of the Geneva Indochina Conference on Vietnam. Above all, Ngo Dinh Diemrejected all-Vietnamese elections because he feared a communist takeover of power in all of Vietnam. With American help, he built an anti-communist state into which he incorporated the North Vietnamese refugees. With the submission of the militarily organized sects (1954/55; including Caodai, Caodaism), he initially succeeded in consolidating southern Vietnam as a state. In 1955 he set Bao Dai off, proclaimed the republic and became president himself. With strong arms and personnel help from the USA, he tried to suppress the uprising of the Viet Cong from 1957/58. The lack of land reform, the increasing dictatorship of Ngo Dinh Diem , corruption and nepotism, however, constantly attracted supporters to the Viet Cong and their political organization, the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (founded in 1960). Tensions between the Catholic President and the Buddhists of South Vietnam escalated into a state crisis in 1963 when Ngo Dinh Diem tried to suppress the Buddhists’ religious and political demands. There were self-immolations by Buddhist monks and nuns. On November 1, 1963, the army under General was overthrown Duong Van Minh (* 1916, † 2001) with the toleration of the USA the Ngo Dinh Diem government in a bloody coup. The constitution was repealed. After a period of frequently changing governments, an officers’ committee took power on May 20, 1965. President Nguyen Van Thieu , Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky (* 1930, † 2011 ; in office 1965-67).

At the request of South Vietnam, the USA entered the war directly in 1964/65 in order to prevent a communist takeover of power. In 1966, under the leadership of Buddhist monks, there were riots against the government, especially in Huê and Da Nang, in which parts of the armed forces also took part. After the adoption of a new constitution (1967) Nguyen Van Thieu looked with the help of the USA, the main carrier of the Vietnam War until 1973 – in vain in the long run (especially after 1973) – to maintain the Republic of Vietnam which he ruled. After its collapse (April 30, 1975) and the takeover of power by the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam formed by the Viet Cong in 1969 and controlled by North Vietnam, North and South Vietnam united in 1976 to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (member of the UN since 1977).

Vietnam Recent History