hello this thread will house my transcription of "Unforgettable Days" by General Vo Nguyen Giap. it was published by Foreign Languages Publishing House in Hanoi, 1975.

i will try to reproduce the text as faithfully as possible - any italics etc are General Vo's own. in this book names and places are in basic latin alphabet rather than "chữ quốc ngữ", Vietnamese alphabet. for example its "Vo Nguyen Giap" rather than "Võ Nguyên Giáp". there are footnotes, i will also reproduce those, they are quite minimal. if i come across an obvious typo in the text itself i will reproduce the typo but make note of it with {sic} or w/e. hopefully i can transcribe a chapter or two per week.

ive not read the whole thing yet but its memoirs about Uncle Ho, party activities, and the struggle for independence in the period from late 1945 to late 1946. as far as I can tell this text appears nowhere else on the internet - hence the need for this thread. if you find it somewhere else PLEASE contact me here on the rhizzone or on twitter (@ChthonicGoat) as this book is 400+ pages and if there's a pdf floating about then I can cut this project short and "chill out"! also contact me if i've made any errors or typos! on the small chance you've arrived here from a google search you might also enjoy our thread on Vietnamese history where we survey a wider range of sources. comment on this text in this thread or in the more general thread, whatever.

"These notes were begun in the spring of 1970, some time after Uncle Ho's death. I was unable to complete them at an earlier date. With the documentation that could be gathered and the active contribution of many comrades, you, readers, and I have recalled the activities of President Ho during a short but very important period of the history of our revolution"
(page 420)

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()

Publisher's note

From August 1945 to December 1946, from the victory of the General Insurrection to the start of the resistance to French colonial aggression, Viet Nam went through a crucial period, one that was extremely complex and at times critical.

General Vo Nguyen Giap, one of the main organizers and leaders of the Insurrection, recounted here the events of that historic period. From the whole picture there emerges the vivid and fascinating image of President Ho Chi Minh. These "Unforgettable Days" are indispensable to those who wish to go back to the source of present-day Viet Nam.


"... The revolutionary boat is gliding forward through the reefs."
(Directive of the Standing Bureau of the Central Committee of the Party, March 9, 1946).



Back at Hanoi, we lived in Hang Ngang Street. The City Party Committee had arranged for us to take lodgings with the family of a sympathizer. Presently we learned that Uncle Ho was coming. A few days earlier, a Liberation Army platoon of the Quang Trung detachment which was doing combat duty in Thai Nguyen, had been ordered to go back immediately to Tan Trao to escort him. The comrade who brought us the news said that on the way Uncle Ho had sometimes had to be carried on a litter. We guessed that he was still in very poor health, for usually he would refuse to trouble anyone, even when he was tired or sick.

The situation was tense. My comrades were very glad to hear the news. It had been decided that Comrade Tho would go and meet Uncle Ho in the guerilla base, but there was no need now, Comrade Ninh and I were to go and meet him in Phu Gia.

Our car quickly drove out of the city, along the familiar dyke bordered with guava trees. Red flags fluttered in villages around the West Lake. This reminded me of the days when we were on our way to meet Uncle Ho at Deo Gie, as he was coming to Tan Trao from Cao Bang; a few days later Tan Trao became the seat of revolutionary power.

There had been days of great joy in his revolutionary life as he wandered around the world. There was the day when he found the way to national liberation while reading Lenin’s Thesis on the National and Colonial Problem. There was the day when the French Community Party, of which he was a member, was founded in 1920. And the historic day of February 3, 1930, when the Indochinese Communist Party was founded…

And now another day of great joy was coming to him, to the Vietnamese revolution.

Not long before we had been sitting up all night beside Uncle Ho’s bamboo bed in a small bamboo hut, when he was seriously sick in Tan Trao. Only in such moments could we fully realize his ardent longing for the nation’s independence and freedom. It not only underlay his advice on the work of cadres, on how to sustain the revolutionary movement, when he said that “we must win back independence and freedom, even if we have to burn down the whole of the Truong Son range”. It was clearly apparent also in each of his gestures, in the look in his eyes wherever he recovered between two fits of fever and in his struggle against his grave illness as he fought over every second and minute for the sake of the revolution.

At the call of the Party and Uncle Ho, our whole nation from North to South had been rising up like surging waves during the last few days. In Hanoi, the revolutionary masses had stormed Bac Bo Palace (the Governor’s Office) by rushing the iron fence. Crowds of people, old and young, men and women, had demonstrated in closed ranks in front of the civil guards’ barracks, braving Japanese tanks and guns. Japanese tanks, machine-guns and bayonets were forced to retreat, and the Japanese had to hand over the munitions stores belonging to the civil guards stationed there. News of victorious uprisings came from various regions…

We came into Ga village.

Uncle Ho was staying in a small but tidy house. As we entered, we saw him sitting and chatting with an old man, his host.

Not long before, when he was living in Viet Bac, he had appeared to ordinary eyes as an old man of the Nung minority. Today, he had become an old peasant of the lowlands, quite at ease in his brown peasant pyjamas. He still looked rather thin, with protruding cheek-bones. Blue veins were clearly visible on his forehead and temples. But with his large forehead, his black beard, and especially his bright eyes, a surprising moral strength seemed to radiate from his slender body. Anyway, he looked much better than he had during the Tan Trao conference.

As we came into the house the host greeted us, then tactfully withdrew.

Uncle Ho smiled at us, saying, “Now, you are looking like real city men.”

We eagerly told him about the revolutionary situation in Hanoi and the provinces. He listened to us quietly. It was his manner to remain calm in moments of joy or sadness.

We informed him of the Party Bureau’s desire to arrange the Government’s inauguration at an early date. According to the decision of the National Conference held at Tan Trao, the National Liberation Committee, of which he was the Chairman, was to become the Provisional Government.

With some amusement, he asked, “And so, I am to be President?”

In fact, a very glorious but also very critical period had begun in the nation’s history. Uncle Ho had accepted a difficult mission, that of steering the new boat – the newly-established Vietnamese state – through dangerous reefs. How he received this task from history and from the people was stated in this answer he was to give foreign pressmen three months later: “I have no desire for either fame or riches. I have to assume the work of President because my people have entrusted it to me. I am like a soldier going to the front at the nation’s order.”

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



We returned to Hang Ngang Street for further preparations, while comrade Truong Chinh, who had joined us later, was to stay till the afternoon and accompany Uncle Ho on his journey.

It was the first time for Uncle Ho to come to Hanoi. It has taken him more than thirty-five years to reach Hanoi from the small thatched house in Kim Lien village three hundred kilometres away.

The path he had followed had been different from that of any other Vietnamese patriot before him.

He had wandered alone in various regions of the globe. At that time capitalism, reaching it {sic} highest stage of development, had become extremely vicious. It tried to blur the dividing line between the good and the bad. It distorted all the genuine moral values which mankind had achieved so far. It was hiding the lights of justice and freedom.

He had wandered in days of darkness when European and Asian skies were covered with the dark clouds of imperialist wars.

The world was sinking into disorder and sufferings; imperialism was committing crime upon crime. At a time when it was hard to tell the true from the false, he quickly saw the light of the truth. He came to Leninism. He found in Lenin’s doctrine “the sun which brings the radiant source of life.” He saw in Lenin’s banner “the symbol of faith and the torch of hope.” Thus, fifty years ago, the great Vietnamese patriot had found in Marxism-Leninism the only way to liberation, the “Revolutionary Way”, for our people and their fellow-sufferers – the peoples oppressed by imperialism. Now a great change had taken place in national life.

A few days before, Hanoi still looked like a product of the corrupt colonial regime during the war. The whole city was feverish with black-market activities. Life was precarious. There were not enough dust-carts to carry those who had died from starvation to the outskirts of the city where they were thrown into common graves. At the city gates, large numbers of starving people were pouring in from the countryside. They staggered about as lifeless as withered leaves in winter. A light push by a policeman might send someone down never to rise again.

In addition to that, in August the water had risen in every river. The flood had destroyed the dykes left uncared for by the colonial rulers and six of the delta provinces, the granary of northern Viet Nam, were inundated. Cholera was spreading. Many calamities simultaneously occurred, all due to the colonial regime.

The economic profiteers were joined by numerous political opportunists who turned out to shout “Long live Viet Nam’s independence” and “Long live Great Japan.” Instead of truncheon-carrying French policemen, one could see Japanese gendarmes with long swords plodding on the pavements in their heavy boots.

This was a sad time, not only for Hanoi but for our whole people.

Then, the victory of the Soviet Red Army, which routed the Japanese Kwantung Army in mid-August, provided our nation with a great opportunity.

The revolution broke out like a whirlwind.

Within only a few days, much of the shame and suffering caused by slavery was swept away.

The revolution’s power of revival was extraordinary. One day before, the whole city had been paralyzed by famine, epidemics and terror. Now, life was seething in every street and lane. Thousands upon thousands of people were marching in the streets with the force of surging waves.

The people’s revolutionary power had just been established. Most people did not know yet who were the representatives of this new power. But a new order, a revolutionary order, was set up by the people themselves. Robbery and stealing virtually disappeared. Beggars could be seen nowhere. Trade activities, which had been the main ones in the city, made room for a new kind of activity – revolutionary activity.

A cyclist would stop at a street corner and shout in his megaphone, “Fellow citizens, please assemble at X. for a rally.” Without knowing who he was, people carried his message while other ordinary citizens disseminated the request through their own megaphones. Everybody stopped work, and went off en masse. Within a few moments, thousands and thousands of people would be present at the meeting place, ready to do anything for the sake of the revolution.

The atmosphere was one of purity and excitement in Hanoi. Revolutionary songs resounded from morning till night:

The Viet Minh army is marching,
All of one mind, to save the country…

Golden-starred red flags appeared ever more numerous and more splendid, fluttering in the wind and colouring scarlet the houses and streets. The revolution was really a festive day for the oppressed.

Uncle Ho arrived at night fall. We saw emotion on his face as we came out to meet him.

He was now in Hanoi, which was to become a few days later the capital of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, the first people’s democratic State in South East Asia. However, the people of Hanoi were not yet able to share our joy of welcoming him. Even the driver did not know. After a few days, this man requested leave to go to Thai Nguyen and fetch his father so that on the coming Independence Day he could see our new President. Only on that day at the big rally in Ba Dinh Square did he realize that President Ho Chi Minh was just the old man he had brought back from Ga village in his car.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



At the Potsdam Conference held in late July that year, the Allied Powers had decided to divide Indochina into two zones for the disarming of Japanese troops after the surrender of Japan. This disarming was to be done by the British army south of the 16th parallel, and by Chiang Kai-shek’s army north of the 16th parallel. Of course our people were not consulted on that important matter. Under American pressure, the French were left out of the operation.

Chiang’s men had not yet come when we saw some French officers with the American mission who had arrived in Hanoi by plane on the afternoon of August 22.

The French officers were taken by the Japanese to the “Metropole” Hotel where many French nationals were still staying. When our people saw French uniforms, they immediately held a protest meeting in front of the hotel. They came in greater and greater numbers. In defiance of the bayonets of Japanese sentries, they broke through the barricades. In face of the indignation of the masses, Japanese gendarmes hurriedly escorted the officers back to the former Governor-General’s palace, then the headquarters of the Japanese army.

Months earlier, when in the guerilla bases, we had heard of a statement by De Gaulle on a new status for “French Indochina.”

According to this statement, Indochina was to become a Federation of five different “States” (besides Laos and Cambodia, Viet Nam was to be divided into three countries: Tonkin, Annam and Cochinchina). Those States would enjoy so-called “internal autonomy”. The federation would have a federal government headed by a “Governor-General” representing France and having both executive and legislative powers. Through this statement, we knew that the colonialist policy of French imperialism had remained unchanged.

As soon as they heard that the Japanese Emperor was going to capitulate, the French government had become active. Many groups of French officers, administrators and intelligence men in China, Ceylon and Madagascar were ordered into Indochina and parachuted down on various places in the North, the South and the Central regions. Others landed from the sea. These people were unaware of the deep changes that had taken place here during the past few months. Many tried to get in touch with former mandarins and village notables in order to show them their papers. Most of them were caught by our men, others were captured by the Japanese.

Soon after we returned to Hanoi, we learned that right after the Japanese surrender, the French government had ordered the French expeditionary force in the Far East, which had been set up for some time, to be sent urgently to Indochina. Leclerc, a well-known general in the fight for the liberation of France, was appointed commander-in-chief. Admiral d’Argenlieu, an unfrocked priest and de Gaulle’s confidential agent, was appointed High Commissioner. Warships from what had remained of the French fleet after World War Two were heading for Indochina. From the other face of the globe, guns were pointing at the revolution.

The appearance of a mission of a dozen French officers in Hanoi was a matter of great concern for Uncle Ho and my comrades. How could they arrive here even before Chiang’s troops? What was the attitude of the Allies, especially of the Americans and the Chiang clique toward the Indochinese problem? That was what we wanted to know.

As a delegation from the people’s administration, we came to see the American mission. At the meeting, we were assured that the disarming of the Japanese north of the 16th parallel was still to be carried out by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops. We also noticed that the Americans and the French in Hanoi seemed to dislike each other. While the French were frantically trying to return to Indochina, the American officer by the name of Patty, for some reason we didn’t know, showed sympathy for the Viet Minh’s anti-Japanese struggle.

The revolutionary upsurge of the whole people from North to South had put the defeated Japanese in a quandary. Our attacks in Viet Bac and other regions forced them to reconsider their position. If they fought against the insurrection, what would be their fate after they were disarmed by the Allies? They realized that they would gain nothing if they prevented the revolution from spreading.

In Hue, on August 23, fifteen thousand people in the city and the suburbs staged a show of strength in the streets. The Insurrectionary Committee sent Bao Dai a letter demanding his abdication. The insurgent armed forces occupied public offices and hunted down the traitors. In face of the great pressure exerted by the revolution, Bao Dai declared that he was ready to leave the throne.

On August 25, the insurrection broke out in most of the provinces in Nam Bo. Eighty thousand people demonstrated in Saigon-Cholon. The imperial envoy sent by Bao Dai a few days earlier had to resign. In face of the strength of the masses, the Japanese troops, which numbered scores of thousands, had to look the other way.

Comrades Tran Huy Lieu, Nguyen Luong Bang and Cu Huy Can were sent to Hue. On August 30, the Main Gate of the imperial city was opened wide to welcome the revolutionary delegation. Bao Dai read his abdication edict and handed over his seal and sword, becoming just an ordinary citizen of a free country. Thousands and thousands of people witnessed with joy the last moments of the Nguyen dynasty.

Thus, under the leadership of the Indochinese Communist Party, which then had a membership of about five thousand, the Viet Minh Front, enjoying the support of the entire people, had won a great victory in the general insurrection sweeping the country. The August Revolution was gloriously successful. Within only ten days, the revolutionary power was established over the whole country. The eighty-year-long colonial rule and the thousand-year-old feudal system had collapsed. The yellow flag with the broken stripes, a product of the short-lived Japanese rule, was cast off. It quickly slipped out of the people’s memory without leaving a trace.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



Our host in Hang Ngang Street reserved the first floor of his house for us. Uncle Ho was offered the second floor for greater quietness. But he did not like to live alone, so he lived together with us. He had decided that Comrade Dong and Comrade Hoan were to stay back in Tan Trao for a certain period. For the servants and neighbours, we were just “gentlemen coming from the village for a visit.” Comrade Ninh, who wore a beard as he was too lazy to shave, also passed for an “old gentleman.”

The room in which we lived used to be a dining and sitting room, so there were no desks. Uncle Ho worked at the large dining table. His type-writer was placed on a small, square table, covered with a green cloth, in one corner.

After work, each of us managed to find a place to rest. One day on a divan, another on a few benches put together. Uncle Ho rested on a collapsible canvas bed which he had found folded up in a corner.

On the very day he arrived, the first detachments of Chiang’s troops – the scouts and the forward elements – had made their appearance in Hanoi. From the balcony, we kept seeing groups coming in one after another.

It was hard to believe they were a victorious army. The soldiers’ faces were pale and haggard. Their yellowish uniforms were tattered and dirty. They carried shoulder poles with baskets of odds and ends; some were followed by their women and children. Many plodded heavily on legs swollen with beriberi. They were like dirty stains on the city from which the foul traces of colonialism had only just been swept away. They looked even more wretched than when we had seen them in Kunming and Kweilin five years earlier.

Uncle Ho chaired the first meeting of the Party Bureau in Hanoi. Though the revolution had triumphed in most of the provinces the central revolutionary power had not yet been established. The internal and international situation called for prompt action. The Bureau felt that it was important to make public the list of members of the Provisional Government and hold the inauguration ceremony at an early date. All this should be done before the bulk of Chiang’s army had arrived.

Instructions were given to authorities in the northern provinces to delay the movement of Chiang’s troops for as long as possible, under the pretext of shortage of means of transport due to the flood.

A number of Liberation Army detachments in Thai Nguyen had been ordered urgently to come to Hanoi but their arrival had been delayed due to the flood which had destroyed many sections of the roads. People’s power had been established in Hanoi for over a week, yet the revolutionary armed forces consisted only of self-defence units and a number of civil guards who had just joined the revolution. That was also a matter of concern.

Early on the morning of August 26, we were informed that two detachments of the Liberation Army had reached Gia Lam. Comrades Nguyen Khang and Vuong Thua Vu started off to meet them. Only after some hard negotiations did the Japanese agree to let them come into Hanoi.

The military band played revolutionary marches as our troops crossed Long Bien Bridge. Our soldiers, their guns cocked, marched in Indian file along both sides of the road.

The presence in Hanoi of battle-tested revolutionary forces inspired enthusiasm among the people. A military review with the participation of Liberation troops and self-defence units was held at the square in front on the Municipal Theatre, filling all present with joy and confidence.

On the 28th, the list of members of the Provisional Government was released to the Hanoi press. The composition of the government was in line with the Viet Minh Front’s policy of broad unity among the various sections of the population in the work of rebuilding the country.

The day before, Uncle Ho had met the Ministers in the Provisional Government at Bac Bao Palace. Mr. Nguyen Van To, Minister of Social Welfare, later recounted how he saw an old man in brown shorts, wearing a khaki sun-helmet in poor shape, standing in the reception room leaning on a walking stick. The old man greeted him with a smile. It was only a few minutes later that he realized that the old man was Ho Chi Minh himself.

The Party Bureau had decided that the day the Provisional Government was inaugurated would also be the occasion for the official proclamation of independence and the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. In addition to the government’s line and policies, it was necessary to prepare the wording of the oath to be taken at the ceremony. Uncle Ho discussed with the Bureau a task of great importance to be undertaken at once: the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

In a poorly lighted small room at the back of the big house, which stood in one of thirty-six ancient streets of Hanoi, Uncle Ho was at work, now writing, now typing.

The family servants did not know what the bright-eyed old man, wearing an unbuttoned faded brown coat and smoking cigarettes, was doing there with such great concentration. Each time they asked him if he wanted anything, he would turn round, smile and say a few words to them. And each time he would say he didn’t want anything. They did not know that they were witnessing a historic moment.

One morning, Uncle Ho and Comrade Truong Chinh called us in. The historic Declaration had been finished. Uncle Ho read it to us so that it could be approved by the collective. As he recalled later, those were the happiest moments in his life.

Twenty-six years before, he had come to the Versailles Peace Conference with a list of the most urgent demands concerning the living conditions and democratic liberties of the colonial peoples. None of those modest demands were accepted by the imperialists. He realized that one could not pin any hopes on the kind-heartedness of the capitalists. One could only rely on the struggle and the forces of the people.

Now on behalf of the whole nation he was gathering the fruits of eighty years of struggle.

We could see the joy beaming on his still sallow face.



The Second of September, 1945.

Hanoi was bedecked with red bunting. A world of flags, lanterns and flowers. Fluttering red flags adorned the roofs, the trees and the lakes.

Streamers were hung across the streets and roads, bearing slogans in Vietnamese, French, English, Chinese and Russian: “Viet Nam for the Vietnamese”, “Down with French Colonialism”, “Independence or Death”, “Support the Provisional Government”, “Support President Ho Chi Minh”, “Welcome to the Allied Mission”, etc.

Factories and shops, big and small, were closed down. Markets were deserted. All trade and industrial activities in the city were suspended. The whole city, old and young, men and women took to the streets. Everyone felt that they should attend the first great festival of the nation.

Multi-coloured streams of people flowed to Ba Dinh Square from all directions.

Workers in white shirts and blue trousers came in ranks, full of strength and confidence. Today ordinary working people arrived at the festival with the dignified bearing of masters of their own country and their own destinies.

Hundreds of thousands of peasants came from the city suburbs. People’s militiamen carried quarterstaffs, swords or scimitars. Some even carried old-style bronze clubs and long-handles swords taken from the armouries of temples. Among the women peasants in their festive dresses, some were clad in old-fashioned robes, yellow turbans and bright-green sashes. Never before had peasants from the poor villages around Hanoi walked into the city with such pride.

Old men wore solemn faces with young girls were radiant in their colourful dresses.

Most lively were the children. From this day on, they were the young masters of an independent country. They marched in step with the whistle blows of their leaders, singing revolutionary songs.

Buddhist bonzes and Catholic priests also came from their monasteries to attend the great national festival.

The autumn sun was shining brightly on that day when Ba Dinh Square made history. The guard of honour stood at attention around the newly-erected rostrum. The Liberation Army fighters, who had followed the Military Order № 1 of the Insurrection Committee a few days earlier to march south and “attack the important towns and cities held by the enemy” were now standing side by side with the self-defence units of the workers, youth and labouring people of the capital to defend the Provisional Government.

After long years of exile and wandering in the world, sentenced to death by the French imperialists, subjected to all sorts of privations and hardships in dozens of jails, Uncle Ho was now back and making his first appearance before a million of his countrymen. Not long before, this had been only a dream.

The name of Ho Chi Minh was soon to be known all over the world and surrounded with the legendary anecdotes which often accompany great men. But on that day, his name was still unfamiliar to his people. Few of them knew that he was none other than the famous Nguyen Ai Quoc.

Here is how President Ho Chi Minh, the head of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, appeared for the first time before his people as a great leader.

He was a thin old man with a broad forehead, bright eyes and a sparse beard, wearing an old hat, a high-collared khaki jacket and white rubber sandals.

A couple days before, the problem had arisen as to what he should wear for the occasion. He eventually chose the khaki suit. During the next twenty-four years as President, on great national days as on visits to foreign countries, he always appeared in this simple, unchanging attire: a plain suit, without any decorations, as on that occasion when he first stood before his people.

The “old man” had a lively gait, which rather surprised some people at that time. They did not find in the President the stately bearing of “high-born” people. His voice carried the accent of a rural area in Nghe An province.

Such was the way he appeared before a million of his countrymen.

His speech was quiet, warm, articulate and clear. There was none of the eloquence so often heard on solemn occasions. But its very simplicity suggested deep feelings and determination. Everything he said was full of vitality; every sentence, every word went straight to people’s hearts.

In the middle of the Declaration of Independence Uncle Ho stopped and asked suddenly, “Do you hear me distinctly, fellow countrymen?”

A million voices thundered in reply, “Yes..!”

From that moment on, he and the sea of people were merged into one.

That was the Declaration of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, which had just won back independence after a national struggle lasting eighty years. It was also the heartfelt and touching declaration of the most conscious vanguard of the most revolutionary class, many of whose sons, absolutely local to the interests of the class and the nation, had fearlessly faced the guillotine or the firing squad, shouting: “Long live the independence of Viet Nam” while they tore away their blindfolds.

The ceremony concluded with the oath of independence:

“We, the entire Vietnamese people, swear to give resolute and wholehearted support to the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and President Ho Chi Minh.

“We swear to join the Government in safeguarding the full independence of the Fatherland, to oppose any scheme of aggression, even at the cost of our lives.

“If the French should invade our country once more, we swear that we will neither serve in their army, work for them, sell them food nor act as guides for them!”

One million people took the oath with one voice – a voice which expressed the resolve of the whole people to carry out what President Ho had just read in the conclusion of the Declaration:

“Vietnam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence and has in fact before a free and independent country. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their freedom and independence.”

The Indictment of French Colonization had been written thirty years before. But only now was the French colonial regime being brought to public trial by the entire Vietnamese people.

A new page of history had been turned. A new era had begun: that of Independence, Freedom and Happiness.

The map of the world would have to be redrawn, for a new State had been born: the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.

Together with the general uprising which had taken place during the latter part of August, Independence Day, September 2nd, was a day of extremely great significance in the nation’s political and spiritual life.

Uncle Ho’s concern of thirty years before – “Poor Indochina! You will perish if your senile youth do not come back to life soon.” – need no longer weigh on his mind. The whole nation had come back to life.

Independence and freedom had come to every citizen. Everyone could realize their sacred value and knew his responsibility to defend them. Innumerable difficulties lay ahead. But for the imperialists who wanted to restore their lost paradise things would not be so easy either.



A great difficulty facing our Party at that time was how to deal with the Allied troops who were coming in to disarm the Japanese army. It was reported that Chiang Kai-shek would send a very large army into the North. Basing itself on the resolution of the Party’s National Conference at Tan Trao, the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee had discussed the tactics to use when dealing with Chiang’s men.

We were well aware of the Kuomintang’s designs. They were implacable enemies of the revolution. We had to be vigilant and guard against any attempt by them to overthrow us and replace us by their agents. However we had to seek a compromise with them, move skilfully and avoid clashes. The new revolutionary power needed time to build up and strengthen its forces. The slogan set forth was “Chinese and Vietnamese are friends”

It was not at all easy to implement this policy towards the Chiang clique. Educated by the Party, our people had long been aware that our real friends were the Chinese Red Army. Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang troops were the enemy of the Chinese people and revolution. They were also the enemy of the Vietnamese people and revolution and our people had a deep hatred for them. Chiang’s army was also well known for its piratical character. It was certain that after entering our country they would commit acts that might provoke indignation and clashes. The Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee had to send envoys to the northern provinces to help the local leaders explain the Party’s views to the cadres and people before the arrival of the Chiang troops.

After the capitulation of the Japanese, Ha Ung Kham (Ho Yin Chin) Chief Of Staff of the Chinese Kuomintang Army, a notorious anti-Communist, urged Lu Han to bring his troops into North Viet Nam as soon as possible. The plan for the entry of Chinese troops into Viet Nam had been prepared long before. The Kuomintang militarists had believed that it would be a very good opportunity for them to annex North Viet Nam and had expected that at least they would be able to establish a puppet administration north of the 16th parallel which would obey their orders.

They had got ready the cards in their hand, consisting in their Vietnamese agents in China, such as Nguyen Hai Than, Vu Hong Khanh, Nguyen Tuong Tam, etc. Those belong to two organizations: the Viet Nam Cach Mang Dong Minh Hoi (Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance) and the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (Viet Nam Nationalist Party). They had been living in exile for a long time and did not possess any links with the revolutionary movement in the country. They styled themselves Vietnamese patriots devoted to nationalism, but were in fact a group of reactionaries trying to feather their own nests by relying on the Chinese Kuomintang and the Chiang troops. As the latter marched into Viet Nam from two directions, they followed them in two groups.

Because of sloppy organization, insufficient transport means, absence of logistical units, and the press-ganging which accompanied their march, the Chiang troops were moving at a slow pace.

From Yunnan, the 93rd corps of Lu Han’s First Army was to follow the Red River up to Hanoi but by the end of August they had only reached Lao Cai. From Kwangsi the 62nd corps of the Kuomintang central troops, headed by General Tieu Van (Siao Wen) was to reach Hanoi through Lang Son and Cao Bang provinces but they crossed the border only in early September.

Two other corps, the 52nd of the Chiang central troops and the 60th of the Yunnan forces would follow and go to Haiphong, Vinh and Da Nang.

All told, 180,000 Chiang troops were to enter North Viet Nam. The Yunnan forces were disease-ridden and poorly trained. The Central troops were stronger and better organized. All four corps were put under the command of General Lu Han. Tieu Van, one of Truong Phat Khue’s (Chang Fa Kwei) assistants, a veteran Viet Nam watcher, was entrusted by the Kuomintang militarists with political manipulation in North Viet Nam. It was at Lang Son on his arrival with the 62nd corps that Nguyen Hai Than learnt that the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam had made its appearance before a million people in Hanoi. The command of the 62nd corps wanted to disarm our armed forces in Lang Son and Cao Bang but the latter wouldn’t let them. Then they ordered their troops to occupy the Liberation Army’s barracks while followers of the Revolutionary Alliance (Viet Nam Cach Mang Dong Minh Hoi) backed by the Chiang troops, occupied the offices of the provincial People’s Committee.

To avoid major clashes, the Administrative Committee, mass organizations and armed forces of Lang Son province moved out to the surrounding areas. The people immediately carried out the slogan: “Empty houses and empty gardens”. Lang Son town was deserted.

Unable to muster enough people to hold even a small rally for Nguyen Thai Than, the Revolutionary Alliance gang had leaflets printed and scattered all over the empty town of Lang Son protesting against the Viet Minh’s establishment of the provisional Government and making 13 charges against the Ho Chi Minh Government.

Meanwhile the Nationalist Party headed by Vu Hong Khanh and Nguyen Tuong Tam were following the 93rd corps into Viet Nam. Relying on the Chiang troops they attempted to overthrow the people’s power in the localities they passed through. They set up offices, assembled reactionaries and harassed, looted and murdered the people. Long Van’s (Lung Yun) undisciplined troops were no different from their henchmen and acted like bandits.

Clashes between our armed forces and the Chiang troops took place in some regions where the necessary instructions from the Government had not yet been received.

In order to avoid such confrontations with the Chiang troops, administrative offices and army units were ordered to move out of some towns and provincial capitals in the border regions and along the Lao Cai – Hanoi railways.

In the first half of September nearly 200,000 Chiang troops swept over the North like a plague. With them were their agents, mad with frustration at the failure of their schemes. Faced with powerful revolutionary forces and a State with a film political basis and wholehearted popular support these henchmen of the Kuomintang became even more brazen and exposed themselves all the more as traitors with no roots in the nation and dependent on foreign reactionary troops.

On September 11, General Lu Han flew to Hanoi.

A few days later long communiqués appeared everywhere. The Kuomintang troops acted as they had come to a country without any administration. They arrogated to themselves the right to keep order in the capital. They fixed the exchange rates of the Kuomintang banknotes which had long ago lost all value. They even made announcements on traffic regulations.

A few days after Lu Han’s arrival, Alessandri also arrived in Hanoi. How did this general, the former commander of the French Foreign Legionaries in Tonkin, who had fled with his troops to Kunming following the Japanese coup of March 9, manage to turn up here? On this score Chiang-French collusion needed to be elucidated.



On the morning of September 3, the day following the presentation ceremony, the Provisional Government met for the first time.

The meeting took place of the former French Résident supérieur for Tonkin, an impressive building with a green-painted iron fence. On this occasion, the gate under the archway stood wide open to welcome the people’s representatives. Two weeks earlier, the people of Hanoi, up in arms, had crowded in front of it; despite the guards’ guns, an old worker had clambered over the fence and onto the roof, pulled down the three-striped puppet flag and hoisted the golden star on a red field of the revolution.

The conference room on the first floor was bare. No flowers on the table. The representatives of the new regime realized that the task they were tacking was by no means easy. Never did Lenin’s teaching seem so meaningful: “It is difficult to seize power, but still more difficult to keep it.”

Eighty years of French domination had ruthlessly ground down our labouring people. During the years of the Second World War, another ferocious imperialism, that of the Japanese, had joined the French in exploiting us and both had vied with each other in bleeding our people white. More than one million peasants had died of starvation amidst their lush green ricefields. Nearly a million more died after the harvest. Then floods had come and we were again faced with the threat of starvation. The peasants, who had found new life through the miraculous power of their reconquered freedom and independence, could not endure indefinitely on an empty stomach.

The legacy left by the colonialists was pitiful: a few empty buildings, but neither rice nor money. Pitiful was also the cultural inheritance: a 90% illiteracy rate, the result of an obscurantist policy more concerned with building prisons than schools.

However, worse was yet to come. Foreign troops were pouring in from all directions. Some came from nearby, others from faraway places. They differed by the colour of their skins and their languages, but they shared a common eagerness to conquer our country and drive us back to slavery.

Punctual as ever, President Ho entered from an adjoining room.

“Good morning, dear elders, dear friends.”

His cordial greetings at once made everyone feel at home.
Uncle Ho wore a pair of indigo-dyed canvas shoes he had brought with him from the highlands. They had been offered him by some Nung people who had sewn them themselves. He was to wear them on many occasions, even when receiving foreign guests. Uncle Ho briskly went to the table and with a wave of his arm, invited the representatives to sit down.

There was no opening speech. Uncle Ho drew from his pocket a slip of paper on which had put down a few notes. Breaking with formality he went straight to the heart of the matter.

“Dear elders, dear friends,

“After eighty years of oppression, exploitation and obscurantism by the French colonialists, none of us has acquired any administrative skill. But we should not let this worry us. We shall learn while working. Mistakes may happen but we’ll correct them. We will have the courage to do it.

“Thanks to our deep love for the Fatherland and the people, I am sure that we shall succeed.

“What are our most pressing problems at the moment? In my opinion there are six of them…”

With a straight forward simplicity, Uncle Ho laid before the Council of Ministers the most urgent future tasks:

“1. Launch a production drive in order to fight famine. While waiting for the maize and sweet potato crop to be brought in in three or four months’ time, start a food-collecting campaign. Everyone will fast once every ten days and the rice saved will be distributed to the poor;

“2. Launch a fight against illiteracy;

“3. Hold general elections with universal suffrage as soon as possible, so as to enable the people to exercise their democratic liberties;

“4. Start a movement for industry, thrift, integrity and uprightness in order to eradicate the bad habits and practices left by colonialism;

“5. Immediately abolish poll-tax, market tax and ferry tax; strictly forbid opium smoking;

“6. Proclaim freedom of religious beliefs and unity between non-Catholics and Catholics.”

It took the President half an hour to expound all these questions. The difficult and complex problems left by 80 years of French domination, matters of vital importance to the nation, were briefly and clearly dealt with by Uncle Ho, who pointed out the direction to follow and occasionally the practical measures to be put into effect. Those who had had the chance of working with before at once recognized his familiar style.

After discussing the questions raised by Uncle Ho, all the ministers gave their enthusiastic approval. Many of the ideas put forward by him at the very first meeting of the Provisional Government have remained major Party and State policies to this day.

The meeting went on until the end of the morning. The atmosphere of simplicity and cordiality pervading it deeply impressed all those who were meeting Uncle Ho for the first time.

A few days later Uncle Ho wrote a letter addressed to all our people: “From January to July this year, two million of our people died of starvation in Bac Bo. The floods have further aggravated the population’s misery. When having our meals, we feel sad at heart, thinking of those who are hungry. Therefore I propose that every one of us throughout the country, myself in the first place, fast once every ten days, that is three times a month. The rice saved (one tinful per head per meal) will be distributed to the poor.”

He wrote these lines to the peasants: “Plentiful food means strong armies. Hard work wards off famine. Let not an inch of land lie fallow, and we shall succeed on these two counts. Our present slogan is: ‘Intensify production, immediately and ever more’. That is an effective way of preserving our liberty and independence.”

In early September, the Government promulgated a decree requiring all Vietnamese to learn to read and write the national script within a year. Uncle Ho called on all to fight illiteracy: “Let those who cannot yet read and write learn to do it. Let the wife learn from her husband. Let the younger brother learn from the elder. Let parents learn from their children. Let girls and women study harder.”

In September, when the school year began, Uncle Ho urged the children to “work hard, behave well, obey their teachers and vie with one another in their studies.”

September also saw the Mid-Autumn Festival, our children’s day. On that occasion, the first such festival in independence, Uncle Ho sent the young ones a letter overflowing with happiness: “You are happy to have a full moon, cool breezes, beautiful cakes and blue autumn skies. You are happy, and so is Uncle Ho. Do you know why? Uncle Ho is happy, firstly because he loves you; secondly because, while last autumn our country was still oppressed and you were little slaves, this autumn our country has regained its freedom and you are the young masters of an independent country. (…) Next year we shall have a common festival for young and old. What do you think? I have no present for you this year, only my warmest kisses.”

Naturally, the children did not know that for all the joy Uncle Ho expressed in his letter, he was beset by countless problems connected with State affairs.



Since he came to Hanoi, Uncle Ho had suffered no more fits of fever. But he was still very thin. The wrinkles on his forehead and at the corners of his eyes grew more numerous and deeper every day.

In Bac Bo Palace, every morning he get {sic} up at five o’clock and did exercises. He wrote a letter calling on all his fellow-countrymen to do physical exercises too. He ended with this line: “I myself do so every day.”

At mealtimes, he ate in the dining-hall with us and the guards. We shared the same table and took the same food. One day taken up by some urgent business, he was late. We did not save his share of meat and vegetables for him, each thinking the others had done it. We all felt greatly concerned, but he cheerfully sat at table {sic} and simply ate his rice.

After lunch he usually took a fifteen-minute nap in an armchair in the sitting-room. Then he read newspapers and news bulletins.

When in the guerilla base, he used to go to bed early because there was no light. Now he sat up late. The guards often saw lights burning in his room up to a late hour as he read books and examined documents.

His working-day began with a brief meeting of the Party Bureau. He set great store by collective work. He told the Bureau members to come and see him every day at six before beginning their own work.

His day was usually very busy. Party and State affairs besieged him. He had to attend to everything: directing the fight against famine, against illiteracy, against foreign aggression; dealing with the enemy in the North, conducting the resistance in the South; internal affairs and foreign affairs.

The newly-established Government offices were rudimentary and needed some running in. Uncle Ho would listen directly to those in charge of various departments or coming from various regions, to learn about the state of affairs and discuss solutions. The cadres were small in number and inexperienced. Uncle Ho often typed his own letters and sent them out himself.

He wrote many letters, appeals and newspaper articles to explain the decisions and policies of the Provisional Government, exhorting the people from all walks of life to carry them out and to join patriotic organizations.

He stated his views in a practical, concise and concrete manner. His words were familiar, simple ones, which the people would use in their daily life. The only difference was the new content he put into them. But in spite of that newness the listeners found them easy to understand; they conformed to both reason and sentiment.

The things he asked his people to do were what he himself had been doing all his life. If there was anything new, he set an example by doing it himself. For instance, he called on the people to go without a meal once every ten days to help the hungry. Three times a month, when the fast-day came, he would take his share of rice and put it into the relief-box with his own hands. On one such day, he was invited to dinner by Tieu Van, the Chinese commander. When he was back, he was told that his share of rice had been put aside for relief. Nevertheless, he decided to skip a meal the next day.

For him, everything, big or small, had its importance. He used to advise the cadres “to set examples to the people”, “to match words with deeds” and “not to behave arrogantly like ‘mandarins’ of the revolution, whom the people will dislike, despise and not support.”

Uncle Ho devoted a lot of time to visits, often unannounced, to various places. He visited a youth congress, the offices of the Hanoi Administrative Committee, the Viet Nam Politico-Military School, the Nam Dinh Textile Mill, he went to Bac Ninh, Thai Binh, etc. Those contacts allowed him not only to encourage and educate people, but also to get first-hand information about the life, thought and feelings of the population, and the cadres’ style of work.

Every day, he received many guests.

Those guests were on various kinds. Generals of the Chiang army came to ask for rice, a lot of rice, for money, housing facilities, electric bulbs, sugar, and even opium, anything they had failed to plunder from our people.

Once it was just a Chiang company commander. He earnestly requested an audience with the President for a “special affair” which he refused to tell anyone else. It turned out to be just this: he wanted to sell a few hundred guns.

Sometimes the guests were members of the Allied missions, American or British. Those visits differed in purpose, bur {sic} none was marked by goodwill.

Sometimes they were foreign journalists who wanted to learn about the Viet Minh movement, the lines and policies of our Government. Some of these were sham journalists who used interviews to probe our attitudes and collect intelligence.

But most numerous were the guests from inside the country: representatives of patriotic organizations, workers, peasants, youth and women, representatives of religious communities or business circles; public figures; a group of cadres and fighters from the South, who were moved to tears when they met Uncle Ho for the first time and told him of the feelings of the millions of our compatriots who were fighting there; a delegation of highland people, who had shared maize soup and bamboo shoots with revolutionary fighters in the Liberated Areas and were now visiting the capital city for the first time. Once it was a bearded old man who wanted to “contribute a few ideas of national reconstruction, now that the country is independent”. Sometimes, it was someone who just wanted to have a sight of Uncle Ho, under the pretext of seeking explanations on a point of policy.

Many a time he was late for dinner because of those guests. Finding him tired and too busy, we once suggested that he should cut down on interviews which were not really necessary. He said, “Our administration is newly established. The people and cadres want to know about many things. This is an occasion for us to explain the Government’s decisions and policies to everyone. We should not let our compatriots feel that it is as difficult to meet members of our Government as it was to see a mandarin in former times.”

The Liberation Army fighters on sentry duty and the drivers were given much care by Uncle Ho. For them, he was not only the President of the Republic, but a father. They all felt that what they did for him was so little in comparison with what he did for them.

Though very busy, Uncle Ho often found time to chat with them, inquiring about the quality of their meals or the situation of their families. He paid great attention to order and hygiene in the soldiers’ quarters.

In the evening, as it was too hot in their rooms in the basement, Uncle Ho told the soldiers to spend the night the empty office-rooms upstairs. One day, in his absence, two men had a wrestling match and broke the marble top of a table. The administrative officer angrily ordered all of them downstairs. When he returned Uncle Ho allowed them to come up again, and said:

“You are young soldiers and young men, you must play and exercise. Wrestling is a good sport. But for this, you must go out to some grassy plot of land, where you won’t hurt yourselves when falling and won’t damage public property. Well, don’t do this again. When you hold a wrestling party in the garden, let me know. I’ll come and watch.”

The driver was doing little reading. So whenever Uncle Ho found him idle, he would call him up, tell him to sit in the next room and give him some books or newspapers to read. From time to time, he would pop in to check up on him. Once, he found the driver had dozed off, leaving the paper open on the table. He quietly went out. Later he told him: “At first, you don’t understand much of what you’re reading, so you get sleepy. But if you keep on reading, you will understand more and more of the stuff and interest will grow. Then you won’t feel sleepy any more.”

Winter came. Women’s organizations in many places thought of warm clothes for Uncle Ho. Girls and women from Hanoi, Quang Yen and other towns came with thick woollen jackets for him. Each time, Uncle Ho would thank the women and tell them to take those clothes back to their places and give them to some of the oldest and poorest folks there.

One cold morning, a comrade came to work with him in a thin summer jacket. Uncle Ho went to fetch his own woollen jersey and gave it to him.

In Hanoi, in Bac Bo Palace, the President of the Republic lived as simple and frugal a life as when he was in the guerilla base.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



In Nam Bo, the situation had become tense since early September.

On September 2, over one million people in Saigon-Cho Lon demonstrated with flags and slogans in honour of Independence Day. French provocateurs fired at the demonstrators.

Four days later, the British mission came to Saigon. They ordered the Japanese to police the city and demanded that our armed forces should hand in their weapons. From the very beginning, the British betrayed themselves as interventionists.

The first English and Indian units of the 20th Division under the command of the British General Gracey landed from the air one after another.

On September 20, General Gracey issued his Communiqué № 1. He affirmed the British troops’ right to ensure “order”. He prohibited the carrying of arms and declared that offenders would be severely punished, even shot. The British seized the prison and released all the Frenchmen who had been arrested when they had parachuted into Nam Bo after our general uprising. Fifteen hundred French legionaries of the 11th Colonial Infantry Regiment were taken out of Japanese POW camps and rearmed by the British.

Early on the morning of September 23, French troops of the 11th regiment and a unit of legionaries newly landed from France, supported by British and Japanese troops, came out into the streets. They attacked our police posts and killed civilians. Former colonial officials and French nationals were also armed. Colonial legionaries and French colonialists who had meekly surrendered to the Japanese only a few months earlier showed utmost savagery in massacring and illtreating unarmed civilians.

The great war of resistance of our nation against the French colonialist aggressors had broken out in Nam Bo.

The Southern people, who had held power for barely a moth, were now rising up heroically to fight the enemy. They were the first citizens of this free country to shed their blood to implement the oath taken on Independence Day. The sacred fight of the South Vietnamese people, which has so far lasted a quarter of a century, began on that day.

On the afternoon of September 23, the Saigon people staged a general strike and opposed total non-cooperation to the French. All offices, business firms and factories were closed. Markets were deserted. Traffic in the streets came to a standstill. Barricades went up everywhere.

In an atmosphere of seething anger, self-defence units and the ordinary people of Saigon rushed to their combat positions, determined to fight back with all the weapons they had: pointed bamboo sticks, flintlocks, shotguns…

In Hanoi, during the whole of that day and far into the night, Uncle Ho and the Party Bureau followed the evens in Nam Bo hour by hour. They received the first reports and issued the first orders of resistance to the Party organization and the people of Nam Bo.

From the 24th onward, many French-held factories and depots were attacked. Electricity and water supplies were cut. Self-defence units and workers’ detachments raided the Tan Son Nhat airport, set ablaze French warships which had just arrived at Saigon port, stormed the central prison and freed people detained by the enemy.

On September 26, in their combat positions in the city, the Saigon fighters and people heard the stirring words of President Ho broadcast from Hanoi over the Voice of Viet Nam.

“I, and the people of our whole country have faith in the firm patriotism of our Nam Bo countrymen.

“… We would rather die than live in slavery!

“I am sure, and so are our Nam Bo compatriots, that the Government and the people in the whole country will wholeheartedly support the fighters and the people who are making a sacrifice and struggling for the defence of national independence.

“… We are bound to win, because we have the united strength of our entire people. We are bound to win because our struggle is a just one.”

The fight to defend Saigon assumed a new significance. Soon a slogan was put forth: “Let’s fight to defend Ho Chi Minh city!”, and it rapidly showed in the determination and action of each person. It was in the hearts and actions of our fighters and people on the Saigon-Cholon front that a new, glorious name was born for the city: Ho Chi Minh City.

Early in October, units of the French 9th Colonial Infantry Regiment continued to arrive by sea. On October 5, when General Leclerc came to Saigon the fighting had temporarily subsided as the French and British colonialists, to buy time while they waited for reinforcements, asked to meet our representatives for negotiations. Following the arrival of Leclerc, an armoured squadron belonging to the French 2nd Armoured Division landed on Saigon. The colonialists resumed hostilities and tried to occupy some areas around the city.

The Party Central Committee decided to send reinforcements to the South to help the Nam Bo fighters and people win the first victories for the resistance.

Southbound detachments were rapidly organized. Many units of the Liberation Army and some of the best commanders were ordered to go South. Many teams of cadres were also sent.

Our Party’s policy was to apply strict guerilla tactics, in order to frustrate the enemy’s plan for a “quick fight and a quick victory.”

Parallel with the sending of reinforcements to the South a vigorous nation-wide movement was launched to support the resistance in Nam Bo and to make active preparations to meet any enemy scheme to expand the war.

The whole country was looking toward Saigon. Everyone was determined to defend the Fatherland against aggression.

In Hanoi, during the last days of September, there were always large crowds in front of the public loudspeakers, listening to the news from the Nam Bo front.

The youth, eager to go south and fight the enemy, enthusiastically responded to the call-up. In some families, both father and son asked to join the army. Even Buddhist monks wanted to enlist. The Liberation Army’s strength grew up very quickly.

From the coastal provinces of the northern delta to the highlands in the Viet Bac revolutionary base area, from Hanoi, the capital city of the newly-established Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, to Hue, the ancient imperial city of the Nguyen dynasty, enthusiastic fighters set out. In the North alone, many Liberation Army units left simultaneously.

The recent successes of the revolution gave a new look to the army units going south. They were no longer the poorly clad and barefooted guerillas ordered to march south on the day of the general uprising. The new administration and the people were taking great care of their sons who were heading for the front. They were equipped with the best weapons we had at the time, with new outfits, shining gold stars on new caps, padded jackets, leather boots.

Crowds of people thronged the railway stations to see them off. The people in the northern and central regions of the country were contributing their own blood to the fight in the South, and sending their warmest feelings to the South through their departing sons.

The southward march for the defence of Nam Bo had begun with the participation of the whole nation. Rapid trains travelled day and night. The first southbound Liberation Army detachments arrived in good time and were entrusted with defending the northeast front of Saigon. The whole country was standing by the side of the people of Saigon and the South during those first days of national resistance.

With the support of the British, Indian and Japanese troops, the French colonialists planned to “pacify” Nam Bo within three weeks.

Although they had had no time for proper preparations, with the assistance of the people in other provinces of Nam Bo and the whole country, the Saigon fighters and people fought heroically and managed to pin down the enemy in the city for a whole month, inflicting heavy losses on him.

On October 25, a plenary conference of the Nam Bo Party organization was held in My Tho province. Comrades Ton Duc Thang, Le Duan and a number of others who had just got out of the prison island of Poulo Condore were present. It was an important conference. Comrade Hoang Quoc Viet, who had been sent to the South in mid-August by the Party Central Committee and the Viet Minh Natinal {sic} Committee, also attended. The conference took many important decisions with a view to stepping up the southern people’s resistance to aggression and strengthening the Party’s leadership in the armed forces.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



When the first blue-uniformed emissaries of Chiang Kai-shek arrived in Hanoi, they applied to us for permits to carry arms. The strict order maintained in the city had made a strong impression on them. Uncle Ho was asked whether permits should be issued to them. He said, “Make a stamp and grant them the permits. It won’t be long before they no longer need any papers from us.”

Within a few days after his arrival, Lu Han asked us for a report on the strength and organization of our army. To conceal our forces, Uncle Ho instructed us to change the name of the Liberation Army into “National Defence Guard”. The word “guard” would lead them to think of small regional units and make them relax their attention.

A number of army detachments were ordered to move out to the outskirts of Hanoi so as to avoid clashes with the Chiang troops. The soldiers on sentry duty at public offices were often faced with provocations from the Chiang troops, who sometimes tried to disarm them, which would result in an angry resistance. In the end, we managed to avoid incidents by posting our sentries inside the fences.

Late in September, Lu Han declared that there was no time limit for his troops’ mission in Viet Nam. It was evident that they had not come here with the sole aim of disarming the Japanese.

Early in October, Ha Ung Kham (Ho Yin Chin) flew to Hanoi from Chungking in company with the US Army Commander in China.

The demonstration to welcome the Allied mission, in fact designed to show our strength, was held within only a few hours’ notice. Yet it gathered some three hundred thousand people carrying large numbers of banners, flags and signs who marked past the former Governor General’s palace in perfect order shouting slogans such as: “Viet Nam for the Vietnamese!”, “Support the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam!”, “Support the League for the Independence of Viet Nam!”, “Support President Ho Chi Minh!”…

It was a rather unexpected kind of welcome. As he stood on the steps to acknowledge it, the Chief of the Chinese General Staff was wet with sweat.

Later on, it was learned that Ha Ung Kham had come to Hanoi with Chunking’s plan to “destroy Communism and stop Ho”. But once here, he realized that with only two hundred thousand troops he could not carry out the plan immediately. He went back after a few days, leaving instructions to the Chiang generals in Hanoi.

Tieu Van (Siao Wen) set to work. He pressed for a government reshuffle, urging us to reserve many important portfolios and offices for the Viet Nam Nationalist Party and the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance.

Their agents found that they could not act in Hanoi the way they had acted in some of the border provinces. The first thing they did was set up their headquarters, fly their flag and win over reactionary elements among the feudal class, former mandarins and thugs. The seized the Ngu Xa quarter and declared it to be an “autonomous zone”.

Nguyen Hai Than had his men distribute handbills and declare over loudspeakers that the Viet Minh had established dictatorial rule and had violated the agreements reached between various organizations in the Liu Chou

Three years before, during a trip abroad to get in touch with the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, Uncle Ho had been arrested by the Kuomintang authorities. They dragged him from one prison to another – over thirty in all. The political organisations in the country launched a campaign for his release, but he was still kept in Liu Chou. He eventually found out why the Chiang clique has refused to release him. The fact was that in Liu Chou, there was a reactionary political party in the pay of the Kuomintang, named Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance, headed by Truong Boi Cong and Nguyen Hai Than. They alleged that he had been seeking to wreck their organization.

He was freed only after a fairly long time. He asked to be allowed to go home with some Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance members of his choice. Truong Phat Khue (Chang Fa Kuei, the Chinese commander – Ed.) agreed, but Truong Boi Cong and Nguyen Hai Than objected. So Uncle Ho went home alone.

Nguyen Hai Than declared that he had the support of the Chiang troops. If the present government was not re-organized, he threatened, he would overthrow it by force. To show his strength, this former fortune-teller drove through the streets of Hanoi in a small car, with two men on the roof lying behind a light machinegun, and two others sitting on the front fenders with submachine-guns under their arms.

The Nationalist Party’s activities were somewhat more dangerous. With the help of the Chinese commander in Hanoi, they managed to get hold of a printing shop; then with a group of hired writers, they published the newspaper Viet Nam, which was followed by others such as Lien Hiep, Thiet Thuc… using brazen slanders and insolent allegations, they tried to stir up the people and set them against the leadership. They directed their attacks at the people’s administration and at all the policies of the Viet Minh and the Government. They hung up a large loudspeaker in front of their newspaper office in Quan Thanh Street and broadcast their stuff all day long though no one would listen to them. Together with slanders and propaganda, they also committed criminal acts: murder, kidnapping and extortion of money.

Gradually the Americans came to realize we were not pro-Western “nationalists” as they had expected. US officers in Hanoi were ordered not to attend ay meetings organized by the Viet Minh. Other Americans arrived, allegedly to interrogate Japanese prisoners of war and look for the bodies of Americans killed in the war. In fact they were trying to make a study of the political situation, natural resourced, strategic routes, airfields and ports.

With the agreement of the Americans and the Chiang authorities, the French mission managed to set up an unofficial office in Hanoi. They met Nguyen Hai Than several times and sought contact with the Viet Nam Nationalist Party. They also tried to meet Vinh Thuy several times, but the latter avoided them out of wariness of us.

The Chiang troops were stationed in many places all over the city. They set up check-points inside the town and on streets leading out of the city. All motor-vehicles had to carry permits issued by them. They behaved as if they were an occupation force.

One day, I went to Ha Dong on some business. Although the windscreen of my car had a large permit on it bearing the large, red seal of the Chiang authorities, Chinese soldiers stopped us at Nga Tu So. They lifted up the seats and made a thorough search of the car. They found a pistol on my bodyguard. So the car was seized and we both were taken into a private house they had commandeered. In answer to their questions I told them that we worked at the Chinese-Viet Nam Liaison Mission.

Just then someone I knew passed by. He hurriedly went to inform our comrades at the Liaison Mission. We were released only after two hours.

Almost every night we received letters from the Chiang commanders, conveying either demands or intimidation.

Bac Bo Palace was no longer safe. Uncle Ho often had to change his place of residence and his travelling plans. One night he would spend at № 8 Bo Ho Street, another at a house in Buoi, and another still at a place near Nga Tu So. All those three houses were later destroyed during the war.

One evening, as his car left the Palace, his bodyguard informed him that an unknown car was trailing it. He told the driver, “Don’t leave this quarter yet. Just go round the lake.”

The car made a tour of the lake. The other car kept following it. Uncle Ho told the driver to take a sharp turn into a back street then to return to Bac Bo Palace.

The guards were astonished when they saw him back only a few minutes after he left. That night, Uncle Ho stayed in Bac Bo Palace.

The situation was extremely confused as a result of the actions of our internal and external enemies.

Uncle Ho and the Party Bureau had seen the Chiang troops’ inner weaknesses behind their numerical strength and apparent aggressiveness. Their greatest difficulty lay in the act that they could not win any political support in face of our people’s unity and single mindedness. They wanted to overthrow us, but knew that without help from the Viet Minh authorities, they wouldn’t be able to get the vast quantities of supplied needed by their large armies which were hated and shunned by the people. They had also to reckon with other serious dangers that might befall them.

One day, the Chiang Army Command asked Uncle Ho to see them. He came back late, silently took his place at the dining table, and put down his chopsticks and went away sooner than usual. This rarely happened with him. He said, “I was too late at dinner and had no appetite.”

He told us that that morning the Chiang men had asked him to sign an agreement to supply them with a very large quantity of rice. He had refused. He was sure they would go on harassing us on that question. He said, “How can we give them so much rice? Our own people haven’t enough to eat.”

Noticing our indignation, he repeated his directive: to be patient with the Chiang troops so as to be able to concentrate our efforts against the main enemy.

He was very firm in principle and flexible in tactics. And once the tactics had been worked out, he was also firm in applying them.



When something has happened, it seems rather easy to see what are the factors which have necessarily turned the mere possibilities into realities. We are inclined to say simply: “It was bound to happened this way, it couldn’t have been otherwise.”

It fact, the social field, in the struggle between conscious human beings, every chance is the result of an often very complex process of evolution. The revolutionary leader must find out the general and particular laws of events in a maze of phenomena in which the false is hardly distinguishable from the true, and where there are innumerable and entangled relations, all moving and developing unceasingly. The accurate, scientific forecast of trends, of how major situations are likely to develop in the future, is of the utmost importance in revolutionary work. Such predictions will be severely tested by realities and time and a true forecast is the work of geniuses.

Late in 1939, the Second World War started. The German fascist troops overran many European countries. They devoured France within a few weeks. England was devastated by the bombings of aircraft carrying the sign of the swastika. In Asia, the Japanese fascists had occupied a large part of the immense Chinese mainland. It was just when fascism had reached its apogee that Uncle Ho and our Party predicted its defeat and saw the opportunity for Viet Nam to win back independence. Uncle Ho decided to return home.

In the spring of 1941, in the damp cave of Pac Bo, the 8th Conference of the Party Central Committee was held under his chairmanship. The Conference noted: “If the previous imperialist war gave birth to the Soviet Union, a socialist country, then this one will give birth to many other socialist countries; now the revolution will succeed in many countries.”

The Central Committee and Uncle Ho put forward national liberation as an urgent revolutionary task. The Central Committee pointed out the favourable objective conditions for a successful insurrection, among them the possible invasion of Indochina by Allied troops, and affirmed: “To prepare for an insurrection is the central task of our Party and people in the present period.”

In the summer of that year, the German fascists launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. It was like a hurricane. Within a few weeks, they advanced hundreds of kilometres into the land of the October Revolution.

In the winter, the Japanese fascists launched massive attacks in the Pacific. In China, the Red Army had to fight on two fronts, against the Japanese as aggressors and the traitor Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang troops. The rising sun had been hoisted over French Indochina, British-owned Hongkong, Burma and Malaya, and the “US-protected” Philippines. In those cold nights when he was trying to escape from the searched by local police in the Pac Bo area, Uncle Ho predicted the victory of the revolution:

“It will be accomplished in 1945.”

So said the last line of Viet Nam’s History in Verse, written by him in those days and then lithographed. Revolutionary Museum cadres recently discovered a copy of it hidden inside a bamboo section in a house on stilts in Pac Bo. The owner of the house had been a member of a National Salvation organization in the pre-revolutionary days.

Uncle Ho never mentioned this line. For our part we have been too busy to ask him how he was able to make such a prediction. This has become one of the things which have never been thoroughly understood about his personality and his great revolutionary life – almost sixty years of revolutionary activities.

Today, looking at through the Party’s documents in this historic period, we find other prophecies.

As early as the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942, many of the Party’s communiques and directives had begun to point out tactics to be adopted towards the “British, Americans and Chinese” and the advantages and difficulties arising from the eventual entry of Allied troops.

In February 1943, the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee had called for an “urgent preparation for an insurrection” so that “when the opportunity arises, the masses can be mobilized for the fight.”

On a spring night of 1945, the Japanese staged a coup against the French. The eighty-year hold of the French colonialists was shattered overnight. The French were caught napping by what our Party had foreseen one year before. The February 15, 1944 issue of Co Giai Phong (Liberation Flag) had carried the following statement: “The Japanese will act to topple the French”, they will “stage a coup d’etat and will arrest the French and the Vietnamese traitors in their pays.”

Three days after the coup, the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee in its directive entitled “The Japanese-French Clash and Our Action”, had pointed out that the opportunity would arise for a general uprising when Allied troops entered Indochina and that “even before any Allied landing, a general insurrection could break out and be successful.”

The resolution of the Bac Ky Revolutionary Military Conference held in mid-April had pointed out that the entry of Allied troops into Indochina was inevitable, while stressing the utmost importance of military tasks and laying down concrete guide lines for the preparation of the general uprising.

Our Party had defined its diplomatic line as one of “turning to account the contradictions between the Chinese and the Americans and between the British and the Gaullist French.” In the meantime, internally, “we should actively build up our strength, and should not rely on others.”

The resolution of the National Conference of the Indochinese Communist Party held at Tan Trao on the 14th and 15th of August, 1945 had affirmed: “A very good opportunity has arisen or us to win back our independence.”

On the question of “the coming entry of Allied troops in our country,” the Party Central Committee decided “to oppose the French design of restoring their former position in Indochina and the Chinese militarists’ design of occupying our country.”

Our Party had further emphasized the necessity of making the most of the contradictions between the two Allied groups – the British-French on the one hand and the American-Chiang on the other – on the Indochinese question, but had also pointed out that “the contradiction between the British-French-American group on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other might lead the Anglo-Americans to compromise with the French and let the French come back to Indochina.”

The Party’s line had been to try to avoid having to cope singlehanded with several Allied forces invading Indochina at one time, and repeated that “in any case, only our own strength can settle the issue between us and the Allies.”

Lenin said: “History in general and the history of revolutions in particular always take place in a richer, more varied, more diversified, more vivid and cleverer way than can be imagined by the best political parties.” The revolution in our country occurred in exactly that way. Today we are proud of the fact that our Party was able to foresee the basic trend of the situation’s development. The timely assessments and judicious policies of the Party took the August General Insurrection to victory, and led the newly-born Democratic Republic of Viet Nam through the great difficulties of the early stage. In the South, the “quick fight, quick victory” plan of the French colonialists and British interventionists had failed from the very beginning. In Bac Bo and Trung Bo, the Chiang Kai-shek militarists and their handful of followers, with US-equipped forces tens of times stronger than our own, had been unable to overthrow the young revolutionary power as they had expected.

However, there were still many difficulties and dangers. Before we had seized power, the only foreign army on our soil had been the sixty thousand troops of the Japanese. No sooner had we won back independence than nearly two hundred thousand Chiang troops poured in while some five thousand Anglo-Indian troops landed in the South. They were followed by tens of thousands of French expeditionary troops while the thousands of defeated French colonial troops in Indochina were being reequipped and those who had fled to China were also returning. The Japanese troops were still there and constituted another threat. Japan had surrendered, but the Japanese army in Indochina had not suffered heavy losses. As for the Chiang, French and British armies, in any event, they represented the victorious Allies.

Toward the end of November, the Party Central Committee made an assessment of the situation and took decisions for the coming period. It issues the directive entitled “Resistance and Reconstruction” dated November 25, 1945, in which it was stated that “…The easier it has been to seize power, the more difficult it will be to preserve it. The newly-established democratic republican Government is faced with an extremely complex situation.”

The Party Central Committee pointed out that the internal tasks at the time were “to consolidate power, to oppose the French colonialists, to eliminate internal foes, to improve the people’s living conditions.”

In the utterly confused state of things in the country, when external and internal enemies were all around us, it was of the utmost importance to determine who the main enemy was. The Party analysed the positions of the various enemies. The Americans, in spite of statements of neutrality in the Indochinese problem, secretly helped the French by lending them troop-carriers. In their relations with the French, the Anglo-Americans were faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, they wanted to further their own interests in Indochina and South-East Asia, while on the other hand they wanted to reach a compromise with a view to a united front against the Soviet Union. The Chiang clique sent their troops into our country with the initial intention of overthrowing the power established by our Party and replacing it by puppet government in their pay. But seeing that our entire people were united in supporting the Government, they had to enter into relations with us. They were afraid of our Communism and feared that “the alliance of Indochinese Communists and Chinese Communists would result in the communization of Southern China”, therefore they planned to obtain a reorganization of the Provisional Government and introduce their own agents into it.

The Party Central Committee out forward a new judgement: “… Sooner or later, Chungking will agree to return Indochina to the French, provided that the latter concede major interests to the Chinese.”

From the above analyses and judgements, the tasks of the proletariat and the nation were defined, and the main objective of the revolution was pointed out clearly:

“The slogans continue to be ‘The Nation above All’, ‘The Fatherland above All’. Our main enemy at present is the French colonialist aggressors. The struggle should be spearheaded against them.”

The tasks set by the Party were: “To mobilize the forces of the whole people to carry on the resistance perseveringly, to organize and lead protracted resistance and to combine guerilla warfare with total non-cooperation.”

The situation was developing rapidly in a very complex way.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()

As a Vietboo and Giap fan I can't say how grateful I am for this thread. Here's Giap calling McNamara a fucking chump.


I am writing these lines in May 1970.

Gone are the days when the name of Viet Nam could not be found on the maps. Our Fatherland with its four thousand years of history, together with the neighbouring lands of Cambodia and Laos, was then just a strip of land on the Pacific coast, lying between India and China and bearing a vague name invented by the colonialists: French Indochina.

Gone are also the days when the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was just an island of freedom, amidst the rolling waves on the vast sea of capitalism in the South-East Asian region. Few were the brothers and friends to recognize us at once. And few were also those who were able to realize the full significance of that historic event.

Gone are the days when imperialism ruled the roost.

Today, every piratical act of the imperialists on this Indochinese peninsula has become a dangerous step and one liable to punishment. Every crime committed by them here will shock the conscience and feelings of hundreds of millions of people in various regions of the world. All the expensive cosmetics given by colonialism to its agents and puppets have proved of no avail. The formation of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Viet Nam, born in the midst of the fierce struggle was at once greeted warmly by the whole of progressive mankind as a long-awaited event. The Royal Cambodian Government of National Union was recognized by tens of countries throughout the world as soon as it was set up.

Today, when the millions of Chinese Kuomintang troops have become ghosts of the past, when Chiang Kai-shek is spending his last days on the island of Taiwan, it seems difficult for us to recall the moments of danger when nearly two hundred thousand Chiang troops were pouring into North Viet Nam from several directions.

The newly-born Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, surrounded as it was by imperialist wolves, had to do its utmost, fight with courage and intelligence, try ever means in order to survive. Under such difficult circumstances, “the Party had to resort even to painful ways to save the situation”, as Uncle Ho put it later on. Every questions, every affair of the Party, the country and the people affected him deeply.

The Party of our working class was fifteen years old when it won power. That day was the beginning of a new spring for the land bequeathed by our forefathers. But news of that grand event did not reach all our friends abroad.

In August that year, Uncle Ho had written a letter calling for a general uprising, signed with the name of the revolutionary Nguyen Ai Quoq. Early in September, he appeared before the people under the name of Ho Chi Minh. It was a pseudonym he had used a few years before in order to conceal his real identity from the Chinese Kuomintang. The revolutionaries were coming back to the people after years of hiding from the enemy. But all Party activities were still conducted in secrecy. Party cadres made no official appearance in public. Almost all Party members carried on activities on behalf of the Viet Minh. Our Party decided to avoid doing anything that might provoke the enemies of the nation and the class. But they still recognized us.

Many days after the establishment of the revolutionary power, it had not yet been recognized by any country. Chiang’s generals were obliged to enter into a relationship with us in order to get provisions and accommodation. When they met Uncle Ho, they had to refer to his official title and function and address him as President. But in all written communications to him, they only addressed him as “Mr. Ho Chi Minh.” They regarded our administration as a de facto and not a de jure one.

The economic situation was extremely difficult. A large part of the cultivable lands in the North was lying fallow. The flood was followed by a protracted drought. A number of factories handed over by the Japanese could not yet be put back into operation. Foreign trade came to a standstill and goods were in very short supply.

We were not able to issue a Vietnamese currency yet. The treasury taken over from the old regime totaled less than one million piasters in tattered notes. One million in paper notes fast sinking in value to build a new power and a new life! And this while the French-held Bank of Indochina was trying its hardest to cause financial disruption. In addition to that, the market was flooded with Chinese yuans from the Chiang troops, which further aggravated our financial and commercial difficulties.

The people’s standards of living were very low. The number of unemployed soared rapidly. In many places, people were living on a thin rice gruel and some were still dying of starvation. Cholera broke out along with an epidemic of typhus brought in by the Chiang troops.

The French aggression, which broke out soon in Nam Bo, made all those difficulties even more critical. Under such circumstances, what we had to do was to build a new society, a much more difficult task than that of demolishing the foundations of the old society. Moreover, this task was to be taken in hand by the working class for the first time in our history.

Anyway, the situation was no longer the same as in former times. The revolution had triumphed and the newly-won power could provide it with new means and new possibilities to defend itself. The most urgent task at the moment was to consolidate and preserve this revolutionary power.

In early September, many decrees were promulgated by the Provisional Government.

The old mandarin system was abolished. The colonial and feudal administration was utterly shattered. The Government decided to hold general elections throughout the country to elect a National Assembly. This was followed by a decree on organizing people’s councils and administrative committees at various levels on the basis of universal suffrage. The people’s councils were to be directly elected by the people. They were representative bodies. The administrative committees elected by the people’s councils were executive bodies representing both the people and the Government. Through those elections, the people’s power was firmly implanted at the grassroots level, the unity of the whole nation was broadened and the worker-peasant dictatorship was ensured.

The draft constitution was made public so that every citizen could make his contribution to drawing up the first constitution of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.

The Government decided that land rents should be reduced by 25 per cent and all long-standing debts in rural areas abolished.

The eight-hour working day was enforced. Owners of factories and business firms had to give advance notice before dismissing any workers, who were entitled to dismissal allowances. The workers also had the right to undergo military training while receiving full pay during this period.

Literacy classes became compulsory and free of charge. A decree set up a Popular Education Department for the whole of Viet Nam, organized evening classes for workers and peasants, and ordered the abolition of examination and tuition fees at all levels.

As early as the beginning of September, the annual poll-tax imposed by the French on every man from the age of eighteen upward was abolished together with many other absurd taxes.

In the face of the economic and financial difficulties, how was the Government to get funds for the necessary expenditure, and especially for the large defence requirements?

For the time being the only way was to call for voluntary contributions by the people.

On the 4th of September, the Independence Fund was instituted.

A week later, Uncle Ho called on the people in the whole country to take an active part in the “Gold Week.” Many eagerly offered even their dearest keepsakes: a pair of ear-rings from an old woman, carefully kept since she was a girl; two wedding-rings from a couple; a parcel brought in by an eighty-year old woman, which contained the family heirloom: a seventeen-ounce gold ingot wrapped in red silk; one family gave all the jewelry owned by its members.

Within a short time, people from all walks of life had contributed twenty million piasters and three hundred and seventy kilograms of gold to the “Independence Fund” and the “Gold Week.”

President Ho paid especial attention to determining the relationship between the new government officials and the people. In October, in a letter to people’s committees at provincial, district and village levels, he wrote: “Government organs from national to village levels are all servants of the people.”

In former times, Tran Hung Dao advised his king that the best policy was “to spare the people’s forces in peace time so as to strike deep roots and strengthen the base.” Nguyen Trai blamed Ho Quy Ly for failing preserve national independence because he had failed to pay adequate attention to the people’s forces and had concentrated his efforts solely on building defence works. Our greatest national heroes have always set great store by the people’s forces in the fight against aggression.

President Ho called for “eradicating famine and illiteracy and annihilating foreign aggressors.” He said: “We must rely on the people’s material and moral forces.” But he was unlike our forefathers in this for he pointed out that all was aimed at “ensuring the people’s happiness.”

In his letter to the people’s committees, he wrote: “Independence for the nation without happiness for the people is a meaningless independence.”

“Happiness for the people” was what he stressed in the Declaration of Independence: “All the peoples have a right to live and to be happy and free.”

The happiness that he wanted for the people was a full happiness. The happiness did not lie only in the gain which the revolution had just brought to the whole people. It would continue to come to the working people in the struggle to eradicate the roots of all human sufferings, to build a new society in which all forms of exploitation of man by man were abolished. In this great struggle, the Party and President Ho have chosen the shortest possible way for our people.

“Happiness for the people” was the aim of the seizure, strengthening and defence of power. It was President Ho’s ideal and also what his heart craved for.

In his letter to the people’s committees, President Ho also pointed out some mistakes committeed by Government officials arising from arbitrariness, abuse of power, favouritism and arrogance, etc. He concluded the letter in these words: “For the sake of the nation’s happiness and the interest of the country, I must stress that the words justice and integrity must be engraved in our hearts…”

In December, Uncle Ho wrote an article entitled “Self-Criticism” carried by various newspapers. He wrote:

“My fellow-countrymen have entrusted me with looking after the destiny of the nation, out of their love and confidence in me. My duty as a helmsman is to steer such a course as will lead the boat of the Fatherland safely through the storms to the shore of the people’s happiness…

“Although we have won back independence for five months, we have not yet been recognized by any countries.

“Although our soldiers have fought with great bravery, our resistance has not yet been victorious.

“Although administrative officials have done their work well and are honest, corruption has not yet been wholly eradicated.

“Although the Government has made great efforts, the administration is still not running smoothly in many places…

“One might explain away those shortcomings saying that they are due to lack of time, lack of experience, or other reasons.

“But I must tell you the truth: such successes as we have achieved are due to the common efforts of the people while the shortcomings mentioned above are our own faults…”

The labouring people had recognized the new State as their own. It was a very new thing. In the nation’s history, the feudal courts and ruling apparatuses had always been used by the few from the exploiting classes to rule over the majority of the people, the labouring people. They always furthered the interests of the few and brought sufferings to the many. Today, the State had become one of the majority, of the labouring people. It was working every minute to defend the people’s interests and bring happiness to them to them what it could not yet achieve, it would certainly do so in the future.

Our fellow-countrymen saw in Uncle Ho the noblest image of the people, of the nation, of the revolution, of the new power, of the new regime.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



“This is the Voice of Viet Nam, broadcasting from Hanoi, capital of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam…”

Each time this sentence resounded over the radio those autumn days, it stirred deep feelings in every heart…

Viet Nam had known a rebirth. The heavy, dark cloud of the colonial regime had dissipated. The skies of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam were beautifully blue. The capital city of Hanoi, more splendid than the former Thang Long or Dong Do, was filled with revolutionary enthusiasm and ready to face the gathering storms.

The newly-promulgated democratic liberties were like rain falling on dry fields after a long drought. Our people greeted the first fruits of the revolution as “water for the thirsty and food for the starved.” Not long before, one would have been imprisoned for carrying a revolutionary handbill or shouting a revolutionary slogan. At present, the mere fact that people could fly the country’s flag on their roof, walk proudly in the street which was now their own, or sing a revolutionary song in a loud voice, filled their hearts with joy and sometimes their eyes with tears.

The revolutionary flame kindled by Uncle Ho and the Party some time before was blazing throughout the country. The common citizen realized his responsibility in the consolidation and defence of the new power. This was precisely to defend the fruits of the revolution, the newly won democratic freedoms, and to preserve his most beautiful hopes and dreams.

In that surging revolutionary wave of the entire people, it was necessary to continue organizing the masses, taking them to ever higher forms of struggle. Uncle Ho paid great attention to the mobilization and organization of the workers, peasants and intellectuals. Even in his letters to the old people in Hanoi, to businessmen and to school children on the occasion of the new school year, he stressed the need for them to organize themselves and join patriotic organizations.

Within a short time, millions upon millions of people in the whole country, old and young, men and women, had organized themselves. Even in cities where the Chiang troops were stationed our patriotic organizations developed impetuously in face of their guns. Day and night in towns and in the countryside, meetings and rallies were being held. There had never been such activity and animation in the traditionally quiet rural areas of Viet Nam.

The country was encircled by the imperialists, threatened by enemies from all directions. The national conference of the Party at Tan Trao had affirmed that “Our strength alone will determine the success.” In a directive written in December 1944, Uncle Ho had pointed out that the fight to defend the country was “a war of resistance by the whole people”, therefore, “it was necessary to mobilize and arm the whole people.” His directive set forth the basic lines for the resistance and the building of the revolutionary armed forces. The Tan Trao conference held before the general insurrection set forth the two simultaneous tasks of “arming the people” and “developing the Viet Nam Liberation Army”.

Through the two long resistance wars against the French and the US imperialists, our lines regarding the resistance and the building of the armed forces – which include the relationship between the armed forces of the masses and the regular army – have contributed decisively to the victory of the nation. Today, reviewing the resolutions and directives concerning the problem, we see that the Party and President Ho had set forth correct orientations and policies right at the outset.

The militarization of the patriotic organizations, which had been put into practice only in the guerilla bases before the general insurrection, became common throughout the country. Members of those organizations, especially the younger ones were eager to undergo military training and exercise themselves in traditional boxing and fencing.

There was a great drive to procure, make and buy weapons. Village blacksmiths became producers of spears and scimitars for the militia and the self-defence units. Children helped collect scrap iron. Grown-ups contributed such household utensils as copper trays and pans, or even worship articles such as incense burners and urns, to be made into arms.

Under foreign rule, all weapons were prohibited. During repressive operations, a dagger found in a house might lead to the massacre of all its inhabitants. It is hard to describe the citizen’s burning desire to have a weapon to defend the newly-won independence.

With a scimitar or a long spear in his hands, the militiaman standing at the village gate felt surging in him the nation’s tradition of courage, stronger than ever before.

The self-defence and guerilla organizations existing before the August Revolution developed very quickly.

President Ho described these forces as the “iron wall of the Fatherland” which would crush any enemy, however unyielding. During the insurrection, it was the shock force supporting the people in seizing power in various places. When the resistance war broke out in the South, and later, when it expanded to the whole country, it helped to turn every street, every village into a fortress.

Towards the end of 1945, self-defence units were organized almost every hamlet, village, street and factory; one or two companies in some places, at least one platoon in others. They were put under the close direction of the Party and given assistance in military training by government authorities, but were wholly self-supporting in food and equipment.

In areas not yet at war, they proved an efficient instrument of dictatorship for the revolutionary power to ensure security or Party, State and Front offices, economic and national defence establishments, to keep peace and order, to put down the reactionaries. In most rural areas, theft and robbery were eradicated. It was a fine sight to see doors left open when people were absent or asleep.

In Hanoi, the city self-defence corps included practically all young men and numbered tens of thousands. They managed to procure for themselves various sorts of weapons, from daggers and shotguns to anti-tank mines and Japanese machine-guns.

The core of this force was made up of self-defence shock units. They were selected from the ranks of the National Salvation Youth League and included workers, poor labourers, schoolboys and students. They were armed and equipped by the Ministry of National Defence and mostly quartered and specific places, because of the existing situation. Their daily supplies came from the people. Along with the task of defending the revolutionary power against the reactionaries, they also took part in propaganda work and helped train the other self-defence units.

There was a training centre for them, called the Ho Chi Minh Self-Defence Training School. Uncle Ho visited it several times. Comrade Nhan and I often came to give lectures. Many of the trainees later became excellent cadres for the Viet Nam People’s Army.

While developing the armed forces of the masses, we stepped up the building of a regular army.

The units of the Viet Nam National Salvation Army, the Armed Propaganda Brigade for the Liberation of Viet Nam, the Ba To Guerillas etc., had merged into the Viet Nam Liberation Army, undergone a swift development and been organized into battalions, companies and platoons before the general insurrection. Following Party decisions, they developed very quickly in the new situation within a month, their strength had increased tenfold as compared with the days immediately after the revolution.

All units of our army, the National Defence Guard, were put under the leadership of the Party through the agency of Party organizations within the army, in which Party members played an important role.

The cadres and members of the first armed units of the Party in earlier times became the nuclei of army units at national and regional levels.

The Anti-Japanese Political-Military School established in the guerilla base earlier was turned into the Viet Nam Political-Military School, and enlarged. Hundreds of cadres were trained at one time. Uncle Ho often came to give talks. To conceal it from the Chiang men, he renamed it “Viet Nam Cadres’ School”.

There was a seething nation-wide drive to enlist. Patriotic organizations sent many of their members to the armed forces. Self-defence units gave the army their best fighters and in some regions transformed themselves into army units. In Hanoi, altars to the Fatherland were set up in many quarters where volunteers were enrolled. These included middle-aged men as well as young people.

During the civil insurrection, many civil guard units had crossed over to the revolutionary side. We decided to accept former officers and soldiers who, inspired by patriotism, volunteered to join the revolutionary army. Many were later to become good soldiers and cadres of our army.

In most regions, the army had to be supported by the people. The Women’s National Salvation Association played a prominent role in taking care of our fighters.

We decided to try every means to get more weapons for our army. Besides those we had seized from the civil guards or from the Japanese in battle, we used the money and gold contributed by the people to buy more armaments from the Japanese and the Chiang troops. Yet, it was hard to meet the needs of our developing army in armaments and equipment. We had to use everything we could lay hands on, so the few arms and munitions we had were of many kinds. Along with the handy lightweight submachine-guns made during World War Two and recently brought in by foreign troops, there were long rifles made in Czarist times and flintlocks turned out by local blacksmiths. While at present our infantrymen are equipped with three infantry weapons of the same calibre, at the time we had to use some forty different kinds, of varying calibres. The rifles alone belong to twenty kinds, manufactured in eight different countries:

Viet Nam:
- Phan Dinh Phung muskets with smooth barrels;
- Flintlocks.

- “Mousqueton” with three-cartridge magazines;
- “Mousqueton” with five-cartridge magazines;
- “Indochinese” rifles;
- Muskets;
- 7.5mm “Mas”;
- Semi-automatic “Mas”;
- Grenade-throwers;
- 12-caliber shotguns;
- 16-caliber shotguns;
- 20-caliber shotguns.

- cavalry carbines;
- infantry rifles.

- 7.7mm rifles.

- 1903 Remington rifles;
- 1917 Remington rifles.

- 7.9mm long rifles (made in Czarist times).

- 7.9mm rifles (made in Chiang times).

- Mauser rifles (made in Nazi times).

Armed with more sticks than rifles, the National Defence Guards trained hard day and night, rain or shine. They were offered food, drink and fruit by local women. On their way to the front, they were shown warm feelings and well looked after by the people.

A new army was appearing for the first time in national history, an army of the people, issuing from the people, fostered by the people and fighting for the people. This army was founded by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh. Therefore from its early days it bore the deep imprint of the Party and Uncle Ho. Referring to our Party Uncle Ho once quoted two lines by Lu Hsun:

Glaring contemptuously at a thousand athletes,
Bending gently to serve as a horse to the children.

And he explained that “a thousand athletes” meant powerful enemies like the French colonialists and the American interventionists, and also difficulties and hardships; while the “children” meant the large masses of common people, and also work done in the interest of the nation and the people.

These two lines also gave an image of our army. The National Defence Guards well deserved the affectionate feelings the people throughout the country showed them when they called them “Uncle Ho’s soldiers”.

Our army and the armed forces of the masses were born in the flames of the struggle for national salvation, building themselves up while fighting, heightening their political qualities as a result of their education at the hands of the Party and President Ho, steeling themselves in the fierce fire of the battlefields. Those armed forces have grown up day after day and met the great and urgent needs of the country.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()

good thread.


Of his long years abroad, Uncle Ho had spent many in China. There he had been constantly watched by the dense network of Kuomintang secret agents. He was present in Canton during the tragic days when tens of thousands of Communist Party members and revolutionary workers were massacred by the Chiang Kai-shek clique. He was detained in over thirty prisons. After Japan’s capitulation, the US urged the Chiang militarists to act quickly to liquidate an impending peril which was facing them – the growing Red Army led by the Chinese Communist Party. Chiang Kai-shek was preparing for a showdown, a fight to the finish to destroy the revolution.

Uncle Ho had a deep understanding of the class nature of the Chiang Kai-shek clique. He had a clear realization of the danger facing the Vietnamese revolution when the Chiang troops swarmed into North Viet Nam. They were very brutal anti-communists. While the British needed only some five thousand troops to disarm the nearly 30,000-strong Japanese army in the South, the Chiang clique introduced as many as 180,000 troops to do the same job in the North. Their designs were obvious. They wanted to destroy the revolutionary power and annex our country.

Our strategy then was to achieve a compromise with the Chiang clique and direct the spearhead of our struggle against the aggressive French colonialists. But it was not easy to achieve a détente with these men.

Uncle Ho repeatedly told our cadres: “We should try our best to avoid provocations and prevent clashes; if they should happen, the bigger ones should be minimized and the smaller ones eliminated altogether”. But not everyone was able to grasp the full significance of this directive.

A number of Party cadres did not fully understand our tactics at that time either. That is why there were clashes that should not have occurred. Those incidents caused us quite a lot of difficulties. Uncle Ho was severe toward the erroneous ideas and actions of those who while implementing the Party’s policy, failed to take a broader view of the situation.

On the one hand, we were trying to achieve a compromise and limit the enemy’s sabotage activities. On the other hand, it was very important to discover contradictions and splits, even small ones, in the enemy’s ranks so as to turn them to account.

In the Provisional Government, President Ho also took charge of foreign affairs, an extremely difficult and complex job at that time.

The Chinese Kuomintang generals who came to North Viet Nam belonged to different factions. Some were from regional cliques: Yunnan, Kwangtung and Kwangsi. Others were from the central clique at Chungking. They were all alike in their anti-Communism. But because of internal contradictions, they differed among themselves in their reactionary attitudes toward the Vienamese {sic} revolution.

Apart from its design of intervention in Viet Nam, Chungking wanted to make the most of this opportunity to get rid of a few stubborn militarists in the southwest and the south of China. As Lu Han led his troops into our country, Uncle said: “This is Chiang Kai-shek’s plan of ‘luring the tiger out of the mountain’. Their internal contradiction is something we can take advantage of”. Chiang had long wanted to punish Long Van (Lung yun) the governor of Yunnan.

After only a few meetings with Uncle Ho, Lu Han already showed admiration for him. He was surprised at the scope and depth of the President’s mind. Uncle Ho exchanged views with him on the political situation in Viet Nam, China and the world. He explained to him our struggle for independence and our policy of friendship with China. From time to time, he told him of some of the ugly activities carried out by the Viet Nam Nationalist Party and the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance.

Lu Han respectfully addressed him as President Ho. When the President visited him, he would come out to meet him at the door and would accompany him out when he left. He seemed aware of his precarious fate and looked worried.

Tieu Van was the Political Director of the Fourth War Area under the command of Truong Phat Khue. He played a key role in what was called the “Office for Directing the Vietnamese Revolution” established by Truong Phat Khue.

Chiang Kai-shek did not like Truong and his faction. But he had to employ Tieu Van, because Tieu Van had in kept in touch with the Vietnamese situation for a long time and maintained control over the Vietnamese traitors of the Nguyen Hai Than group.

Tieu Van had entered Viet Nam with a division of Kwangsi troops, but this division was ordered back to China by Chungking as soon as it crossed the border. Thus Tieu Van had to accompany the central government’s armies under the command of Chu Phuc Thanh. On the orders of Chungking, Tieu Van was in charge of political affairs in North Viet Nam.

On his arrival in Hanoi, Tieu Van was faced with a fait accompli: the revolutionary power had been established. He was very cross.

Uncle Ho had ordered a sumptuous villa to be prepared for him. However, he refused to go there and took his men to a Chinese official’s house in Cua Dong Street.

When Uncle Ho said he would visit Tieu Van, many of our comrades though the action unwise for he had only just arrived and we did not know what was in his mind. But Uncle Ho said, “Since he has just arrived and is not yet fully informed, paying him a visit might do some good.” In dealing with people, Uncle Ho often took the initiative and paid attention to making an early impression.

Uncle Ho asked a few comrades to accompany him. One of them was wearing sandals; he told him to put on shoes. He said, “When seeing ‘these people’, you should be properly dressed – don’t take any notice of what I myself am wearing…”

Then he went to Cua Dong Street. At Tieu Van’s place, he told two comrades to wait outside, and walked in with the other two. We should see that, besides Chiang troops, there were also some agents of the Viet Nam Nationalist Party in the house. They were a wooden-faced lot, wearing uniform and carrying guns.

Tieu Van hurriedly came out from a book room when he was informed of President Ho’s arrival. After a few words of greeting by Uncle Ho, he cheered up visibly and was as cordial as if he were meeting an old acquaintance. His respectful manners toward the President astonished the Nationalist Party agents present.

Uncle Ho recalled what had happened in Liu Chou, told Tieu Van to forget about past misunderstandings and cooperate with us in solving problems of Sino-Vietnamese relations. Tieu Van promised to establish relations with our Government. After this meeting, Tien {sic} Van moved to the villa we had prepared for him, near Lake Bay Mau. Through him Uncle Ho managed to settle some of the incidents and clashes with the Chiang troops.

A few weeks after Lu Han arrived in Hanoi, Chiang Kai-shek attacked Yunnan and used a ruse to capture Long Van. Chungking announced that after completing his mission in Viet Nam, Lu Han was to go back to Yunnan and replace Long Van as provincial governor. However they ordered two of Lu Han’s army corps back to China and sent them Northeast to fight the Red Army. These units were replaced by troops under the central government. Thus an implacable power struggle was taking place among the Chiang militarists.

The generals under the direct command of Chungking, headed by Chu Phuc Thanh (Chou Fu Cheng) were the most reactionary. They personally supervised their agents’ disruptive activities. They repeatedly arrested our cadres. Yet, there were some among them who could not close their eyes to the great realities of the Vietnamese revolution. The commander of their Second Division stationed in Nam Dinh once expressed his sympathy with our people’s resistance to the French. Uncle Ho called on him when he visited Nam Dinh. Another division commander asked us to provide him with material so that he could write a book about Viet Nam’s struggle for independence.

There were relatively low-ranking officers in the Chiang army who nevertheless wielded considerable power and influence. Some were friends of generals who often visited them because their wives were pretty, hospitable and very clever at filling opium pipes. So they could serve as efficient intermediaries in various affairs. We didn’t know how Uncle Ho discovered the existence of such officers so soon. He directed our foreign service cadres to find appropriate treatment for each of them. It was through those officers that we managed to settle various incidents with the Chiang army.

For Uncle Ho, revolutionary truth was concrete, and what tactics were to be applied depended on the concrete circumstances. Although all the Chiang men were reactionary, we should work out a concrete treatment for each case. Naturally, the strength of the revolution was the basis for applying any tactics. Uncle often reminded our cadres of that important point.

The revolutionary movement was surging strongly all over China. The Chiang armies sent against the liberated areas to destroy the Red Army were meeting with successive failures. Chaing officers and men in Viet Nam who received orders to go back to China were all worried. Those who stayed on or had just arrived were also living in a state of anxiety.

Uncle Ho had an extraordinary flair for detecting the thoughts and feelings of the enemy. With great shrewdness, he worked out a concrete treatment for each type and each individual.

His own personality embodied the strength of our just cause. Foreign statesmen who met him then or later were unanimous in their admiration for him. Even his enemies, men who were notoriously anti-communist, showed respect for him. They seemed to lose some of their aggressiveness when they were in his presence.

Many foreigners have dwelt upon the extraordinary magnetic charm of President Ho Chi Minh. Some think that it was due to his wide mental grasp, his keen intelligence, his exceptional will and energy. Others attribute it to his modesty and simplicity, his optimism and confidence, his forthrightness and candour, his wisdom and kindness, etc.

All that was true. But the dominating feature in President Ho’s personality was his selflessness, his desire, his “only and utmost desire” – to bring about the greatest happiness for his people and his country. A life without the least concern for his private interests had created an impression of extreme purity about his personality.

Inspired by an immense love for his fellow human beings, even when applying political tactics, Uncle Ho always wanted to arouse a person’s conscience, even when for some people there was hardly any of it left.

The political and moral strength of our people, together with the clever application of the Party’s and President Ho’s line and tactics, partly paralysed the aggressive will of the Chiang militarists who had close to two hundred thousand troops under their command.

my vietnamese friend who did a year and a half at ho chi minh u told me the other day 60 out of 360 credits in med school there are for learning marxism leninism. his words: "it's really hard, even harder than psychology"

meanwhile in usa



Within a week after the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, the Provisional Government issued a decree organizing general elections throughout the country to elect a National Assembly. Never before in the history of independence struggles had a decree on general elections been promulgated so soon after the seizure of power.

In the first place, this was an expression of the Party’s confidence in the patriotism and political consciousness of the people. Our countrymen had been subjected to nearly a century of colonial rule by the French. The general elections would be a wide far-reaching political campaign. Through exercising their sovereign power, the citizens would heighten their sense of responsibility to the country. In conditions of utter complexity and confusion, both in the internal and external situation, a National Assembly formally elected by the people and a Government formally established along democratic principles would have the required prestige, capacity and strength to mobilize the moral and material forces of the people in national resistance and reconstruction and in relations with foreign countries.

The September 8 decree by the Provisional Government stipulated that the general elections would be held within two months. The French came back to the South. The war was spreading day by day. The French aggression was not the only major obstacle. In the North, the Nationalist Party and the Revolutionary Alliance frantically opposed the elections. They knew that elections conducted in a fair way could bring them no advantage.

The reactionary press demanded that the Provisional Government should resign at once. It claimed that the current administration was a Communist dictatorship. They tried by every means to incite a number of bourgeois elements, former mandarins, landlords and rich peasants to oppose us. They hoped that Chungking would behave more brutally towards us.

The Chiang militarists in Hanoi had realized that it would be impossible to use force to overthrow our central government. Tieu Van suggested to Uncle Ho that a government should be established with the participation of three forces: the Nationalist Party, the Revolutionary Alliance and the Viet Minh. He wanted a government in which his agents would be the majority.

We had repeatedly told the leaders of the Nationalist Party and the Revolutionary Alliance that it was essential to have general elections. That could meet the aspirations and the interests of the people. Candidates from various parties would be given all facilities to expound their political lines. We also stressed our desire to achieve unity with all forces to reconstruct the country and step up the resistance that was already taking place with greater and greater intensity in the South.

Toward the end of November, a joint meeting was held between various parties. The leaders of the Nationalist Party and the Revolutionary Alliance agreed to the following points: establishment of a united national government; merging of all armed forces; ending of all clashes; cessation of mutual attacks in the press.

However, only a few days later, the loudspeaker in front of the office of the “Viet Nam” newspaper in Quan Thanh Street was again clamouring day and night for the Provisional Government’s resignation. Perhaps their Chiang masters had pointed out to the reactionaries that what had been agreed on would not benefit them. Along with kidnappings, killings and extortions of money, they went on to organize demonstrations to foster disorder in the city.

The people of the Capital were very angry and requested the Government to mete out due punishment to the reactionaries. Letters were sent to the press denouncing their sabotage activities. Many self-defence units adopted resolutions in which they declared their readiness to punish the reactionaries when ordered to do so.

The bayonets of the Chiang troops and the guns of the Chiang gendarmes, who were present everywhere in the city, were the prop of the reactionaries. Because our people and armed forces tried hard to avoid all provocations, the reactionaries had so far not yet received any truly severe punishment.

In the face of this situation, the Standing Bureau’s policy was as follows: we should avoid all provocations, but at the same time the masses should struggle against, expose, and isolate the reactionaries, and make the Chiang troops’ leaders realize that the more their agents engaged in sabotage activities, the more vigorously the people would oppose them.

Comrade Tran Quoc Hoan and myself discussed a plan aimed at implementing that policy and stopping the wrecking activities which were creating disorder in the city.

In was necessary to act cautiously. The demonstrators were always accompanied by armed men. They could rely on the Chiang troops, who arrogated to themselves the right to keep order in the city. We had to punish the disruptive elements, but we had absolutely to avoid provocations or any big clashes.

We saw that we could mobilize the self-defence forces together with members of the patriotic organizations in this work. Self-defence fighters were to wear plain clothes and carry arms secretly when on mission. Struggles should take place away from positions of Chiang troops.

One self-defence team was charged with the first, trial skirmish.

That day, news came to the self-defence headquarters in Tran Hung Dao Street, that provocateurs had just gathered in Hang Dau Street. Three fighters were sent out, their weapons well hidden.

The provocateurs, some few dozen in number were in Hang Giay Street, holding forth through their megaphones and distributing copies of their publication in front of Dong Xuan Market. Chiang sentries had been posted at both ends of the street.

A self-defence fighter elbowed his way in and asked a provocateur, “What paper is that?”

“Viet Nam”, the other answered.

“Viet Nam? Your paper should be named ‘The Traitor’!” snapped the self-defence fighter, snatching the bundle of papers and throwing it to the ground.

The scuffle began. The people around immediately joined in the fight. Taken by surprise, the provocateurs fled in disorder. Some of them took refuge in private houses. One was pursued by a self-defence man who, with the help of the people in the house, found him hidden behind a door. Dragged out, he begged for mercy. The master of the house told him “Stop your disruptive activities and slanders against the Government, the people won’t tolerate it.”

The Chiang troops on sentry duty fired a few shots in the air when the row broke out, but none of them got out of their sand-bagged positions.

The provocateurs were routed. The self-defence fighters, after fulfilling their mission, walked in a leisurely way back past the sentry posts as if they were mere passers-by.

This incident gave a measure of the reactionaries’ morale and the extent to which the Chiang troops might intervene. The latter, as a rule, reacted weakly to what they thought were spontaneous manifestations of the common people’s indignation at their agents.

A few days later, the reactionaries again held a big demonstration near Lake Hoan Kiem. This time, our force was more numerous and we had learnt of their plan sooner. But they too were prepared for clashes. They shot at one of our men. Their crime aroused great indignation: people rushed in in great numbers, using any thing which came to hand – even bicycle frames from a nearby shop – as a weapon to fight the reactionaries. The latter hid their guns, threw away their signs and meaphones and fled in disorder.

The demonstrations became rarer.

But the reactionaries intensified terrorist acts, attempting to kidnap or murder candidates to the elections, Communist party members, Viet Minh cadres, and members of their own organizations who showed sympathy with us or had broken away to join the revolutionary side.

The Chiang militarists, seeing the failure of their repeated proposals for a government reshuffle, began openly to exert greater pressure on us.

Late in November, a French national was shot dead in front of the Aviat factory. We started an investigation at once. Our Government had always advocated a humane and lenient policy toward the French nationals. In his letter to the French in Indochina in October, Uncle Ho made it clear that the French would be regarded as friends if they went about their business honestly and quietly.

The next day, the Chiang Army Command sent Uncle Ho a letter inviting him to its headquarters. Our comrades discussed whether he should go. He said, “Let me go, as they have invited me. For the time being, they won’t dare do anything against us.”

At nine in the morning, Uncle left in a car, accompanied by a few bodyguards. He came to Tieu Van’s. Chu Phuc Thanh had sent his men there to ask him to come to his office near Don Thuy hospital. When he arrived, Chiang officers asked the guards to stay outside and requested Uncle Ho to go upstairs and see Chu.

We at home were waiting. Lunch time came but there was no news of him. Although confident in his experience in dealing with complex situations we were anxious.

Some time after midday, a guard brought us a note from him. The letter was not sealed. It contained a few words in Chinese “Just go about your work. I’ve got things to do here”.

It was obvious that there was trouble. Uncle Ho knew that we were worried, so he had tried to inform us briefly of the situation. The comrade who brought the note said that Uncle Ho was still upstairs with Chu.

We discussed what to do and sent some people to Chu’s place to see what was happening.

A few moments later, one of the comrades with Uncle Ho was on the phone telling us to send a car for him. We were puzzled at the request and did not know what had happened to the car Uncle Ho had used.

Uncle Ho did not return till two o’clock in the afternoon. We all heaved a sigh of relief.

The incident was rather complicated. That morning, Chu Phuc Thanh slanderously accused one of our cadres of having shot the French national. The comrade in question was Son, one of our present comrades and a former member of the leadership of the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance back in Liu Choi (China). Chu’s men went so far as to affirm brazenly that the car used by the “murderer” had been none other than Uncle Ho’s.

Uncle Ho pointed out the absurdities contained in the accusation. The man they accused of the murder had been away on a mission to Nam Dinh for four days. Then Chu shifted to another subject: he blamed our government for “failure to ensure order and security”. Afterwards he shifted to the question of food supplies, complaining that we had not supplied him with all the rice he had requested. He kept bringing up problem after problem in order to create a tense atmosphere. But finally he ran out of arguments and had to bring the talk to an end. To save face, and also to maintain a tense situation, he said that the car and its driver, Hao, should be kept in custody, to help find the murderer. In spite of our repeated protests, the driver was released only three months later, and the car never.



Uncle Ho and the Party Bureau deemed it necessary to reach a settlement with Chiang’s men. The latter had no hopes for their agents in any eventual elections. Thus, they would certainly go on opposing the general elections to the last minute. They were asking us to reshuffle the government. We could agree to form a provisional coalition government with the participation of some of them. Our conditions were: this government should organize the general elections properly, unify the armed forces and resign when the National Assembly met. And if the Nationalist Party and the Revolutionary Alliance did not dare to present candidates for the elections, we would ask the National Assembly to reserve a number of seats for them.

We put forward those conditions to Tieu Van. He agreed, since he was at a loss what to do. Nguyen Hai Than also had to acquiesce. The Nationalist Party did not agree at first, but eventually had to bow to their masters’ decision. The Revolutionary Alliance and the Nationalist Party promised to stop opposing the elections.

On December 19, the Provisional Government announced that the general elections were to be held on January 6, 1946.

We had overcome a great difficulty. But some cadres did not fully agree with this arrangement. Hearing that Nguyen Hai Than was to be given a high post in the Government, one comrade asked to see Uncle Ho and expressed his objections. Uncle Ho did not explain at length, but only asked: “Isn’t manure dirty? But if it’s good for the rice plants, will you refuse to use it?”

On January 1, 1946, the list of the Provisional Coalition Government was published in the press. Nguyen Hai Than was Vice-President. Men from the Nationalist Party and the Revolutionary Alliance held two portfolios, Economy and Hygiene.

On the afternoon of the same day, the new Government was sworn in at the Municipal theatre.

Uncle Ho read the parties’ declaration of unity and announced the Government’s policies, which included the following points:

-Ensuring success for the nation-wide general elections;
-Unification of administrative offices along democratic principles:
-Integration of various armed forces under the command of the Government; no parties were to have their own armies.

In his opening speech, Nguyen Hai Than said, “As a national leader, I am really to blame for being so late in achieving union”. He promised “to send my own troops to the South to join the people in resisting the aggressors.”

Thirty thousand people in the capital city were present in the square in front of the Theatre. Uncle Ho asked the Government members to appear before the people, who began shouting “Long live President Ho” ceaselessly as he stepped out onto the balcony.

Uncle Ho sent his best wishes to the people on the occasion of the New Year and spoke about the formation of the Provisional Coalition Government. Then he introduced the new Vice-President.

Nguyen Hai Than stepped forth to address the people. Perhaps out of embarrassment, he stammered out a few Chinese words.

Standing close to him, I pulled at his coat and asked “What are you saying?” Comrade Tran Huy Lieu, who was also standing there, tugged my sleeve and whispered, “Leave him alone! Let him say what he likes!”

Uncle Ho had a very good house prepared for Nguyen Hai Than. He also gave him the car he had been using himself.

A few days later, the Provisional Coalition Government had a formal meeting with Government officials in Bac Bo Palance.

Nguyen Hai Than came in his car. He was escorted by a platoon of bodyguards, guns in hands, bandoleers and belts full of cartridges, and puttees wound round the legs, just like Lu Han’s troops.

During the tea-party, Uncle Ho said in a friendly tone: “Today, I am glad to introduce a new member of our family: Vice-President Nguyen Hai Than…”

Nguyen Hai Than stood up, his face beaming with satisfaction.

“After decades abroad”, he said “I am now truly happy to have such a big house to live…” Then, carried away by his joy, and perhaps wanting to entertain the audience, he added, “Now, I should like to tell President Ho Chi Minh his fortune…”

But no one responded to his incongruous offer.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



Hanoi was in a festive mood as preparations were being made for the first general elections in the nation’s history.

Political organizations started animated campaigns for their candidates. Slogans appeared everywhere, on the walls and on banners. Decorated floats toured the city, on which boys and girls in fancy dress beat drums, played music and spoke through megaphones in support of their candidates. Newspapers issued special editions for the election campaign.

From various places, the people sent in letters asking Uncle Ho not to stand for election in any specific province, but to let the whole country elect him to the National Assembly. Everyone wanted to write Uncle Ho’s name on top of his ballot-paper. Uncle wrote a short letter in reply to these proposals.

“I am a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. So I can’t be exempted from the rules set for the general elections. I am a candidate for Hanoi, so I can’t stand for election in any other constituency.

“I wish to thank you all for your love for me and hope that you will fulfil your duties as citizens in the coming general elections.”

On the morning of January 6, 1946, flags, lanterns and flowers were seen everywhere in cities and villages.

The population, rich and poor, old and young, men and women, all cheerfully went to the polls.

Their right to vote had not been won overnight. This freedom had been won through long struggles, at the cost of so much blood and tears. Right up to election day blood was being shed for it. Forty-two of our cadres had been killed in the South while campaigning for the elections.

In was the day when the new masters of the country exercised their sovereign rights. In Phuc Yen town, an old man of nearly one hundred years of age asked his grandson to take him to the polling-booth. He asked the officials to tell him the background and achievements of each candidate. He held the ballot-paper tenderly in his hands and reflected for a long while before deciding on his choice. Young people found in those ballot-papers the expression of their hopes and dreams, of what they would bring them in the future. Older people knew the deeper meaning of those papers of freedom after the humiliations suffered during long years of slavery.

Even blind people asked to be taken to the polling stations so that they could enjoy the full happiness of personally casting their voting-papers into the ballot-box.

The general elections were a festive day for everyone. In many places, people organized processions with lanterns, torches and Uncle Ho’s portraits or theatrical performances and other activities.

Yet, the self-defence forces were kept on the alert against acts of sabotage.

In Hanoi itself, in spite of previous agreements, the Nationalist Party men armed with submachine-guns prevented the setting up of a polling station in Ngu Xa. They even forbade people there to fly the national flag. The Ngu Xa people reacted by going to the polling-station in neighbouring Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

In the southern part of our country, the elections took place in spite of the enemy’s bombs, napalm and machine-guns. Even in areas under temporary enemy occupation like Sai Gon, Cho Lon, My Tho, candidates stood for election. In Tan An and Khanh Hoa, a number of people were killed or wounded when the polling stations were bombed by enemy planes. Around ninety per cent of the electorate courageously exercised their citizen’s right and duty in face of the enemy’s terrorism in many areas.

Uncle Ho went to the polling-booth in a house facing the Hang Voi school, Bac Ninh Street1, in Ha Noi.

It was a cold dry morning.

He appeared in a simple khaki suit among electors clad in their warm Sunday best. He stepped into the polling-station with a radiant face. After thirty-five years of fierce struggle waged along with the whole nation against the enemy, he was now receiving, like all his people, the first ballot-paper of a free citizen in an independent country.

Hearing of President Ho’s arrival, the people soon formed a large crowd in front of the polling-station. As he stepped out, thunderous applause broke out. He waved to the crowd then went visitng various polling-stations in Hang Bac, Hang Gai, Hang Trong Streets and in Ho Khau village on the outskirts. He wanted to mingle with the people on this great festive day of the nation.

Uncle Ho greatly valued this citizen’s right and duty. In March last year (1969) there were elections for the Ha Noi People’s Council. Although he was in poor health at the time, he went to the polling-station in Ba Dinh district. People gathered round him. Before marking the name on the ballot-paper, he smilingly asked people to keep away so as to ensure the principle of the secret ballot. That was the way he cast his vote to select members of the people’s council in the 79th spring of his life.

In the first general elections in the country, President Ho was a candidate for Hanoi and polled 98.4 per cent of the votes.

The people throughout the country, from North to South, elected 333 deputies to the first National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.

1. Now Nguyen Huu Hauan Street.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()

[account deactivated]


Toward mid-January, I was sent by the Government on a short-term mission to the South. To defend our newly-established power, the Party Central Committee deemed it necessary to step up the anti-French resistance in Nam Bo and Southern Trung Bo so as to win significant successes. At the same time, people in the whole country were to make very active preparations for a long war of resistance in case the enemy should extend the war. I was to impart the Party Central Committee’s great determination to our people there.

The Hanoi newspapers had just issued special numbers marking the hundredth day of resistance.

Before September 2, old colonial administrators in Saigon had affirmed that once they opened fire, the “natives”, whom they knew well, would disperse like a flock of sparrows. The colonial troops had the same idea and as soon as they were released from Japanese prisoners’ camps they would shoot wildly at our people. Some colonial generals believed that operations in the Indochinese peninsula would be a mere military parade.

It was a testing period.

On one side was the professional army of an old imperialist power, under the command of one of France’s most famous generals. They were armed with all sorts of modern weapons: aircraft, warships, armoured cars, big guns, machine guns. This “fine expeditionary force”, to use d’Argenlieu’s words, was assisted by the British interventionists and tens of thousands of Japanese troops.

On the other side, ordinary people armed only with rudimentary weapons were determined to fight to the bitter end to defend their country.

After one hundred days of fighting, Nam Bo and Southern Trung Bo still stood firm. The pointed bamboo spears of our people under a democratic republican regime had proved to be much more effective than the cannon of the former kings and mandarins of the Nguyen dynasty.

In their past war of conquest, the French had only to lob a few shells on the walls of some citadels to conquer large areas of land. But this time, they were knocking their heads against the impregnable iron wall of a people who refused to fall back into slavery.

By using columns of armoured vehicles, they could advance into some of the provinces in Nam Bo and Southern Trung Bo. But the important things {sic} was that the resistance was never stamped out. It kept on surging up vigorously everywhere, and was alive in those very cities and towns which the enemy believed they had conquered.

In those critical hours which would decide the life or death of the Fatherland, our people soon found out the way to fight. The enemy was baffled by new ways of combat. Cities and towns were destroyed by the same people who had built then. Villages were deserted wholly by their populations who refused all cooperation; everywhere the enemy went, he saw only empty houses, uncared for gardens, destroyed bridges and cut roads. “Death braving” fighters made use of every weapon at hand to defend every street corner, every trench, under shells and bombs. What troubled the enemy most was the fact that his adversaries seemed at once nowhere and everywhere and could attack him at any time.

The large rural areas in Nam Bo were still under our control. Many guerilla bases were built up. We had large base areas in the Plain of Reeds and the U Minh forests. Some bases were quite close to the cities.

The enemy landed in Nha Trang in late November, but was encircled in the city by the local troops and people assisted by a number of army detachments from the North. His scheme to attack Khanh Hoa was also frustrated.

The people from various ethnic groups fought alongside our army to dispute every village and hamlet with the enemy in the central Highlands. Our troops recaptured Buon Me Thuot town from the French and controlled it for ten days in mid-December.

The guerilla war was everywhere, in every village, along strategic highways, even in the cities and towns under enemy occupation.

Some colonialist military men had been over-optimistic about the outcome of the war of aggression. They had believed in a simple arithmetic: “The resistance fighters have few guns. They have still less ammunition. When they have used up their ammunition – probably pretty soon – all resistance will come to an end”. After three months of fighting by our people, the prospects looked gloomy to the aggressors. They began to realize the strength of a whole nation rising up in arms for the survival of the country.

The aggressors saw the danger of a protracted war. They urgently asked for reinforcement from France. From early 1946, they launched repeated violent mopping-up operations intro our base areas in Nam Bo. They tried hard to occupy some more provinces in Southern Trung Bo and prepared new schemes of attack.

I left Hanoi on the 18th of January, a warm sunny afternoon. Before we started off, Uncle Ho once again asked us to convey his greetings to the people, fighters and cadres in the South and tell them that he would go and see them when the occasion arose. He told us to be vigilant and keep things secret. That was what he used to remind us of before we started on any mission.

As we drove out of Hanoi, we found a somewhat different atmosphere. In the absence of the Chiang troops’ bayonets, the land appeared clear and pure, splendidly bathed in the light of independence and freedom. Everywhere there were banners and slogans urging the people to “Support the Heroic Resistance of our Southern Compatriots”. Thought it was not a festive day, we could see the gold-starred flags flying everywhere in the villages, the streets and even the fields. Militia posts had been set up at various crossroads and towns on our way.

It was a long time since we had been to the south of our fatherland. This trip of ours was different from those we had made when working underground. Like the rest of the country the South had undergone many changes, and was now fighting. Our car drove fast along Highway No 1. The smell of petrol and the hooting reminded us of past travels. Our hearts palpitated as we thought of our fellow-countrymen and fighters engaged in fierce struggles with the enemy at the front.

On our way, we saw many army detachments going south. More and more sons of the North and the Centre were leaving for the front. Cadres and fighters were of different ages, but most of the soldiers were quite young. For most of them, it was the first time they had ever gone to fight in the war, and perhaps the first time they had ever gone to the far regions of the country. Those important hours would certainly leave unforgettable memories in the minds of all. On the way to railway station, the fighters were singing while marching, carrying rucksacks, guns and ammunition. Express trains full of soldiers rumbled toward the South, carrying with them songs, laughter and waving hands. The excitement of going to war was being revived in the national life. Many a time, I had the car stopped along the road so that I could have a chat with soldiers going south.

I arrived the next day in Nghe An, province of the picturesque River Lam and Hong Linh Mountains. Everywhere in the city of Vinh, we saw people undergoing military training, learning the use of scimitars, grenades and rifles. Old and young, men and women, they were learning to march in step with wooden guns on their shoulders. Some of the older ones might be former Red Guards in the Nghe Tinh Soviets of fifteen years before. They were now standing in the same ranks with their younger brothers and sons.

All the comrades I met in Nghe An asked me when Uncle Ho would come.

Uncle Ho had a very deep feeling towards his native land. He loved everything connected to it, from the leaf fans to the hibiscus hedges at his home. We could measure how deep this love was when he visited his native village Sen. After fifty-two long years of absence from home he was able to find the old path right away and the old porch in the middle of the hamlet in spite of all the changes. He remembered well where the columns had stood that had supported the hammock in which his mother used to lie and where every lemon tree and grapefruit tree had stood in the garden.

None of us thought then that it would be twelve years before another opportunity would come to him to visit his home.

The next day, we started early. After crossing the Deo Ngang pass, we again saw the familiar ricefields, narrow and long, the white sandhills of Quang Binh, that beautiful characteristic sight of the Centre.

The little, pretty town of Dong Hoi, full of remembrance, lying on the shore of the Nhat Le river, was busy receiving the southbound troops and seeing off its own sons to the front. There, I met again many friends and relatives. We chatted about country and family affairs during the whole afternoon and evening.

On the 20th we arrived in Hue.

On the outskirts were pretty houses and lush tea gardens. The car drove between two lines of regular and straight sycamores on either side of the asphalt road.

Driving past the outer wall of the West Gate, we could see the quiet Perfume River in the evening sun. The Ngu Mountain stood behind the former European residential quarters. The river and the mountain had become ours. The gold-starred flag was fluttering on top of the high flagtower in the city. Behind the Phu Van pavilion Nation Defence guards were on sentry duty at the city gate.

In the city, the palaces and residences of former mandarins of the imperial court had become Government and Front offices. I met Comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh at the office of the Viet Minh Front. I told him the decisions of Uncle Ho and the Party Bureau. We exchanged views and discussed various matters, and told each other what had happened in the country since we first met at the Tan Trao Conference.

Feudal Hue had become a thing of the past. Green moss was still visisble on the walls of the ministries but the revolution had brought about so many changes. Corruption and stagnation had made room for newness and progress. Independent Hue was pretty and bright.

There, we could feel the heat of the resistance war. Hue was now the immediate rear base of various fronts. Cadres came here from battlefields in Nam Bo, South Trung Bo and Laos. Some were on missions. Others were on sick leave. Many of them, hardly recovered from their wounds, insisted on being sent back to the front. The troops were training day and night, making the most of every hours and minute before going to the front. In every office, every house, every individual, we found the same solicitude for the resistance. Here the reactionary parties had not been able to find a favourable ground for their activities. The Chiang officers and troops also appeared to be more reasonable and did not date to commit any provocations.

We were assailed with questions about Uncle Ho’s health, the situation in the North, the provocations engineered by the Chiang troops and the reactionaries in the capital. Many told us how happy the Hue people had been when they heard that Uncle Ho polled the largest number of votes in Hanoi.

Hue was the place where Uncle Ho had spent his childhood and adolescence.

Late in the last century, when he was still a young child, he came to Hue with his family. His father had been successful in a competitive examination and was called to the imperial city. Here, in 1900, in a small house facing the censor’s Office, young Cung – Uncle Ho’s name in his childhood – witnessed the minutes of his mother. After his mother’s death, Cung returned to Nam Lien.

Five years later as a young man, he came back to Hue with the name Nguyen Tat Thanh.

There was a strong movement of struggle in Hue at that time. The French had forced Thanh Thai to abdicate in favour of his son Duy Tan, who was only eight years old. People from various regions came to Hue and for several days on end there were demonstrations for the reduction of taxes. French troops were brought in from Mang Ca fortress and opened fire on the unarmed demonstrators. Many were pushed into the river. Trang Tian Bridge was reddened with blood.

From this city, Nguyen Tat Thanh began his “ten-thousand-mile” tour of the world.

One month before I arrived in Hue, Comrade Le Van Hien had also come to Hue on his way to the South on a mission. On Uncle Ho’s instruction, he had visited the wives of Thanh Thai and Duy Tan, the deposed kings.

They were surprised and moved by such solicitude on the part of President Ho. The wife of Thanh Thai said that since our Government came to power, she had been praying daily for the Government and President Ho instead of the royal family. Her daughter-in-law, the wife of King Duy Tan, said that since her husband was deported by the French, she had been completely neglected by the royal family.

I stayed for two days in Hue and discussed with the comrades there the Party Central Committee’s directives – resolutely to step up the resistance in Nam Bo and Southern Trung Bo, make urgent preparations for a protracted war and guard against the French extending the war to the whole of Central Viet Nam.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()



Wherever I stopped on my way to the South, I was asked about Uncle Ho’s health and activities and when he would visit those regions. Local officials were worried about the disruptive activities by the Chiang troops and their agents in Hanoi and about possible dangers for Uncle Ho and the Central Government. In mass meetings, young men asked why they had not been called up, and soldiers asked why their units had not been ordered to go south.

The seething atmosphere of the resistance made itself felt ever more strongly as we went further south.

The people’s morale was very high in the two provinces of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. Everyone expressed his determination to fight the French and asked to be sent to the front. Girls wore their hair short. No activities by the enemy and the reactionaries could be concealed from the people’s vigilant eyes.

In Quang Nam, 37 out of every hundred National Defence guardsmen had been sent to the southern front. In Quang Nam, the percentage was the highest: 85 out of every hundred fighters had been sent to various fronts.

After meeting the provincial leaders in Quang Ngai, I attended a very exciting mass rally in the stadium. That night, I wrote in my diary: “That is the immortal Vietnamese spirit of independence. With such a morale, Viet Nam will certainly be fully independent and united.”

Quang Nam and Quang Ngai were greatly elated to hear the new directives by Uncle Ho and the central committee. Together with active preparations for a protracted resistance war in case the enemy came the leaders of the two provinces proposed to send more fighters to the front.

Every small village and hamlet along the highway seemed to be on its mettle, alive with the activities of the people’s militia. These could be seen everywhere: wearing brown peasant clothes, in their hands a rifle, scimitar, or a mere pointed bamboo stake, yet with extraordinarily high morale.

On the 23rd, I left Quang Ngai in company with comrade Duc. As we came ear Binh Dinh, we caught sight of a militiaman with a gun by the roadside. Probably a checkpoint. The car was driving fast. As he had travelled a lot on this road, Comrade Duc told the driver to go on. Suddenly we head a gun shot and the whizz of a bullet. We had the car stopped, realizing that we couldn’t hurry on.

As we stepped out of the car, two militiamen ran up, asked why we hadn’t stopped for the control and demanded to see our papers. We apologized. Duc produced a paper identifying him as Chairman of the Administrative Committee of Trung Bo (Central Viet Nam). A militiaman looked at the paper for a while, then asked, anger still in his voice, “Where is that ‘Trung Bo’ village?”

We had to explain. The expression on his face relaxed gradually and at last he let us go. We left with a feeling of joy and admiration. The revolution would need more time to raise the cultural level of the citizens who had just freed themselves from slavery. But it certainly had done a lot to raise the morale and mettle of those new masters of the country.

There was a strong movement to join the army in Binh Dinh. In Qui Nhon city there was even a navy unit of nearly one hundred men. Many young girls also volunteered to serve in the armed forces. There were two munitions factories in which 150 workers worked continuously making and repairing weapons.
I went to Ninh Hoa with Comrade Pham Kiet. There one already felt the atmosphere of the front. The French had just sent a 15,000-strong force, including an armoured column to attack Di Rinh and Da Lat from both Saigon and Buon Me Thuot.

I arrived at the headquarters of the 6th Zone Military Committee just as the Zone commander was ordering reinforcements to be sent to the Madorac front. The enemy had been attacking all day. Their armoured vehicles were trying to break through Madorac to Ninh Hoa. Units fighting at the front communicated with us by telephone. Comrades Nam Long and Huu Thanh were fighting at Madorac. Hearing that I had come, Nam Long phoned to me. But hardly we begun the conversation when the line was cut.

Two days later, we arrived in Khanh Hoa in the afternoon. The French were attacking in the Nha Trang region. Their planes circled over Khanh Hoa, bombing and strafing the city. Our anti-aircraft guns hit back. Front commanders came to report on the situation, discussed operation plans then hurried back to their posts. Next door, a detachment of National Defence guards were singing. Children were playing in the yard. Only when enemy planes came roaring over their heads did they jump into shallow, newly-dug individual shelters. Camouflaged trucks were carrying troops to the front. Fighters sitting in the trucks were shouting slogans: “We’re determined to fight!” From the direction of Nha Trang, enemy guns were booming, and we could hear the reports of our mortars hitting back. In Khanh Hoa, we received more information about the pressing situation at the Nam Bo front.

It was clear the enemy was trying to relieve Nha Trang, to attack and occupy a number of provinces along the coast of southern Trung Bo and cut our supply lines from the north.

Here, we could see why Nam Bo and southern Trung Bo were standing firm after four months of war. We paid with our blood for the lesson of experience we had drawn and were still drawing on how to fight the enemy. But what was obvious was the determination of every citizen to “Die in Freedom rather than Live in Slavery”. Southern Trung Bo was facing hard times. But with such a spirit, it would certainly stand firm and achieve victory together with Nam Bo.

I had only reached Khanh Hoa when I received a cable from Uncle Ho calling me back. We returned to Song Cua and Qui Nhon, then went to inspect the Tay Nguyen front.

At An Khe, a vast stretch of highlands came within sight. There in olden times Nguyen Hue had raised the banner of insurrection.

After crossing the Mang Giang pass, we came to Pleiku, where most of the population was of the Giarai ethnic group. Most of the Viet lived in the provincial capital. Our troops stationed in camps outside the town were ready to fight. We stopped in Pleiku and had a chat with the people and fighters. The soldiers were excited to hear about the feats achieved by their comrades at the front and eager to join battle.

We went to Kontum in the afternoon. One year before this remote mountainous area had been the place where the French detained captured revolutionaries. The Kontum population includes Ede, Giari, Xedang, groups… The troops were stationed partly in the town and partly outside it. People from various nationalities came to meet the Government representatives at the former French governor’s residence, built near a stream. Among them was a Catholic priest. Everyone spoke about Bok (Uncle) Ho and inquired after him. Uncle Ho’s image had been familiar to the simple folk of Tay Nguyen at an early date and was to become ever more deeply engraved in their hearts.

There I again met Comrade Duc Thanh, a courageous young man from the Pac Bo mountain area, who had been educated by Uncle Ho personally. He had arrived in Tay Nguyen together with the southward-going troops. WE learned sometime later of his death in battle to defend the mountains and jungle of Tay Nguyen side by side with the Tay Nguyen people.

We spent the night in Kontum; the next morning we returned to the coast along the An Khe highway.

On the eve of Tet, the Lunar New Year, our car arrived at the foot of the Hai Van Pass. Through the windscreen, we could see the sea lost in the mist. A glimmering light appeared in the distance, in the vastness of the sky and sea. It might come from a returning fishing boat or a thatch hut on Tien Cha Island.

As the car began to climb, it started to rain. On one side was a precipice; on the other were steep mountain cliffs. The wind was blowing hard through the thickets. The pass was well known for its impregnable position: “One man defending the pass could stop ten thousand men”. In the last century, Nguyen Xuan On and Nguyen Thong, patriots who had unsuccessfully fought the French, wrote a poem when passing here.

A Chiang soldier appeared on the roadside. He stopped the car for control but let us go after checking our papers. In these Central provinces, the Chiang men and officers were reasonable in their attitude.

The mist was thick. The rain grew heavier and heavier. The car headlights could not reach further than five or six metres.

How many changes had occurred during the past few months! A foreigner who knew about our activities before the General Insurrection, said, “Your life is full of wonderful events. A week ago, you were hiding in the jungle. Now you are active in the capital itself. If I were a writer, I would write your story”. The wheel of history was turning very fast. For the revolutionary, every day and every hour now seemed to be too short. Time was hurrying on. On this rainy night, spring surprised us as we were crossing the pass.

I wondered what Uncle Ho and my comrades in Hanoi were doing. The first Tet in independence in the capital must be very cheerful. Some ten days earlier, I had listened to Uncle Ho’s letter calling on the people and the mass organizations to bring the joy of Tet to the soldiers at the front and their families at home. This evening, when passing Da Nang, I had been able to read his New Year’s greetings. He expressed warm feelings towards the fighters who “were setting off guns to defend the Fatherland while their countrymen were setting off fire-crackers to greet the New Year”. His letter contained a few verses:

When the Resistance war is successful
We shall drink red wine together.
This Tet, we are temporarily separated
Next Tet, let’s hope we shall be reunited again.

Reading this New Year letter addressed to the whole nation, each of us felt as if Uncle Ho was addressing him personally.

We arrived in Hue the next day. We attended the grand New Year rally at Thuong Bac landing-place. A vast sea of people, banners and streamers. The spring afternoon was warm and sunny. The whole city of Hue was present. The people cheered up when they heard about the situation at the front and the determination of President Ho and the Government to step up the resistance and actively prepare for a protracted war in case the enemy expanded it. Shouts of “Long live independent Viet Nam”, “Long live President Ho”, “Prepare for a protracted resistance war!”, “Support the resistance in the South!” thundered as the rally ended. For the first time in Hue’s history, our countrymen greeted the new year with shouts expressing their determination to fight.



“Each year begins with Spring.” Uncle Ho had written three letters – to the people, the fighters, the youth and the children – on the occasion of the spring of the year Binh Tuat. This spring, moreover, was the first of the springs of independence and freedom for the country. In Uncle Ho’s views, this Tet should be one in the style of the New Life, in which joy was the lot of all, rich and poor, old and young, and the warmest thoughts were for the fighters at the front.

On the eve of Tet in Hanoi, the doors along both sides of the streets were closed, as was the rule during the last night of the year. Life was still difficult on the material side, but the atmosphere of a Tet in independence was present in each house. Rich or poor, they were decorated with an altar of the Fatherland, the national flag, President Ho’s portrait, lanterns and flowers. No one had to worry about offering presents to the “mandarins” – the officials – as the city people had had to under the French. After the ritual offering to the ancestors, the conversation in each family turned to the topics of the day, politics, the grand meeting to be held next day, the fighting in the South. A few days earlier, the self-defence headquarters had sent round Tet letters reminding people to reserve their thoughts for the fighters who were laying down their lives for the country at the front and urging them to spent {sic} Tet in a merry but economical way, saving money for the Committee of Support for the Resistance in Nam Bo.

The Chairman of the City Administrative Committee had just finished dinner at home when Uncle Ho arrived unexpectedly. He wanted to visit the people of the capital on the occasion of the New Year.

There was a fine drizzle. The streets were deserted, filled with the smell of fire-cracker powder. The flags were bright red in the street lights.

Comrade Hung took Uncle to a family in Cua Nam Street. The head of the family was the commander of a self-defence company and all the members of the household were active in patriotic organizations.

Then Uncle Ho wished to visit some labouring people’s quarters. He said he would like to see a very poor family. Well, there were still a lot of poor people in the city, but which family should he visit?

Uncle Ho had his car stopped in front of a narrow alley in Sinh Tu Street: Hang Dua Alley. Those small streets and alleys were the other face of the city, for which the colonialists never thought of doing anything during the past hundred years, not even thinking of installing a water tap or a street light.

The night was dark. The road was uneven and muddy because of the rain. The flags flown in front of low roofs touched the heads of passers-by. Uncle Ho went farther into the alley. A door was left ajar, through which a kerosene lamp could be seen. He stopped, then entered.

The house was rather crowded. It was shared by several families. On the middle wall, there was the national flag, Uncle Ho’s portrait and paper festoons. People were chatting. The conversation stopped when the saw an old man with a walking stick wearing a high-collared khaki jacket step in.

At first they looked at each other, thinking that he was a visitor for one of them. Uncle Ho asked them about preparation for Tet. They answered him merrily, showing the boiling pot of “banh chung” rice cakes in a corner of the yard. There was a gleam of joy in Uncle Ho’s eyes. He said a few words of greeting. Then everyone present suddenly realized that the gentle old man visiting them was President Ho himself. It was like a beautiful dream: he had stepped out of the portrait hung on the wall to be among them, in their humble house. Now, unlike the moment when he first came in, no one could speak a word. All eyes looked up at him. He said “Our country has just won independence. The South is fighting the enemy. Our labouring people still experience hard times. But with independence, we’ll have everything.”

He went out leaving every one in the house dumb with emotion. They all went to the door and looked after him.

That night, Uncle Ho visited quite a number of places. In the first spring of independence, he wanted to bring joy to many families in the city. When he arrived at a poor government employee’s in Hang Long Street, it was quite late. They were about to go to bed. Mosquito nets had been put up. The wire string across the room was full of clothes. No one in the family was expecting a visit at that hour, let alone one from the President of the Republic.

Thus Uncle Ho’s round of New Year’s Eve visits was completed. The next day, New Year’s Day, he would be very busy. He would receive callers from the Party Central Committee, the Government and representatives of various organizations. He would attend the New Year rally of the city population at the Municipal Threatre. He would visit and talk to a unit of National Defence guards, spend some time with the children at the Pioneers’ Garden, and have dinner with his guards in Bac Bo Palace…

After seeing the President back, Comrade Hung, the Chairman of the City Committee returned home. As midnight was approaching, he went to Lake Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword) to see the New Year in. The streets, which had been deserted at dusk, were very busy now. Everyone wanted to breathe the pure air of the first spring of independence. There had never been such an excited and merry New Year’s Eve.

Fire-crackers were set off everywhere in the city to greet the coming of spring. Comrade Hung followed the stream of people to the gate of Ngoc Son Temple. As he was entering it, he caught sight of an old man in a long robe, a woolen scarf worm round his face, among the busy crowd crossing The Huc Bridge. The old man’s bright eyes helped him to recognize the President at once. Uncle Ho walked slowly among those who were making their way into the shrine. The Committee Chairman also noticed another man standing nearby, who winked at him. That was the President’s bodyguard. Uncle Ho did not want people to recognize him.

So, Uncle Ho had seen how spring came to a family of revolutionary activists. He also saw how it came to the house of a laboring man, and to the family of a poor Government employee. Now, he wanted to how the spring of independence was coming to the people in the streets, in this temple so familiar to the Hanoi people, in the middle of Lake Hoan Kiem. One wonders if the people at Ngoc Son temple noticed that the young twigs they were picking that night according to the old custom were sprouting beautifully?

All this was told me later {sic} when I was back in Hanoi by those who had accompanied Uncle Ho that New Year’s Eve. Those visits became a habit with him on many subsequent New Year’s Eves. Those he visited were usually people who had served the revolution well, who had children in the armed services, or laboring people in hard conditions. His visits were always unannounced. He wished to bring those families some unexpected happiness. He also wanted to see the real atmosphere in those houses on festive days. These things became habits in his simple and great life.

it's a good thread


I arrived back in Hanoi at a moment when the people were feeling great indignation over the French invasion of Lai Chau. The invasion had been carried out by Allesandri’s troops who had fled from the Japanese after the coup of March 9 the previous year. They had been kept by the Chiang Kai-shek government in an area near the Sino-Vietnamese border. In fact, they had crossed the border as early as late January. Even during the Lunar New Year, a number of National Defence units had been urgently sent to the Northwest to stop the enemy advance.

At the same time, there were persistent rumours of negotiations being conducted between the French and Chiang at Chungking on the Indochinese question. The news was spread by Western agencies; Chungking kept silent, giving their comments nor denials.

Hanoi pressmen interviewed Lu Han. The Chinese general stated: “The French troops have been allowed by Chungking to enter Lai Chau.” He added that the French had to follow a specified route. He denied any knowledge of the Chinese-French negotiations.

About the same time, the French mission in Hanoi, through the agency of an intermediary, asked for a meeting with us.

Early in September in the previous year, a foreigner had called at the gate of Bac Bo Palace. The guards thought he was a member of the American mission. When taken to the reception desk, he introduced himself as a French officer and asked to see a representative of our Government. Comrade Hoang Minh Giam received him.

The officer conveyed Sainteny’s proposal for talks with a competent representative of our Government. He complained that the French mission was held in near custody by the Japanese in the former French Governor’s palace; he had had a difficult time finding some way to get here.

We too wanted to explore the French attitude. Comrade Giam came to the Japanese headquarters to see Sainteny. The latter offered to expound to our Government the French Government’s stand on the Indochinese question.

Some time later, at Sainteny’s request, Comrade Giam took him to Bac Bo Palace. I was appointed to receive him.

Sainteny set forth his ideas about Franco-Vietnamese relations. He tried to appear flexible and sensible. But what he said was not greatly different from what De Gaulle had announced earlier. Sainteny also complained that the sentry had made an unfriendly gesture when he passed the gate of the Palace. In fact, it was customary for our soldier {sic} at that time to present arms with fixed bayonets.

From then on occasional exchanges of views took place between our side and the French.

Our stand was that France should recognize the independence and territorial integrity of Viet Nam prior to any discussions.

The French came back to invade Nam Bo: the war was spreading day after day. At times, the talks became tense. Uncle Ho often reminded us that were should stand by our just position and set forth our arguments clearly, but should keep an attitude of calmness and moderation. The talks did not lead to any agreement and were suspended.

Now the French mission informed us that a Sino-French agreement on the Indochinese question was to be signed soon. They said they would like to negotiate a political settlement with us: if we did not accept the offer, the consequences would be harmful to future Vietnamese-French relations.

On 20 February, in Paris, the French Minister for Overseas Affairs Marius Moutet disclosed the provisions of the Sino-French agreement. The most important one was that Chungking agreed to let the French bring troops to the North to replace the Chiang troops, who were to be withdrawn. The news was reported by Reuter with a threat: “Perhaps the French government would not hesitate to use force if Viet Nam refused to compromise.”

It was obvious that the enemies had come to an accommodation with each other. The fact that Chiang had let French troops come back to Lai Chau was a concrete proof.

The French Government and the French mission in Hanoi hoped to use the Sino-French agreement – which was not yet signed by that time – to bring pressure to bear upon us in the talks.

The Viet Nam Nationalist Party suddenly intensified their disruptive activities.

They sent out men to distribute handbills in the street calling on the Hanoi people to stage a general strike and markets to close down to show opposition to the Government. They realized that in the current bargain both Chungking and the French had ignored them completely. They also sensed that the French wanted to reach an agreement with us. In the new situation, their fate as Chiang flunkeys would be threatened. They carried on their struggle by spearheading their attacks against us. That was also the intention of the Chiang militarist group in direct command of those agents in Hanoi.

On the morning of February 20, hooligans gathered at some of the city gates. They prevented peasants from the outskirts from entering the city to sell their produce. Some jumped into the trams, stopped the engines and forbade the tram drivers to work. Others went to government offices, snatched the keys from the gate-keepers and prevented the employees from coming in. Still others broke into Dong Xuan market. They jumped onto the counters, calling on sellers and buyers to disperse. Women sellers of fruit and vegetables drove them away with blows from their carrying poles.

On the same morning, about a hundred other thugs gathered in Quan Thanh Road. They put up a yellow flag with the word “People” on it. Then they staged a march howling and shouting. Some of them, wearing khaki uniforms, dark glasses and high boots, forced passers-by to follow them at gun-point. They shouted, “Down with the Government”, “Down with pro-French traitors”, “Set up a new government under the leadership of Adviser Vinh Thuy”, etc. They abused those who, standing in front of their houses were cursing them or looking at them with contempt.

The reactionaries came to the side of Lake Hoan Kiem and made for the City Hall.

The people also came in large crowds to the lakeside from various directions. A young man took the gold-starred red flag hoisted in front of the Viet Nam News Agency building. He held it high, and people lined up behind him. A demonstration took shape, with the participation of thousands of people who began marching and shouting slogans in support of the Government.

The men carrying the “people” signs had now arrived at the City Hall. Suddenly voices among them started shouting: “Support the Ho Chi Minh Government!”, “Down with the saboteurs;”. The people standing around responded with the same slogans. A scuffle broke out among the reactionary demonstrators. Those who had been forced to join them now turned on them with the help of the people in the streets.

At the same time, the demonstration in support of the Government arrived in force. The frightened reactionaries furled their flags and banners and fled. The people’s demonstration went past the City Hall, reached the corner of Duy Tan Street1 and then made for Bac Bo Palace. Pioneers and children from neighbouring streets had also joined in and marched in front of the victorious demonstrators, beating their drums.

The demonstrators gathered in larger and larger crowds in front of Bac Bo Palace. Uncle Ho appeared at the window. He waved to the crowd. Shouts of “Long live President Ho!” thundered continuously.

On the 21st, the Nationalist Party staged another demonstration with the participation of a few hundred people. They shouted slogans demanding power for Vinh Thuy. They came to Vinh Thuy’s house in Tran Hung Dao Street. The reactionaries passed, the people expressed their disapproval by flying the national flag and slamming the doors shut. Passers-by shouted slogans against them, and children ran ahead of the demonstrators shouting “Long live President Ho.” Every now and again, there were clashes between the people and the provocateurs. From small alleys and the upper storeys of houses, stones and bricks were sometimes thrown at the shouting and gesturing ringleaders in dark glasses and jack boots.

It was possible that at that time Vinh Thuy was already harbouring dark designs, but in response to the reactionaries’ demand that he take power, he told newsmen the following day: “A group of men are not the people. The election of a President for Viet Nam will be decided upon by the National Assembly, for only the National Assembly is the representative of the people in the whole country. A man cannot be made President just because of the wish of a group.”

1. Now Hang Bai Street.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()


While the French were frantically trying to return to Indochina, the American officer by the name of Patty, for some reason we didn’t know, showed sympathy for the Viet Minh’s anti-Japanese struggle.

it's short for patricia, sir



Active preparations for the resistance in various fields were now stepped up.

The most difficult thing to do then was to make the people clearly aware of the dangerous situation without allowing this to affect their morale; to mobilize them and prepare them for the resistance without giving rise to provocative actions against the Chiang troops; to keep the people undisturbed by the perfidious and very dangerous propaganda made by enemies from all directions, yet caused them to remain calm and confident in the face of any complicated, even serious situation that might arise.

On February 22, in his “Appeal to maintain and intensify the resistance in Nam Bo”, Uncle Ho wrote:

“At present, besides war by military means, the French colonialists are resorting to psychological warfare; the distribute handbills, put up posters and spread false rumours hoping to make our people worried and anxious: that is the way they attack us morally.

“The ancients said that ‘Striking at the hearts is essential, attacking the fortresses is secondary’. So a fighting nation like ours should always be prepared, while remaining calm and firm and ready to cope with any situation…

“Wherever the enemy goes, the population should carry out a scorched-earth policy so as to deprive enemy troops of food, shelter and gradually wear them out. We will always be ready; we will never show hesitation or confusion…”

President Ho also set forth some basic ideas: the resistance should be protracted and nation-wide; we should fight the enemy in all fields: military, political, economic and diplomatic… He stressed: “First of all we must keep our morale; show no discouragement when defeated, and no conceit when winning: fight on, even if a battle is lost; work together in solidarity and unity; keep order and obey the Government.”

Thus Uncle Ho called on the people throughout the country to get ready for a long fight, a nation-wide fight in every field, against all enemies that might appear, before us, behind us and by our sides.

Hanoi pressmen came to interview President Ho on the Sino-French agreement. He answered: “First, China has not announced it. Second, this news has been reported by Reuter, so we are not in a position to comment yet…” Then he spoke about Sun Yat-sen’s Three People’s Principles and the Chinese resistance to defend national independence. Though he did not refer directly to the Chiang Kai-shek government, he made our people understand clearly the treacherous and reactionary deeds of Chungking.

In those difficult times, our press did a good job in guiding public opinion. On the negotiations with the French, Cuu Quoc (National Salvation) the official organ of the General Committee of Viet Minh, wrote: “Whether we shall achieve complete independence or not depends on our fighting strength at the front… The time when the French want to negotiate is precisely when we must fight hard, and be fully prepared to fight for complete independence… We don’t refuse to negotiate, but we certainly will not let the negotiations be used as a delaying tactic by the enemy. Neither will we allow them to lull our nation’s fighting will… The nation’s fate is always determined by its own fighting strength…”

In Hanoi, the militant self-defence units, propaganda teams of the Viet Minh’s City Committee and Youth League members went to various quarters to give explanations to the population and make preparations for combat. The Chiang troops being present everywhere, our activities had to remain discreet. We couldn’t dig trenches and build fortifications just under their noise. The self-defence fighters learnt the use of mines so as to be able to create obstacles in the city quickly in case the war broke out. National Defence Guard Units were ordered to check up all preparations for combat.

The Hanoi Administrative Committee urged old people and children to leave the city. The press and mass organizations called on the country people to receive and assist the evacuated city people warmly.

Along with preparations for the resistance, we stepped up the formation of the Coalition Government so as to develop the success of the general elections. So far consultations with the reactionary parties had led to no results. The Nationalist Party demanded that they should be given seven out of the ten ministries in the new government, together with other important offices. Even their masters found those claims unreasonable.

The National Assembly was to meet soon. Although the reactionaries were intensifying their disruptive, we remained patient and tried to keep down their provocations. The situation was very tense. A large-scale war could break out in the near future. Uncle Ho met Tieu Van and tried to persuade him. We held that it was necessary to establish at once a coalition government for the resistance, which should include people from various parties and non-party men. Finally, after careful considerations, Tieu Van saw no better arrangement, and pressed his agents to accept our solution.

It was only less than a week before the National Assembly met that the reactionaries agreed to form a coalition government for the resistance. The Government was to be composed of ten ministries. Twi important ministries, the Interior and National Defence, were to be entrusted to neutral personalities. The Viet Minh front and the Democratic Party would take four ministries. The Revolutionary Alliance and the Nationalist Party would take four others. Besides, they also agreed to the setting up of the National Resistance Committee and the National Advisory Group. Mr. Huynh Thuc Khang was asked to come from Central Viet Nam and take part in the new government.

I had known Mr Huynh when I was on the staff of the newspaper Tieng Dan (People’s Voice) in Hue. He was a scholar well known for his high patriotism and integrity, but who did not have complete faith in our Party’s revolutionary line. When our envoy presented him with our proposal, he showed some hesitation at first, partly because he had not understood what the new leaders from “the younger generations” were. When he learned that President Ho was none other than Comrade Ngyuyen Ai Quoc, he decided to go to Hanoi. He wanted to know more about the revolutionary Nguyen Ai Quoc whom he had heard so much about.

In Hanoi, when he met us, he expressed concern about what he called the current “partisan dispute”. In his opinion the Viet Minh and the Revolutionary Alliance were both fighting for the people, and their leaders were all patriots who had spent much time abroad, working for the country’s interests. Now, they had to put the nation’s interests above everything else, achieve unity, and should not clash over partisan questions.

The first meeting between Uncle Ho and Mr Huynh was very moving. They both stepped forward and embraced each other, their eyes suddenly dimmed with tears. They evoked the memories of the old scholar (Uncle Ho’s father – Ed) who had trudged about the country during the long dark years of colonialism. And from the very first minute, Mr Huynh found a close friend in the famous revolutionary whom he had been longing to meet. After the meeting Mr Huynh said to a friend of his, “It is a good fortune for our people to have Mr Ho.” He placed full confidence in him, and although he was Uncle Ho’s senior by many years, he always referred to him as “the old father of the nation.”

Mr Huynh accepted the post of Minister of the Interior in the coalition government of the resistance to be formed soon.



The deep changes in Vietnamese society, together with the heroic resistance of our peoples in Nam Bo, had gradually brought about changes in the minds of the more far-sighted officers among the French military commanders. They felt that De Gualle’s statement of March 24, 1945 lagged ten years behind the actual situation here.

According to French documents, after occupying a number of provinces in Nam Bo, the French staff in Saigon worked out a military plan for a return to North Viet Nam. In its outline, the plan provided for the use of Massu’s armoured units and Valluy’s light infantry for a landing on Haiphong under artillery cover; the use of paratroops for the occupation of crucial positions in Hanoi with a view to neutralizing our central government, freeing the five thousand French troops detained in the citadel, rearming them quickly and using them to assist the paratroops in taking control of Hanoi pending the arrival of the armoured units; then, they would proceed to occupy all strategic positions…

But the French Command expressed reserve about that plan, which seemed to be highly adventurist. The strength of the French expeditionary force in Nam Bo had reached 35,000 men. Yet the realities of the war had shown that even if the French generals had an army several times as strong, they would not be able to bring the situation in Nam Bo back to the days before French overthrow.

Under such conditions, they would have to face the strength of a whole nation if they widened the war to the whole of Viet Nam. The French generals were also well aware that in the North they would be opposed by resistance forces that were many times as strong as those in the South. To restore colonial rule here, Leclerc estimated he would need an expeditionary force of 350,000 men, all white. That was what France, exhausted after the Second World War, could not afford. And even if he could have such a large army, Leclerc still realized that this “restoration” work would need much time and would meet with great difficulties and obstacles.

On the other hand, in the North, there were still 180,000 Chiang troops doing the task of disarming the Japanese. If they sent their troops to the North, the French were likely to clash with Chiang’s army. It would be very dangerous.

The more clear-minded of the French generals realized that an adequate solution for the Indochinese problem should be a political one: negotiations with Chungking for a withdrawal of the Chiang army and its replacement by the French; parley with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam to avoid a long war with little chance of a way out.

The French government quickly sought negotiations with Chungking. It was a hard job, but they did not meet only with difficulties.

In the past, China had also been victim of French imperialism. At present, China had nominally become one of the five big powers in the world. But in reality the Chiang Kai-shek administration was still dependent on the United States in various respects. The French and the Americans disliked each other. But the Americans, British and French shared a common concern over the powerful development of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. This “peril” was due – many Western strategists bitterly complained – to the victory of the Allied forces over fascism in the Second World War. The Americans were trying to gather the forces of the European capitalist states to cope with the so-called “Russian peril”. Thus, they could not remain indifferent to French interests.

Late in August 1945, when he visited the United States, De Gualle had suggested to Truman that he should help the French in the Indochinese question.

On the other hand, the internal situation in China was troubling Chiang. After the Japanese capitulation and facing the surging revolutionary movement, the Kuomintang militarists were forced to sign the “October 10 Agreement” with the Chinese Communist Party. Both sides agreed to avoid a civil war, to open a political consultative conference on the basis of unity, solidarity, democracy and peace. But hardly had the ink dried when Chiang Kai-shek launched a massive attack against the revolutionary base areas, deploying as many as 1,800,000 troops. By such a treacherous action they hoped to smash the Red Army within a short time. But they were faced with fierce resistance on all fronts. The fighting spread over eleven provinces. Within one month, 110,000 Chiang troops were put out of action. The revolutionary fire was ablaze over the whole Chinese mainland. Chiang was forced to resort to delaying tactics with a view to making further preparations for war. He signed a cease-fire agreement on January 10, 1946 and started the Political Consultative Conference.

So, Chiang Kai-shek was meeting with many difficulties. Under those circumstances, he would probably have to withdraw a large part of his army in northern Indochina so as to consolidate his rear bases.

Early in January 1946, Leclerc sent a negotiator to Chungking. He was General Salan, who had been appointed Commander of the French forces in northern Indochina in replacement of Alessandri. Salan obtained some initial results: Chungking allowed the French troops detained in China to return to Lai Chau.

Towards mid-January, at a United Nations session, the French Government’s delegate Moutet met Chiang’s representative and suggested concrete negotiating terms. Chiang Kai-shek expressed approval when he got the report. Paris sent at once a new ambassador, Merrier, to Chungking. Merrier was instructed by the French government to conclude an agreement within the shortest possible time. But Chungking wanted to let the negotiations drag on with a view to gaining more advantages in the final bargain.

The negotiations with Chiang were unanimously approved by all the colonialists. But many of them openly opposed any negotiations with us. De Gaulle still wanted to maintain the French empire nearly as it had been. He would not listen to the advice of the so-called “liberals”. D’Argenlieu, the High Commissioner, was a very conservative colonialist naval officer, loyal to De Gaulle’s ideas and policies. He wanted to preserve all the French prerogatives and privileges. The French colonialists with interests in Indochina, especially the former administrators, were angry to hear about negotiating with the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. For them, the only question was how to restore the old colonial regime as it had existed before March 9, 1945. They regarded negotiations with us as a shameful surrender.

On January 20, 1946, there was a change in the political situation in France. De Gualle resigned. Felix Gouin, a member of the Socialist Party, took office. Leclerc’s plan for negotiations with the Vietnamese Government was considered appropriate by Paris. D’Argenlieu deemed it necessary to return to France to defend his position. On February 13, he left Saigon. While in temporary command in place of d’Argenlieu, Leclerc, instructed the French delegation in Chungking to try to reach an early agreement with Chiang; on the other hand, he urged Sainteny to step up the negotiations with our Government.

The negotiating position of the French Government as put forward by the French mission in Hanoi this time was somewhat different from the previous one. However, the French did not accept as yet our basic claims: independence and territorial integrity. Uncle Ho’s consistent, calm but very firm attitude made a strong impression on the French negotiators.

In Chungking, the bargain between the French and Chiang was finally struck. The French agreed to return to Chiang the concessions in Shanghai, Tientsin, Hankow, Canton, the leased land of Kwanchowwan, and to sell him the Yunnan railway. In disregard of our sovereignty, they agreed with Chiang that Haiphong would become a free port, and Chinese goods could be carried in transit through northern Viet Nam duty-free. In exchange, Chiang Kai-shek agreed to let French troops replace his own in northern Indochina, and the operation was to be completed between March 1 and March 15 – by March 31, 1946 at the latest.

That was the content of the Sino-French Agreement signed on February 28, 1946. After the signing, Salan hurriedly returned to Hanoi and prepared for the comeback of the French to North Viet Nam. Crepin remained in Chungking to discuss the procedure for the troop replacement.

On March 1, Leclerc got news from Chungking that everything had been settled.

The Fench {sic} fleet had been waiting to sail for several days.

According to French documents available to us later, Leclerc immediately put his paratroops on the alert and ordered his fleet to weigh anchor.

Edited by Chthonic_Goat_666 ()

thanks c_goat, I'm going to start putting the chapters up today


Six months before, Chungking had sent its large armies into northern Viet Nam. The political and moral strength of our people, together with the Party’s and President Ho’s line and tactics, had frustrated the enemy’s scheme of aggression in its initial stage. They still remained a danger. But the revolutionary power had been continually strengthened. By reaching a compromise with Chiang, we had in a way, turned his armies into a temporary fence to precent the French from returning to the North.

While preparing against a widening of the war by the French, Uncle Ho and the Party Central Committee had decided to mobilize the strength of the whole nation to assist our southern compatriots in the first difficult moments of the resistance. Our people had strictly abided by the Party’s declaration at the Tan Trao national conference: “Only our own strength can determine victory.” To win important victories on the fighting front was the most active way to defend revolutionary power.

Meanwhile, the enemy was launching a series of attacks on various fronts. Militarily, he intensified “pacification” campaigns in Nam Bo, and occupied more provinces in southern Trung Bo, so as to gain some advantageous positions, while preparing for a return to the North. Diplomatically, he tried to strike a bargain with Chiang in an attempt to present our people with a fait accompli. While conducting talks with us, he continually spread rumours about a Sino-French treaty so as to shake our morale. The Nationalist Party reactionaries, to further their dark designs, concurred with the French in this psychological warfare.

The situation began to change.

Before, we had tried to turn to account the contradictions between the French and Chaing in order to concentrate our efforts on fighting the French. Now those two enemies had come to a temporary arrangement. They were joining hands in a new scheme against us.

The revolution was faced with a difficult and urgent situation.

Right after the Sino-French treaty was made public, the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee understood that it was not a mere bargain between Chiang and the French. It was in fact a compromise between the Americans, the British and Chiang on the one hand and the French on the other on the Indochinese question. They had temporarily set aside their contradictions with each other in order to save their common interests which were being jeopardized by the new revolutionary tides.

The Chiang clique would bring pressure to bear on our people to accept the provisions they had concluded with the French. Before withdrawing their troops, they would seek a change in the composition of our Government, trying to introduce into it the reactionaries in their pay. On the other hand, the Chiang generals here would try to obstruct the negotiations between us and the French so that they could stay on and line their pockets.

Most dangerous at the moment were the Nationalist Party and the Revolutionary Alliance groups. They pretended to be the most ardent revolutionaries. They sought to inflame the masses with such slogans as “No negotiations with anyone!”, “Victory or Death,” etc. They wanted to wreck the negotiations between us and the French. Their design was to force us to oppose the Sino-French treaty. That would be the pretext for a collusion between the French and Chiang to destroy the revolution. They would slander us, saying that we opposed the Allied powers and peace. While we prevented the French from coming into the North, the reactionaries would swiftly set up a puppet government against us, and would change masters according to the circumstances. The Chiang troops would avail themselves of this opportunity to stay on in Indochina.

The situation was evolving rapidly.

But our Party and President Ho had predicted such developments. As early as the end of November 1945, in its directive about Resistance and National Reconstruction, the Party Central Committee held that the imperialists would compromise with each other to let the French come back. In fact, this had been forecast even earlier, at the Party national conference at Tan Trao, before the August Revolution.

To Uncle Ho and the Party Central Committee the situation had developed as foreseen. During the short period that had passed, our Party had been actively preparing against such circumstances. Willy-nilly, the French imperialists were facing a new reality: the whole Vietnamese nation had risen up in unity for a life-or-death fight against the aggressors. The Democratic Republic of Viet Nam had a government strong enough to mobilize and organize the whole people for resistance and having full authority, prestige and ability to decide all questions relative to the sovereignty, future and destiny of the nation.

The French colonialists could not ignore this reality, even when their arrangement with Chiang had been achieved. An obvious sign of this was the French mission’s repeated requests to see our authorities.

The question of the moment was whether to fight or to make peace with the French.

The answer was given by Uncle Ho and the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee: “We can say right away that if the French maintain their idea of an autonomous Indochina along the lines of their statement of March 24, 1945, we will fight and we will certainly be able to fight a long guerrilla war; but if the French recognize a sovereign Indochina then we can make peace so as to defeat the schemes of the Chiang clique, the Vietnamese reactionaries and the French fascist diehards who intended to force us into isolation and compel us to fight against many enemies at the same time…”

Our position in the negotiations was to achieve Independence, and possibly enter into an alliance with the French. The French must recognize our right to self-determination and national unity. We could agree to let the French introduce a number of troops into the North to take over duties from the withdrawing Chiang army. But French troops would be allowed to remain only a definite time.

By making peace with the French, “we shall gain some respite to prepare for a new fight, in coordination with that of the French people, to advance towards complete independence.”

An important point was stressed by the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee.

The essential thing was that while conducting negotiations with the French, we not only should not stop, even for a minute making preparations and standing ready to fight any time and anywhere, but should even step up our preparations, and certainly should not let the negotiations with the French blunt our nation’s will to fight”.1

Acting upon those directives of the Party Central Committee, our army and people in the South unrelentingly intensified their resistance on all front during the whole process of negotiations. Our compatriots in the whole country were actively preparing, morally and organizationally, for a long resistance war, even if the worst should happen i.e. if the French and the Chiang clique should enter into collusion and seek to destroy the revolution.

1. Party Bureau’s directive on “The situation and our policies”, March 3, 1946.



The first National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was convened for March 2. It met one day earlier than scheduled.

The situation was very urgent. The organizing committee had prepared a second meeting place in Dinh Bang village, Bac Ninh province. At the last minute, the Party Standing Bureau decided that the Assembly should meet in Hanoi. Uncle Ho had told the organizers to do everything well and briefly, so that the agenda could be finished and the session ended after one sitting.

The previous night, Uncle Ho sat up very late and smoked heavily. In the morning, he went on smoking in the car. His face was quiet and calm. But his eyes, very bright, showed that he was thinking hard. Since he had returned to Hanoi, people had often talked about his eyes, which showed like two like two bright spots in his photos. Uncle Ho had been mobilizing all his energies and genius to offer the country a decisive solution at a turning point of history. One day, when he was in jail, he had written these verses;

Look far ahead and ponder deeply
Be resolute: attack and attack incessantly
A wrong move and even your two chariots are useless
Come the right juncture, a pawn can bring you success

The boat of the Fatherland was rushing towards the perilous rapids. The helmsman should be careful not to commit the slightest mistake.

The Municipal Theatre was splendidly decorated with national flags. The flag, which had appeared for the first time during the Nam Ky insurrection in 1940, and had been soaked with the blood of so many revolutionary fighters, had become a sacred emblem of the undaunted spirit of struggle of the whole nation. During the past few days, in consultative meetings, the reactionaries had continued to insist that the national flag and the national anthem be changed. But we had rejected their demands.

The National Assembly delegated two representatives, one being the oldest of its members, Mr Ngo Tu Ha and the other the youngest, Comrade Nguyen Dinh Thi, to wait for Uncle Ho in front of the Theatre.

The men of the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance and the Viet Nam Nationalist Party were waiting in the anteroom. They were a crowd of well-dressed people, sitting or standing in disorder, wearing haggard looks and looking like strayed goats. They had to wait for the Assembly’s consent before being allowed to enter the meeting hall. They were the people who had been fostering disorder everywhere till the day before. They had tried to scrape together enough men to fill the seventy seats we intended to ask the National Assembly to reserve for them.

Uncle Ho greeted everybody with a smile and a nod, then entered the hall, followed by members of the Provisional Coalition Government. Nguyen Hai Than was absent on the pretext of illness. Perhaps he was rather apprehensive that debates might take place in which he would have to use the mother tongue.

That historic session of the Assembly was held in the absence of deputies from Nam Bo who could not come in time because of the fighting.

Nearly three hundred deputies together with many guests and pressmen, national and foreign, greeted Uncle Ho with a long standing ovation. All eyes were turned towards the high-foreheaded old man in the khaki suit. Many had never met Uncle but they recognized him at once. The applause and cheers only stopped when the National Defence Guard band in white uniforms began to play the anthem.

Uncle Ho stepped toward the microphone. He stood in silence for a while, gazing affectionately round at the deputies representing various strata of the people from the lowlands to the mountain areas. He said in a voice tinged with emotion:

“This National Assembly is the first in the history of Viet Nam. It is the result of the general elections held on January 6, 1946, which are themselves the result of the struggle and sacrifices of our forefathers. It is the result of the union of the whole people irrespective of age or sex, embracing all religions and nationalities on the territory of Viet Nam, closely united into one bloc, fearing neither sacrifices nor dangers in the struggle for national independence…”

He conveyed the Government’s request to the Assembly for the addition of seventy seats reserved for members of the Viet Nam Nationalist Party and the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance. The proposal was accepted.

The Nationalist Party and Revolutionary Alliance men came in and took their seats among the vacant ones. It had been suggested in the preparatory committee that the seats should be divided into right and left, and those seventy men should be seated on the right. But Uncle Ho said that this was not necessary.

After all the newcomers were seated, Uncle Ho went on:

“First I should like, on behalf of the Provisional Government, to thank the National Assembly for having accepted the Government’s request. Secondly, I wish, on behalf of the Government, to welcome the deputies from all parts of the country. In this National Assembly, all the political parties are represented; there are also many non-party deputies, women and minority peoples are represented. Therefore the deputies to this Assembly do not represent any single party but the whole Vietnamese nation.”

President Ho then reported the Government’s work to the Assembly. He said:

“As soon as we seized power and set up a Government, we met with many difficulties: the South was faced with aggression, the North with famine. However, thanks to the wholehearted support of the whole people and the determination of the Government, we have done a few things:

“The first was to step up the resistance;

“The second was to reduce famine by increasing the production of food;

“The third was to hold the general elections;

The fourth is: as the result of those elections, we have this National Assembly…”

He had summed up in a few sentences all the great achievements of the Government during the past six eventful months. He proceeded to talk about the important tasks ahead:

“The most important thing at present is the resistance. Since September last year, the South has been subjected to aggression. The Government has called on the people to be prepared for a long resistance war and has sent reinforcements to the invaded areas. From now on, the Assembly and the Government will be faced with heavy burdens and will have to overcome many difficulties but I am sure the whole nation will be of one mind that it will work together on the basis of solidarity, and that in this way, however great the difficulties may be, the resistance will be victorious and national reconstruction will be successful. Now the Provisional Government will hand over to the National Assembly the right to establish a new Government: A Government of Resistance and National Reconstruction.”

The President concluded his concise and extremely simple report amidst bursts of applause.

Since Uncle Ho came to Hanoi, there had never been so large a gathering as now, with the participation of various delegates – including those from the reactionary parties – and foreign guests. Even at this meeting, he stuck to his usual manner and speech. This style, so personal to him created a special atmosphere in the Assembly, an atmosphere of solidarity and warmth, like being among the members of one family. This was very difficult to bring about among a large number of delegates coming from all over the country and meeting for the first time, the occasion being made even more complicated by the presence of the reactionaries. This atmosphere was to prevail in all subsequent National Assembly sessions and all other meetings when Uncle Ho was present.

The Assembly accepted the resignation of the Provisional Coalition Government and unanimously elected Uncle Ho President of the Coalition Government of Resistance and Nguyen Hai Than Vice-President.

The Assembly burst into applause when the acting Chairman of the Assembly moved that President Ho be asked to form the new Government. President Ho walked across the hall amidst acclamations.

The sitting adjourned for a while, then resumed. President Ho appeared in company with members of the new Government. He briskly walked to the microphone and said:

“Now I will report on the formation of the Coalition Government of Resistance. As the Assembly knows, this Government is composed of representatives of various parties and non-party people who have discussed the matter and come to an agreement beforehand, hence its quick formation…”

He announced the list of members of the Government. The ministries of the Interior and Defence were entrusted to neutral personalities. Two ministries reserved for southerners were temporarily held by representatives of the political parties, since the former had not been able to arrive in time. The Viet Minh Front and the Democratic Party held four portfolios: Finance, Education, Justice and Communication. The Viet Nam Nationalist Party and the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance held four others: Foreign Affairs, National Economy, Social Affairs and Agriculture.

Uncle Ho went on:

“The Vice-President nominated by the Assembly is Mr Nguyen Hai Than. And the President is myself.”

The applause again burst out. The Government list was approved by the National Assembly.

Then Uncle Ho reported on the formation of the National Resistance Committee in charge of conducting the resistance war against foreign aggression, and the establishment of the National Advisory Group headed by Vinh Thuy.

One after the other, the Government, the Resistance Committee and the Advisory Group formally assumed office.

The Assembly then proceeded to discuss the powers of the National Assembly Standing Committee. A debate started between deputies holding different opinions. It was hard to settle those problems while there was no Constitution yet.

Uncle Ho listened attentively. Every now and again he would raise his hand and ask for the floor. At times, a deputy would express a different view. Uncle Ho would then listen attentively and when necessary, give further explanations in a calm voice. It was a rule that in conducting work he always created a relaxed atmosphere and encouraged others boldly to express their own views.

The French fleet was sailing on the East Sea with their guns pointed to the North.

Many deputies did not understand the value of every minute, every second in such a situation. Several times, Uncle reminded the chairman that the points debated should be concluded and put to vote as early as possible.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, the Assembly was able to conclude the sitting. Within four hours, it had approved the formation of the new Government, the establishment of the Resistance Committee and the Advisory Group, determined the powers of the National Assembly Standing Committee and set up the Committee for Drafting the Constitution.

The deputies were to return immediately to their regions to continue preparations for the resistance. It was time to part. Uncle Ho went to the microphone, and concluded the session with a few words:

“Now the Assembly will temporarily adjourn so that all of us can return to work in our respective regions bringing along an atmosphere of solidarity, of resistance, of determination, of certain success. Before we separate, I wish to thank all the deputies, on behalf of the Government. Let us pledge that this National Assembly is an Assembly for the resistance, and the Government nominated is likewise one for the resistance. I hope the next National Assembly will be one of victory, and the next Government will likewise be one of victory”

In those difficult moments, he wanted to instil into everyone a spirit of solidarity and determination to fight. He also wanted to inspire everyone with optimism and confidence in victory and in the future.

1. “Learning to play chess”, Prison Diary.


karphead posted:

While the French were frantically trying to return to Indochina, the American officer by the name of Patty, for some reason we didn’t know, showed sympathy for the Viet Minh’s anti-Japanese struggle.

it's short for patricia, sir

I just found out that "Patty" was a typo and they were referring to this dude: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes_Patti



By early March, the negotiations between us and the French had not led to any agreement.

The French colonialists were still stubbornly turning down our fundamental demands. The colonialists still blindly believed that they had reconquered most of Nam Bo as a result of the military operations undertaken during the past few months. On the other hand, they also believed that, with the Sino-French treaty, they had acquired a legal basis and favourable conditions for a return to the North.

General Leclerc and the French negotiators in Hanoi were conscious of the real situation to some extent, and of the peril of a long war if the negotiations failed. But they were still negotiating along the line set by instructions from the French Government in Paris, where the die-hard tendencies of old-style colonialism were still prevailing.

On our side, if the nation-wide resistance should now break out, we would meet with great difficulties, having to face many enemies at one time. But we would not compromise on questions of principle. In a few days, if an agreement was not reached before the French landed at Haiphong port, even if the should do so with the permission of the Chiang authorities, our army and people would resolutely fight them, the situation would become very complicated.

After the official announcement of the Sino-French treaty, pressmen came to interview President Ho. In reply to their questions, he said:

“This treaty can be divided into two parts. One provides for the French giving up their privileges in China. The other concerns our country. The first part not only satisfies the Chinese people but is also welcomed by the Vietnamese people. As for the latter part, it is not the moment to comment yet.” Then he went on to say, “Anyway, almost all the Chinese people have at all times sympathized with our national movement.”

When asked about the resistance war, President Ho said briefly, “Our greatest concern is to get ready, keep calm and maintain our morale”.

A series of articles in the press openly protested against the Sino-French treaty.

The Cuu Quoc (National Salation {sic}) wrote: “No one can bargain away Viet Nam’s independence.” On the economic advantages that the French promised to offer the Chiang clique in North Viet Nam, another article read: “Only the Vietnamese Government is entitled to decide on those interests”. We openly warned the enemy that “between the signing of this treaty and its implementation stand the fighting Vietnamese people”.

All the armed forces, especially in places where the Chiang troops were stationed or where a French invasion was likely, were ordered to be ready for combat and to maintain the utmost vigilance. The most important offices were all prepared for any emergency.

In Hanoi, large numbers of old people and children had been evacuated. Self-defence fighters had put explosive charges in the trees lining the streets and made preparations to fell lamp-posts and overturn tramcars when ordered. To do so they had also reconnoitred important positions of the Chiang troops in Hanoi. Self-defence units had worked out operations plans.

In the meantime, a hitch developed between the French and Chiang in Chungking.

On the evening of March 1, Colonel Crepin arrived at the Kuomintang Army General Headquarters to sign the protocol on troops replacement. But the Kuomintang commanders avoided seeing him. An aide informed the French delegation that the Chiang army could only accept the troop replacement if an order to this effect came from General McArthur.

The French negotiators in Chungking had managed to sign the Sino-French treaty with the concurrence of Chiang Kai-shek and his Foreign Ministry. But the troop replacement was to be carried out by Chiang’s General Staff. Ha Ung Kham (Ha Yin Chia) and the generals here had powers of their own. They were not foolish enough to hasten the withdrawal of their troops from Northern Indochina. Lu Han, called back for consultations, was present in Chungking. It was said that they wanted to stay on until the opium crop was brought in.

The French fleet was sailing north. On the 2nd, Crepin hurriedly dispatched a man to report the new situation to Salan, who immediately tried to reach an arrangement with the Chiang authorities in Hanoi.

Chu Phuc Thanh, Lu Han’s deputy, said he had never received any order to let French come to the North for the purpose of replacement. If the French landed in Haiphong, he would order his troops to open fire. Besides, he made up another excuse: as the French had not reached an agreement with the Vietnamese Government, he could not let the French come in for such conditions, he said, Chinese nationals in the North would be subjected to reprisals (!) from the Vietnamese after the Chiang troops had withdrawn.

The discussions between the Chiang militarists and the French brasshats lasted through the night of March 4 without yielding any results.

On the 5th, the French fleet commanded by Leclerc arrived in the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf.

Leclerc had Lt-Col Lecomte write to Sainteny a letter with a note of alarm:

“… Seeing that the situation is grave and the conflict that might arise may reach major proportions, I request you do everything in your power to reach an agreement within the shortest time possible…”

The French brasshats again met with Chu Phuc Thanh and the Chiang army commanders in Hanoi. Discussions and bargaining continued between the two sides. If they failed to reach an agreement, there would certainly be clashes the next day, when the French fleet arrived in Haiphong.

On the same day, March 5, the newly-established National Resistance Committee issued an appeal:

“Fellow-countrymen, rise up to fight the aggressors!

“… A grave hour has struck for the Fatherland.

“… The National Resistance Committee composed of representatives of all parties, is responsible for unifying the armed forces, and leading the army and people in the fight against the enemy for the defence of the Fatherland.

“Fellow-countrymen, let’s support it wholeheartedly, be ready to obey its orders, so as to bring victory to our people and army and to win independence for our Fatherland”.



That very evening, the Chiang authorities asked to meet President Ho.

They informed us that the French fleet had come into the Tonkin Gulf. For the first time, they asked us why we and the French had not reached an agreement. They advised us not to be adamant. They said that if we signed an agreement to let the French bring in their troops to take over their duties they would support it.

As the Chiang men left, the French negotiators arrived. They asked to continue discussions of the remaining points still outstanding. The French mission expressed the desire to reach an agreement with our Government on that very evening so that a preliminary accord could be signed.

It was obvious that something new had happened between Chiang and the French

Since the signing of the Sino-French treaty, relations between Chiang and the French in Hanoi had been tense at times. The Chiang authorities put their troops on the alert. They told us that they would not withdraw their troops. Some of their division commanders declared that they would fight if the French landed in the North. On the other hand, they ordered their agents to try and sabotage the talks between us and the French by every means. Meanwhile, the French kept close contact with the Chiang army command in Hanoi.

With his penetrating insight, President Ho realized that the tensions between them were only temporary. Their leaders had concluded their deal in Chungking. In any case, there could be no big clashes between the French and the Chiang clique. Sooner or later, they would come to an arrangement. Nevertheless, so long as there remained some contradictions, however unimportant, between them, we should try to turn them to account.

In fact, the Chiang men had altered their language. What drew the attention of Uncle Ho was that both the Chiang men and the French seemed to be in a hurry to get a settlement.

The exchange of views between us and the French that evening again evolved around two great questions: the independence and territorial integrity of Viet Nam.

The world independence was a frightening thing for the French authorities. The colonialists feared that it would provoke a chain reaction and give rise to movements for independence in all their colonies. The French Government only agreed to recognize us as an “autonomous” country. The French wanted to keep us within a certain framework of colonialism.

On the question of unifying the three ky, the French colonialists maintained a very reactionary position. De Gaulle’s declaration had divided Viet Nam into three states: Bac Ky (Tonkin), Trung Ky (Annam) and Nam Ky (Cochinchina). For the time being, they were trying to restore the colonial rule in Nam Bo and seeking to sever Nam Bo from Viet Nam by every means.

For us, independence and unity constituted the whole nation’s earnest aspiration and deepest feeling. We could not agree to “autonomy”, for this would mean to renounce part of the freedom we had won back at the cost of blood, to accept the return to some degree of servitude, Nam Bo, a part of Viet Nam’s own flesh and blood – could not be cut from her by any enemy. Though we were in a perilous situation, we could not make concessions about those basic aims of our struggle.

Our consistent position was to reach an overall solution: the French must recognize the independence and territorial integrity of Viet Nam. This principled position was affirmed once again by Uncle Ho that night.

During the negotiations, the French had on many occasions tried to evade the issue of Nam Bo. The French government only recognized Viet Nam as a State having its own government, parliament, army and finances. In the end, concerning the question of unifying the three ky, the French undertook to recognize the eventual results of a referendum.

But the French still refused to recognize our independence. This again led to a deadlock that evening.

The French negotiators left at a late hour in the night. Before taking leave, they asked President Ho to give further consideration to their proposals. They seemed to be very anxious.



March 6, 1946

Early in the morning, the French fleet made its way from the Tonkin Gulf into Haiphong harbour. At 8.30, their first landing craft appeared on the Cua Cam river. The Chiang troops stationed along the river opened fire. Fifteen minutes later, the French fired back. The Chiang ammunition depot in the harbour blazed up. Several French ships were hit. Maybe French troops were killed or wounded. The gun battle lasted till nearly 11a.m.

The Chiang militarists and their agents had wanted to turn to account the conflict between us and the French. But, by an irony of circumstances, they were the first to clash with the French. The Viet Nam Nationalist Party and the Viet Nam Revolutionary Alliance had made preparations for great disruptive activities should there be an arrangement between us and the French. But this arrangement was now needed by their own masters. On the same morning, the Chiang men again suggested that we should come to an early agreement with the French in order to avoid a possible large-scale war.

There was still a great deadlock: We resolutely rejected the “autonomy” proposed by the French; but independence was something the French government could not yet recognize.

President Ho found it was time to come to a decision. After consulting the Standing Bureau of the Party Central Committee, he put forward a solution: “France recognizes Viet Nam as a free state…”

The French mission agreed.

The French negotiators later recalled that those moments of waiting had been a time of extreme tension for them.

Thus, in circumstances of utmost confusion and complication, the negotiations between us and the French led to a preliminary agreement. That was the first international agreement signed by the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam with a foreign power.

The signing ceremony was held at 4p.m. at 38, Ly Thai To Street.

The representatives of France, commanders of the Chiang Army in northern Indochina, representatives of the American mission, and the British consul arrived one after another at a villa separated from Bac Bo Palace by a park.

The room was small and simply furnished; no flags were shown.

Hosts and guests stood around a large table.

Present were men who belonged to all the “big powers” of the capitalist world after the Second World War. A slender old man with a black beard, in a faded khaki suit and indigo cloth shoes, stood in great contrast to the crowd of big, fat and well-dressed men, most of whom were military men. That was a miniature picture of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam encircled by imperialism.

Comrade Hoang Minh Giam successively read aloud the Preliminary Agreement and the annex, the contents of which could be summarized as follows:

-France recognizes the Democratic Republican of Viet Nam as a free State, having its own government, parliament, army and finances, within the Indochinese Federation and the French Union.

-The French Government undertakes to recognize the decisions of the referendum on the reunification of the three ky.

-Viet Nam agrees to let 15,000 French troops come into North Viet Nam to replace the Chinese troops in their duties. Those French troops must be withdrawn completely after a specified time.

-Both sides will observe a ceasefire in order to open official negotiations. While the negotiations are going on, the troops of both sides will remain in place.

When the reading was over, all eyes turned toward President Ho. He glanced over the articles of the agreement. As President of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, he signed first.

Then, he handed over the agreement to Vu Hong Khanh who was standing near by. Under pressure of his Chiang masters, Vu Hong Khanh had to swallow his bitterness and sign the document, as special representative of the Council of Government.

Sainteny, who was empowered to represent the government of the French Republic, signed last.

Sixty-three years before, with some artillery pieces and a few thousand troops of aggression, a certain Harmand had handed to the Nguyen Court a 27-point draft peace treaty, telling the latter to take it or leave it but not propose any changes. The Nguyen King and mandarins had to bow their heads and accept the shameful 1883 peace treaty. One year after, the Hue Court again signed the Patenôtre peace treaty. That was the sell-out treaty which placed our country fully under the domination of French colonialism. Since then, all the national rights of independence and freedom had been lost, including that of conducting foreign affairs.

The August Revolution had brought about wonderful changes. The whole Vietnamese people had risen up from misery, slavery and suffering. The enslaved Vietnamese had become free Vietnamese. The newborn Democratic Republic of Viet Nam stood firm in the midst of raging tempests.

That day, the enemy, who had large armies supported by aircraft, warships and armoured cars, had to conduct negotiations with us on an equal footing. The French government was forced to accept a situation which they did not want in their heart of hearts.

Indeed, the first to recognize the free Viet Nam were those who had deprived her of all freedom sixty-three years before.

We agreed to let 15,000 French troops into North Viet Nam for a specified time in order to drive out of the country the 180,000 Chiang troops who would otherwise stay on indefinitely as they had declared.

President Ho had, on behalf of our people, expressed to the world’s people our sincere desire for peace, a genuine peace in independence and freedom. And if peace could not yet be secured because of the greediness and blindness of imperialism, those were moments gained to prepare for a protracted resistance war which, we believed, would end in victory.

The signing ceremony was over.

The French representative raised his glass in a toast to President Ho and expressed his joy at having driven away the spectre of an armed conflict. In a calm but firm voice, President Ho said: “We are not yet satisfied because we have not yet won complete independence, but we will achieve it”. The enemy had yielded on a basic point. But for us, that was only an initial success. Complete success was still far ahead. President Ho had warned the opposite side that our fight would continue till final victory.



“If we endure through this cold winter, we shall see spring.”

From President Ho’s notes of 5 November 1946: “Urgent Work at Present.”