About Viet Minh
The Vietminh is abbreviated from Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi – League for the Independence of Vietnam. Ho Chí Minh founded Viet Minh in 1941 to seek independence for Vietnam from France as well as to oppose the Japanese presence. Some people may confuse it with Viet Nam Cach Mang Dong Minh Hoi (Viet Cach) which was founded by Nguyen Hai Than and Ho Ngoc Lam and later, it joined Vietnamese National Coalition in 1946.
During World War II, Japan occupied French-held regions in Asia (commonly called French Indochina). As well as fighting the French, the Viet Minh started a campaign against the Japanese. Due to their opposition to the Japanese, the Viet Minh received funding from the Americans and the Chinese. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the Viet Minh, now led by Ho Chí Minh, were allowed by the Japanese to take control of the country. Ho Chi Minh established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945.
The Return Of French Army
However, with the Japanese vanquished, American support declined and the French returned troops to Vietnam within a couple months to re-establish their colonial rule. The declaration of independence was followed by nearly ten years of war against France, with France’s effort largely funded and politically supported by the United States. This was commonly known as the French Indochina War.
French General Jean-Etienne Valluy quickly pushed the Viet Minh out of Hanoi. His French infantry with armoured units went through Hanoi, fighting small battles against isolated Viet Minh groups. The French encircled the Viet Minh base, Viet Bac in 1947. They almost captured Ho Chí Minh, who slipped into a camouflaged hole.
The Viet Minh were unable to fight effectively against the French until 1949 when the Chinese communists reached Vietnam’s northern border. China gave the Viet Minh both sheltered bases and heavy weapons to fight the French. With the additional weapons, the Viet Minh were able to take control over many rural areas of the country. But they failed disastrously in every attempt to attack the central areas of Vietnam.
Following their defeat Battle of Ðien Biên Phu, the French decided to leave Indochina. Shortly thereafter, as a result of peace accords worked out at the Geneva Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Vietnam was divided into North Vietnam and South Vietnam at the 17th Parallel as a temporary measure until unifying elections would take place in 1956. Transfer of civil administration of North Vietnam to the Viet Minh was given on October 11, 1954. Ho Chí Minh was appointed Prime Minister of North Vietnam, which would be run as a communist state. Ngô Ðinh Diem, who was previously appointed Prime Minister of South Vietnam by Emperor Bao Ðai, eventually assumed control of South Vietnam.
In the words of U.S. President Eisenhower, “It was generally conceded that had an election been held, Ho Chí Minh would have been elected Premier. Unhappily, the situation was exacerbated by the almost total lack of leadership displayed by the Vietnamese Chief of State, Bao Ðai, who, while nominally the head of that nation, chose to spend the bulk of his time in the spas of Europe rather than in his own land leading his armies against those of Communism.”
South Vietnam and its chief supporter, the United States, were not signatories to the 1954 agreement. Therefore, they refused to hold unifying elections, believing that Ho Chí Minh could not be trusted. Over 900,000 Vietnamese had already fled North Vietnam before this decision was made. The government of the North had further discredited itself by its anti-Landlord campaign in the countryside. The anti-Landlord campaign involved Viet Minh cadres being sent into rural areas to execute their political opponents. The campaign eventually was so out of control that Ho Chí Minh himself stepped in to stop it.
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