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Senior Modern History: The French IndoChina War

Here is a source based look at the first Indochina war - with the French from 1945 - 1954
by

Ryan Slavin

on 6 July 2014

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Transcript of Senior Modern History: The French IndoChina War

Why was I so significant?
Ho Chi Minh, real name Nguyen Tat Thanh (1890-1969), Vietnamese Communist leader and the principal force behind the Vietnames e struggle against French colonial rule...worked in London and Paris... Ho engaged in radical activities and was in the founding group of the French Communist party...When Japan occupied Vietnam in 1941, he helped to found a new Communist-dominated independence movement, popularly known as the Vietminh, that fought the Japanese...
In August 1945, when Japan surrendered, the Vietminh seized power and proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh, now known by his final and best-known pseudonym (which means the “Enlightener”), became president. The French were unwilling to grant independence to their colonial subjects, and in late 1946 war broke out. For eight years Vietminh guerrillas fought French troops in the mountains and rice paddies of Vietnam, finally defeating them in the decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.



This is a secondary source, can you think of any issues with this particular source? Or, how does this compare to the first source in terms of authoratativeness?
"If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the colonial people, what kind of revolution are you waging?... At first Patriotism, not yet Communism, led me to have confidence in Lenin... only Socialism and Communism can liberate the oppressed nations and the working people throughout the world from slavery."

Source:Ho Chi Minh (1967) 'on revolution'. Pall Mall Press. London. pp. 5-6
Elders!
Prominent Personalities! Intellectuals, peasants, workers, traders, and soldiers!
Dear compatriots! ...
Now, the opportunity has come for our liberation. France itself is unable to dominate our country.

Source: 'Letter from Abroad', Ho Chi Minh, 1941
Who am I fighting for?
...Since the French were defeated by the Germans, there forces have been completely disintegrated... As to the Japanese, they are bogged in China, on the other, they are hamstrung by the British and American forces... If our entire people are united and singleminded, we are certainly able to smash the picked French and Japanese armies.

Source: 'Letter from Abroad', Ho Chi Minh, 1941
How can I get the country to follow me?
Some hundreds of years ago, when our country was endangered by the Mongolian invasion, our elders... rose up indignantly and called on their sons and daughters throughout the country to rise as one in order to kill the enemy. Finally, they saved their people from danger, and their good name will be carried into posterity for all time.

Source: 'Letter from Abroad', Ho Chi Minh, 1941
Having succeeded in establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) through the August 1945 revolution, many Vietnamese were determined to maintain their independence. However, the French were also eager to return to Vietnam [after WWII]. On 6 March 1946, a compromise agreement was drawn up between the French and the Vietnamese governments... Under the accords, the French agreed to recognise the independence of Vietnam within the French union and Vietnamese allowed limited French troops to remain... However, the negotiations broke down - Vietnamese not happy with limited independence and French not willing to give full independence... War fully broke out in December 1946.

Source: Hoepper, B et al. (1996) Inquiry 2. Jacaranda, p.89
Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam:

On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh square. The first lines of his speech repeated verbatim the famous second paragraph of America’s 1776 Declaration of Independence.


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All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.

The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: “All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights.”

Those are undeniable truths.

Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.

In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty.

They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center and the South of Vietnam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united.

They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.

They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people.

To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol.

In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people, and devastated our land.

They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank-notes and the export trade.

They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty.

They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers.

Source: Ho Chi Minh, Selected Works Vol. 3, (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1960–62), 17–21.http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5139/
General Giap outlines how to fight a revolutionary war:
Realising clearly the enemy's strong and weak points and ours, to cope with the enemy's strategic scheme, our party set forth the guiding principle of a long term Resistance War. Facing an enemy who temporarily had the upper hand, our people were not able to strike swiftly and win swiftly but needed time to overcome its shortcomings and increase the enemy's weak points.
The general law of a long revolutionary war is to go through three stages: defensive, equilibrium and offensive.

Source: Vo Nguyen Giap (1961) 'Peoples War: People's Army'. in Hoepper, B. et al 1996, Inquiry 2. Jacaranda. p.89
SOURCE:
Biography of Ho Chi Minh
http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/ho-chi-minh/biography.htm
Why am I fighting now?
What am I fighting for?
What aspects of Ho's appeal might have struck a responsive chord among Vietnamese people? Why?
How can I lead the VietMinh to defeat the French colonialists?
Biography on Ho Chi Minh
Who am I?
Full transcript