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The Viet Minh flag.

The Việt Minh About this sound pronunciation (abbreviated from Việt Nam Ðộc Lập Ðồng Minh Hội, English "League for the Independence of Vietnam") was a national liberation movement founded in South China on May 19, 1941 .[1] The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from France and later to oppose Japanese occupation.


World War II

During World War II, Japan occupied French Indochina. As well as fighting the Vichy French, the Việt Minh started a campaign against the Japanese. Due to their opposition to the Japanese, the Việt Minh received funding from the Americans and the Chinese, although the Chinese Nationalists imprisoned Hồ Chí Minh for more than a year during the fight against the Japanese for being a Communist. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the Japanese handed over control of some public buildings and weapons requisitioned from the French army to the Việt Minh, now led by Hồ Chí Minh, after turning in the Vietnamese nationalist leaders of the Việt Minh to the French colonialists. Việt Minh also recruited more than 600 of the Japanese soldiers. These soldiers fought the war against France until 1954. Some of them remained in Vietnam and adapted to Vietnamese. After the nationalist organizations proclaimed the independence of Việt Nam, Hồ proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945.

First Indochina War

However, within days the Chinese Kuomintang (Nationalist) Army arrived in Vietnam to supervise the repatriation of the Japanese Imperial Army. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam therefore existed only in theory and effectively controlled no territory. A few months later, the Chinese, Vietnamese and French came to a three-way understanding. The French gave up certain rights in China, the Việt Minh agreed to the return of the French in exchange for promises of independence within the French Union, and the Chinese agreed to leave. Negotiations between the French and Việt Minh broke down quickly. What followed was nearly ten years of war against France. This was known as the First Indochina War or, to the Vietnamese, the French War.

Việt Minh who were short on modern military knowledge made a military school in Tỉnh Quảng Ngãi on June 1946. More than 400 Vietnamese were trained by Japanese soldiers in this school. These soldiers were called as students of the Japanese and were feared by the French army in the First Indochina War. Later, some of them fought as generals against the United States in the Vietnam War.

French General Jean-Etienne Valluy quickly pushed the Việt Minh out of Hanoi. His French infantry with armored units went through Hanoi, fighting small battles against isolated Việt Minh groups. The French encircled the Việt Minh base, Việt Bắc in 1947, but failed to defeat the Việt Minh forces, and had to retreat soon after. The campaign is now widely considered a Việt Minh victory over the well-equipped French force.

The Việt Minh continued fighting against the French until 1949, when the border of China and Viet Nam was linked together as the result of the campaign called Chiến dịch Biên giới (Borderland Campaign). The newly Communist People's Republic of China gave the Việt Minh both sheltered bases and heavy weapons with which to fight the French. With the additional weapons, the Việt Minh were able to take control over many rural areas of the country. Soon after that, they began to advance towards the French occupied areas.

North Vietnam

Following their defeat at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ, the French began negotiations to leave Vietnam. 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 Việt Minh was given on October 11, 1954. Hồ Chí Minh was appointed Prime Minister of North Vietnam, which would be run as a socialist state. Ngô Đình Diệm, who was previously appointed Prime Minister of South Vietnam by Emperor Bảo Đại, eventually assumed control of South Vietnam. In the words of U.S. President Eisenhower:

It was generally conceded that had an election been held, Hồ 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, Bảo Đại, 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.[2]

South Vietnam and its chief supporter, the United States, were not signatories to the 1954 agreement but did agree to respect its conditions. However, South Vietnam, with the backing of the United States, refused to hold unifying elections, claiming that Hồ Chí Minh could not be trusted due to his affiliation with Communism.

The 'Khmer Viet Minh'

'Khmer Viet Minh' were the 3,000 to 5,000 Cambodian communist cadres who lived in exile in North Vietnam after the 1954 Geneva Conference. It was a derogatory term used by Norodom Sihanouk, dismissing the Cambodian leftists who had been organizing pro-independence agitations in alliance with the Vietnamese.[3] Sihanouk's public criticism and mockery of the 'Khmer Viet Minh' had the damaging effect of increasing the power of the hardline, anti-Vietnamese, but also anti-monarchical, members of the CPK, led by Pol Pot.[4]

The 'Khmer Viet Minh' were instrumental in the foundation of the Cambodian Salvation Front (FUNSK) in 1978. The FUNSK invaded Cambodia along with the Vietnamese Army and overthrew the Democratic Kampuchea Pol Pot state. Many of the 'Khmer Viet Minh' had married Vietnamese women during their long exile in Vietnam.[5]


The Việt Nam Ðộc Lập Ðồng Minh Hội is not to be confused with the Việt Nam Cách Mạng Ðồng Minh Hội (League for the Vietnamese Revolution, abbreviated as Việt Cách) which was founded by Nguyễn Hai Than and Hồ Ngoc Lam, and which later joined the Vietnamese National Coalition in 1946.

See also


  1. ^ The Việt Nam Ðộc Lập Ðồng Minh Hội had previously formed in Nanjing, China, at some point between August 1935 and early 1936 when the non-communist Vietnamese Nationalist Party (Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, or Việt Quốc), led by Nguyễn Thái Học, and some members of the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) and a number of other Vietnamese nationalist parties formed an anti-imperialist united front. This organisation soon lapsed into inactivity, only to be revived by the ICP and Ho Chi Minh in 1941. NGUYEN, Sai D. "The National Flag of Viet Nam." Quinn-Judge, Ho Chi Minh: The Missing Years, pp.212-3.
  2. ^ Eisenhower, Dwight (1963). Mandate for Change, 1953-1956. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. pp. 337–38. 
  3. ^ LOC - Appendix B
  4. ^ Ben Kiernan. How Pol Pot came to power, Yale University Press, 2004, p.227
  5. ^ Margaret Slocomb, The People's Republic of Kampuchea, 1979-1989: The revolution after Pol Pot ISBN 9789749575345




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