end of Second World War Viet Minh controlled the northern half of Vietnam. Viet
Minh formed a government led by Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi. This Viet Minh government
quickly occupied the southern half of Vietnam. However, the Allied Powers
decided at Potsdam that the British in the south and the Chinese in the north
should defend Indo-China from the Japanese. But Ho Chi Minh had established his
control very firmly and so, early in 1946, the British and Chinese troops had
to withdraw, leaving the French and Viet Minh to confront each other. In March
the two governments (French and Viet Minh) reached an agreement by which North
Vietnam was to be a free state, within an Indo-Chinese Federation.
the French attempted to secure the support of the population by declaring
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia independent within the French Union, retaining only
foreign affairs and defence under French control.
French were receiving considerable financial aid from America, the Viet Minh
were helped by the new Chinese communist government. The French troops were
eventually defeated. The Geneva Conference (1954) that met on Korea and Indo
China decided that Vietnam was to be an independent state but temporarily
divided; the Viet Minh to control the north and Bao Dai to head the government
the south. Cambodia and Laos were to be independent.
population of 16 million North Vietnam became a Communist state with Ho Chi
Minh as President. South Vietnam, approximately of the same size and
population, was ruled by Ngo Dinh Diem.
government’s survival in South Vietnam depended on increasing amounts of US
support. In 1965 marines landed at Danang naval base, and there were 33,500 US
troops in the country within a month. The number increased and there were
210,000 by the end of year. The US bombed both North and South in the hope that
it could force the liberation forces to abandon the struggle. The fighters of
North Vietnam, trained in guerilla warfare, had grown out of spontaneous
struggles against a repressive regime. They sustained their resistance without
bowing to the US. The American troops also used bacteriological weapons.
Incendiary bombs such as napalm and Agent Orange (to defoliate the forest
cover) were used. Vast areas of Vietnam were devastated and hundreds of
thousands of people killed. The American forces too suffered heavy casualties.
1975, the war took a decisive turn. The armies of North Vietnam and of the
National Liberation Front of South Vietnam swept across the country routing the
American supported troops of South Vietnam. By 30 April 1975, all the American
troops had withdrawn and the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, was liberated.
North and South Vietnam were formally united as one count in 1976. The city of Saigon
was renamed as Ho ChiMinh City after the great leader of the Vietnamese people.
Ho Chin Minh City (Saigon)
The emergence of Vietnam as a united and independent nation was an historic event. A small country had succeeded in winning independence and unification in the face of the armed opposition of the greatest power in the world. The help given to Vietnam by the socialist countries, the political support extended by a large number of Asian and African countries, and the solidarity expressed by the peoples in all parts of the world, helped in achieving this.