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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
History
Vietnam Under Communism

The War in the South (1959-1975)

Asked during the so-called “American” phase of the Vietnam War whether it is true that the North had suffered half a million fatalities among the soldiers it sent south, General Giap simply said “Yes.” Years later, when he was asked on French television whether he had any regret sending so many people to their death, he answered: “None whatsoever.” Actually, the Vietnam War (i.e. this so-called “American” phase) is estimated to have cost the Vietnamese people, both North and South, some 3.5 million casualties, both in military and civilian terms. And there can be no denial of the fact that the war was launched deliberately by North Vietnam as early as in 1959 when there was almost no American military presence in the South.

Atrocities, big and small, did happen during the war and were perpetrated by both sides. On the American side, possibly the best known case is My Lai (or Son My), which involved the panicky shooting of some 108 defenseless women, children and old men.

But the communist side deliberately used terror to force people to their side, by killing thousands of educators, social workers, village medical personnel every year. They indiscriminately sent random rockets into the cities, killing in one case over a hundred elementary school children in Cai Lay. They used flame throwers to burn down whole Montagnard villages. They executed on a massive scale without trial people suspected of being “on the other side”—the most callous case being the massacres in Hue 1968 which claimed as many as 6,000 civilians, including old people, women and children as young as two years of age.

There was point blank shooting by tank and armored personnel carriers at fleeing refugees on the “Street without Joy” National Highway in Quang Tri province during the Easter Offensive of 1972. Communist artillery also rained shells on masses of civilians who fled in the retreat from the Highlands during March 1975, reducing hundreds and perhaps thousands of people to pools of blood and scattered limbs and bodies.

The Boat People Exodus

Around 150,000 people (many of them among the most vulnerable elements of the South) managed to flee the advancing communist army in the spring of 1975. Soon after their arrival, the communists instituted the so- called “re-education camps” which were filled with an estimated 300,000 persons, not just military and civilian officers of the former regime but also writers and artists, doctors and engineers, women and old folk and children caught fleeing.

On a visit to France in 1977, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong admitted sending over a million persons into re- education although many in the lower ranks were released after a relatively short period of time. Likewise, essential personnel like doctors and engineers, were let go after a couple of years because of the alarmingly deteriorating situation of public health. Teachers were also released to go back to classes.

Of the 300,000 persons who were kept up to or beyond three years – some as long as 13 years – 65,000 are estimated to have died from malnutrition, disease, torture or execution. Of this brainwashing, former General Nguyen Huu Co of the South Vietnamese army gave this famous remark: “In all the time that I have spent here [some 12 years], I have yet to see one person change his mind.”

But it’s the social engineering that came with communist rule that finally caused an exodus of unprecedented dimensions in Vietnamese history. Vietnamese fled cultural destruction, currency exchanges that overnight turned people into paupers, and the campaign against capitalists which in one day expropriated 35,000 businesses. About half a million persons were lost at sea and other perils as about two million mostly “boat people” managed to get out of Vietnam during the period 1978-1989. They were received all over the world in one of the great mass movements of modern times. Weighed down with compassion fatigue, the world sent back hundreds of thousands of latter-day refugees.

Vietnam has since recovered from some of the Communist Party’s most terrible excesses but the so-called “American” war exposed the war-like nature of the regime. It waged a ten-year war of aggression against neighboring Cambodia (1978-1989), in which it lost over 40,000 lives, and also fought a murderous if brief border war with China (February-March 1979).

Today, Vietnam is at peace but many people wonder: Why did we have to suffer so much to find out, as the saying goes, that “communism is the longest way from capitalism to capitalism”? There is a popular joke in Vietnam these days: Ho Chi Minh comes back from his grave and asks, “What have we achieved in 63 years?” The CPV Secretary General answers: “Uncle, we have achieved one third of what you promised back in 1945!” “And what is that?” The reply: “Didn’t you promise them Independence – Freedom – Happiness? We have achieved the first part but even that is being curtailed more and more every day.”

 

 

Author Bio:

Dr. Nguyen Bich =Bio not available

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Vietnam
Location:  Southeast Asia
Capital:  Hanoi
Communist Rule:  1945 - Current
Status:  Under Communist Rule
Victims of Communism:
1 million