And it will come. Võ Nguyên Giáp (Vietnamese: [vɔ̌ˀ ŋʷīən zǎːp]; Chữ Hán: 武元甲; 25 August 1911 – 4 October 2013) was an army general in the Vietnam People's Army and a politician. He oversaw the expansion of the PAVN from a small self-defense force into a large conventional army, equipped by its communist allies with considerable amounts of relatively sophisticated weaponry, although this did not usually match the weaponry of the Americans.  He also made a particular study of Napoleon's generalship, and greatly admired T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, learning from it practical examples of how to apply minimum military force to maximum effect.  However, after the Chinese communists reached the northern border of Vietnam in 1949 and the Vietnamese destruction of French posts there, the conflict turned into a conventional war between two armies equipped with modern weapons supplied by the United States and the Soviet Union. General Giap, whose victory at Dien Bien Phu forced France from Vietnam, later waged a long battle with the United States military that eventually sapped America’s political will to fight. According to Frisby, "Giap understood that protracted warfare would cost many lives but that did not always translate into winning or losing the war.  He joined the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1931 and took part in several demonstrations against French rule in Indochina as well as assisting in founding the Democratic Front in 1933. Giáp's father and mother, Võ Quang Nghiêm and Nguyễn Thị Kiên, worked the land, rented some to neighbours, and lived a relatively comfortable lifestyle. Major Archimedes Patti, in charge of the so-called 'Deer Team' unit, taught the Viet Minh to use flamethrowers, grenade launchers and machine guns. President Richard Nixon, like President Lyndon B. Johnson before him, was convinced that a U.S. withdrawal was necessary, but four years would pass before the last American troops departed. After studying at the Lycée Albert-Sarraut in Hanoi, he received a law degree from Hanoi University in the late 1930s. , On 9 September, the Nationalist Chinese forces crossed the border and quickly took control of the north, while on 12 September, the British Indian Army arrived in Saigon. They agreed that the country would be occupied temporarily to get the Japanese out; the northern half would be under the control of the Nationalist Chinese and the southern half under the British. The Vietnamese victory at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, with the killing or capturing of over 16,000 enemy forces, sealed the defeat of French colonialism in Indochina. The son of an ardent anticolonialist scholar, Giap as a youth began to work for Vietnamese autonomy. Since 1887 Vietnam has been part of France’s Indochina empire (which includes …  In China, Giáp joined up with Hồ Chí Minh, then an adviser to the People's Liberation Army. HO CHI MINH GENERAL GIAP. The preponderance of Viet Minh guns came as a surprise to the French who did not believe that Giap possessed a large artillery arm. He was convinced that if he could manoeuvre General Vo Nguyen Giap into engaging in a large scale battle, France was bound to win. There were grave errors. The best evidence indicates that he disliked the plan, and when it became obvious that Lê Duẩn and Văn Tiến Dũng were going to conduct it anyway, he left Vietnam for medical treatment in Hungary, and did not return until after the offensive had begun.  He returned to Hue and continued his political activities. To begin propaganda work among the population, a news-sheet called Việt Nam Độc Lập was produced. In the new government, Giáp maintained his position as Minister of National Defense and he was made Deputy Prime Minister in July 1976. Deep in the hills of northwest Vietnam, the position was surrounded by high ground. He told his fellow officers that he had been "completely dishonoured" and committed suicide with a hand grenade. In South Vietnam there were still several thousand guerillas, known as Viet Cong, fighting against the government in Saigon. “But without Gen. Giap’s decision, most of us wouldn’t have been able to fight in the resistance war against the US years later,” said General Le … Morris, Virginia and Hills, Clive (2006). In the little spare time he had, he said in interviews that he enjoyed occasionally playing the piano, as well as reading Goethe, Shakespeare and Tolstoy.. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... With the defeat of the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the United States became concerned about communist gains in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh and the other leaders of the Viet Minh did not trust the word of the French and continued the war. The operation ended on 27 January 1973, after 12 days with heavy casualties and destruction. , On 28 August 1945, Giáp led his men into Hanoi, and on 2 September, Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. On 19 December, the Vietnamese government officially declared war on France and fighting erupted all over the country. Although she was not held for long, the privations of prison life made her ill and she too died a few weeks after being released. Its leaders decided that Giáp should leave Vietnam and go into exile in China.  Although this attempt to spark a general uprising against the southern government failed disastrously, it was a significant political victory through convincing American politicians and the public that their commitment to South Vietnam could not be open-ended. But this time it will. 299. Hardly, the Viet Minh won just as anyone who fought the French has, they let the French fuck-up. Ho Chi Minh directed him to establish Armed Propaganda Brigades and the first one, consisting of thirty one men and three women, was formed in December 1944. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declined, claiming that he wanted to wait for the outcome of the peace negotiations taking place in Geneva, before becoming involved in escalating the war. Updates? Militarily there was no point in France fi…  He was given a state funeral on 12–13 October, and his body lay in state at the national morgue in Hanoi until his burial in his home province of Quảng Bình.. Giáp was recalled to Hanoi where he was replaced as field commander of the PAVN and from then on watched subsequent events from the sidelines, with the glory of victory in 1975 going to the chief of the general staff, General Văn Tiến Dũng. They married in August 1946, and went on to have four children. Up to then, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam had allowed nationalist and other newspapers to publish, but when they began attacking and vilifying Giáp he cracked down on them and closed them all. General Navarre, the French commander in Vietnam, realised that time was running out and that he needed to obtain a quick victory over the Vietminh. After Dien Bien Phu, General Giap came to symbolize Vietnamese military prowess to the West. He attended the same high school as Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader, and while still a student in 1926 he joined the Tan Viet Cach Menh Dang, the Revolutionary Party of Young Vietnam. Between 1946 and 1952 many French troops had been killed, wounded, or captured. The Viet Minh were now able to move in close to the French troops defending Dien Bien Phu. ", However, American historian Derek Frisby criticized Westmoreland's view, which he said reflected a failure in understanding Giáp's core philosophy of "revolutionary war". Giáp adopted the alias Duong Huai-nan, learned to speak and write Chinese, and studied the strategy and tactics of the Chinese Communist Party. In June 1973, the U.S. Congress passed the Case–Church Amendment, which prohibited any further U.S. military involvement, and the PAVN supply routes could operate normally without any fear of U.S. bombing. Giáp was also a journalist, an interior minister in President Hồ Chí Minh's Việt Minh government, the military commander of the Viet Minh, the commander of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), and a defense minister. Giáp was a crucial military commander in two wars: the First Indochina War of 1946–1954, and the Vietnam War of 1955–1975, participating in several historically significant battles: Cao Bằng in 1950, Hòa Bình in 1951–1952, Điện Biên Phủ in 1954, the Tết Offensive in 1968, the Easter Offensive in 1972, and the final Ho Chi Minh Campaign of 1975. Their casualties totaled over 2,200 killed, 5,600 wounded, and 11,721 taken prisoner. Võ Nguyên Giáp was born on 25 August 1911 (or 1912 according to some sources) in Quảng Bình Province, French Indochina. His works include Big Victory, Great Task; People's Army, People's War; Ðiện Biên Phủ; and We Will Win. This conduct caused serious concern in the upper ranks of the Party as it was contrary to the very strict and abstemious moral code by which all members were expected to abide. recruits from France itself) was forbidden by French governments to prevent the war from becoming even more unpopular at home. He obviously did not mind this. This and similar small groups in the mountains were the basis of the Viet Minh, the armed wing of the Vietnam Independence League. After the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the French authorities outlawed the Indochinese Communist Party. On 13 March 1954, Giap launched his offensive. Another suggestion was that conventional air raids would be enough to scatter Giáp's troops. With Ho Chi Minh, Giap marched his forces into Hanoi in August 1945, and in September Ho announced the independence of Vietnam, with Giap in command of all police and internal security forces and commander in chief of the armed forces. This involved collectivisation of agriculture and central management of all economic production. Giap was the author of People’s War, People’s Army (1961), a manual of guerrilla warfare based on his own experience. He formed a new government, with Giáp as Minister of the Interior. Between May and August 1945, the United States, keen to support anti-Japanese forces in mainland Asia, actively supplied and trained Giáp and the Viet Minh. Võ Nguyên Giáp first saw real fighting at Nha Trang, when he traveled to south-central Vietnam in January–February 1946, to convey the determination of leaders in Hanoi to resist the French. Clearly, the advantage had been given to Hanoi. A few weeks later, Giáp was wounded in the leg when his group attacked another outpost at Dong Mu.. This was apparent with the previously planned negotiations over the future of Indochina, which had just begun. , In September 1940, Vichy France agreed to the Japanese occupation of Vietnam, to 'protect' Indochina. Giáp's role in the 1975 victory is largely ignored by official Vietnamese accounts.. 299.  This process did not go smoothly and it led to food shortages and revolts. Soon after the fall of Saigon, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established. Her sister was guillotined and Giáp's daughter died in prison of unknown causes. His precocious intelligence meant that he was soon transferred to the district school and in 1924, at the age of thirteen, he left home to attend the Quốc Học (also known in English as the "National Academy"), a French-run lycée in Huế. Giáp wrote extensively on military theory and strategy. A descriptive look at the history of armed conflict and warfare throughout history. Both the U.S. and North Vietnam then agreed to sign the Paris Peace Accords that had been proposed in October. General Vo Nguyen Giap (2nd, R) and other commanding officers discuss Dien Bien Phu plans in 1954. From a cave complex near Tuan Giao, (50 km NE DBP,) General Giap conducted a series of meetings with Ho Chi Minh and his staff. They offered to help set up a national government and promised that they would eventually grant Vietnam its independence. Now such a disregard for human life may make a formidable adversary, but it does not make a military genius. The Party Plenum in 1957 ordered changes to the structure of these units and Giáp was put in charge of implementing these and building their strength to form a solid basis for an insurrection in the South. An American commander losing men like that would hardly have lasted more than a few weeks.  This school had been founded by a Catholic official named Ngo Dinh Kha, and his son, Ngô Đình Diệm also attended it. Two French lieutenants were killed and the Vietnamese soldiers in the outposts surrendered. It is January 24, 1954, as you assume the role of General Vo Nguyen Giap, commander of the military forces of the Viet Minh, the Vietnamese communist independence movement led by Ho Chi Minh that seeks to overthrow French colonial rule. He reported this. General Giap sollte gerade zu diesem Zeitpunkt eine Großoffensive – die Tet-Offensive – starten. In 1954, the Viet Minh army, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, moved against Dien Bien Phu and in March encircled it with 40,000 Communist troops and heavy artillery. Defying standard military practice, he had his twenty-four 105mm howitzers placed on the forward slopes of the hills around Dien Bien Phu, in deep, mostly hand-dug emplacements protecting them from French aircraft and counter-battery fire. Diem later went on to become President of South Vietnam (1955–63). University of North Carolina Press 2012, This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 07:02. From 1933 to 1938, Giáp studied at the Indochinese University in Hanoi where he earned a bachelor's degree in law with a major in political economy. As well as teaching in school, Giáp was busy producing and writing articles for Tiếng Dân (Voice of the People) founded by Huỳnh Thúc Kháng and many other revolutionary newspapers, while actively participating in various revolutionary movements. Dien Bien Phu was a serious defeat for the French and was the decisive battle of the Indochina war. France was attempting to build up her economy after the devastation of the Second World War.  Nevertheless, he played a pivotal role in the second transformation of the PAVN into "one of the largest, most formidable" mechanised and combined-arms fighting force capable of delivering a knockout blow to an increasingly more powerful rival Army of the Republic of Vietnam in conventional warfare.. Seeing an opportunity at Dien Bien Phu, Giap moved approximately 50,000 men into the hills around the French position, as well as the bulk of his heavy artillery and anti-aircraft guns. When Navarre realized that he was trapped, he appealed for help. He would later earn the moniker "Red Napoleon" from some Western sources.. The United States was approached and some advisers suggested the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the Viet Minh, but this was never seriously considered. Complete with detailed accounts, maps, and photos, Giap's memoirs depicts concretely how a small and weak nation can overcome a stronger force. After France’s humiliating defeat and occupation by Germany in the summer of 1940, the French had no options but … Corrections?  He finally retired from his post at the Defense Ministry in 1981 and retired from the Politburo in 1982. General Vo Nguyen Giap and the sealed order on the Dien Bien Phu general offensive campaign. Named the Tran Hung Dao Platoon after the great Vietnamese hero, it was armed with two revolvers, seventeen rifles, one light machine gun, and fourteen breech-loading flintlocks dating from the Russo-Japanese War. At age 14, Giáp became a messenger for the Haiphong Power Company. He also founded the French-language paper Le Travail (on which Phạm Văn Đồng also worked). Many thousands were executed. With anti-aircraft guns supplied by the Soviet Union, Giáp was able to severely restrict the ability of the French to supply their garrison, forcing them to drop supplies inaccurately from high altitude.  By October French forces had begun to arrive in Vietnam, and the British handed control of the south back to them and in May 1946, an agreement between the French and the Chinese saw the Chinese withdraw from the north and the French move in there as well. Gen. Giap’s strategic rethink-decisive factor to Dien Bien Phu victory Vietnam News Agency ... Tieu su Vo Nguyen Giap | General Vo Nguyen Giap - Duration: 12:26. She was working as a professor of history and social science at this time. On 9 March the Japanese removed the titular French regime and placed the emperor Bảo Đại at the head of a puppet state, the Empire of Vietnam. The standard view of this period is that after Ho Chi Minh's death in September 1969, Giáp lost a power struggle in 1972 shortly after the failed Easter Offensive where he was blamed by the Politburo for the offensive's failure. La signification de la victoire de Dien Bien Phu et des succès de la Campagne d'hiver-printemps 1953-1954 (pp141-183). At the 10th Plenum of the Communist Party, 27–29 October 1956, Giáp stood in front of the assembled delegates and said: Cadres, in carrying out their antifeudal task, created contradictions in the tasks of land reform and the Revolution, in some areas treating them as if they were separate activities.  Giáp's father and mother, Võ Quang Nghiêm and Nguyễn Thị Kiên, worked the land, rented some to neighbours, and lived a relatively comfortable lifestyle. They were also aware of the difficulties of mounting an attack in that area. Dien Bien Phu. He subsequently led the military forces of the north to eventual victory in the Vietnam War, compelling the Americans to leave the country in 1973 and bringing about the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. This reputation was acquired at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 when Vietnamese forces overwhelmed the French, and later when he conducted the war against the US. This battle, of which the Viet-minh was victorious, marked the end of the Indochina War (1946-1954), but also that of French hegemony in this region. Giáp's victory over the French was an important inspiration to anti-colonial campaigners around the world, particularly in French colonies, and most particularly in North Africa, not least because many of the troops fighting on the French side in Indochina were from North Africa. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica.