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Viet Minh

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Viet Minh
Formation19 May 1941 (1941-05-19)
FounderIndochinese Communist Party
DissolvedMarch 1951 (1951-03) (merged into the Lien Viet at end of World War II, which was itself absorbed into the Lao Dong in 1951.)
Ho Chi Minh
Military leader
Võ Nguyên Giáp
PublicationCứu Quốc (National Salvation)

The Việt Minh (Vietnamese: [vîət mīŋ̟] ; abbreviated from Việt Nam Độc lập Đồng minh,[1] chữ Hán: 越南獨立同盟; French: Ligue pour l'indépendance du Viêt Nam, lit.'League for the Independence of Vietnam') was a national independence coalition formed at Pác Bó by Hồ Chí Minh on 19 May 1941. Also known as the Việt Minh Front, it was created by the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) as a national united front to achieve the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.[2][3]

The Việt Nam Độc lập Vận động Đồng minh Hội was previously formed by Hồ Học Lãm in Nanjing, China, at some point between August 1935 and early 1936, when Vietnamese nationalist parties formed an anti-imperialist united front. This organization soon lapsed into inactivity, only to be taken over by Hồ Chí Minh and the ICP in 1941.[4] They presented the organization as inclusive of political groups, with a founding charter more nationalist than communist. It exhorted "soldiers, workers, peasants, intellectuals, civil servants, merchants, young men and women" to overthrow "French jackals" and "Japanese fascists", while the group’s first chairman was a non-communist.[5] In all, the Việt Minh established itself as the only organized anti-French and anti-Japanese resistance group.[6] The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. The United States supported France. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China. After World War II, the Việt Minh opposed the re-occupation of Vietnam by France, resulting in the Indochina War, and later opposed South Vietnam and the United States in the Vietnam War.

The political leader of Việt Minh was Hồ Chí Minh. The military leadership was under the command of Võ Nguyên Giáp. Other founders were Lê Duẩn and Phạm Văn Đồng.

The Việt Nam Độc lập Đồng minh is not to be confused with the Việt Nam Cách mệnh Đồng minh Hội (League for the Vietnamese Revolution, abbreviated as Việt Cách) which was founded by Nguyễn Hải Thần. Việt Cách later joined the Vietnamese National Coalition in 1946.

World War II[edit]

Viet Minh troops on September 2, 1945

During World War II, Japan occupied French Indochina. As well as fighting the French in the battles of Khai Phat and Na Ngan, the Việt Minh started a campaign against the Japanese. For instance, a raid at Tam Dao internment camp in Tonkin on July 19, 1945 saw 500 Viet Minh kill fifty Japanese soldiers and officials, freeing French civilian captives and escorting them to the Chinese border. The Viet Minh also fought the Japanese 21st Division in Thai Nguyen, and regularly raided rice storehouses to alleviate the ongoing famine. [7]

OSS officer Archimedes Patti standing with General Võ Nguyên Giáp at a parade held in honour of the American’s contributions to the Viet Minh, 1945

As of the end of 1944, the Việt Minh claimed a membership of 500,000, of which 200,000 were in Tonkin, 150,000 in Annam, and 150,000 in Cochinchina.[8][9] After the Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, the Viet Minh and ICP prolifically expanded their activities. They formed national salvation associations (cuu quoc hoi) that, in Quang Ngai province alone, enlisted 100,000 peasants by mid-1945. This was backed by the Vanguard Youth (Thanh Nien Tien Phong) in Cochinchina, which expanded to 200,000 by early summer. In the northern provinces of Việt Bắc, their armed forces seized control, after which they distributed lands to the poor, abolished the corvee, established quoc ngu classes, local village militias, and declared universal suffrage and democratic freedoms. [10]

Due to their opposition to the Japanese, the Việt Minh received funding from the United States, the Soviet Union and the Republic of China.[11] After the August Revolution’s takeover of nationalist organizations and Emperor Bảo Đại's abdication to the Việt Minh, Hồ Chí Minh declared Vietnam's independence by proclaiming the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on 2 September 1945.[12][A]

First Indochina War[edit]

Ho Chi Minh declaring independence at Ba Dinh Square on September 2, 1945

Within days, the Chinese Kuomintang (Nationalist) Army arrived in Vietnam to supervise the repatriation of the Imperial Japanese 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".

The Việt Minh, who were short on modern military knowledge, created a military school in Quảng Ngãi Province in June 1946. More than 400 Vietnamese were trained by Japanese defectors in this school. These soldiers were considered to be students of the Japanese. Later, some of them fought as generals against the United States in the Vietnam War or, to the Vietnamese; "the American War". French General Jean Étienne 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 Vietnam was linked together as a 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 and the end of the Viet Minh[edit]

Following their defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien 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 could take place in 1956. Transfer of civil administration of North Vietnam to the Viet Minh was given on 11 October 1954. Ho Chi Minh was appointed Prime Minister of North Vietnam, which would be run as a socialist state. Ngo Dinh Diem, who was previously appointed Prime Minister of South Vietnam by Emperor Bao Dại, eventually assumed control of South Vietnam.

Viet Minh troops on parade in Hanoi

The Geneva Accords promised elections in 1956 to determine a national government for a united Vietnam. Neither the United States government nor Ngô Đình Diệm's State of Vietnam signed anything at the 1954 Geneva Conference. With respect to the question of reunification, the non-communist Vietnamese delegation objected strenuously to any division of Vietnam, but lost out when the French accepted the proposal of Việt Minh delegate Phạm Văn Đồng,[13] who proposed that Vietnam eventually be united by elections under the supervision of "local commissions".[14] The United States countered with what became known as the "American Plan", with the support of South Vietnam and the United Kingdom.[15] It provided for unification elections under the supervision of the United Nations, but was rejected by the Soviet delegation.[15] From his home in France, Vietnamese Emperor Bảo Đại appointed Ngô Đình Diệm as Prime Minister of South Vietnam. With United States support in rigging the referendum of 1955 using secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funding,[16] Diệm removed the Emperor and declared himself the president of the Republic of Vietnam.

The United States believed Ho Chi Minh would win the nationwide election proposed at the Geneva Accords. In a secret memorandum, Director of CIA Allen Dulles acknowledged that "The evidence [shows] that a majority of the people of Vietnam supported the Viet Minh rebels."[17] Diem refused to hold the elections by citing that the South had not signed and were not bound to the Geneva Accords and that it was impossible to hold free elections in the communist North.[18] Vietnam wide elections never happened and Việt Minh cadres in South Vietnam launched an insurgency against the government. North Vietnam also occupied portions of Laos to assist in supplying the insurgents known as the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) in South Vietnam. The war gradually escalated into the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the "Vietnam War" in the West and the "American War" in Vietnam.[19]

Khmer Việt Minh[edit]

The Khmer Việt Minh were the 3,000 to 5,000 Cambodian communist cadres, left-wing members of the Khmer Issarak movement regrouped in the United Issarak Front after 1950, most of whom lived in exile in North Vietnam after the 1954 Geneva Conference. Khmer Issarak and United Issarak Front were under leadership of Son Ngoc Minh, Tou Samouth, Sieu Heng, etc. 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.[20] Sihanouk's public criticism and mockery of the Khmer Issarak had the damaging effect of increasing the power of the hardline, anti-Vietnamese, but also anti-monarchist, members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), led by Pol Pot.[21]

The Khmer Issarak and United Issarak Front 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 Việt Minh had married Vietnamese women during their long exile in Vietnam.[22]

Laotian Việt Minh[edit]

Lao Issara (Free Laos) was a political & military organization of Laotian communists, led by Phetsarath, Souphanouvong, Kaysone Phomvihane, Phoumi Vongvichit. Lao Issara received training and support from Việt Minh. Under French intervention, Lao Issara was split into non-communists and communists. Laotian non-communists under leadership of Pretsarath later established the Kingdom of Laos which was part of the French Union.

However Laotian communists rejected the French offer and fought side by side with Vietnamese communists during the First Indochina War. In 1950 Lao Issara was renamed to Pathet Lao (Laos Nation) under leadership of Souphanouvong, Kaysone Phomvihane, Phoumi Vongvichit, etc.

See also[edit]


A.^ While the Viet Minh was absorbed into "Lien Viet" at the end of World War II, which itself was absorbed in the "Lao Dong (Communist Party of Vietnam)",[23] many sources refer to the military movement of the Vietnamese Communist Party as the "Viet Minh" till the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam after the defeat of the French.


  1. ^ Phạm Hồng Tung: Tìm hiểu thêm về Mặt trận Việt Minh. Tạp chí Nghiên cứu Lịch sử, số 2 năm 2000.
  2. ^ PV (17 November 2011). "Mặt trận Tổ quốc Việt Nam: Chặng đường 80 năm vẻ vang". Dân trí.
  3. ^ Thương Huyền (19 May 2021). "Mặt trận Việt Minh – biểu tượng của khối đại đoàn kết toàn dân tộc". Báo Điện tử Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam.
  4. ^ Nguyen, Sai D. "The National Flag of Viet Nam" (PDF). Vpac-usa.org. pp. 212–213. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2005. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  5. ^ "The Viet Minh". Alpha History. 2019.
  6. ^ Hunt, Michael H. (26 June 2015). The world transformed: 1945 to the present. Oxford University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780199371020. OCLC 907585907.
  7. ^ Hanyok, Robert (1995). "Guerillas in the Mist: COMINT and the Formation and Evolution of the Viet Minh 1941–45". (p. 107)
  8. ^ The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 1, p. 45.
  9. ^ United States. Department of Defense (1971). United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: Study. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. B4. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  10. ^ Cima, R.J (1987). Vietnam: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. p. 49.
  11. ^ Schmermund, E. (2017). Minority Soldiers Fighting in the Vietnam War. Fighting for Their Country: Minorities at War. Cavendish Square Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-5026-2666-0. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  12. ^ Lawrence, Mark A. (2008). The Vietnam War: A Concise International History. Oxford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-19-971812-2. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  13. ^ The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 134.
  14. ^ The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 119.
  15. ^ a b The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 140.
  16. ^ Annie Jacobsen, "Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins," (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2019), p. 110
  17. ^ Annie Jacobsen, "Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins," (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2019), p. 109
  18. ^ Keylor, William. "The 20th Century World and Beyond: An International History Since 1900," p. 371, Oxford University Press: 2011.
  19. ^ "BBC News". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Library of Congress / Federal Research Division / Country Studies / Area Handbook Series / Cambodia / Appendix B". Lcweb2.loc.gov. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  21. ^ Ben Kiernan. How Pol Pot came to power, Yale University Press, 2004, p. 227
  22. ^ Margaret Slocomb, The People's Republic of Kampuchea, 1979–1989: The revolution after Pol Pot ISBN 978-974-9575-34-5
  23. ^ "Viet Min". Encyclopedia Britannica. 11 February 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2024.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tran Ngoc Hung (1954). "The Role of the Indo-Chinese Communist Party in the Evolution of the Viet-Minh: 1945 to 1951". The Australian Quarterly. 26 (3): 87–98. doi:10.2307/20633465. JSTOR 20633465.

External links[edit]