Milestone Documents in World History
British Indian troops arrived in Saigon on September 12,three days after Lu Han’s first men marched into Hanoi.Domestically, Vietnamese political groups of various ori-entations were harboring hopes of filling the power vacu-um. Only the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP), howev-er, was able to fully exploit the limited time frame of aboutthree weeks between the Japanese surrender in mid-Augustand the arrival of the British and Chinese troops in early September. Drawing on the lessons of more than fifteen years of anticolonial mobilization, it had begun its prepara-tions immediately after the Japanese coup of March 9.Indeed, the ICP was the most well-prepared and decisive of all Vietnamese political forces and the only one capable of operating countrywide. As early as May 1941, on Ho ChiMinh’s advice, the party had set up a broad Communist-ledfront, the Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh (Vietnam Inde-pendence League, or Vietminh). It was to be useful as acover to project the image of a unity government and tointegrate non-Communist groups and individuals, whereasits branch committees and mass organizations throughout Vietnam would mobilize the population and garner publicsupport. The ICP had also created the National Salvation Army and the Armed Propaganda Brigade, which merged inMay 1945 into the Vietnamese Liberation Army. Althoughat this stage it was merely a fledgling guerrilla force of notmore than several hundred men, it had cultivated contactswith the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS; the fore-runner of the Central Intelligence Agency), the British, andto some extent the French. In particular, its friendly andopenly visible relations with U.S. representatives were aninvaluable asset in convincing the Vietnamese populationand rival political organizations that the Vietminh had theblessing of the Truman administration. As the opportune moment arrived with the impending Japanese surrender, Ho Chi Minh gave the final call for ageneral insurrection on August 13, 1945. The rapid mobi-lization of the Vietminh’s military, paramilitary, and popularforces allowed it to take control of cities, towns, and vil-lages throughout the country within twelve days. Amongmajor cities, Hanoi was secured on August 19, Hue on August 23, and Saigon on August 25; cities in the southwere taken over in coalition with other political forces. Atlast the Vietminh pressured Emperor Bao Dai to abdicate,which he did on August 30, thus irrevocably sealing thefate of the Vietnamese monarchy. Also in late August andinto September, the Vietminh began to abduct thousandsof people perceived as obstacles to the revolution or as trai-tors, many of whom were never to return. Tens of thou-sands more were neutralized by being placed under arrest.It was in this rapidly evolving international and domes-tic context that preparations for the independence declara-tion were made. In the evening of August 25, Ho Chi Minhwas secretly ushered into Hanoi. His presence and identity were kept secret to all but a trusted few, for reasons of safe-ty, security, and surprise. On August 27, in consultationwith cabinet members, he decided to command country-wide preparations for Independence Day, to be held onSeptember 2. With the main event to be held in Hanoi, for-
Completing apiecemealprocess of con-quest begun in1859, the Frenchset up theIndochineseUnion, includingthe states of Tonkin, Annam,and Cochinchi-na as well asCambodia andLaos.
The IndochineseCommunistParty sets upthe Vietminhand the NationalSalvation Army,precursor to theVietnamese Lib-eration Army.
A Japanesecoup overthrowsthe JeanDecoux admin-istration inFrench Indochi-na and incapac-itates its militaryforces.
After the Japanese-backed governmentdissolves, theVietminh seizecontrol of major cities in the AugustRevolution, andEmperor Bao Dai isforced to abdicate.
In Hanoi, Ho ChiMinh delivers theDeclaration of Independence of the DemocraticRepublic of Vietnam.
The ICP officiallyself-dissolves,although itcontinues to existunderground.