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Vietnam, First Indochina War, 1945–1954

Daniel Hémery


In the summer of 1945, the world emerged exhausted from World War II. Nevertheless, violence continued almost without interruption in Southeast Asia and Indochina for the next three decades, with only two brief intermissions, between 1954–61 and 1975–8. In September 1945, the Vietnamese communists prepared a military showdown with colonial France, leaving no possibility for a negotiated compromise. From the outset the likelihood of confrontation was clear, since the French were determined to apply the Indochinese Federation project developed by Admiral d'Argenlieu, the high commissioner, with the support of successive French governments in 1945–6. Begun in September 1945 in Cochinchina, the spread of the conflict was deferred for over a year owing to the relative weakness of each adversary and the necessity for the Vietnamese as well as the French to remove Chiang Kai-shek and his armies, which had been occupying the north of Indochina since September 1945, by means of negotiation. After more than 15 months of negotiation to December 1946 between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), the French, and the Chinese, the Chinese finally ceded in February-March 1946 when General Leclerc's troops landed at Haiphong. The French troops settled in Hanoi in an uneasy coexistence with the government of the DRV, its self-defense militias (Tu ve) , and the emergent People's Liberation Army ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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