Vietnam War Dictionary

Viet Minh

Flag of the Viet Minh
Shortened version of Viet-Nam Doc-Lap Dong-Minh Hoi (Vietnamese Revolutionary Independence League).

Founded in May 1941 by Ho Chi Minh, the Viet Minh brought together communist and nationalist groups to fight against the Japanese WWII occupation and to end French colonialism. Though controlled by the Communist party, the Viet Minh portrayed itself as patriotic, anti-foreign movement. Membership was open to anyone willing to join in the struggle for national liberation and the Communist leadership was played down.

The French attempted to take the nationalist issue away from the Viet Minh in 1949 by establishing the Associated State of Vietnam with former emperor Bao Dai as chief of state. However, after France refused to relinquish control of the armed forces and of foreign affairs, Vietnamese nationalists were unconvinced and saw the Bao Dai government as a puppet regime.

The Viet Minh's military force, the Vietnamese People's Army (VPA), was commanded by Vo Nguyen Giap throughout the 7-1/2 year struggle with the French. Credited with masterminding the Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, Giap went on to lead Hanoi's military campaign throughout the Vietnam War.

Though all VPA forces in the South had be transferred to the North under the terms of the Geneva Accords, the Viet Minh's political apparatus and organizational framework were inherited by the Viet Cong.

Note: The Elysee Agreement was signed by Bao Dai in March 1949 but was not ratified by the French Assembly until January 1950. Under it's terms the French reunified Cochin-China with Tonkin and Annam and established Vietnam as an independent Associated State within the French Union. However, France retained control of the Vietnamese Armed Forces and Vietnam's foreign relations.


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