How old is the Vietnamese culture

History of Vietnam

The French crown colony

As early as the end of the 18th century, the French had great influence on the Vietnamese Empire. The Nguyen dynasty only came to power through the active support of the Europeans. In the middle of the 19th century the French tried to put more and more pressure on the empire.

The poor sections of the population riot against French missionaries. France then conquered Vietnamese territory step by step, until finally in 1883 the whole country was under their colonial rule.

The Europeans set up a functioning colonial administration in order to exploit the land for their own purposes. The railway network, roads and the ports of Saigon and Haiphong are being expanded. The main export items are rice, rubber and coal.

No consideration is given to the needs of the Vietnamese: Of the 45,000 Vietnamese workers who work on the Michelin rubber plantations between 1917 and 1944, 12,000 die of diseases and malnutrition.

At the turn of the century, the first resistance to the colonial power formed. During the world economic crisis (1927-1931) the protests grew, but they still remained uncoordinated. In 1930 an uprising was bloodily suppressed.

Only Ho Chi Minh, founder and leader of the Communist Party of Indochina, succeeded in building a basis for the fight against the occupiers with the "Vietminh" movement founded in 1941.

The fight against the colonial powers

During the Second World War, the French had to allow Japanese troops to be stationed, the right to march through and the use of airports. Little by little, Japan also brought the most important military bases under its control, but did not affect the functioning colonial administration. In fact, the country is now ruled by a colonial dual leadership. In this five-year phase, two million people die of hunger.

Ho Chi Minh, who returned to Vietnam in 1941, organized the uprising against the occupiers by uniting over 40 smaller resistance groups to form the "Vietminh" organization. After Japan surrendered, he proclaimed independence in Hanoi on September 2, 1945 and became the first President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). But the French are renewing their colonial claims.

The Indochina War, which broke out in 1946, dragged on with no results for a long time. From 1950 onwards, the poorly equipped Vietnamese received military support from China, while the French received aid from the USA. In the battle for the French jungle fortress Dien Bien Phu, the Vietnamese achieved the decisive victory in 1954. France has to give up its colonial dreams in Indochina.

The division of the country

After the defeat of France, Vietnam is divided by the Geneva Agreement along the 17th parallel: In Saigon, the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, who is patronized by the USA, rules the Republic of South Vietnam. In the north, the communists of Ho Chi Minh remain in power. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese are moving to the other part of the country. While chaos and anarchy reign in the south, unrest broke out in the north following a brutally implemented land reform.

The "National Liberation Front (Viet Cong)" founded in South Vietnam in 1960, whose acceptance by the discontented population is growing rapidly, is supported by the north. In 1963 the increasingly dictatorial Diem was killed in a military coup supported by the American secret service CIA. As a result, various military juntas take turns in power.

The war against the USA

After growing tensions between the north and the south, the United States took a bogus incident in the Gulf of Tonking in 1964 as an opportunity to bomb North Vietnam. The Vietnam War has started. The background to the American engagement is the so-called "domino theory", according to which a victory for the communists in Vietnam would result in upheavals in the entire region. At the height of the conflict (1968) around 550,000 US soldiers were stationed in Vietnam.

The war is being waged with the utmost brutality. The number of bombs dropped on Vietnam by the Americans far exceeds the total bomb load of World War II. Despite their technological superiority, the US military cannot break the stubborn resistance of the Vietnamese. This experience as well as the pressure of the international protest movement and the growing anti-war sentiment in their own country lead to the withdrawal of all US troops after the Paris Armistice Agreement of 1973.

After the conquest of Saigon by North Vietnamese units, South Vietnam, which was left to its own devices, surrendered in 1975 and the following year was united with the north to form the "Socialist Republic of Vietnam". The price for victory is high: Millions of dead, injured and orphans, poisoned forests, destroyed cities and industrial plants are a burden on the dawn of independence.

Independence and reunification

After 30 years of civil war and war against the French, Japanese and Americans, the country finally gained independence in 1976. But the decades-long division into different economic and social systems makes a new beginning difficult. After military conflicts with Cambodia (1979-1989) and China (1979), the country is also isolated internationally.

The first economic policy measures of the communist government drove hundreds of thousands to flee. They mainly try to get abroad via the South China Sea. Tens of thousands of these so-called boat people are killed.

In view of the dire situation, those in power were forced to undertake extensive reforms in the mid-1980s. The country is going through a similar economic reform process as China. The fate of the state is still controlled by the communist party, but the economy is reorganized according to market principles.

Despite good growth rates, there are still numerous structural problems in industrial production as well as in the financial and banking sectors. And the infrastructure is still suffering from the war damage.