Archives par mot-clé : Américains

Viêtnam – La « sale guerre » un film de Christel Fromm [Arte]

[ndlr] Thema spécial Viêt-Nam sur la chaîne Arte, mardi 14 avril 2015 : Viêtnam – La « sale guerre » un film de Christel Fromm (90 mn). Rediffusion lundi 04 mai à 8h50.

 

De la guerre d’Indochine menée et perdue par les Français à la chute de Saigon fin avril 1975, des vétérans américains, des combattants vietnamiens, des journalistes et des militants pacifistes retracent la guerre du Viêtnam. Ces témoignages émouvants alternent avec des images d’archives, des documents laissés par des soldats disparus et des extraits d’actualités de l’époque.

Vietnam_LaSaleGuerre_ArteCliquez sur l’image pour accéder au site

Le cliché de cette petite Vietnamienne nue, fuyant un village en feu suite à un bombardement au napalm en 1972, a fait le tour du monde. Il est depuis resté gravé dans les mémoires. Mais comment en est-on arrivé à une telle horreur ? De la guerre d’Indochine menée et perdue par les Français à la chute de Saigon fin avril 1975, des vétérans américains, des combattants vietnamiens, des représentants des médias et des militants pacifistes retracent le conflit. Ces témoignages émouvants alternent avec des images d’archives inédites, des documents laissés par des soldats disparus et des extraits d’émissions d’actualités de l’époque. À travers cette matière passionnante, le film évoque aussi bien l’esprit de résistance des Vietnamiens que leur combat fratricide, né de la partition de leur pays. Viêtnam – La « sale guerre » explore les facettes les plus sombres de ce conflit aberrant et sans front : le mensonge des Américains pour justifier leur intervention militaire, le recours aux armes chimiques et l’ensemble des atrocités commises. Sans occulter pour autant l’envie tenace des deux camps de retrouver la paix et la liberté.

Notre avis : De nombreuses approximations historiques et quelques anachronismes sur le contexte vietnamien jalonnent le début et la fin du reportage (par exemple les images de la chute de Saigon sont présentées avant celles du départ des Américains de l’ambassade). Le film est intéressant pour mesurer l’ampleur du mouvement anti-guerre (aux États-Unis et en Europe) et le conditionnement des soldats américains formés pour tuer. S’appuyant sur des images crues, il revient avec réalisme sur les atrocités de la guerre, la violence aveugle contre les hommes, la guerre chimique et la résistance opiniâtre du Front National de Libération du Sud Viêt-Nam. Le rôle du photojournalisme est bien souligné dans la condamnation de la guerre et l’émergence d’une opinion publique mondiale. Les vétérans américains racontent leur expérience du conflit, leurs crimes envers les civils vietnamiens avant de revenir dans leur pays, indifférent à leur traumatisme. Cependant, le film reflète surtout une vision occidentale (et allemande) du conflit, celle de la « génération Viêt-Nam » et ne s’attarde pas suffisamment sur la dimension vietnamienne et fratricide de la guerre (discours des parties concernées, stratégie et objectifs) empêchant de comprendre pourquoi la guerre fut si longue et si meurtrière entre le Nord et le Sud.

FG

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Lady Borton: A September 1945 Message – Võ Nguyên Giáp to the American Mission

[ndlr] Rédigé à l’occasion du 102e anniversaire du général Vo Nguyen Giap au mois d’août dernier, Lady Borton nous fait part d’une petite carte de visite intrigante trouvée dans les archives américaines. Publié avec l’aimable autorisation de Lady Borton. Texte et photos de Lady Borton.

* * *

A September 1945 Message:

Võ Nguyên Giáp to the American Mission

by Lady Borton

Imagine my surprise.

I was in the US National Archives, examining a file about the “Deer Team,” which the OSS (predecessor to the CIA) dropped by parachute into Việt Nam at the end of World War II.

Here’s my rule for archives: Look at everything. You never know what you’ll find that you didn’t know you were looking for.

There, loose between two typed pages, was a yellowed business card, with “VO NGUYEN GIAP” in bold, his role in italics, and “Home minister” hand-written below. Võ Nguyên Giáp’s signature is on the back of the card along with an official stamp in the required red. The card had been attached to an English version of “Lời kêu gội quốc dân” by Hồ Chí Minh, with the handwritten notation “5 Sept. 45 via Mons. [Monsieur] Buu.”

Surely this was precious.

01_VoNguyenGiap_1945_NARA

02_VoNguyenGiap_1945_NARA

I noticed the name “M Buu” and thought: This must be Tạ Quang Bửu, one of the most brilliant Vietnamese mathematicians and physicists of the twentieth century. He graduated from the Sorbonne and spent time at Oxford before returning to Việt Nam. Most interesting to me, though, was the irony: Less than a decade after Võ Nguyên Giáp sent President Hồ’s “Appeal” and his business card to the American mission, Tạ Quang Bửu, as deputy minister of defense, was signatory to the 1954 Geneva Agreements for “the Commander-in-Chief of the People’s Army of Viet-Nam,” who was, of course, Võ Nguyên Giáp.

Yet how could I be sure that the “Mr. Buu” on the business card was Tạ Quang Bửu?

Back in Hà Nội, I asked General Giáp’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law. At age twenty, General Phạm Hồng Cư had been a guard for Hồ Chí Minh’s reading of Việt Nam’s Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945. For many years, Hồng Cư was one of Võ Nguyên Giáp’s personal assistants and amanuenses. Đặng Thị Hạnh, sister to General Giáp’s wife, is a retired professor of French literature.

I enlarged the digital image of the business card.

“Oh!! Very interesting!!” they said.

“I recognize the signature,” I said, “but is the message in General Giáp’s handwriting?”

“Yes,” they said.

“The English is so good! Could someone have written that message for Võ Nguyên Giáp to copy?”

“No,” Mme. Hạnh said. “He was very good at writing English! Besides, in those days, no one wrote anything for him.”

“Might ‘Mr. Buu’ be Tạ Quang Bửu?”

“Definitely!” Hồng Cư said.

“How do you know?” I wasn’t being arrogant. We are both researchers and are always trying to verify details.

“Tạ Quang Bửu and I worked together for years,” General Hồng Cư said. “His widow lives next door!” Hồng Cư touched the top right corner of the image. “That handwriting in black ink isn’t Võ Nguyên Giáp’s. That’s Tạ Quang Bửu’s.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Where is ‘L’ancien Hôtel de la Residence Supérieure’?”

“I’ll explain,” Hồng Cư said. “The initials at the bottom of the card stand for ‘Provisional People’s Government of Việt Nam.’ In 1945, the Japanese and then the French occupied the Presidential Palace. Our Provisional Government was in what is now the Government Guest House across from the Metropole Hotel.”

“And the recipient at ‘the American military mission’?” I asked. Even though I’d found the business card in a report by Deer Team leader Al Thomas, I knew his unit could not have been the recipient. The Deer Team did not arrive in Hà Nội until 9 September.

“The recipient was Archimedes Patti, head of the OSS mission in Hà Nội,” Hồng Cư said. “He wrote in Why Vietnam? about Tạ Quang Bửu.”

Later, Hồng Cư found Archimedes Patti’s quote: “A visitor was waiting for me at the villa, a M. Buu, possibly in his late twenties, a distinguished-looking Vietnamese. I thought I had seen him before but was not sure. As Bernique and I shook hands with him, he introduced himself as ‘from the Home Office,’ and his perfect English and unmistakable Oxford accent startled and intrigued me. He handed me a handwritten note from Giap scrawled on both sides of his [Giáp’s] personal calling card: the Home minister sent his compliments, and so on. M. Buu was his personal deputy. He [Giáp] would be grateful to the American mission to facilitate his work, and so forth.”

From the US Archives records, we now know that the business card was attached to the official Việt Minh English version of President Hồ’s “Lời kêu gọi quốc dân” (Appeal to Citizens) published in Cứu Quốc (National Salvation) newspaper on 5 September 1945:

Fellow Countrymen!

The Vietnamese people heartily welcome the allied forces which are entering our territory in order to disarm the Japanese.

However, we are determined to oppose the moving in of the French elements, because their dark aim is to reestablish the French rule over our Fatherland.

 

Fellow Countrymen!

At the present moment a few Frenchmen have managed to filter into our territory. The Government expects every man to prepare himself to fight for our liberty and independence.

President Ho Chi Minh

03_HoChi MinhAppealinEnglish_05Sept1945

The business card presents us with Võ Nguyên Giáp’s haunting sentence: “We should be very grateful to the American mission to facilitate his [‘Mr. Bửu’s’] work until establishment of official relations.”

I keep thinking: What would Võ Nguyên Giáp, Tạ Quang Bửu, Phạm Hồng Cư, and so many others have created with their brilliance if colonialism had not siphoned off their talents into thirty years of war?

I expect they would each have been a thày (a master teacher). At the time of their youth, this was the most esteemed profession in Việt Nam, a country heavily influenced by Confucianism’s emphasis on scholarship.

While Tạ Quang Bửu was a pre-teen, he was famous at Quốc Học (National School) for his scientific discoveries. Who knows what he might have discovered or invented during thirty years if there had been no war? While still a young man, Võ Nguyên Giáp wrote a carefully researched, insightful book on political economy. Today, he has a well-earned reputation as a historian.

General Giáp has long since been acknowledged as the victorious general in the French War and the American War. He is also recognized as one of the greatest generals of the twentieth century and in history. But the sobering truth accompanying his fame is the generations of young people lost on all sides and the lost years-of-youth for the survivors from all sides.

For me, those losses crystalize in General Giáp’s wistful comment, “If war hadn’t intervened, I would have been a teacher.”

Martin Clemis. Review of Li, Xiaobing, Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans

LiXiaobing_VoicesOfTheVietnamWarXiaobing Li. Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010. 296 pp. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-2592-3.

Reviewed by Martin Clemis (Temple University)
Published on H-War (May, 2013)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

Building on Christian Appy’s capacious work Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides (2004), Xiaobing Li’s Voices from the Vietnam War includes twenty-two oral histories that broaden our understanding of the complex and multifaceted nature of the war in Vietnam by focusing on the diverse experiences of individuals who lived it. Remembrances include a South Vietnamese naval lieutenant who conducted electronic surveillance and reconnaissance along the rivers and tributaries around Saigon; a young Soviet soldier from the Ukraine who worked as an instructor at a SAM-missile training center in North Vietnam; a People’s Liberation Army (China) officer in charge of a railroad engineering battalion stationed near Hanoi; and an American flight nurse who left the Air National Guard for the army after she was told that the US Air Force would not send female flight nurses to “in-country” billets in Vietnam. This eclectic mix of actors and circumstances is what gives this book its strength by underscoring both the diversity of individual experiences and the international dimension of the Second Indochina War. Additional recollections from a Russian KGB agent who worked in the embassy in Hanoi, a South Korean doctor who served in the Army of the Republic of Korea’s Ninth Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H), and a noncommissioned US Air Force officer whose squadron was stationed in Thailand also emphasize the multiplicity of experiences and situate the conflict within a wider context–one that illustrates the truly global reach of the war in Southeast Asia.

The one glaring omission in this area is the lack of testimony from Australian veterans. Much like the experiences of soldiers from South Korea, China, and the Soviet Union, the wartime contribution of troops sent from the commonwealth is grossly lacking within the scholarship. Given this fact, an entry from the Australian point of view would have been a welcomed addition. This sin of omission aside, Li provides a nice balance to the nations that sent their young men and women to take part in the conflict in Southeast Asia.

Voices from the Vietnam War is broken down into five thematic sections. Part 1 examines the war from a Vietnamese perspective with recollections provided by veterans from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) more commonly known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA); part 2 includes oral histories from Chinese and Soviet military personnel who served in support units in North Vietnam; part 3 examines the experiences of American soldiers and US Marines both in and out of combat; part 4 includes recollections from doctors and nurses who served in the South Vietnamese, American, and South Korean militaries; and part 5 looks at logistic support from both sides of the conflict. These occupational perspectives provide a number of familiar and unfamiliar historical tropes. Some, such as cross-cultural estrangement between Americans and the Vietnamese, the suddenness and profound sense of loss from combat death, or feelings of powerlessness and awe in the face of aerial bombardment and the overwhelming application of American airpower, may seem familiar to students of the war. Others, including discord and strained relations between northern NVA soldiers and their southern brethren serving in local guerrilla forces in South Vietnam, or the immense struggle of those who fled Southeast Asia after the fall of Saigon, may not. Also, Li’s inclusion of stories that show the more mundane aspects of the war in Vietnam, including administration, logistics, supply, and training, underscores the fact that most individuals sent to Vietnam did not serve in combat arms or see action. In that sense, this book complements Meredith Lair’s recent work on American GI consumer culture in Vietnam, Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War (2011). Like Lair, Li shows an often unseen side of the war, one that serves as a useful corrective to false assumptions concerning the nature of the war in Vietnam, particularly the belief that combat was the dominant experience of Vietnam War veterans.

Like other oral histories, Voices from the Vietnam War helps “humanize” the conflict in Vietnam by bringing to life the men and women who fought and supplied this immense international conflict. Personal anecdotes, such as the comfort given to one homesick Chinese soldier by the familiar landscape and geography of North Vietnam, or the pain and rejection felt by in-country American marines who received “Dear John” letters from estranged wives, girlfriends, and lovers back home, helps illustrate that the men and women who fought and served in Vietnam were flesh-and-blood human beings–a fact that is often lost within the scholarship despite its obviousness.

The single weakness of this work is one that plagues most oral histories regardless of subject matter: a loss of overall perspective and meaning due to an intense focus on the singular “lived” experience. Micro-histories that examine the minutia of historical experience from the perspective of the individual often lose sight of the bigger picture or the overall context that frames and gives meaning to human thought, feeling, and action. This was evident in the fact that a number of these oral histories were adequately descriptive of events but lacking in personal analysis and reflection on larger issues pertaining to the war. Although Li’s brief introduction at the beginning of each entry helps frame each experience within a situational context that provides greater understanding of a particular circumstance, readers come away wanting more discussion on exactly how some of these individuals viewed themselves and their actions within the political, military, social, and cultural mosaic of the Second Indochina War. That being said, Voices from the Vietnam War is an excellent addition to the historiography and an important work that helps internationalize and personalize the war in Vietnam.

Martin Clemins.

Citation: Martin Clemis. Review of Li, Xiaobing, Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans. H-War, H-Net Reviews. May, 2013.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=36397

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Henry A. Prunier, 91, U.S. Soldier Who Trained Vietnamese Troops, Dies –

[ndlr] Article du New York Times rapportant la nouvelle du décès de Henry A. Prunier (1921-2013), membre de l’Office of Strategic Services (OSS), l’agence de renseignements des Etats-Unis pendant la Seconde guerre mondiale qui aida et entraîna les premières troupes du Viêt Minh en 1945. L’article de Douglas Martin révèle quelques détails intéressants sur le général Vo Nguyen Giap et la personnalité de l’Oncle Ho. Il souligne le rôle décisif des Américains malgré une courte présence…

Members of the O.S.S. Deer Team with Viet Minh leaders, including Ho Chi Minh, (standing third from left) during training in 1945. Henry Prunier is fourth from right.
Members of the O.S.S. Deer Team with Viet Minh leaders, including Ho Chi Minh, (standing third from left) during training in 1945. Henry Prunier is fourth from right.

Henry A. Prunier taught Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese general who withstood the armies of France and the United States, how to throw a grenade.

The lesson came in July 1945, after Mr. Prunier and six other Americans had parachuted into a village 75 miles northwest of Hanoi on a clandestine mission to teach an elite force of 200 Viet Minh guerrillas how to use modern American weapons at their jungle camp.

The Americans, members of the Office of Strategic Services, the United States’ intelligence agency in World War II, wanted the guerrillas’ help in fighting the Japanese, who were occupying Indochina. The Viet Minh welcomed the American arms in their struggle for Vietnamese independence.

Lire la suite : The New York Times, 17/04/2013.

Pour en savoir plus sur le rôle de l’OSS auprès du Viêt-Minh, voir :

 

Củ Chi Christmas day [1969]

(NY38 – Dec.24) SANTA — A WORLD AWAY – Mixed expressions, from doubt (top left) to tears (bottom right) crossed the faces of younsters at Vien Rosa Orphanage at Cu Chi, 20 miles northwest of Saigon as they got their first view of a red-suited figure more familiar to western eyes. But they soon warmed up to Santa, portrayed by [Pfc.] Raymond Crombie of Quincy, Mass., as he passed our presents in the orphanage courtyard. Crombie is from a unit stationed nearby, which makes the orphanages’s 130 youngsters their special project. (AP Wirephoto). Godfrey, 1969.

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