[ndlr] Parution en ligne d’une étude de George J. Veith et Merle Pribbenow sur la reprise de la guerre après les Accords de Paris de 1973.
Edited and Annotated by George J. Veith
Translations by Merle L. Pribbenow
In support of the Cold War International History Project’s efforts to facilitate the release of historical materials from governments on all sides of the Cold War, we have compiled 80 primary source documents dealing with North Vietnam’s decision-making from the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 until the end of the war, April 1975. The documents are appended to this Working Paper and accessible on DigitalArchive.org.
Much of this declassified information formed the basis for the book, Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-1975. This array of cables, memoranda, and directives provides a fascinating glimpse inside Hanoi’s choice in 1973 to return to war—despite having just signed the Paris Peace Accords. The files deliver insights into how the Politburo of the Vietnamese Workers’ Party, and its major command in the southern half of South Vietnam known as COSVN, viewed the situation after the accords. These documents clarify, to some extent, Hanoi’s decision to resume armed conflict in the south. They further outline Hanoi’s preparations in 1974 for launching a new offensive and the goals the Politburo wished to achieve, as well as the detailed military planning aimed at defeating South Vietnam. In the 1975 time-frame, the documents provide unique insights into how Hanoi’s military commanders managed the campaign that led to the rapid collapse of South Vietnam.
While this collection is voluminous, the author of and translator for this Working Paper did not include every document released by the editors of the volumes cited in the bibliography. We reviewed each document in various Vietnamese Communist publications, but only chose to translate those directly related to the fall of South Vietnam or those which provided information of broader and significant historical interest. Thus, many documents from the volumes of the Van Kien Dang series (a massive collection of nearly 40,000 pages of mostly internal Vietnamese Communist Party documents) were not translated and included in this Working Paper simply because they dealt with mundane party or economic affairs.
Although this set of documents cannot be considered definitive, it does provide one of the most detailed views of Vietnamese Communist decision-making ever unveiled for a specific period. However, the materials included in this study are almost exclusively documentary, as we chose not to incorporate information from the numerous memoirs, battle studies, or unit histories. We did, though, feature some secondary materials from the 1973 time-frame solely to help illuminate the thin documentary record on the Politburo’s decision to resume armed conflict in the South. While these other sources do generally agree on the Politburo’s review and approval process to resume the war, we suspect that the decision was not as smooth or unanimous as the Party portrays, especially after achieving a spectacular military victory in 1975.
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George J. Veith is the author of three books on the Vietnam War, including Code Name Bright Light: The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts during the Vietnam War (1998) and Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-1975 (2013).
Merle Pribbenow is a former CIA officer who served in Vietnam from April 1970 to April 1975, and is the translator of Volume 2 of the history of the People’s Army of Vietnam, which was published by the University of Kansas Press as Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People’s Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975 (2002).