The French Indo-Chinese War was fought in Southeast Asia from 1946
through 1954 between the nation of France and the resistance movement led by Ho Chi Minh, called the Vietminh.
The Viet Minh, seasoned by combat against occupying Japanese soldiers during the Second World War launched a rebellion against the French authority governing the colony of Indochina.
After seven years of bloody conflict, the French made their last stand at Dien bien Phu, where they were engaged by the forces
of Genera Vo Ngyuen Giap. But contemporary military tactics were unable to defeat successive human wave attacks and the
subsequent siege of the base; the French were defeated with devastating losses. The war in Indochina was not very popular
with the French public, but the political stagnation of the Fourth Republic resulted in ongoing prosecution of the war. The
United States supported the war politically and financially.
After the war, the Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954 made a provisional division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel,
with the north being given to the Viet Minh under Ho Chi Minh and the south becoming the Republic of Vietnam under
President Ngo Dinh Diem.
A weak state often overshadowed by neighboring China, Vietnam had been absorbed into the colony of French Indochina in
1887. With Western influence and education, Vietnamese nationalism grew until World War II provided a break in French
Meanwhile, in 1941 Ho Chi Minh, a trained communist revolutionary, returned to Vietnam and formed the Viet Nam Doc Lap
Dong Minh Hoi or Viet Minh. Ho Chi Minh was a founding member of the French Communist Party in the 1920s in Paris.
He spent many years in Moscow and participated in the Internationa Comintem. At the direction of Moscow, he combined the various
Vietnamese communist groups into the Indochinese Communist Party in Hong Kong in 1930. Ho Chi Minh created the Viet
Minh as an umbrella organization for all the nationalist resistance movements, de-emphasizing his communist social revolution
After WWII, the United States and the USSR entered into the Cold War where both sides were determined to expand their influence
over the globe. The Korean War broke out between the North Koreans supported by China and the USSR, and the ROK supported
by the US and allied nations. Initially the conflict was limited to North Korean, ROK, and US military forces. However, when
General Douglas MacArthur penetrated deep into North Korea, the Chinese flooded the country with an enormous army. The Korean
War would have deep implications for the American involvement in Vietnam.
The prisoners taken at Dien Bien Phu were the greatest number the Viet Minh had ever captured: one-third of the total captured
during the entire war. The victory by the Viet Minh led to the 1954 Geneva accords.