What Happened to Dien Bien Phu? The Legendary Vietnamese War of Independence
The discovery of new lands in the Asian continent as early as the 15th century by the Europeans led to trading relationships with the various newly discovered lands of Asia. The trading relationship slowly turned into colonization by the early 18th century, especially in Southeast Asia, which was ruled by various European powers like the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
These various powers had many colonies all over southeast Asia and they ruled over them till the late 20th century when various of their southeast colonies started their protest against them for independence. So this is also the case for the Vietnam war for independence that began from 1946 onwards.
The Vietnam war that started with the declaration of independence in 1945 and ended with the defeat of French rule over them with the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 which is also regarded as the first Indo-China war. So the Vietnamese war of independence gained its victory against the French with the Dien Bien Phu Vietnam war. But what was the battle all about? What happened to Dien Bien Phu?
What was Dien Bien Phu?
This battle was the last Vietnam war that defeated the French power in its long run of independence war from 1946. The war was regarded as the first Indo-China war and the battle was months of war between the French troops and the Ho Chi Minh lead Viet Minh Communist troops.
Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the Communist Party and the greatest nationalist of Vietnam and was the first person to declare the independence of Vietnam from any power in 1945. He was the force that ignited the strong nationalism among the Vietnamese and brought them together to fight against the outside rule which ultimately led to victory.
Each of the parties had their backup powers in the war namely the United States being the supporter of the French and the Viet Minh being supported by China and the Soviet Union.
The battle took place for months from March to May 7th, 1954 when it ended with the surrender of the French troops and victory for the Vietnamese troops. The French troops under General Henri Navarre got the mountain valley, Dien Bien Phu, as their new base for their next battle against the Viet Minh. And this is where the name for the battle came, marking the defeat of French power.
What exactly happened that led to the defeat of the super French power? Let’s know.
What Happened to Dien Bien Phu?
Now the main question is how did the French power get defeated in the battle of Dien Bien Phu even when it had another big power, America, supporting them? Let’s look into how the battle ended in favor of the Viet Minh.
Though the French were maintaining its colonies in Indo-China the superpower was having a hard time with the ending of the Second World War back in its nation and the French were not fully supportive of the Viet Minh war. The support for the battle came from the US financially and militarily but Vietnam had its own other powers supporting them like China and Russia, the other two big powers.
So here the French chose the Dien Bien Phu as their new base because of the presence of airstrips on the mountain valley as the French were vulnerable without the airway supply to everything from food to weapons from the US. The advantage for the Viet Minh was that it had neighboring China supporting them with weapons and other supplies and the main thing is the unity of the Vietnamese that helped them gain victory in the war.
During the battle, Viet Minh General Vo Nguyen Giap was the main mastermind for leading his troops to victory. Giap and his troop’s tactics in the hidden underground tunnels were one of the main reasons for their winning. They created many underground tunnels hiding their weapons and surrounding the French garrison ultimately leading them to surrender.
The Giap troops first attacked and bombarded the French air supply base, and the airstrips, and closed them, so no aircraft could land, which led the French army to lose their supply chains of food and weapons. And then the French garrison was ultimately surrounded by the Viet Minh troops, which led to the French troops surrendering and accepting their defeat on 7th May 1954.
What Happened After the Battle of Dien Bien Phu?
After the battle, both parties had many casualties and the French prisoners of the war were marched in long captivity during which many died on their way to the prison. The French then withdrew from the land declaring their defeat and leaving Vietnam free of any colonial power. But the battle divided Vietnam into two nations namely the Communist North and the US-supported South with Saigon as its capital, though the partition was temporary, the parts never got unified into one. This then led to another long war with the US which we called the second Indo-China war that ended in 1975 unifying both the parts and creating one whole Vietnam.