1. The struggle against France, 1945-54

Key learning objective

  • Students should be able to explain post-War opposition to French Rule

Key processes to be learned and understood

  • The origins of the First Indochina War, especially the aims of the Vietminh
  • The tactics of General Giap
  • the search for a diplomatic solution
  • The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and its immediate consequences

Key events

  • 1862: Vietnam became part of the French Empire
  • 1890: Ho Chi Minh was born
  • 1930: Ho Chi Minh helped to form the Indo-Chinese Communist Party
  • 1941: Vietminh formed to counter Japanese invasion of Vietnam
  • 1945: Japan handed Vietnam to the Vietminh; Ho Chi Minh declared the
    Democratic Republic of Vietnam (September); French troops arrived back in Vietnam
  • 1946: war broke out between the French and the Vietminh
  • 1949: Communist China came into being allowing the Vietminh to train in
    China away from French attacks
  • 1950: Truman refused to recognise the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
    Communist China andUSSR did recognise Ho’s state
  • 1954: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu – Giap defeated the French force based there; a ceasefire was agreed at Geneva that split Vietnam at the 17th Parallel; France withdrew her military from Vietnam; US promises aid worth $100 million to the anti-communist Diem


  • Simkin, Vietnam, pp.

History channel documentary

Battle of Dien Bien Phu in context

US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles on the fall of Dien Bien Phu

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