Ngo Dinh Luyen:
My family, family education. It's a mixture. My family,
on the one hand, was attracted by the idea of social order, Confucianism
– we were Confucian. At the same time, we were Catholics because we were
drawn by this idea of justice, equality of everyone, if you like and it
seemed a pretty astonishing mixture, but in fact it seemed pretty
satisfactory to us, one counterbalancing the other. And it's in this
atmosphere that we were raised.
My older brother Khoi and his only son were buried alive
by the Communists in September, '45. Then my
brother, Thuc, who later
became bishop, archbishop, got the religious vocation very young. He
left his family at about eight years old, to enter the little seminary
and then he studied in Rome, etc. Good. He completely retreated from any
political idea, he wouldn't let himself think about it. It's too bad,
but that's the way it was. So he didn't play, participate in any role, if you like, right,
in Vietnamese politics in the years '54 to
'63 which absorbed the rest of the family.
My brother Diem, when he was very young, wanted to go into religion
also, but that didn't last too long because he felt in himself some
other thing, very strong, that prevented him from completely bending to
a discipline, to the religious discipline. Because he had another kind
of vocation, which was to secure his country. And it's pretty strong
because my brother had an extremely acute sense of duty in relation to
his country. But you know, the sense of duty is a little gratuitous. The
kind [incomprehensible] needs to hope in order to undertake, and succeed
in order to persevere, you see.
My brother was always someone extremely, how do I
say, fixé, determined on this path of service for the country. And the
fact that he had to leave not only the manderinship but all the
vousvouyains, if you like, to be able...to follow his vocation of saving
his country, meant that to come back to power, he stayed a kind of
functionary, a servant of the people outside of the administration, a
functionary placed in the administration and he had, and for him to
return to power was a long-awaited event, to finally be able to do
So it's that which explains why he who felt very
little, he lived the life of a hermit, but was nevertheless, how do I
say, very up to date, very open, exactly to what was going on, if you
like, in the hearts of the people. The reactions of the people, how they
could act to this, how they'll act to that, and I think that that was an
important factor which helped him a lot to be able to do what he did in
the small amount of time he had to devote to the service of the people.
My brother Nhu also started to enter the seminary and wanted to be a
priest. And he had...he fought extremely had to realize his vocation,
but his ecclesiastical superiors always refused. That was how he came
back into civilian life, if I can say, lay life. My brother Nhu was a very cultivated
man, very intellectual in that sense, analytical, very profound. But he
had, if you like, that kind of blasé feeling. Not cynicism, but a kind
of, how do I put it, coarse feeling. We came through a certain number of
things concerning people, and he was never astonished very much, he ever
became indignant when he saw weaknesses or errors in people. And it
served him badly. It wasn't good because he was less rigorous in the
choice of people, while not expecting very much from people.
My brother Can was a great original in the sense that
he always refused to study, which was really...it provoked indignation
in the family. Nobody understood. But finally you know the obsession
Vietnamese families have with education, instruction for their children.
In a family like ours, where precisely these feelings were far from
absent, well my brother Can, when [incomprehensible].
And so it's a fact also that as I'd lost my father at the age of
eight, he helped a little bit, if you like, and as an older brother, was
in the service of religious institutions. Really he had the reigns a
little loose. Good.
Well, he was extremely original in this way; he
developed a sort of instinct himself different from my brother Diem; but an instinct
equally that made him understand people well, which is very curious, and
certainly a heartbreak for him which is that he, who did so much for the
Buddhists, knowing that
there was there the possibility, a reservoir, that was susceptible,
given their beliefs and given their feelings of seeing their beliefs
threatened by the communists. So there was there a reservoir very likely
to form resistance.