Roll 69 of Vietnam Project, Feb 29, 1982, 512, Take 1.
Interview with Hoang Phu Ngoc Tuong, writer.
Hoang Phu Ngoc Tuong:
It was a gigantic victory of the people in Hue. But then the price for this victory was an unprecedented retaliation by the Americans and the puppet troops which followed. (You don’t have to...provide the translation right now?) And so the inhabitants of Hue had to pay the highest price of all the urban populations in our country. This was because nowhere else had the American suffered so much physical and political losses as in Hue.
The retaliation was extremely horrible. But in my opinion, the opinion of a person who had gone through the resistance period against the French and the period of war against the United States, the neocolonialists were more intelligent than the colonialists. Or in other words, I usually said that the colonialists were much more crude than the neocolonialists. And this was certainly true with the situation during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
This was because all the crimes committed by the United States were turned, as far as the outside world was concerned, into crimes committed by the revolutionaries against their own people. I am referring to the massacre which the United States used as a kind of special weapon at the negotiating table in Paris in order to smear the Vietnamese revolution. This was something I knew very well because I was a witness.
And I will tell you the whole thing in a very objective way. First, as far as the people who were killed were concerned, there were certainly people who had been killed by our troops because when we came to their house and asked them to surrender, they shot at our soldiers and wounded them. So these people had to be shot on the spot. Among these people was the deputy province chief who was living in Hue at the time.
He shot down at the soldiers from the second floor of his house and refused to surrender. But there were not many people in this category. In some other cases, some people were killed for having tortured the inhabitants and caused whole families to be imprisoned and exiled to the penal island. And so when the revolution came into the city, the inhabitants went around and searched for those despots to get rid of them just as they would get rid of poisonous snakes who, if allowed to remain alive, would cause further crimes in the war.
And so, even though our policies were only to re-educate and never to kill anyone who surrendered to us, when the city inhabitants took justice in their own hands there was little our revolutionary commanders could do to control the population during the period when the fighting was raging. But I must tell you that each of those despots had killed at least ten persons who were members of the other person’s family.
And so, for any person who had followed the war situation at all, this was indeed a very light revenge. And, in my opinion, you have similar things in every revolution. This is because this was a war in which there was an extreme imbalance in terms of material and military strength. Our population did not possess the kinds of weapons the US imperialists had, and so the way they carried out their justice was extremely light.
But the majority of the people who surrendered and detained by us were taken to the re-education camps in the jungle. Almost all of them were subsequently released. Only a few of those people got sick because they were not used to the climate in the jungle. But there was nothing to it. They were all returned to their families. But people did get killed.
The majority of these people who got killed and buried in this city and were subsequently exhumed by the Americans and the puppet government in order to make their films were, first of all, people who had been killed by the American bombing and strafing during the counterattacks. For example, the Americans dropped a bomb smack into a hospital in the Dong Ba neighborhood, killing and wounding over 200 persons.
I walked through the streets at night at that time and I thought I was walking in the mud. But when I turned on my flashlight, I saw blood all over the neighborhood. The whole neighborhood had been bombed down by the Americans. And so, during the last days when we were withdrawing from the city, the enemy collected these bodies of bombing victims and buried them. Secondly, there were many families whose members participated in the revolution.
There were many people who followed our forces into the jungle after the Tet offensive. And so when the enemy came into the city, they killed the members of these families and had them taken to the communal graves. Bodies of Liberation soldiers whom we did not have time to retrieve were also taken to the mass graves. In addition the young people and the prisoners of war who walked with us into the jungle were killed by the American planes along with our cadres.
During the period from 1975—1977 when we dug canals and irrigation ditches, we discovered that in the mass graves of the so-called massacre victims there were full of people who were wearing the lotus-shaped hats (Liberation forces) and wearing Liberation forces’ uniforms. This was indeed the devious trick of the neocolonialists. They killed two birds with one stone. First, they managed to hide their crimes.
And second, they heaped all their crimes on the heads of the revolutionary troops. This is something I witnessed. And an American historian who visited Hue after that said publicly that he thought that it was a big propaganda campaign by the Americans—a campaign of strategic proportion—which cost the Americans a lot of money and which was approved by Kissinger himself to smear the NLF on the Hue situation of Tet 1968.
Another thing I would like to emphasize is that the whole American propaganda machine in the world was utilized in this effort to turn white into black on the Tet incident in order to deceive the whole world. It is true that a number of the despots was killed by the angry population. But this number is small compared to the large number of people who survived the Tet incident and fled abroad and who are now slandering and organizing against the Vietnamese revolution. But you must understand that although we had support from all around the world, when we fought against our enemy it was only our people who were standing in front of the muzzles of the enemy’s guns and shedding our blood.
And during this struggle, we had to carry out justice against the arch-enemies of our people, those people whom the world had recognized as war criminals. The Bertrand Russell tribunal, for example, had to concede that if there had been a Nuremberg-type of tribunal then thousands of people whose lives were spared during the Tet Offensive would still have deserve to be hanged after the war was over.
But, as Bertrand Russell also stated, this justice would never be carried out. Therefore, an American soldier such at Lt. William Calley who killed many people in Son Mai is still not hanged.
And in order to diver people’s attention from this kind of crime, they faked the Tet massacre in order to do a smear job on the revolution. This proves that the United States never paid any attention to the question of honor of a big country fighting against a small country. The American administrations have lied about...
513, Take 1.