SR 2066/1. Beep tone. Roll 66 of Vietnam Project, 29th of Feb., 1981. 500, Take 1.
Interview with Dr. Pham Thi Xuan Que continues.
SR 2066/2. Rolling. 500, Take 2. Clapstick.
Pham Thi Xuan Que:
On the morning of the first,
the city was completely quiet because the enemy was still unable to
react. The city inhabitants were somewhat surprised because they did not
expect the NLF forces to come
into the city that fast, that cleanly and that successfully. By noon
time and by the afternoon of the first the city inhabitants began to
show signs of happiness and joy because they realized that there was no
physical damage of any kind at all. There had been little gunfire.
So the inhabitants welcomed the Liberation forces and
brought out the rice cakes, the candied fruits and other things to feed
the soldiers. At the same time the NLF cadres announced that the puppet soldiers and the officials
in the Saigon
government should come out and surrender themselves. And the city
inhabitants helped the soldiers to dig trenches and tunnels to prepare
for counterattacks by the enemy.
But the city inhabitants were so overjoyed that
instead of digging the trenches and tunnels diligently, they were mostly
either going to see musical performances or to attend meetings. Also,
the inhabitants could not see any attempt by the enemy to mount any kind
of counterattacks at all. As far as I was concerned, I had been given
orders not to expose myself and so I kept quiet although I really wanted
to go out into the streets and celebrate with the people.
But I did walk into the streets to see how the people
were enjoying themselves and go to see some musical performances and to
attend those meetings where the clemency program of the NLF was announced. So this was
all that I did. I was just simply going around to see what the reactions
of the population were. The one thing which struck me most was that most
of the inhabitants commented that the NLF forces were very well behaved and that they were very
For example, they helped the households with chores
in the house such as carrying water. This kind of behavior, said the
inhabitants, was completely different than that of the puppet troops who
had been treating the population very roughly. The NLF soldiers were also very
polite, addressing the older women as “Mother” and the younger ones as
“Sister” and made everybody feel very close to them and at home with
Also, after the inhabitants welcomed the soldiers and
treated them with rice cakes, candied fruits and tea and after the NLF cadres called on the
population to dig trenches and shelters in and around their houses, it
was actually the NLF forces who
did most of the digging for them. This was because the city inhabitants
still did not know how to dig trenches and shelters and did not even
know how to handle hoes correctly.
It was not until the seventh day of the New Year that
the enemy began to mount a counterattack. Before that, most of the
soldiers and officials in the city had surrendered themselves. But it
was not until the tenth day that a strong counterattack was mounted.
That is to say, they began to bomb the city. They also shelled the city
from their war boats. It was not until then that the city inhabitants
began to get into their shelters. And they were very thankful to the
NLF soldiers for having dug
their shelters for them.
So it was only beginning on the tenth that there were
bombing and shelling. The city inhabitants were somewhat afraid of the
bombs and the shells. At that time I made the personal recommendation to
the NLF Command in the city
that they should take particular measures to protect a number of city
inhabitants such as the professors. At that time, at the medical school
my professors included Professors Krenit and Dicher [unidentifiable] who
were living on No. 2 Le Loi Avenue.
So the NLF
Command, upon my personal suggestion, invited all the professors to a
particular place where they could be protected. But after that, the
enemy dropped bombs which hit this place directly, killing all the
professors and the NLF guards
who were protecting them. There were also many other people killed
elsewhere because of the bombing. This situation continued until the
20th. The NLF soldiers and those who had been released from
prisons fought back with different waves of counterattacks. And a number
of puppet soldiers who had left for home on the eve of Tet and who,
after the liberation of the city, had pretended to be civilians and had
gone to see the various musical performances, were now, upon seeing the
counterattacks, picking up guns and fighting against the NLF forces.
So there was fighting within the city. As a result, the
city inhabitants were running short of food and water supply. By that
time, the revolutionary government in the city was very worried. At that
time this bridge, the Truong Tien bridge, had been bombed down. There
was too much bombing on the other side of the river. So the members of
the newly formed revolutionary administration moved their headquarters
over to this side. They were then living at the present library. Short
of firewood, the city inhabitants simply went to the library and took
out the books there to make fires to cook their rice with.
We intervened and told the inhabitants not to burn
the precious books. But they just went ahead. They also broke the chairs
up to use as firewood. So from the 20th to the 25th the situation had
deteriorated to such a degree that the NLF forces were preparing to withdraw from the city. The
young people who had participated in the activities during the
occupation of Hue
also had to leave
the city in stages with the revolutionary troops because if they had
stayed, they would have been massacred.
And that was precisely what happened. On the 25th and
26th (of the lunar
when the enemy came back into the city, they executed quite a number of
people. And after that, after all the Liberation forces had withdrawn completely from the city,
they had all those people who had gone out into the streets and
participated in the various activities as seen by the enemy secret
police and secret agents arrested.
The Liberation forces had captured a number of these secret agents,
but it could not arrest all of them. The reason is that they were
wearing civilian clothes and were also participating in the various
activities during the occupation of the city so there was no knowing who
they were. It was lucky that I did not expose myself so they could not
point me out. But they arrested the man in the No. 10 house, the man
whom I had visited frequently, because he did participate in the public
After that a number of merchants and other
inhabitants in this neighborhood who were elderly people and who had
families here so they did not want to go away with the revolutionary
forces. The central prison here was completely filled with people like
these. It was only three to five months later, when these people could
produce the necessary bribe money, that they would be released. These
people were not revolutionaries. They were simply city inhabitants who
happened to become supportive of the revolution during the occupation.
So when they could produce the required bribes, they were