The tradition of resistance in Vietnamese culture

SR 2050
Beep tone
Roll 50 of Vietnam Project, 7860.
Interview with General Van Tien Dung
392, Take 1
Could you talk about your early experiences? What led you to join the Resistance? And describe some of your experiences like your escape from prison in 1941?
Van Tien Dung:
I must first remind you that we have a long history of resilient and glorious struggles against foreign invasions. We have had many heroes and heroines whose lives and deeds have provided excellent examples for their children to follow. These are people like the two Trung sisters, Ngo Quyen, Ly Thuong Kiet, Tran Quoc Tuan, Le Loi, Nguyen Trai and Quang Trung.
When I was born, my country had already been colonized by the French for more than half a century. During this period, our people continually rose up and struggled strongly against French colonialism. There were anti-colonial struggle movements led by Truong Dinh, Phan Dinh Phung, Phan Boi Chau and Hoang Hoa Tham. But the most significant event marking the turning point in our history was the birth of the Indochinese Communist Party, which is now the Vietnam Communist Party.
This Party was created, trained and led by Comrade Nguyen Ai Quoc. The most profound symbol for me is Chairman Ho Chi Minh, the gifted leader of the Vietnamese people and the Vietnamese working class. I became a young man right at the time when the revolutionary movement, led by the Indochinese Communist Party, had just weathered the all out repression of 1931-1932 and was moving forward with renewed vigor.
During the 1936-1939 period, the Communist Party was able to make millions of people become politically conscious and was able to organize them to demand freedom, democracy, better living conditions, peace and protective measures against the impending international crisis which the German, Italian and Japanese fascists were cooking up. As a worker in Hanoi, I participated during the height of the struggles of this revolutionary movement.
393, Take 1
Interview with General Van Tien Dung.
Van Tien Dung:
The Vietnamese military line is derived from the political line of the Vietnamese Communist Party. This is both a success in the application of the Marxist Leninist ideology to the concrete situation in Vietnam and a further development of the combat experiences of the Vietnamese people in the past. In past centuries, the Vietnamese had often been confronted by enemies who were much bigger and stronger than they were.
In order to win the war and protect their own country, the Vietnamese people had no other choice than to mobilize the whole country against the invaders. We had to mobilize the energy of the entire people just as the saying goes, "When the invaders come, even women have to fight." Everybody became a soldier when the country had to be defended. This is the national experience and the unique element in the People's War of Vietnam.
This is a war of the people and for the people, led by the working class, in order to gain independence and freedom and to build socialism. The People's War of Vietnam includes military, political and diplomatic struggles. The means for carrying out this war are the People's Army of Vietnam and the various regional armed forces, the various popular armed forces. Therefore, it is necessary to combine and coordinate the regular armed units with the regional and local armed forces.
394, Take 1
Van Tien Dung:
The method of carrying out a People's War is to fight the enemy militarily, politically, and sometimes diplomatically. The means for carrying out the People's War are the regular forces, the regional armed forces, and the local popular armed forces. The method for carrying out this war is to combine the activities of the regular units with local guerrilla activities.
The People's War in Vietnam requires a complete understanding of strategic offensives and leadership techniques in order to create the necessary composite strength, allowing us to defeat a larger force with a smaller force. The point is to limit the strength of the enemy and develop your own strength in the meantime so as to be able to achieve victory in any situation.

The General Offensive of 1975

395, Take 1
Van Tien Dung:
In order to answer the question on the decision to mount the General Offensive and Uprising which led to the victory of spring 1975, I think it is necessary for me to mention a meeting of our Politburo first. In October 1974 the members of the Politburo and the various comrades in command of the Army were briefed on the plan to achieve strategic victories in 1975. During this meeting Comrade Le Duan, the Secretary General of the Party, offered an important opinion which became a resolution.
The opinion was that imperial America had already withdrawn from the southern part of Vietnam, and hence it would be very difficult for it to come back again. And, therefore, no matter how much aid the United States was going to give to the Saigon regime, it was impossible to forestall the collapse of that regime. After that, in December 1974, there was another meeting of the Politburo.
And the concrete plans for 1975 and 1976 for the complete liberation of the South were then decided on. There was a contingency plan which stated that if the opportunity permitted either at the beginning or at the end of 1975, the liberation of the South should take place at once in that year. Therefore, the plans for the General Offensive and Uprisings which led to the victory in 1975 were decided on in these historical meetings.
Van Tien Dung:
The General Offensive and Uprisings of 1975 was the highest point in the struggle against the United States. There were three main strategic blows during the General Offensive, and the most important and historic of these was the Ho Chi Minh Campaign. It was this campaign that brought about total victory. The Central Highland Campaign was the first of these strategic blows, or strategic offensives if you prefer.
The most important battle of the Central Highland Campaign was the battle for Ban Me Thuot. After wiping out the enemy forces in Ban Me Thuot and the reinforcements by the Thieu Army, the People's Army moved on to liberate the Central Highland, block and destroy the enemy forces which were in retreat and advance to the coastal areas, that is, to Tuy Hoa, Nha Trang and Cam Ranh.
This first campaign upset the strategic defense of the enemy forces and, in effect, created a strategic partition of the battlefront in the South into two halves. The second military campaign was the campaign to destroy the enemy in Hue and Da Nang, which was their I Corps area. The coordination of the Central Highland Campaign and the preparations to destroy the enemy forces in the I Corps area were all parts of the same overall plan. This was because, in order to begin the liberation of the South, we had to attack the II Corps area first.
This was the area where the enemy least expected an offensive because he thought that the Vietnamese People's Army still did not have the capability to attack and occupy large towns and cities. The liberation of the II Corps and I Corps areas created the necessary conditions for the final campaign to liberate Saigon and Gia Dinh. These are the three strategic blows.
Side by side with these three campaigns, all the local armed forces acted in coordination with the regular units but by attacking from the liberated areas as well as from within the areas controlled by the enemy. Hence, it can be stated that during the spring of 1975 there were military activities throughout the southern battlefront by regular army units, regional and local units, popular armed forces and uprisings on the part of the population in order to take over administrative power and to cause the enemy armed forces and administrative powers to collapse and disintegrate.
SR 2051
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Van Tien Dung:
The victory in Ban Me Thuot and the liberation of the entire Central Highland area proved to us that the plan by the Party was correct and opened to us the opportunity to liberate the whole of South Vietnam in 1975. After the destruction of the enemy I Corps in Hue and Da Nang, it became even clearer that the conditions were available for the liberation of Saigon and Gia Dinh.
Therefore, while I was up in the Central Highlands I was ordered by the Politburo, which had a meeting on March 25 after it had reviewed the battlefield situation and world situations relating to the liberation effort in the South, to liberate Saigon before the rainy season. And you must certainly know that the rainy season is usually from May to the end of September. All of us were very happy and were full of confidence when we received the order, realizing that it was completely within our ability and capability to liberate Saigon and the entire southern Vietnam in a relatively short period.

The siege of Saigon

398, Take 1
Van Tien Dung:
Let me give you a little more detail on the decision to liberate Saigon and Gia Dinh. This decision was based on an extended period of careful and scientific research which led to the detailed plan for the liberation of the last stronghold of the Saigon regime. All the military strength of the People's Army and of the various popular armed forces as well as political strength were concentrated on this final battle.
The decision made was drawn on this map at the Command Headquarters on April 22nd, 1975. The signatures affixed on this decision that were of General Van Tien Dung, Commander of the Campaign, or my signature, and of Comrade Pham Hung, Secretary of the Central Office (COSVN) and Political Commander of the high command of the campaign. According to this decision, we were to employ more than five army corps to attack the city and destroy the enemy.
The most important here was how to prevent the enemy forces to pull back into the city and organize a defense there. Because if they were able to do so then there would be a big battle over the city, creating terrible physical destruction and terrible loss to the city inhabitants as a result. Therefore, the outstanding thing about this campaign was to attack the enemy with the kind of speed and power that were beyond their ability to imagine.
To this end, we had our I Corps moving down from the northern direction. This is the corps which had come from the northern part of the country and which had liberated the Central Highlands. From the northwest was the III Corps. This corps had also participated in the liberation of the Central Highlands. The various divisions which had taken part in the liberation of the Central Highlands merged into this corps and advanced toward Saigon and Gia Dinh to help liberate them. From the southwest we had the divisions of the Mekong Delta and the forces of these divisions were comparable to those of an army corps.
Its number was 232. From the east there were two army corps: The IV Corps, which was the corps that had been placed in the South and around the city of Saigon, and the II Corps, which was the corps that destroyed the enemy forces in flue and Da Nang and moved straight down along the coastal area. These two corps coordinated their advance toward Saigon from the east. Besides these army corps, there were the forces of the independent regiments and commando regiments from the south, from the Mekong delta.
The commando units had already entered the city and took over all the bridges leading to the city. And, I want to let you know that in order to prevent the enemy forces in the outer defense parameters from retreating into the city, we had to use a significant portion of our strength to destroy their various defense anchors. This meant that we employed the 25th division northwest of the city, the 5th division in the north, the 18th division in the east and in this southern region here. These forces were supposed to destroy and surround the enemy forces so as to make it impossible for them to retreat into the city.
Meanwhile, our main columns moved directly into the city. Therefore, there was no enemy unit which was able to get back into the city to organize any kind of defense. From the perspective of the enemy, they had thought that in order to get to Saigon you had to be able to cut through their defense parameters composed of many army divisions and many armored brigades.
But our tactic was to block them from getting back into the city and destroy some of their forces there while moving our main forces directly into the city to attack five main targets. These targets were the High Command Headquarters of the puppet army, the Tan Son Nhut Airport, the Headquarters of the National Police, and the Independence Palace. With the capture of these five targets, the city of Saigon was considered in our hands.
Van Tien Dung:
The advance on Saigon began the evening of April 25th. By noon of April 30th, the whole city was liberated. Although by 10 a.m. of the same day Duong Van Minh had asked for a ceasefire, all our armed units had been ordered to carry the fighting until final victory. Therefore, at 12 o'clock the tanks of the People's Army and the Liberation Army entered the Independence Palace. The Duong Van Minh Cabinet surrendered.
This was the final victory and the highest point of the struggle against imperial America by the Vietnamese people. From the national historical point of view, this was also the largest and unprecedented campaign. This was because the final battle against the French at Dien Bien Phu required only four divisions.
But this time around we had more than 5 army corps, not counting the tank forces, artillery forces and air force. Airplanes captured from the enemy were quickly employed in the attack on Tan Son Nhut Airport on April 28th. I have mentioned all these things in my book, Our Great Spring Victory, and am only repeating myself here for your sake.

The just outcome of revolution in Vietnam and beyond

Van Tien Dung:
The General Offensive and Uprisings of spring 1975 liberated all of the South and terminated our people's heroic struggle against the United States. This victory proves that when an oppressed people knows how to unite under the leadership of a true revolutionary party and knows how to fight and dares to fight, then they would certainly defeat the aggressors.
The Vietnamese victory also has certain international importance because it contributes its own experiences to national liberation efforts by peoples who are being enslaved and oppressed elsewhere in the world. At the same time, this victory provides an example for people who are fighting for their own national independence and freedom. The Spring Victory of 1975 opened up a new period for Vietnam and a new era for the world, an era which has been called "the Post Vietnam Era."
This is an era in which imperial America becomes weaker and revolutionary activities in the world become stronger and better. This is the reason why the hegemonistic elements within the Chinese leadership in Peking have colluded with the United States and other reactionary forces to oppose and create difficulties to the national revolutionary movements in the world, to oppose the Soviet Union and, particularly, to oppose Vietnam.
The Chinese hegemonists consider Vietnam as the biggest obstacle to their expansion to Southeast Asia. All the things that have occurred along our northern and southwestern borders during the last few years have clearly proved the scheming nature and the cruel activities of the reactionary clique in Peking.
But Vietnam will defeat all schemes to sabotage her and all efforts at invading her territories by the imperialists and the international reactionaries (codeword for the Peking leadership). Vietnam has received and will continue to receive strong support from progressive peoples around the world. This is because Vietnam is always on the side of people who love justice, on the side of oppressed peoples and on the side of progressive and peaceful forces. Finally, let me thank you for your interview of today. And through your television program, may I extend my greetings of solidarity and friendship to all your viewers.