Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Viet Minh

Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) front organization. The Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (Viet Minh, or Vietnam Independence League) was founded by Ho Chi Minh at the Eighth Plenum of the ICP in May 1941 as a means of mobilizing the Vietnamese population into a National United Front in order to defeat both the French and Japanese. As such, the Viet Minh served a tactical rather than a strategic purpose, for the ICP's ultimate objective remained the creation of a communist-dominated government in Vietnam. Consequently, during World War II, less stress was placed on class struggle, while more emphasis was placed on working with all elements of Vietnamese society, including those normally branded as class enemies.

The leaders of the Viet Minh placed particular effort on forming and training armed guerrilla detachments. When the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the Viet Minh was the best prepared of all resistance groups to seize power. As a result, it was at the forefront of the August Revolution that followed. On 2 September 1945 in Hanoi, Ho declared Vietnam's independence and an end to the Nguyen dynasty. Soon thereafter, the dissolution of the ICP was officially announced, which ostensibly left the Viet Minh as the sole party apparatus.

The Viet Minh led the resistance effort following the outbreak of the Indochina War in late 1946. To rebuild the strength of the National United Front, since the broad mass of the Vietnamese population had come to identify it with the communist leadership, the Viet Minh was merged into the newly created Hoi Lien Hiep Quoc Dan Viet Nam (Lien Viet Front, or League for the National Union of Vietnam) in early 1951. The basic tactical elements of the front did not change, however, as the redesignation was made chiefly to accommodate communist revolutionary theory, which dictated that such a step was required when the historical situation was radically altered. The Lien Viet Front would also be reconstituted following the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords, when it would be replaced by the Fatherland Front.

Concurrent with the creation of the Lien Viet Front, the ICP was publicly resurrected with a new name, Dang Lao Dong Viet Nam (Vietnamese Worker's Party), in order to recognize the growing Chinese communist influence on domestic policy and to reinforce the critical importance of gaining the support of the general Vietnamese population. These changes and the reasons for them notwithstanding, popular and historical accounts of the Indochina War have usually referred to the Vietnamese resistance forces throughout as the Viet Minh.

George M. Brooke III


Further Reading
Huynh Kim Khánh. Vietnamese Communism, 1925–1945. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982.; Pike, Douglas. A History of Vietnamese Communism, 1925–1978. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1978.
 

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