04.jpg

Historical Dictionary

tags

BAZIN, MARCEL MARSHAL (1903–1950)

One of the most redoubtable French police officers in Saigon during the Indochina War. A career colonial administrator in French Indochina, he joined the police force there in 1928, holding provincial posts mainly in southern Vietnam. He rose to the rank of police commissioner in 1937. His role in tracking nationalists made him a well-known figure in Vietnamese circles, as did his methods. On 4 April 1937, Ung Van Khiem published a stinging indictment of Bazin and his violent methods in La Lutte and Le Travail. Bazin continued to work for Vichy in Cochinchina during World War II, becoming Chef de police spéciale de l’Est (PSE) during this time. In early 1945, as the Japanese prepared to overthrow the French, Bazin informed Tran Van Giau of his desire to forget the past and to join together secretly with the Vietnamese communists to oppose the Japanese. Bazin personally put the same offer to Huynh Van Nghe. Southern communists apparently refused, although Truong Chinh was meeting at the same time with Gaullistes in the north to explore similar collaboration with the French. In any case, following the Japanese coup de force of 9 March 1945, the Japanese incarcerated Bazin. Upon his release by the Allies, he remained in Indochina and worked in the French security forces, the Sûreté fédérale, in southern Vietnam. In 1949, he took over the direction of the Sûreté for southern Vietnam. He launched a massive and often effective campaign against Viet Minh urban commandos in Saigon, causing General Nguyen Binh and the Indochinese Communist Party serious setbacks. Bazin also resumed his use of harsh methods on Vietnamese prisoners. All of this explains why the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) condemned him to death and authorized a Vietnamese assassination squad to kill him. DRV agents shot Bazin dead as he was walking to work in 1950. See also NGUYEN VAN TAM; PUBLIC SECURITY SERVICES.