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Historical Dictionary

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CURRENCY, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM

The Vietnamese currency, the dong, was first introduced at the outset of the Indochina War by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). From September 1945, DRV leaders printed the name of the government over colonial Vichy bills. They also began printing Cu Ho or “venerable Ho Chi Minh” bills on a printing press purchased from the French owner of the Imprimerie Taupin. The DRV government printed its own money throughout the war. Despite high levels of inflation and its vulnerability to stronger currencies, the existence of an independent currency was considered to be vital to the national legitimacy of the DRV in its fight against the French. During the war, the French attacked the DRV economy by producing and introducing false dong in a bid to aggravate inflation in the DRV zones and thereby undermine its attractiveness and legitimacy. Because of the chronic weakness of the dong, the DRV authorities also carefully controlled and used the French piastre indochinoise to conduct their exchanges. See also CURRENCY, FRENCH INDOCHINA; ECONOMY OF WAR; FINANCIAL COST OF WAR.