Historical Dictionary



All the belligerents carried out executions during the Indochina War. According to historian David Marr, several thousand enemies of the Viet Minh “failed to survive abductions” in the wake of the August insurrection of 1945. In southern Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) Nguyen Binh authorized on numerous occasions the execution of Vietnamese individuals judged to be enemies or traitors, not least of all the leader of the Hoa Hao Huynh Phu So in 1947. Anti-communist nationalist opposition parties and politico-religious militias were also involved in executions in 1945–1946. During the DRV’s Chinese inspired land reform, the state executed hundreds of “class” enemies, including many who had been supporters of the independence cause. One of the more controversial “class based” executions in mid-1953 was that of a well-known woman supporter of the anti-colonial cause who was also a landowner, Nguyen Thi Nam. The French were no strangers to executions either. In 1955, an internal French report conceded that the number of Vietnamese war prisoners who died or were executed during their detainment in French custody exceeded 9,000. For unknown reasons, this document notes that a “large number of executions” occurred in 1952–1953. Of the 9,000 dead, only 2,080 of their tombs could be identified as of 1955. The bodies of the rest were apparently rarely if ever recovered.