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Historical Dictionary

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GREATER VIETNAM NATIONALIST PARTY (Đại Việt Quốc Dân OR Đại Việt)

This nationalist party was made up of a number of earlier non-communist splinter groups that emerged after the French repression of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party (Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang, VNQDD) in 1930. The most famous of them, the Greater Vietnamese Nationalist Party (Dai Viet Quoc Dan Dang or DVQDD), better known as Dai Viet from the late 1940s, was created by a nationalist-minded student named Truong Tu Anh. This party came into the open in early 1939, complete with a political program. The second, called the Greater Vietnamese National-Socialist Party (Dai Viet Quoc Xa) came to life in 1936, but would not be active until after the Japanese coup de force of 9 March 1945. The third, the Greater Vietnamese Humanist Party (Dai Viet Duy Dan), was created in 1937 by Ly Dong A before he took refuge in China. Lastly, the Greater Vietnamese Authentic People’s Party (Dai Viet Dan Chinh) was created in 1938 under the leadership of the famous northern intellectual, Nguyen Tuong Tam, better known by his nom de plume, Nhat Linh.

Following the Japanese overthrow of the French in March 1945, Dai Viet groups supported the Japanese-backed Vietnamese government led by Tran Trong Kim. With the defeat of the Japanese and the advent of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), Dai Viet members joined forces with non-communist nationalists returning from decades of exile in China with occupying Chinese republican troops, above all the Vietnamese Nationalist Party. A rejuvenated Dai Viet party emerged in late 1945 under the leadership of Truong Tu Anh and joined forces with the VNQDD. This Dai Viet-VNQDD alliance was fiercely anti-colonialist and anti-communist, based mainly in central and northern Vietnam. It came under combined DRV and French fire in mid-1946 for its opposition to both the Vietnamese communists and French colonialists. Truong Tu Anh disappeared in Hanoi on the day full-scale war broke out in Vietnam on 19 December 1946. The circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear.

Despite their anti-colonialism, most Dai Viet members remained in French controlled zones after the outbreak of war and hoped to use anti-communism and attentisme to pressure the French to support their non-communist nationalist project against the communist-led DRV, especially with the arrival of the Cold War. The French deeply disappointed them on both counts. By refusing to grant full-scale independence to Vietnam, the French undermined the nationalist credentials of what was already a very faction-plagued socio-political movement. Dai Viet leaders supported the Bao Dai Solution and occupied important cabinet and provincial positions in the Associated State of Vietnam. Yet prominent nationalist leaders, such as Phan Huy Quat, continued to criticize the French for their failure to decolonize fully the Associated State in the face of the communist threat and the DRV’s nationalist pull. See also ASSOCIATED STATES OF INDOCHINA; CIVIL WAR; COLLABORATION; NGO DINH DIEM; POULO CONDOR.