Dien Bien Phu and the Geneva Accords The end of French Colonialism in Vietnam Source: The NW Travel Magazine
The Battle of Dienbienphu • The final battle between the French forces and the North Viet Minh Communist revolutionary forces. • The French defeat led to the International Agreement called the Geneva Accords
What Happened? • On March 13th, 1954, as both sides ostensibly readied for peace talks, the French selected Dien Bien Phu, a village in northwestern Vietnam, near the Chinese and Laotian borders, as the place for a showdown with the Viet Minh. • The French built a large airstrip with fortifications, called firebases. • Troops numbered between 13,000 and 16,000.
What Happened? • During the buildup, the Viet Minh had managed to transport scores of anti-aircraft guns and mortars through heavily-forested terrain previously dismissed by the French as “impassable.” • From March 13, the Viet Minh conducted a full-scale attack on the French gaining ground in the 10-mile-long, six-mile-wide river valley. • Firebases were overrun, and a constant shelling of the French ensued.
What Happened? • Viet Minh forces destroyed the airstrip • forced resupply planes to land in areas controlled by the Viet Minh. • The French lost access to food, ammunition, and vital intelligence • Compounding the difficulties for the French were the monsoon rains pelting the area, conditions became intolerable and forced a surrender.
The Geneva Conference • conference between many countries that agreed to end hostilities and restore peace in French Indochina and Vietnam. • produced a set of treaties known as the Geneva Accords
The Geneva Accords • On April 27, 1954, the agreement supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Indochina thereby granting it independence from France • Northern and southern zones were divided at the 17th parallel and opposing troops were to withdraw
The Vietnamese Shuffle • After the cessation of hostilities, a large migration took place. 450,000, mostly Catholics, moved to the south • 52,000 people went north. Communist supporters were urged to remain in the south to vote in the coming elections
The Divide between North and South • The Viet Minh, awaited unification on the basis of internationally supervised free elections to be held in July 1956 • The U.S. replaced the French with Ngo Dinh Diem, leader of South Vietnam • Diem refused to hold the national elections, noting that the State of Vietnam never signed the Geneva Accords and went about attempting to crush all remnant of communist opposition.
Results of Diem’s Decisions • The absence of elections led South Vietnamese who opposed Diem to form the Communist National Liberation Front, better known as the Vietcong • They engaged in guerrilla attacks against Diem’s government and desired the reunification of Vietnam under Communist rule • Both sides violated multiple provisions of the Accords, with both communists and anti-communists engaging in military buildups contrary to the accords