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THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

18 Tháng Tư 20244:07 CH(Xem: 2265)
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Vũ Ngự Chiêu Ph.D, JD
Chapter XV

THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

 

On the evening of December 21, 1946, the Bach Mai radio resumed its operations somewhere in the province of Ha Dong after a day of silence.  One of its broadcasts was Ho Chi Minh’s appeal to the Viets for a war of resistance.  He reportedly said:

The gang of French colonialists is aiming to reconquer our country.  The hour is grave.  Let us stand up and unify ourselves, regardless of ideologies, ethnicities [or] religions.   You should fight by all means at your disposal.  You have to fight with your guns, your pickaxes, your shovels [or] your sticks.

You have to save the independence and territorial integrity of our country.  The final victory will be ours.  Long live independent and indivisible Viet Nam.  Long live democracy.[1]

 

Vo Nguyen Giap’s order for a war of national resistance was also broadcast, in which he reportedly instructed the Viet Minh forces to “fight as long as possible [and] by all means available.”[2]  These declarations, accompanied by violent anti-French slogans and emotional mottoes, were aired two days after what was later labeled as “the Viet Minh coup” in Hanoi.  At any rate, the Viet Minh attack on French garrisons north of the  16th  parallel on the evening of December 19, 1946 was one of the most crucial events in Vietnamese history.  It marked not only the end of Ho’s fledging diplomatic career, but also the beginning of one of the bloodiest phases of the Vietnamese struggle for independence, during which Viet Nam was torn apart by war and ideological conflict.

 

 

I.  ROAD TO WAR:

 

Immediately after his return from France in October 1946, Ho and his comrades concentrated on their preparations for war.  One of their first tasks was to continue the purge of their opponents.  From October 20 to 27, Ho reportedly arrested over 300 traitors and reactionaries in Ha Noi alone.[3]  In the small towns and in the countryside Ho’s police and militiamen were more energetic in their assassination of counter-revolutionaries, especially members of the Greater Viet, Viet Quoc, and Unified League [Viet Cach].[4]

On November 3, the National Assembly approved Ho’s new government, composed chiefly of members of the Marxist Studies Group [i.e., ICP] and its affiliates.  In this government, Ho reclaimed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs left vacant by Nguyen Tuong Tam, with Hoang Minh Giam as his Vice Foreign Minister. Giap became Minister of Defense, with Ta Quang Buu as his assistant.  Pham Van Dong took the Ministry of Finance, and Nguyen Van Tao, the Ministry of Labor. Huynh Thuc Khang, who had openly supported Giap’s purge of non-Communists in the summer of 1946, and Chu Ba Phuong, a Vietnamese Nationalist Party leader, were allowed to retain their courtesy posts as Interior Minister and Social Actions. Bo Xuan Luat, a former Viet Cach leader, and Nguyen Van To, an independent writer, were given the titles of Minister without porfolio.[5]  Within a week, the National Assembly approved the Constitution, authorized Ho’s government to rule by decree and entrusted its power to a 15-member Permanent Bureau, led by Bui Bang Doan.[6] Thereafter, the Viet Minh government accelerated its secret evacuation from Ha Noi to the mountainous areas of Ha Dong province.

The most important efforts concentrated on the fortification and re-supply of the secret bases in northern Bac Bo (Viet Bac), under the commandment of Chu Van Tan (1914-1984), one of Ho’s trusted lieutenants. As early as 1945, facing the Chinese pressures and the French maneuvers, Ho had entrusted Pham Van Dong to consolidate the defense of the ICP revolutionary capital. From May 1946 on, Tran Dang Ninh (1910-1955) was responsible for the transportation of supplies, especially rice, salt, munitions, medicine and equipment from the delta to these secret bases. After his return from France in October 1946, Ho instructed Nguyen Luong Bang (Red Star) to assist Ninh in redoubling his efforts. Tens of thousand “volunteers” reportedly carried on their shoulders and backs or any available means approximately 40,000 metric tons of supplies and equipment from the cities and towns to the northern jungles and mountains.[7] This pre-industrial method of logistics, and the Communists’ ability to maintain it throughout the war years, was one of the best weapons in all military campaigns, leading to their final victory. To disguise their intention, the Viet Minh leaders instigated a massive exodus of the city-dwellers, save for the Chinese, to the countryside on the ground of avoiding the coming war.

By that time, the whole country was divided into fourteen zones (“K”). Bac Bo consisted of seven Ks (1, 2, 3, 10, 11 and 12); Trung Bo included four Ks (4, 5, 6 and 15); and Nam Bo, three Ks (7, 8, and 9). Each zone had a resistance committee and a military command. The resistance committee supervised the administrative affairs, while the military command was in charge of all military matters. Behind the scene, however, was the defunct ICP-committee. The Party Secretary of each zone had the final word on any issues. Nguyen Chi Thanh (alias Sau Vi, 1914-1967), an ICP veteran of Hue origin, held both positions of President of the Executive and Resistance Committee [ERC] and Party Secretary of Central Region. Pham Van Dong, born in Quang Ngai, served as the representative of the Central government from November 1946 to the fall of 1949. Due to his advanced age, Interior Minister Khang, accompanied by Ton Quang Phiet, toured Hue in late November 1946, when the old capital was inflammed by anti-French inspirations resulted from the Hai Phong massacre, and then went to Quang Ngai, where he passed away in April 1947.[8]

 

In the South, the ERC was also reorganized.  Nguyen Binh, the One-Eyed Regional Military Commissar, became de facto chief, although Pham Van Bach kept his position as Chairman of the ERC.[9] Ha Ba Cang [Hoang Quoc Viet], the Central delegate, and Le Duan, the Party Regional Secretary, were the real leaders, with the assistance of Ung Van Khiem, Nguyen Van Tran “The Butcher,” Pham Hung, Nguyen Xuan Cuc (i.e., Nguyen Van Linh), etc.

Meanwhile, Giap carried out a thorough reorganization of his army.  A system of political commissars was installed, under Van Tien Dung, the future conqueror of Sai Gon in 1975.  The Viet Minh force was also strengthened with new conscripts and, especially, new weapons. For the first time, Giap had at his disposal an artillery unit, including some light mortars and mountain artillery.[10]

In the cities as well as in the countryside, militiamen worked harder at their combat training, often with wooden rifles, earthen grenades and sticks.  Defense systems were strengthened with fortifications, barricades and, especially, trenches and underground tunnels. In Ha Noi, self-defense units were to be organized into the Capital Brigade, consisting mainly of patriotic youth whose blood was boiling with the independence fever. Giap also ordered the establishment of new strong bases in northwestern Bac Bo and eastern Laos, Ha Tinh (K 4) and Quang Ngai (K 5) in Trung Bo, and Tay Ninh and Plain of Reeds (Dong Thap Muoi, or K 7) and Ca Mau (K 9) in Nam Bo.

Meanwhile, the French were not idle.  High Commissioner Thierry d’Argenlieu, Pignon, and Valluy—the latter had replaced Leclerc as Commander of French troops in Indochina since July 1946—had long worked secretly to sabotage both the March 6, 1946 Provisional Convention and the ensuing  modus vivendi of September 14, 1946.  Although d’Argenlieu released several hundred political prisoners and accepted a cease-fire on October 30, he immediately launched a new series of political maneuvers.  On the one hand, d’Argenlieu adamantly refused to recognize Pham Van Bach, the ERC Chairman, as the Vietnamese delegate to the South, and repeatedly asked Ho to withdraw Viet Minh forces to the North.[11] D’Argenlieu also worked hard preparing for his coming trip to Paris in order to defend his projected Indochinese Federation and to persuade the Georges Bidault government to liquidate the “intransigent team in Ha Noi.”[12]

On the other hand, he tried to break the alliance between the Communist and non-Communist parties in the South. The regional commanders were allowed to initiate talks for temporary truce and future collaboration with the Binh Xuyen gangsters, which made up seven out of eighteen chi doi [companies] of the southern resistance force, and other warlords.[13]  Meanwhile, the Cochinchinese separatist newspapers harped on the theme of being abandoned by the French government in Paris.[14]

Coincidentally, a tragedy in Sai Gon aided d’Argenlieu’s plan. On the early morning of November 10, Premier Thinh was found dead in his reading room.  Allegedly he hanged himself.[15]

After attending Thinh’s funeral, d’Argenlieu hurriedly left Sai Gon for Paris, leaving the selection of a new Premier for Cochinchina in the hands of Pignon and Torel.  General Valluy became Acting High Commissioner.  A career officer, who had arrived in Viet Nam in October 1945 as Commander of the 9th Division, and personally injured during the failed attempt to land on Hai Phong on March 6, 1946, Valluy believed strongly in settling matter by force.  With an Expeditionary Corps of 75,000 men, he was impatient with the niceties of diplomacy.  Valluy also distrusted Ho, despite the fact that the latter had more than once addressed to Valluy’s daughter familiarly as “niece.”[16]

Meanwhile, in Paris, the French attitude also began to change. At the meeting of the Inter-ministrial Committee on November 23, 1946, Bidault even allowed d’Argenlieu to use artillery.[17]

 

A. THE HAI PHONG MASSACRE:

Although the French and the Viet Minh agreed to a cease-fire on October 30, 1946 as dictated by the Moutet-Ho modus vivendi, tensions steadily increased in North Viet Nam. Shortly after the Chinese withdrawal, the French realized that a large quantity of weapons and materiel were being shipped to the Viet Minh via the port of Hai Phong and other coastal ports. In August 1946, d'Argenlieu ordered a naval blockade in the South and studied a way to control over the port of Hai Phong. As a result, the control of customs in Hai Phong suddenly became one of the most inflammatory issues.[18]

Meanwhile, in July and August 1946, the Vietnamese authorities in Hai Phong confiscated a large amount of merchandises and the Indochinese banknotes from the Chinese merchants, on the ground that the Vietnamese did not recognize the validity of those banknotes. Acting on behalf of the Chinese residents, the French representatives repeatedly protested. On August 29, to stress his point, Colonel Debès, Commander of the Hai Phong military district [secteur], ordered the occupation of the Vietnamese customs office near the port. Both sides met on September 18 and October 10, and reached a temporary agreement.  Debès returned the Customs Office to the Vietnamese, in exchange for the Vietnamese release of the detained Chinese businessmen, and restitution for their confiscated goods and banknotes.

In September 1946, the French authorities unilaterally informed the Viet Minh that they would assume control of customs in Hai Phong, effective October 15.  Huynh Thuc Khang, Acting President while Ho was in France, strongly protested the French decision, arguing that no treaty concerning the customs had been concluded and, thus, French unilateral action violate the spirit of both the March 6 and September 14, 1946 conventions.  The French, however, had their own reasons for pursing their plan:  by the fall of 1946—the Viet Minh had eliminated nearly all rival Viet forces; and the time had come for the final confrontation between the French and the Viet Minh.

According to a French intelligence source, in its Directive of September 1946, the Soviet DALBURO accused "Ho Chi Minh, Bao Dai . . . and others" of being "traitors to Annamese peasants and workers;" France, SDECE, "Notice technique de contre espionnage: Extreme-Orient, Les services speciaux sovietiques en Extreme-Orient" (20 Mai 1947); CAOM (Aix), INF, Cartons 138-139, d. 1245.

Valluy and his men did not wait long.  On November 20—the same day that Ho met with de la Charriere, the Indochinese Judicial Counselor, on the issue of customs in Ha Noi—a small incident took place in Hai Phong:  the Viet Minh self-defense units fired on a French gunboat as it was impounding a Chinese boat carrying “contraband” (i.e. oil shipped with the Viet Minh’s authorization only) in the Chinese quarter.  The French promptly reacted, attacking Viet Minh posts in the area.  As tensions arose, Viet Minh self-defense units halted a French military vehicle in the market area, arresting three French soldiers when they tried to resist. Colonel Debès—a former psychiatric patient who was reportedly “notorious for graft and brutality”[19]—ordered a counter-attack on a Viet Minh police station nearby, using tanks to assure a victory.  General Morlière, the French military commander in the North, quickly intervened, ordering Debes to cease all hostilities.  A Franco-Vietnamese joint control commission also arrived in Hai Phong to settle the matter.

The next day, another incident took place near Lang Son, a border town adjacent to China.  A Viet Minh force fiercely defended their position when a convoy carrying armed French soldiers, under the pretext of the French War Crimes Inquiry Team’s mission, attempting to cross through it in order to enter the Literary Temple [Van Mieu], where the excavation for remains of French officers had started on the previous day. A short skirmish broke out for several hours. Lieutenant-Colonel Sizaire, Commander of the Lang Son military district, took advantage of this incident to retaliate, occupying the train station, the post office and several key points. 50 Vietnamese were reportedly killed, in exchange for nine French soldiers killed and nine others wounded.[20]

. The same day (November 21) small clashes between the Viet Minh and French troops flared up again in Hai Phong.  That evening, Valluy cabled Morliere, ordering the latter to take over the control of the city.[21] On November 22, after receiving Morliere’s request for clarification, Valluy insisted that Morliere’s “honorable tentatives for reconciliation” with the Viet Minh had failed and that “the moment has come to give a severe lesson to those who have treacherously attacked [you] . . . . Use all the means at your disposal to make yourself complete master of Hai Phong and to bring the Vietnamese government and army to a better understanding of the situation.”[22]

Concurrently received Valluy’s order, Debès was more than eager.  Early on the morning of November 23, he issued a two-hour ultimatum, under Valluy’s name, demanding the withdrawal of Viet Minh forces from the Chinese quarter and the areas adjacent to the French sector.  At 9:00 a.m., after the deadline had expired, he ordered tanks and troops to enter the Chinese quarter.  When the Viet Minh resisted, Debes asked for fire support from the gunboat Chevreuil as well as bombers to cover his troops.[23]  Meanwhile, French troops tried to flush the Viet Minh troops from their defensive positions by burning a number of houses in the Chinese and Vietnamese zones.  Although the exact number of victims is still unknown—it is independently estimated from 300 to 6,000—it is reasonable to assume that thousands of Vietnamese and Chinese civilians died and wounded, including women, children and old people.[24]

According to Valluy, about 300 Vietnamese were killed.[25] An American diplomat, Abbott L. Moffat, estimated that the French “killed hundreds, if not thousands, of non-combatants.”[26] Professor Rivet, in his testimony before the French Assembly on March 10, 1949, gave the figure of 6,000 wounded.[27] In early 1981, a French general gave the figure between 50 to 100 civilian victims.[28] The Chinese alone suffered 67 deaths, 56 injuries, 198 arrests by the French and 581 missing. Chinese material losses amounted to 210 houses destroyed and 54 million piasters in property damages.[29]

This massacre shocked Hanoi, Saigon, and other world capitals.  The Vietnamese press renewed its anti-French campaign.  American diplomats expressed their concern over the severity of the incident.  Only d’Argenlieu appeared to be satisfied.  At the meeting of the Inter-ministrial committee on November 23, presided over by Premier Bidault, he successfully challenged the validity of Article IX of the modus vivendi concerning the status of Cochinchina, and also secured Bidault’s authorization to use all means to restore order. From Paris, the High Commissioner cabled Valluy, congratulating the latter on his firmness, and authorizing the use of artillery.(Tels. of 24 and 25 Nov. 1946, Haussaire Indo Paris to Haussaire Indo Saigon; D’Argenlieu, Chronique, pp. 345-346, 357-358.

To apply salt powder on the wounded, on November 25, Colonel Sizaire’s troops attacked all Vietnamese posts in Lang Son, and took over control of the town the next day.(3 French were killed and 7 wounded in the operations; Letter of 17 Dec 1946, Meyrier to Foreign Minister; CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 366, d. 2907.

In Hai Phong, the Viet Minh promptly launched a counter-attack on French garrisons, especially at the Cat Bi airport, south of the city.  Fighting spread to the adjacent town of Do Son, a summer resort.  Valluy immediately sent parachutists and a commando battalion into the battle.   The warship Suffren—on which d’Argenlieu and Ho had met with the media in the previous month in Cam Ranh Bay—also turned its guns on the masses of refugees from Hai Phong.  It was not until November 27 that fighting halted temporarily.  But the same day, Valluy ordered Morlière to issue another ultimatum (which was dated November 28, 1946), demanding Viet Minh forces withdraw from Hai Phong.  According to Valluy, if he had had wider authority he could immediately have marched on Hanoi and captured Ho and his government.  He maintained, however, that his wish was obstructed by “outside intervention.“(27)

27. Valluy, “L’Imbroglio,” p. 183.

 

It is unknown whose intervention Valluy had in mind.  In late November 1946, a special American envoy, Abbot L. Moffat, Chief of the Southeast Asia Division, was present in Viet Nam.  Moffat, according to his own account, arrived in Saigon ignorant of the Hai Phong massacre.  However, he opened contact with both the French and Viet Minh authorities.  Ho and his Vice Foreign Minister, Hoang Minh Giam, both gave Moffat private interviews, which antagonized the French, especially the new Commissioner of North Viet Nam, Jean Sainteny, a military intelligence officer turned diplomat.(28)

28. Blum, United States and Vietnam, Appendix II, p. 42.

 

As Sainteny, he claimed that he arrived in Saigon on November 26, instructed by Moutet to attempt to reconcile the two sides.  However, Valluy—intentionally or not—detained him in Saigon, on the ground that fighting was still going on in Hai Phong.(29)  As a result, although on December 2 Giap and Giam gave Sainteny a cordial greeting when he arrived in Hanoi, both sides had reached the breaking point.  Meanwhile, Ho was “sick” and probably could not control the extremists (i.e., Giap, Tran Huy Lieu, Dang Xuan Khu or Truong Chinh, and Hoang Quoc Viet).  Sainteny’s account, however, is only partly true.  His attitude during this period hardly justified his alleged conciliatory stance toward Ho. His reaction to Moffat’s meeting with Ho—including a request the French government to expel Vice Consul James O’Sullivan(30)—and his uncompromising attitude in mid-December 1946 might easily be interpreted as calculated steps in a general game of deceit.

29. Sainteny, Ho Chi Minh, pp. 92-94.

30. Tel. of 8 Dec. 1946, Sainteny to Valluy; CAOM (Aix), INF, c.126, d. 1125.(?)

 

At any rate, whether or not Sainteny was sent to Hanoi to bridge the gap between the two sides, the Viet Minh leaders had lost faith in the French.  As early as November 5, 1946, Ho had reportedly decided to face the inevitable—a long war of resistance.(31) Worse, during the battle of Hai Phong, Giap’s men reportedly captured an important document, signed by Valluy dated April 10, 1946.  In this document Valluy instructed his lieutenants to carry out “a coup d’Etat”—using commandos to liquidate all Viet Minh local leaders at the opportune moment.(32)  Moreover, Giap could not accept Morlière’s ultimatum of November 28, viewed by him as a further step by France to terminate the Viet Minh regime.  Consequently, he redoubled his preparations for war.  His forces cut Route 5 linking Hai Phong and Ha Noi to prevent a sudden thrust toward the capital by French tanks.  In Ha Noi, the French quarter was surrounded by barricades and police checkpoints.  Houses communicated with each other through openings made in partition walls.  Floors were dug up to make combat trenches and shelters.  Old people and children, save for the Chinese, were ordered to evacuate Ha Noi.  Administrative offices were evacuated to the direction of Vinh Yen and Phuc Yen while the military services dispersing to Ha Dong and Hoa Binh. (33) Meanwhile, regular units were dispersed from the city and other towns to retreat to secret bases.(34)  On December 13, Giap convened a military conference of the commanders north of the Interzone IV to prepare for war; and separated plans were secretly distributed.(35) Meanwhile, Viet Minh propaganda intensified its anti-French theme, mobilizing the masses with exhortations for a war of national resistance.  This call appears to have been successful, helping Ho regain much of his popularity.

31. Giap, Khong the nao quen, 2001: 377-378. The French security authorities blamed Vo Nguyen Giap and the militant Viet Minh faction for premeditated plan of attacking the French; DPSF, “Rapport mensuel . . . Nov 1946,” pp. 18-23) [L’Incident de Haiphong n’est pas un fait isolé et deùnote clairement la preùmeùditation de la part des vietnamiens, p. 22; after the Haiphong and Lang Son affairs, Ho was incapable to prevent the emotional outburst].

32. Ho Chi Minh’s memorandum of 31 Dec 1946; CAOM (Aix), PA 28, c. 7; Giap, Khong the nao quen, 2001:352-353; [377-378]; Trong vong vay, 2001:20-21. Also see Journal Officiel, Assemblée Nationale (Paris), 18 March 1947, p. 871.

33. DPSF, “Rapport mensuel . . . Decembre 1946” (11 Jan 1947), pp. 34; CAOM (Aix), HCI, c. 126. [See note 8 supra for reference]

34. According to General Vuong Thua Vu (real name, Nguyen Van Doi), Commander of the Hanoi area (Inter-zone I) at that time, four out of five regular battalions retreated from Hanoi; Idem., Truong thanh trong chien dau [Grown Up in the Battlefield] (Hanoi: QDND, 1979), p. 98 [henceforth, Truong thanh]. Also see BQP, Khang chien, 1945-1954, vol. II, p. 19.

35. Giap, Trong vong vay, 2001:20.

 

Valluy reacted swiftly.  He reinforced French garrisons above the 16th parallel, especially Tourane [Da Nang], Hai Phong, and Hai Duong, mid-way between Hanoi and Hai Phong.  At the same time he severely reprimanded Morlière for diplomacy, reminding the latter of his military “responsibility.”[30] (36)

By mid-December 1946, both sides were ready to fight.  At this point it would have taken a miracle to prevent open war. On December 16, Giap sent out the order of a general attack at 20H00 on December 19.[31] (37)  These preventive attacks, as Giap later acknowledges, were inevitable, mainly aimed at avoiding the repetition of the Hai Phong scenario, propagandizing the Viet Minh’s cause, and buying time to prepare for a national war of resistance—a sort of lesser evil.[32] (38)

 

B. THE ATTACK ON HANOI:

During the developing  crisis in North Viet Nam, Leon Blum became Premier of France. On December 17, when Blum officially presented his all-Socialist government to the Assembly, both Moutet and d’Argenlieu were retained at their respective posts.

On December 16, after news of Blum’s coming to power reached Viet Nam, Ho sent a message congratulating him and reiterating his request for a peaceful settlement on the basis of the March 6, 1946 and April 3, 1946 accords, with the precondition that French troops return to the positions they had held prior to November 20.(39) Although Valluy transmitted Ho’s message to Blum,(40) he secretly flew to Hai Phong to confer with Sainteny, Morlière and Debès on the same day of December 16. Valluy instructed his field commanders to open the route linking Bac Ninh and Ha noi, to react firmly to any Vietnamese provocation or disrupting of French troops’ daily life, to prepare for the evacuation of French troops from Phu Lang Thuong (Sept Pagodes) to Bac Ninh or Hai Duong, and to install without delay a strong point on the bridge across the Cam river, north of Hai Phong, to prevent any threats on French ships, the ports and the Shell Oil depot.(41) 

39. Tel. No. 264 DN/CAB, 20 Dec. 1946, Juin to Valluy; CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 126, d. 1125.

40. Ho Chi Minh’s memorandum of 31 Dec 1946; CAOM (Aix), PA 28, c. 7. Also see Journal Officiel, Assemblee Nationale (Paris), 18 March 1947, p. 871.

41. Telegramme Officiel of 16 Dec 1946, Genesuper Haiphong (Valluy) to Cororient Hanoi (Morliere); SHAT (Vincennes), 10H 2513.

 

The next day, December 17, French troops—especially the Foreign Legion and parachutists—instigated a series of clashes in Hanoi, including a search for the corpse of a parachutist disappeared two days earlier near the Dong Xuan market, and the use of armored vehicles to destroy a Viet Minh self-defense post on Emile Noly street, north of the old citadel, and its adjacent buildings. Morlière also ordered the destruction of all Viet Minh defensive barricades surrounding the French quarter.(42)[33]  In Hai Phong, Debès ordered the use of artillery in a police operation, causing at least 30 Vietnamese deaths.(43)[34] Fighting also occurred in Lang Son and Tien Yen.(44) [35]

 

On December 18, the French authorities issued two ultimatums.  In the first they demanded the Viet Minh turn over the Ministry of Finance and the villa of the Chief of the Communication Service, two strategic points near the French quarter in the capital.  In the second—delivered after French troops had destroyed the barricades surrounding their garrison and the European quarter—the French announced that if chaos continued they would take over police responsibility for Hanoi, effective December 20.  Giap promptly rejected this ultimatum.(45)[36]

Early on the next morning, December 19, Morlière issued a third ultimatum, demanding the disarmament of the self-defense units in Hanoi, cessation of all preparations for war and the surrender of police responsibility in Hanoi to French authorities. Interpreting Morlière’s ultimatum as a replay of the Hai Phong script, Giap decided to strike first.  His suspicions were seemingly confirmed when Sainteny refused to see Giam on the morning of December 19, and set up a meeting for the next day.(46) 46. Giap, Khong the nao quen, pp. 420-421. In both of his memoirs, written in 1953 and 1970, Sainteny does not shed light on his refusal to see Giam, vaguely stating that he did not expect to reach an entente with the latter; Idem, Paix manquee, p. 223 & Ho Chi Minh, p. 97. What he does not tell his reader is that December 20—the day Sainteny wanted to see Giam—was the deadline of Morlière’s ultimatum!

In the morning of December 19, the Standing Bureau of ICP Central Committee met for the last time at Van Phuc, Ha Dong, and dispatched to all regional commanders a message ordering them to be ready for a general attack as scheduled.(47)[37]

In order to assure the success of his pre-emptive strike, Giap persuaded Morlière to lift the state of alert in Hanoi, while he secretly evacuated the Viet Minh government from the capital.  At noon on December 19, to demonstrate French good will, Morlière agreed to lift French troops’ curfew and give passes to French troops.  However, late that afternoon, after a French police agent had discovered that Giap’s troops were going to attack that evening, Morlière immediately reassembled his troops to counter the threat.(48)  Giap’s effort to bluff his adversaries proved futile.

48. Cable No. 2083, 22 Dec 1946; CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 126, d. 1125; Chinh Dao, VNNB, I-A: 1939-1946, p. 371.[38][39]

 

At 7:55 p.m. the Viet Minh cut off electricity and running water in Hanoi.  Mortar fire poured into French barracks and government buildings while the self-defense units launched their first attacks on the French civilian quarter.  Sainteny was one of the first French casualties.  Before undergoing surgery, he reportedly declared:(49)

Although I have offered Viet Nam my loyalty, I am one of the first to suffer this act of unqualified treachery.

49. Cable No. 732, 21 Dec. 1946, Hausaire Indo Saigon to Comite Indochine; CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 126, d. 1125; DPSF, “Rapport mensuel . . . Decembre 1946” (11 Jan 1947), p. 35; CAOM (Aix), HCI, c. 126. In his memoirs, Sainteny did not mention this detail.[40]

 

On the same night, the Viet Minh also took to arms in other cities and towns, including Hai Duong (22H30), Phu Lang Thuong (01H30, Dec 20), Bac Ninh (02H00-02H30), Hue, Vinh, and Tourane.  In Ha Noi, 42 French were killed during the first two days, including 12 civilians and 30 soldiers.(50) In Nam Dinh the Viet Minh besieged a parachute unit for several months before French reinforcements arrived to relieve it in March 1947. In Vinh, the French garrison was overturn and lost contact with higher headquarters.  In Hue, Nguyen Chi Thanh's forces of about 6,000 encircled 750 French soldiers until February 1947. The situation in Da Nang was more unfavorable to the Viet Minh. Viet Minh forces suffered considerable losses, and French troops quickly gained control over the airport and the city within several days. Generally speaking, thanks to supremacy in weapons and firepower, especially tanks, bombers and artilleries, French troops gradually controlled a number of major cities and towns in the deltas, save for two Viet Minh strongholds of Zones K-4 (Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh) and K-5 (Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh).

The Viet Minh’s activities in South Central and the Southern region were also increased to support the Central government. In K-6, the guerrillas attacked the communication lines in Phan Rang, Phan Thiet, Tour Cham. Anti-French “colonialist” tracts were diffused in many urban centers. On December 17, Nguyen Binh, Military Commissar for the South and Commander of the 7th Military Zone, issued an order instructing all units to renew their attacks on the French and destructions of transport routes and waterways, bridges, outposts and all administrative offices. In December 1946, the French police records 160 offenses against individuals, 27 offenses against property, 100 “kidnappings,” 3 assassinations of notables, 32 offenses against notables, 79 sabotages of communication lines, and 3 strikes. Meanwhile, various youth organizations, and intelligence and commando units were reinstituted in Sai Gon and Gia Dinh.(51)

 

II.  THE LAST HOPE FOR PEACE:

 

Unexpected or not of Ho’s war solution, the French government reacted promptly to the Viet Minh attack in North Viet Nam. Immediately after receiving the news, Admiral d’Argenlieu left Paris for Sai gon.  The same Friday morning of December 20, the French National Assembly convened to discuss the Indochinese issue as scheduled.  At this meeting, the Assembly endorsed a resolution sending Marius Moutet, Minister of Overseas France, to Indochina with full authority to settle the conflict.(52)  That same day, General Juin, Chief of Staff for National Defense, sent an urgent cable to Valluy containing two important messages.  First, Juin urged Valluy to seek a cease-fire providing that it would not endanger French troops and civilians.  Second, he instructed Valluy to convey a message from Blum to Ho replying to Ho’s message of December 16, 1946 (in which Ho had asked for a cease-fire and congratulated Blum on his coming to power).  Blum assured Ho that the French government wanted to maintain peace and observe all previous agreements.  In addition, he informed Ho of Moutet’s pending trip to Indochina.(53)

On December 23, a day after Moutet’s departure from Paris, Blum spoke to the Assembly again.  While expressing his desire to settle the conflict peacefully, Blum voiced concern about the “serious” sit4ation in Indochina, and added: “[F]irst of all, one should reestablish peace and order.”(54) [41] This remark signaled a significant change in Blum’s attitude toward Viet Nam and partly explained Moutet’s strange, if not contradictory, actions and pronouncements in Indochina in the days to come. Before the Assembly on December 23, Blum also disclosed that his special envoy, General Leclerc, would soon leave for Viet Nam for an inspection tour.  Two days later, Leclerc departed for Saigon.

 

A. THE MOUTET MISSION:

Blum’s pessimistic views on the future of Indochina in general and Viet Nam in particular probably resulted from reports sent back to Paris by d’Argenlieu, who had arrived in Saigon on December 23 [24, Viet Nam time].  D’Argenlieu not only asked for reinforcements—the urgent dispatch of 14 battalions—but also informed Paris that Morlière had lost all contact with Ho.  As for Blum’s message to Ho, d’Argenlieu reportedly had to ask foreign diplomats to convey it.(55)[42]  Apparently d’Argenlieu only wanted to dramatize Ho’s evacuation of Ha Noi to justify his long-prepared plan for liquidating the “intransigent” revolutionaries.

On the same day of December 23, several hours prior to Blum’s announcement of Moutet’s arrival in Sai Gon, d’Argenlieu told the American Consul, Charles S. Reed, that Ho Chi Minh should be removed from any role in a future Indochinese Federation.(56)[43]  With this intention in mind, he freely inflated the number of French casualties to provoke French public opinion against Ho’s atrocities. On February 14, 1947, for instance, the Admiral/Governor General declared that 42 French (including 19 women and children) were killed, 10 others (including 6 children) were burned to death, 17 civilians were injured (including Sainteny and 5 women), and from 170 to 200 were missing, including 49 women and about 100 children.(57)[44]

[45]

Moutet arrived in Saigon on December 26.  In one of his early messages to Paris he endorsed d’Argenlieu’s request for reinforcements, beginning with the dispatch of four North African battalions.(58)[46]  Although he reportedly asked an intelligence officer to meet Ho, Moutet had no intention of holding direct talks with his old acquaintance.(59)[47]  Instead, he gave interviews to various non-Communist figures and appeared at a party given in his honor by Le Van Hoach, the new Premier of Autonomous Cochinchina.  He reportedly told Tran Van Ty, Hoach’s Vice Premier and Minister of the Interior, that the French would support an independent Cochinchina.(60)[48]  On December 29, after a secret meeting with Leclerc, d’Argenlieu and Valluy in Sai Gon, Moutet left for Phnom Penh, leaving d’Argenlieu and Leclerc to go to Ha Noi to prepare for his coming tour.  It was not until January 2, 1947 that Moutet arrived in Ha Noi.  Moutet was reportedly convinced that Ho Chi Minh’s “premediation” in the attacks was evidently demonstrated because the Viet Minh artillery shells continued to pour into Ha Noi  during his visit. After a brief sojourn in the capital of Viet Nam, Moutet declared:(61)[49]

Before any negotiations today, it is necessary to have a military decision.  I am sorry, but one cannot commit such madness as the Vietnamese have done with impunity.

 

Meanwhile, he ignored Ho’s radio appeals for a meeting at any place selected by Moutet.(62)[50]  On January 6, Moutet hastily left Viet Nam for France.  Apparently, he acceded to d’Argenlieu’s argument that France had committed a grave error by endorsing too liberal a policy toward Ho for too long a period.(63)[51]

 

B. THE LECLERC MISSION:

Leclerc’s tour of Indochina was also disappointing for those who hoped to reach a peaceful resolution in Viet Nam.  Arriving in Saigon on December 28, after a secret meeting with d’Argenlieu and Valluy the next day, he cabled Paris endorsing the outgoing request for reinforcements. (64) [52]  While d’Argenlieu and Valluy flew to Ha Noi, Leclerc met with various political figures in Sai Gon, including the Cochinchinese Premier Hoach.  He reportedly promised Hoach:(65)

One can be sure of one thing:  France has the means to restore order.  The situation is improving and the reinforcements are arriving.  French troops  will be strong enough to help you.

 

The next day, December 31, he went to Ha Noi.  One of his first acts was to replace Morlière with Colonel Debès, the “Hai Phong Man.”(66)[53]  Eight days later, in a report to Paris, while advocating a political solution to stem surging Viet nationalism, he also stressed the need to increase the French Expeditionary Corps to 115,000 men, with 90,000 Europeans and 25,000 Indochinese.[54](67)  On January 9, he returned home.

 

C. FOREIGN REACTIONS:

During this period, it should be noted, both the United States and China expressed concern about recent developments in Indochina.  On December 23, Under Secretary of State Acheson met with Henri Bonnet, the French ambassador in Washington, to tell the latter that, although the United States was not in a position to mediate, it “would do anything which might be considered helpful in the circumstances.”  He added that the American government was deeply concerned because, as in the case of Indonesia, “other powers might attempt to bring the matter up before the [United Nations] Security Council.”  Jefferson Caffery, the U.S. ambassador to France, conveyed a similar message to the French government.[55](68)

Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek’s government in Nanjing, under the facade of neutrality, instructed its ambassador in London to approach the British Foreign Office and its ambassador in Paris to meet with Caffery and propose a joint intervention of China, Britain and America in Indochina.  However, the United States and Great Britain turned down the Chinese initiative.[56](69)

The Soviet Union also expressed its concern about the growing conflict, urging both sides to reach  a truce on the basis of the  signed agreements.  Moscow radio and press began to increase references to, and coverage of, Indochina.[57]

The Soviet reaction, however, was still measured in tone.

 

D. REACTIONS FROM THE METROPOLIS:

But Paris was not in mood for peace.  The French authorities talked about their desire for a truce and a political resolution, but all insisted on peace with strength.  Meanwhile, the reaction in French political circles divided along party lines.  The Rightists stiffened their attitude toward Ho.  An Assembly deputy named Andre Muttet accused Ho of being an “assassin.”[58]

Members of the Socialist Party, the MRP and other Center and Conservative parties demanded a firmer policy regarding Ho.[59] Only the French Communist Party [FCP] gave its full support to Ho, blaming d’Argenlieu and the reactionaries for the outbreak of hostilities.  On December 27, the Political Bureau of the FCP endorsed a resolution backing Ho’s stance for “a free state within the French Union” and recognizing Ho’s regime as the only legitimate representative of Viet Nam. .”48 (73)  L’Humanite (Paris), 28 Dec 1946.

The FCP organ, L’Humanité, also denounced the “ghost government” led by Nguyen Tuong Tam in China and warned its members about the possible intervention of “foreign powers.”[60](74)  Even so, the FCP leaders who participated in the new government headed by Paul Ramadier in January 1947 agreed to support all governmental decisions concerning Viet Nam, temporarily suspending  their party line.

Thus, January 1947 passed without any hope for the resumption of talks between Ho and Moutet as indicated in the modus vivendi of September 14, 1946.  As war ravaged Viet Nam, the French authorities channeled the course of Vietnamese history into a fateful detour, pursuing on a painful search for a political alternative to Ho.

 

III. THE UGLY WAR:

 

The December 1946 Offensive, which in many ways resembling the beginning of the Aid to the King [Can Vuong] Resistance War sixty years earlier, spread around the country like an epidemic.

During the first three months, the French gained control over most major cities and towns in the deltas. In Central Viet Nam, French forces easily occupied Hue on February 7 and pushed toward Dong Hoi, the provincial town of Quang Binh, 20 days later. Hoi An, the provincial town of Quang Nam, was "liberated" on March 15. In the North, on February 17, Viet Minh forces had to evacuate Hanoi. Ha Dong, a small town south of Hanoi, was cleared on March 2, and a strong French forces relieved the Nam Dinh garrison on March 11. After a brief tour of Indochina,  French War Minister Paul Coste Floret stated in May 1947:[61]

[T]here is no military problem any longer in Indo-China . . . the success of French arms completed.

 

The reality was much less rosy. After over a year of fighting the French in the South and months of city-fighting in the North and Central, the Viet Minh commanders adopted the strategy of guerrilla warfare to confront the much more powerful French Expeditionary Forces. This "People's War" strategy was characterized by the hit-and-run tactics and, especially, the mobilization of the whole people for the war efforts.

The change from conventional war [tran dia chien] to mobile guerrilla war [du kich van dong chien] was reportedly authorized at the meeting of the Central Military Committee, held in Thai Nguyen in March 1947.[62](76)

From that day on, Viet Minh forces often avoided French regular units and only attacked at the opportune moment.

This new strategy gradually helped Viet Minh to balance the situation. In the North, Giap's forces continued to control the countryside and mountainous areas, waiting for a new round of battles when French reinforcements arrived. In Central Viet-Nam, Nguyen Chi Thanh gradually regained military initiative in the areas north of Hue and south of Da Nang/Hoi An. Meanwhile, Viet Minh secret services continued their purges of the Trotskyites, Viet Quoc and Great Viet. Even those who escaped to the French controlled areas were assiduously hunted.[63](77)

In the South, the guerrilla warfare made Nguyen Binh a legendary figure among his French enemies. Raoul Salan, for instance, considered Binh a brighter general in comparison to Giap.[64](78) By the end of February 1947, Viet Minh leaders decided to intensify terrorist acts in the cities and towns under French control. To maximize its results, they carved out from Zone VII a new military zone, called the Special Zone of Saigon/Gia Dinh, and placed it under Nguyen Van Linh, the future Secretary General of the VCP between 1986 and 1991. Viet Minh secret services, under Pham Hung and Cao Dang Chiem, used death squads and commandos to carry out suicidal attacks on French posts and supplies storages, and assassination of French officers and Vietnamese collaborators. Leaders of the separatist movement, in charge of police works, were assassinated right in their offices in Cho Lon.[65](79) Colonel Imfeld, the French commissioner for Laos was killed by a Viet Minh agent disguised as a barber in a hotel located in downtown Saigon.[66](80) Even the Vietnamese religious leaders were also victimized. The most tragic deaths occurred in the kidnapping of Huynh Phu So, the founder of the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, in April 1947,[67] and the  attack on the temple of the Pureland Buddhist Layman Association in Cho Lon the following month May 27, 1947. 82. BDQT, p. 20; VNNB, I-B: 1947-1954, p. 48.

To inspire patriotism among the Vietnamese and frighten the French soldiers and their mercenaries, especially the Africans and Europeans, the Viet Minh propaganda invented various legends concerning the French-killing heroes. Such folktales as a fourteen years old boy who had soaked himself with oil before dashing toward a French munition storage to burn it into the ground, a young soldier using his body to block the French machine-gun, allowing his comrades to overrun a French defense blockhaust, or a female guerrilla unplucked a grenade to kill herself together with a group of French "nation robbers" in a restaurant or a food stand in market were widely recited and praised by the Viet Minh propaganda.(83) Resistance writers, poets, journalists and screenplay writers were encouraged to utilize their creativeness in reconstructing heroic battles in which French troops and their puppets must always lose. Viet Minh tactics are ably summarized by the Cam Tu [Volunteer to Death] of October 31, 1945 as follows:[68]

“At this hour, every [Vietnamese] must participate in the resistance. We should adopt guerrilla tactics. . . . and destroy communication and supplies of the enemy and eliminate [Viet] traitors. Our guerrillas must have mobility. We must profit from the slightest relaxation of enemy vigilance and attack him without giving him any respite. Death volunteers must destroy roads and bridges, set factories in fire, and attack positions where enemy forces are thinly spread out. . . . All properties of French civilians must be set on fire—factories, commercial houses, and rubber plantations”

57. Hindustan Times, 10 Nov. 1945, broadcast by the Indian Foreign Radio Broadcast on 13 Nov 1945; CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 178, d. 1425.

 

 

In January 1947, Ho implemented what to be known as the "scorched earth" strategy: a massive destruction of houses, roads, and bridges to slow down French military mobility. He also ordered the evacuation of city-dwellers and townspeople to the countryside, among the other things, to isolate French troops within their defensive lines and security outposts.

From Ha Noi, Vice-Consul O'Sullivan reported:[69]

[T]he destruction in Tonkin is literally appalling. Damage is due very largely to Vietnam Government policy of "scorched earth" although French bombing and shelling have contributed. Of small cities I have seen personally, Haiduong is about 60 to 70 percent destroyed, Hoabinh 100 percent razed, Hadong had perhaps a dozen buildings of several hundred standing. French aerial observers state that Tuyen Quang and Thai Nguyen have been destroyed by [the] Vietnamese. . . . No estimate available of number of villages destroyed.

Until the early 1950’s, traces of the Viet Minh’s scorched earth strategy were still evident in Hai Duong, scattered around downtown. During my first four years of schooling, from 1948 to 1952, classrooms were often held in the pagodas or temples.

 

This Chinese-inspired experience, despite its limited military advantages, was to cause serious economic consequences in the years, if not decades, to come.

Houston. April 18, 2024

Vũ Ngự Chiêu Ph.D, JD

 

  



[1]Tel. 2081, 21 Dec. 1946, Haussaire Indo Saigon to Comindo Paris; CAOM (Aix), INF, c.126, d. 1125. The Vietnamese government has offered two different versions of Ho’s appeal. See Dong et al., Our President, pp. 134-135; and Porter, Documentation, vol. I, pp. 89-90. The version in Dong’s work is similar to the French report.

 

[2]CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 126, d. 1125.

 

[3]Cuu Quoc, Nov. 1946?; cited by Doan Them, Hai muoi nam, p. 28.

 

[4]My father, a teacher, allegedly a Dai Viet “reactionary,” was one among thousands of Ho’s victims during this period. He was thrown into a river with his hands and legs tied to a stone. Thanks to timely help from a militiaman, my father survived the Viet Minh’s mo tom [shrimp fishing expedition] and escaped to Hanoi where he was recaptured about a month later. According to my father’s stories, one of the most insidious measures used by the Viet Minh was detention of political prisoners together with ordinary criminals, using the latter to weaken the morale of the former. I was also told about the Viet Minh’s thought control and maltreatment of political prisoners by numerous Vietnamese eyewitnesses in the 1960s and 1970s. The most terrible prison camp was the “Center for Production of Inter-Region V,” headed by Nguyen Van So, in Thanh Hoa. Nguyen Vu, Ban luan vu cua qui [The Devils’ Walse] (Sai-Gon: Dai Nga, 1971).

 

[5]For a list of Ho’s reorganized government, see US-Vietnam Relations, Bk I, B-53; Chinh Dao, VNNB, I-A: 1939-1946, p. 354. According to Chu Ba Phuong’s relatives, he was in fact isolated by the Viet Minh. (My interviews with Chu Ba Phuong’s nephews in the USA, including Dr. Chu Ba Bang, in Houston in 1993-1994)

 

[6]Within a week, the National Assembly approved the Constitution, authorized Ho’s government to rule by decree and entrusted its power to a 15-member Permanent Bureau, led by Bui Bang Doan. This Constitution of November 8, 1946 consisted of a Preamble, seven Articles and 70 sections. 240 out of 242 representatives present at this session cast their votes for the Constitution. KLTTU 3 (Ha Noi), Kho [Fonds] Quoc Hoi, Ho so [File] 9. The next session of the first National Assembly was to be convened nine years later in 1955 to pass the Maoist-oriented land reform law. TTLTQG  3, QH, HS 9. In addition, the latest graduates from the Con Lon [Pulau Kandur] Prison Island and the volunteers from north and central regions effectively took over the wars of terror against the Japanese-sponsored religious sects and National Restoration groups, broke down the alliance from above, and forced the non-Communist groups to the French open arms. Mai Chi Tho,  Nhung Mau Chuyen Doi Toi [Fragments of My Life] (Hà Nội: CAND, 1995), pp. 104-107 [77-107] (Kỷ Niệm Côn Đảo = Puolo Condore Souvenirs]

 

[7]Direction de la Police et de la Sureté federale [DPSF], “Rapport mensuel . . . Decembre 1946” (11 Jan 1947), pp. 33-34, 52-53; CAOM (Aix), HCI, CP, c. 126. [Henceforth, DPSF Monthly report]; Bo Quoc Phong [Ministry of National Defense], Lich su cuoc khang chien chong thuc dan Phap, 1945-1954 [History of the Resistance War Against the French Colonialism, 1945-1954] (Ha Noi: QDND, 1986), vol. II, pp. 64-72, and passim. Cited henceforth, BQP, Khang chien, 1945-1954.

 

[8]DPSF Monthly report, December 1946, p. 53; CAOM (Aix), HCI, CP, c. 126. An anonymous poet reportedly posted on Khang’s grave a satirical poem denouncing his political naivety and complicity with the Communists to liquidate the non-Communist compatriots. There were also rumors that Khang, near the end of his life, acknowledged his mistakes and denounced the Communist deception. (My interviews with Dr. Ho Ta Khanh and various Vietnamese born in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai) This line of information apparently contradicts Khang’s alleged final letter to Ho publicized by the VCP, in which Khang addressed to Ho Chi Minh as the “venerable Old Mr” [Cụ in Vietnamese].

 

[9]A Viet Minh leaflet captured in Cho Lon in December 1946 gave the following list of the Nam Bo ERC: President: Pham Van Bach; Vice President: [Gaston] Pham Ngoc Thuan; Secretary General: Tran Buu Kiem; Interior: Ung Van Khiem; Military: Nguyen Binh; Finance: Ngo Tan Nhon; Special Commissar: Huynh Phu So; Social affairs: Nguyen Tu Do; Propaganda and Information: Pham Thieu; Advisor: Nguyen Ba Sang (Catholic priest); SHAT (Vincennes), 10H xxx [3969]. Also see Nguyen Binh’s declaration in Doc Lap [Independence], Southern edition, 22 Oct 1946; and Ung Van Khiem’s Circular No. 771/NV, 30 Oct 1946 regarding the application of the Modus vivendi of Sept 14, 1946; Ibid.,10H xxx [601]. 

 

[10]Vo Nguyen Giap, Nhung nam thang khong the nao quen [The Unforgettable Years and Months], with Huu Mai (Ha Noi: NXB Quan doi Nhan dan, 1977), pp. 401-402, 406-407 [2001:356-357]. Also see BQP, Khang chien, 1945-1954, vol. II, pp. 14, 48.

 

[11]Letters of 6 & 11 Nov 1946, D’Argenlieu to Ho; Message 1034-E, 6 Nov 1946, D’Argenlieu to Ho, via Morliere; Letter of 9 Nov 1946, Ho Chi Minh to d’Argenlieu; Thierry d’Argenlieu, Chronique, pp. 337-338.

 

[12]According to d’Argenlieu, at the meeting on November 23, 1946, Bidault, Moutet and Michelet authorized him to have a free hand in the military field. Bidault also reportedly confirmed that Cochinchina is a part of the French Empire and authorized the High Commissioner to use all means to restore order in Cochinchina, including artillery; Thierry d’Argenlieu, Chronique, pp. 345-346.

 

[13]On Oct 28, 1946, Nguyen Binh declared that his troops consisted of 30 companies; Doc Lap [Independence], Southern edition, 22 Oct 1946; SHAT (Vincennes), 10H xxx [601].  The Third Division under Nguyen Hoa Hiep, in fact, had left the resistance as early as mid-1946 after signing a secret accord with General Leclerc. CAOM (Aix), GGI, 7F 29.

 

[14]Nam Ky [Cochinchina] (Sai Gon), 24 Sept. and 3 Oct. 1946.

 

[15]CAOM (Aix), CP, Carton 11. For details, see Chinh Dao, VNNB, vol. I-A: 1939-1946, pp. 355-357, 359.

 

[16]Jean Valluy, “L’Imbroglio,” Revue des deux mondes, p. 287. As of October 1946, total French forces in Indochina consisted of 84,000 men, including 9,000 indigenous troops; Letter of 25 Oct. 1946, Juin to Moutet; CAOM (Aix), PA 28 [Papiers Moutet], c. 8.

 

[17]Thierry D’Argenlieu, Chronique, pp. 345-346.

 

[18]My main sources are drawn from SHAT (Vincennes), 10H [2513], especially Debès’ report of 10 December 1946; and CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 126, d. 1125. Additional notes are given to key events or other sources only.

 

[19]Valluy, “L’Imbroglio,” p. 209; Tel. of 17 Dec. 1946, Byrnes to [American diplomats in London, Moscow and Nanjing]; US-Vietnam Relations, Bk 8, VB 2, p. 89.

 

[20]See Lt-Colonel Sizaire’s report of 22 Nov. 1946; SHAT (Vincennes), 10H [2513]. A French diplomatic source indicates that ten (10) French soldiers were killed on November 21, while nine others were arrested on the train from their posts to Lang Son. Letter of 17 Dec 1946, Meyrier to Foreign Minister; CAOM (Aix), INF, c. 366, d. 2907. Four days later, on November 25, Sizaire’s troops attacked all Vietnamese posts and took over control of the town the next day. 3 French were killed and 7 wounded in the operations; Ibid

[21]Tels. Nos. 1897/3-T & 1901/3-T, 22 Nov. 1946, Valluy to Morlière, & No. 1899/3-T, Valluy to Debès; [SHAT (Vincennes), 10 H 2513].

 

[22]Tels. No. 1903/3-T, at 17H00, 22 Nov. 1946, Valluy to Morlière, & No. 1899/3-T, Valluy to Debès; Ibid.  Also see D’Argenlieu, Chronique, p. 353; Valluy, “L’Imbroglio,” p. 28; Hammer, Struggle, p. 183.

 

[23]Inspection des Forces terrestres d’Outre-Mer, Cabinet, “Fiche No. 102/IFTOM/CAB/S, 26 Jan. 1950: L’Affaire d’Haiphong en Novembre 1946,” p. 7; CAOM (Aix), PA 19, c. 14, d. 63

[24]Valluy, “L’ Imbroglio,” p. 291.

[25]Blum, United States and Vietnam, Appendix II, p. 38.

[26]AAN, Debat parlementaires, 2e seance de 10 mars 1949, pp. 1514-1515.

[27] CAOM (Aix), AP, c. 3444.

 

[52]Coming Tel. No. 8, Cabinet, 30 Dec. 1946, Leclerc (Saigon) to Overseas France; Ibid.

 

[53]66. Salan, Memoires, vol. II, p. 48.

 

[54]Ibid

[56]Memorandum of 23 Dec. 1946, Vincent to Acheson; Ibid.,  Bk 8, VB 2, pp. 91-92; Tel. Draft of 27 Dec 1946, Acheson to [London, Paris, Saigon and Nanjing]; Ibid., p. 95.

 

[58]L’Humanite, 24 Dec 1946. Also see Paul Mus, “Faut-il rayer de l’histoire les mots: ‘Vepres hanoiens?;” Temoignage chrétienne, 6 Jan 1947.  

[59]Tel. of 20 Dec 1946, Byrnes to [Moscow, Nanking and Saigon]; US-Vietnam Relations, Bk 8, VB 2, p. 90.

 

[62]BQP, Khang chien, p. 96.

 

[67] See infra.

 

[69]

 

 

 



[i]

PHỤ BẢN:

 

Trả lời cuộc phỏng vấn báo Paris-Saigon, Hồ tuyên bố: Thành thật mong muốn hòa bình; nhưng nếu bị ép buộc sẽ kháng chiến. (Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:355)

Thứ Sáu, 11/7/1946: Giáp cho lệnh tấn công các cơ sở VNQDĐ, đặc biệt là trụ sở số 7 Ôn Như Hầu [nay là Nguyễn Gia Thiều]. Một mặt không đồng ý cho Pháp tổ chức duyệt binh. Mặt khác chỉ thị Nha CA «dập tắt từ trong trứng những mưu đồ của bọn phản cách mạng [counter-revolutionary]. Nhóm VNQDĐ này thuộc phe Nguyễn Tường Tam, Chu Bá Phượng, v.. v.. Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:256.

Theo Trần Tấn Nghĩa, Đội trưởng Đội trinh sát đặc biệt của Sở Công An Bắc Bộ, một phiên họp kéo dài tới nửa đêm ngày 11/7 quyết định tấn công trụ sở VNQDĐ tại số 132 Duvignot (132 đường Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai  hiện nay)

Mờ sáng ngày Thứ Bảy, 12/7/1946, CAXP bất thần khám trụ sở VNQDĐ ở 132 đường Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai  [hiện nay]. Bắt «phản động» cùng tịch thu máy in, tài liệu tuyên truyền. 7 giờ sáng, khám phá nhiều trụ sở khác ở Hà Nội. Ba trụ sở ở hồ Thuyền Quang, VNQDĐ dùng trung liên chống lại. CAXP cùng tự vệ áp lực phải đầu hàng. Tại số 7 Ôn Như Hầu [Nguyễn Gia Thiều], tìm thấy nơi làm bạc giả và phòng tra tấn. Công an đào vườn lên thấy 7 xác chết. Giải cứu hai [2] nạn nhân bị bắt cóc để đòi tiền chuộc. Theo Nghĩa, từ 7 giờ sáng, trụ sở này đã bị CAXP và tự vệ bao vây. Nghĩa cho lệnh cắt điện thoại. Sau đó, Nghĩa một mình tiến vào, trình giấy tờ. Được đưa vào sảnh đường gặp Phan Kích Nam, sau khi giao vũ khí cho an ninh VNQDĐ. Nam tự giới thiệu là Đại biểu QH, Ủy viên TƯĐ/VNQDĐ, Tư lệnh Đệ nhất chiến khu.” Sau khi đọc lệnh bắt giữ và khám xét, Nam nói bất khả xâm phạm. Nghĩa trở lại Nha Công an Trung ương xin lệnh. Gặp Lê Giản [Giám đốc CA Trung ương], Nguyễn Văn Tạo, Bùi Đức Minh, Lê Hữu Qua. Đề nghị mời Nam về trụ sở CA Bắc bộ thuyết phục cho khám xét để tránh đổ máu. Nhưng, một lần nữa, Nam không đồng ý. Nghĩa lại trở về Nha Công an Trung ương, được lệnh bắt giữ Nam. 10G30, Nghĩa trở lại Ôn Như Hầu lần thứ ba. Lợi dụng sơ hở của Nam, đột ngột rút súng uy hiếp Nam, bắt giữ mọi người. Bắt được kế hoạch đảo chính và nhiều truyền đơn.(“Vụ án Ôn Như Hầu qua lời kể của Đại tá Trần Tấn Nghĩa;” cand.com, 28/8/2005)

 

Theo hồi ký của Võ Giáp, giữa lúc CA đang lục soát, một lãnh tụ VNQDĐ, tự xưng là Đại Biểu QH, nói không có quyền lục soát. Một nạn nhân chỉ vào cán bộ VNQDĐ nói trên, tố cáo đã kề gươm vào cổ, bắt viết thư về nhà đòi tiền chuộc. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:257. « Đồng bào » kéo đến thật đông. Người tìm thấy thân nhân trong đám bị bắt cóc. Người tố cáo bị hiếp dâm. Ngoài những cán bộ CS bị giết, còn người nói VNQDĐ thuê đào hầm, giết đi, để khỏi trả tiền công. V.. v.. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:257. Tìm thấy 7 xác chết, dụng cụ tra tấn. (Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:256-257)

6 giờ sáng hôm sau, đến lục soát khu đường Quan Thánh. Gần trại lính Pháp. Giao tranh suốt hai giờ. Pháp cho tăng tới can thiệp. Đại diện UBLK tới, Pháp phải rút lui. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:258.

Lục soát trụ sở trung ương VNQDĐ ở đường Đỗ Hữu Vị. Tìm thấy tử thi, cùng kế hoạch bắt cóc sĩ quan, binh lính và Pháp kiều rồi trút tội cho VM. Ngày 16/7, Huỳnh Thúc Kháng họp báo. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:258-259.

Theo một nhân chứng, Phan Kích Nam, một đại biểu Quốc Hội cương quyết chống đối. Bùi Đức Minh (tức Giáo Hách, 1900-1963)—một cán bộ VNQĐ phản đảng, đã theo CS từ năm 1935, về nước năm 1936, giữ chân liên lạc viên, đưa người từ trong nước qua Trung Hoa và ngược lại, lúc đó hoạt động trong ngành Công An—góp công lớn trong chiến dịch này. Sau đó, Minh làm Giám đốc Công An Liên Khu 10, sau là Liên khu Việt Bắc. Năm 1947, Minh móc nối được một người Pháp “tiến bộ” là Albert, nên chính phủ HCM đã thoát nạn khi Pháp nhảy dù định bắt gọn chính phủ HCM. (“Ông Bùi Đức Minh;”CAND.com, 14/1/2006)

 

Thứ Sáu, 11/7/1946, Võ Giáp được tin tình báo VNQDĐ định bắt tay Pháp làm đảo chính trong dịp Quốc Khánh Pháp 14/7/1946. Giáp cho lệnh tấn công các cơ sở VNQDĐ, đặc biệt là trụ sở số 7 Ôn Như Hầu [nay là Nguyễn Gia Thiều]. “Kế hoạch đảo chính chính phủ Hồ Chí Minh” này do Dương Tử Anh soạn thảo. Dự trù nhân dịp diễn binh mừng Quốc khánh Pháp, sẽ tung lựu đạn để Pháp có lý do bắt giữ lãnh đạo Việt Minh vì không đủ khả năng bảo vệ trật tự. Đồng thời, tìm cách mưu sát HCM ở Pháp. (“Ông Bùi Đức Minh;” CAND.com, 14/1/2006) Theo Trần Tấn Nghĩa, Đội trưởng Đội trinh sát đặc biệt của Sở Công An Bắc Bộ, một phiên họp kéo dài tới nửa đêm ngày 11/7 quyết định tấn công trụ sở VNQDĐ tại số 132 Duvignot (Ôn Như Hầu, tức phố Nguyễn Gia Thiều hiện nay)

Chủ Nhật, 13/7/1946: Hà Nội: CA tiếp tục tấn công các trụ sở VNQDĐ ở 80 Quan Thánh, Đỗ Hữu Vị (Hà Nội). (Giáp, KTNQ, 1974:287-292 [ch 36], 2001:256-257)

Hàng trăm cán bộ VNQDĐ bị bắt giữ, kể cả Nghiêm Kế Tổ, v.. v... (“Ông Bùi Đức Minh;”CAND.com, 14/1/2006)

Sôi nổi nhất là vụ án Ôn Như Hầu (trụ sở VNQDĐ tại số 132 Duvignot, ở Hà Nội ngày 12-13/7/1946 và rất nhiều phiên tòa hình sự tại các địa phương—với những bản án bịa đặt như hiếp dâm, trộm cắp, v.. v..—Giáp cô lập hầu hết phần tử đối lập trong các trại tập trung ở những vùng ma thiêng, nước độc tại thượng du Bắc Việt hay Khu IV (Thanh Hoá tới Thừa Thiên), Khu V (Quảng Nam-Quảng Ngãi-Bình Định). Ngay đến các Dân biểu đối lập cũng bị đi “cải tạo.” Từ 20 tới 27/10/1946, VM tuyên bố bắt giữ trên 300 phản động và Việt Gian. (Giáp, KTNQ, 1974:287-292 [ch 36], 2001:256-257, 258-259 [Huỳnh Thúc Kháng mắng chửi đại biểu VNQDĐ đến kêu oan. Ngày Thứ Tư, 16/7/1946, Kháng họp báo, bênh vực việc làm của Võ Nguyên Giáp và Việt Minh. (Giáp, KTNQ, 1974:291-292 [ch 36], 2001:258-259)]; VKĐTT, 8: 1945-1947, 2000:98-114 [Thứ Năm, 31/7-1/8/1946, Hội nghị cán bộ TW ra Nghị quyết: Tạm thời hòa hoãn với đối lập (VNQĐ, CG, v.. v...) (VKĐTT, 8: 1945-1947, 2000:98-114)]; “Ông Bùi Đức Minh;” CAND.com, 14/1/2006 [Chủ Nhật, 13/7/1946: CA tiếp tục tấn công các trụ sở VNQDĐ ở 80 Quan Thánh, Đỗ Hữu Vị (Hà Nội). Hàng trăm cán bộ VNQDĐ bị bắt giữ, kể cả Nghiêm Kế Tổ, v.. v... (“Ông Bùi Đức Minh;”CAND.com, 14/1/2006)]; Cứu Quốc (Hà Nội), 11/1946; dẫn trong Đoàn Thêm, Hai mươi năm, p. 28. Xem thêm, Hoàng Văn Đào, Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng (Sài Gòn: 1971). Lê Giản [Giám đốc CA Trung ương], Nguyễn Văn Tạo, Bùi Đức Minh, Lê Hữu Qua trực tiếp điều khiển cuộc thanh trừng này. Bùi Đức Minh (tức Giáo Hách, 1900-1963)—một cán bộ VNQĐ phản đảng, đã theo CS từ năm 1935, về nước năm 1936, giữ chân liên lạc viên, đưa người từ trong nước qua Trung Hoa và ngược lại, lúc đó hoạt động trong ngành Công An—góp công lớn trong chiến dịch này. Sau đó, Minh làm Giám đốc Công An Liên Khu 10, tức Liên khu Việt Bắc. Năm 1947, Minh móc nối được một người Pháp “tiến bộ” là Albert, nên chính phủ HCM đã thoát nạn khi Pháp nhảy dù định bắt gọn chính phủ HCM. (“Ông Bùi Đức Minh;”CAND.com, 14/1/2006)

Theo tài liệu CS, từ cuối tháng 6/1946, Nha Công An Trung Ương đã được tin Pháp cấu kết với VNQDĐ để đảo chính. Trường Chinh cho phép xuống tay tập trung trấn áp, nhưng phải đủ chứng cứ. [Xem 11/7/1946] Một mặt không đồng ý cho Pháp tổ chức duyệt binh. Mặt khác chỉ thị Nha CA dập tắt từ trong trứng những mưu đồ của bọn phản cách mạng [counter-revolutionary]. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:256. Nhóm VNQDĐ này thuộc phe Nguyễn Tường Tam, Chu Bá Phượng, v.. v.. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:256.

Mờ sáng ngày 12/7, CAXP bất thần khám trụ sở VNQDĐ ở 132 đường Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai. Bắt phản động cùng tịch thu máy in, tài liệu tuyên truyền. 7 giờ sáng, khám phá nhiều trụ sở khác ở Hà Nội. Ba trụ sở ở hồ Thuyền Quang, VNQDĐ dùng trung liên chống lại. CAXP cùng tự vệ áp lực phải đầu hàng. Ti số 7 Ôn Như Hầu [Nguyễn Gia Thiều], tìm thấy nơi làm bạc giả và phòng tra tấn. Công an đào vườn lên thấy 7 xác chết. Giải cứu hai [2] nạn nhân bị bắt cóc để đòi tiền chuộc.

Giữa lúc CA đang lục soát, một lãnh tụ VNQDĐ, tự xưng là Đại Biểu QH, nói không có quyền lục soát. Một nạn nhân chỉ vào cán bộ VNQDĐ nói trên, tố cáo đã kề gươm vào cổ, bắt viết thư về nhà đòi tiền chuộc. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:257.

“Đồng bào” kéo đến thật đông. Người tìm thấy thân nhân trong đám bị bắt cóc. Người tố cáo bị hiếp dâm. Ngoài những cán bộ CS bị giết, còn người nói VNQDĐ thuê đào hầm, giết đi, để khỏi trả tiền công. V.. v.. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:257.

6 giờ sáng hôm sau, đến lục soát khu đường Quan Thánh. Gần trại lính Pháp. Giao tranh suốt hai giờ. Pháp cho tăng tới can thiệp. Đại diện UBLK tới, Pháp phải rút lui. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:258.

Lục soát trụ sở trung ương VNQDĐ ở đường Đỗ Hữu Vị. Tìm thấy tử thi, cùng kế hoạch bắt cóc sĩ quan, binh lính và Pháp kiều rồi trút tội cho VM. Ngày 16/7, Huỳnh Thúc Kháng họp báo. Võ Nguyên Giáp, KTNQ, 2001:258-259.

Seance of [31/10/1946: QH chất vấn chính phủ; TTLTQG 3 (Ha Noi), QH, HS 4: Khoá họp lần thứ hai của QH nước VNDCCH tại thủ đô Hà Nội (từ 28/10 đến 9/11 năm 1946), pp.12-13. [56 trang. Sao lục lại ngày 1/4/1954]

In the small towns and in the countryside Ho’s police and militiamen were more energetic in their assassination of counter-revolutionaries, especially members of the Greater Viet, Viet Quoc, and Unified League [Viet Cach].

Những ngày kế tiếp, Hồ và các thuộc hạ ráo riết chuẩn bị chiến tranh. Các mật khu thời chiến được tu bổ; các kho tàng nhu yếu phẩm được tăng cường. Một số cơ sở chính phủ và đơn vị chính qui được lệnh rút dần khỏi Hà Nội.

)

Thứ Ba, 5/11/1946: As early as November 5, 1946, Ho had reportedly decided to face the inevitable—a long war of resistance.(31. 31. Giap, KTNQ, 2001: 377-378.

8/11/1946: Hải Phòng: Ủy Ban Quân sự Khu 4 cho lệnh tự vệ chuẩn bị chiến đấu từ ngày 9/11/1946. (Thierry D’Argenlieu, Chronique, 1985:348)

Coincidentally, a tragedy in Saigon aided d’Argenlieu’s plan. On the early morning of November 10, Premier Thinh of the Cochinchinese Republic was found dead in his reading room.  Allegedly he hanged himself.[i]

Sáng sớm ngày 10/11/1946, Thủ tướng Cộng Hòa Nam Kỳ tự trị Nguyễn Văn Thinh qua đời tại phòng đọc sách.

Sài Gòn: Nguyễn Văn Thinh được tin Trần Văn Tỷ sẽ lập chính phủ.

Ngày 7/11, HĐTV Nam Kỳ bắt Thinh phải cải tổ nội các, nhưng cả Thinh và Tỷ không tìm được người muốn gia nhập nội các mới. Thinh càng bất mãn và buồn bực hơn khi d'Argenlieu đã tiếp kiến Tỷ trước mình—một dấu hiệu có thể được diễn dịch như sự thất sủng của Thinh.

Ngày 9/11, Thinh nhận được thư của Nguyễn Phú Khai báo tin Trần Văn Tỷ sẽ lập chính phủ mới, và Nguyễn Văn Tâm sẽ nắm Bộ Quốc Phòng, Trần Văn Đôn (1887-?) bộ Y tế, Nguyễn Thành Lập (1913-1950?) Bộ Tài chánh v.. v.. Những nhân vật này chẳng xa lạ gì với Thinh, đặc biệt là Đôn và Lập. (CAOM (Aix), CP, carton 11)

Đôn là con Trần Văn Mười, gốc Chợ Lớn. Được một Pháp kiều nhận làm con nuôi, cho qua Pháp du học. Tốt nghiệp y khoa năm 1920 tại Đại học Bordeaux. Năm 1923, gia nhập tổ chức Jeune Annam; sau đó hoạt động trong nhóm Lập Hiến. Trong hai năm 1935-1936, là Phó Chủ tịch đảng Dân Chủ của Thinh.

Nguyễn Thành Lập gốc Mỹ Tho, du học Pháp từ 1927 tới 1937, sau đó qua London từ 1937 tới 1941. Năm 1941, về lại Sài Gòn, làm việc cho ngân hàng Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China. Trong giai đoạn Nhật chiếm đóng, bỏ việc ở ngân hàng, làm việc cho cha là Nguyễn Thành Liên. Năm 1945, Liên trở thành một trong những nạn nhân đầu tiên của Việt Minh.(21) Giao tình giữa Thinh cùng Đôn, Lập khá thân thiết.

Tuy nhiên, thật khó đoán biết thực chăng lá thư kể trên của Khai đã khiến Thinh tuyệt vọng đến độ treo cổ chết tại nhà riêng vào rạng sáng ngày 10/11/1946?

Chủ Nhật, 10/11/1946: Sài Gòn: Nguyễn Văn Thinh chết tại tư gia (Aix, CP 11).

 

Theo báo cáo chính thức của Mật thám Pháp, đây là một vụ treo cổ tự tử [suicide par pendaison]. Các viên chức điều tra cũng ghi nhận rằng Chánh án Weill, một nhân vật quyền thế, đứng sau lưng Thinh, đã gọi điện thoại cho Đốc Phủ sứ Hồ Văn Trung—tức nhà văn Hồ Biểu Chánh, thư ký riêng của Thinh—vào khoảng 23 giờ tối 9/11, yêu cầu lưu ý đến Thinh vì khi rời nhà Weill ít phút trước, Thinh tỏ ra rất chán đời. Nhưng Trung không phát hiện một dấu hiệu đặc biệt nào của Thinh. Sáng ngày 10/11, Trung mới sửng sốt khám phá ra rằng Thinh treo cổ tự tử chết bên thành cửa sổ trong đêm.

Vụ án này gây sôi nổi dư luận. Có người cho rằng Thinh bị giết. Có người cho rằng Thinh phẫn hận việc d'Argenlieu tiếp kiến Trần Văn Tỷ trước mình nên tự tử. Nhiều người, kể cả Y sĩ Hồ Tá Khanh, cựu Bộ trưởng Kinh tế của Trn Trọng Kim và các giới chức Ngoại giao Mỹ, nghĩ rằng nếu muốn tự tử, Thinh hẳn có phương tiện khác (thuốc độc, chẳng hạn).(Báo cáo ngày 11/11/1946 và Note số 8893/SG ngày 14/11/1946 của Nha Liêm Phóng và Cảnh Sát Liên Bang Đông Dương; CP 11)

Ngay chính vợ Thinh cũng tỏ ý nghi hoặc. Từ Isère, Pháp, ngày 24/11/1946 vợ Thinh viết cho Jean Paris, ngụ tại 159 phố Champagne, Sài Gòn, rằng bà ta hoàn toàn ngạc nhiên vì cái chết của chồng. Theo vợ Thinh, trong lá thư cuối cùng gửi cho vợ, Thinh không tỏ một dấu hiệu bi quan yếm thế nào, mà chỉ nói muốn được về Pháp hưu trí. (“J'ai été douloureusement surprise par la mort de mon mari. Il venait justement de m'écrire qu'il allait venir se reposer en France, il ne paraissait nullement déprimé. Eclairera-t-on ce mystère? Je suis bien triste de cette fin tragique, le bilan de toute une vie de travail;” CP 11)

Dư luận càng mơ hồ hơn khi có tin đồn trước khi tự tử, Thinh để lại một di chúc, hoặc một lá thư tuyệt bút nào đó. Tài liệu cảnh sát Pháp thì khẳng định trong túi áo veston của Thinh chỉ có lá thư của Nguyễn Phú Khai, từ Bà Rịa gửi cho Thinh đã nói ở một đoạn trên. Theo Khai, Đỗ Kiến Tô(?)—cựu thư ký của Huỳnh Văn Chín, chánh văn phòng của Tỷ tại Bộ Tư pháp—đã đến nhà Đốc Phủ [Phạm Văn Chi] vào lúc 11G30 [ngày 9/11/1946] để thăm dò ý kiến [về việc lập chính phủ]. Khai cũng hứa sẽ báo cáo mọi chi tiết với Thinh vào 5 giờ chiều cùng ngày. Mặt sau lá thư này có ghi danh sách những người có thể tham gia chính phủ Tỷ.

Sau cái chết của Thinh, Đại tá Xuân tạm thời xử lý thường vụ chức Thủ Tướng.

12/11/1946: Trung úy André Trần Văn Đôn—tùy viên của Xuân—viết cho cha, lúc ấy đang ở Paris, như sau:

Từ một tháng rưỡi nay, quá nhiều biến chuyển chính trị và tài chính đã khiến ông già tội nghiệp bất bình, dù ông ta là người tốt, lương thiện và trung thành. Đất nước mất đi một vĩ nhân trên đủ mọi phương diện.... Xứ sở mình chẳng sáng sủa chút nào. (“Depuis un mois et demi trop d'intrigues politiques et financières ont dégouté le pauvre homme qui était bon, honnête et loyal. Le pays a perdu un grand homme à tous les points de vue.... La situation n'est guère brillante dans notre pays.” CP 11)

Trong suốt gần ba tuần kế tiếp, HĐTV Nam Kỳ không bầu được người thay Thinh. Cả hai ứng cử viên Xuân và Tỷ không đủ phiếu. [Xem 29/11/1946]

Tổng tuyển cử ở Pháp.

Bầu Quốc Hội. [Xem 24/11/1946]

11/11/1946: Từ Sài Gòn, D'Argenlieu cảnh cáo Hồ rằng phải hoặc cấm Lâm Ủy Hành Chánh bạo động; hoặc tố cáo hành vi của tổ chức ngoài vòng pháp luật này. ((Chronique, 1985:338)

Pháp tổ chức Quốc táng cho Thinh.

Hà Nội: HCM viết thư cho d’Argenlieu phản đối việc Pháp đơn phương lập trạm kiểm soát quan thuế ở Hải Phòng [từ ngày 15/10/1946].

Ngày 26[27]/11, thư phản kháng này mới được chuyển về Comindo. Valluy nhận định: Chính phủ Việt Nam đang tìm cách loại bỏ những ràng buộc [giới hạn] việc thu mua vũ khí lậu của họ.

Những ngày kế tiếp, Linh mục/Cao ủy d’Argenlieu, với sự tiếp tay của Tướng Valluy, Hội truyền giáo Pháp và các thành phần kiều dân bảo thủ, tìm cách khiêu khích đẩy Hồ vào thế phải rút khỏi Hà Nội ra bưng.

Phe hiếu chiến của Việt Minh, đại diện bằng Võ Nguyên Giáp và Trường Chinh, cũng quyết định răng đối răng, mắt đối mắt.  {Theo tình báo Pháp, Tướng Hồng quân Diệp Kiếm Anh có mặt ở Hà Nội. Sau đó, theo Giáp lên mật khu] (CĐ số 50-TB, 27/11/1946, Valluy gửi Comindo; (Thierry D’Argenlieu, Chronique, 1985:347)

Thực ra Pháp kiểm soát quan thuế từ ngày 10/10/1946. (Thierry D’Argenlieu, Chronique, 1985:347)

 

 



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