After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sover- eignty and to found the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French. The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won indepen- dence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic. For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government, representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on we break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we repeal all the international obligation that France has so far subscribed to on behalf of Vietnam and we abolish all the special rights the French have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland. The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country. We are convinced that the Allied nations, which at Tehran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the indepen- dence of Vietnam. A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eight years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the Fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent. Document 3 Lesson One
20 The Vietnam War: A National Dilemma For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country—and in fact is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty. Source: Ho Chi Minh, “Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, September 2, 1945” in Breaking Our Chains: Documents on the Vietnamese Revolution of August 1945 (Hanoi: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1960), pp. 94–97, and in Selected Writings (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1977), pp. 53–56. Understanding the Document 1. Why do you believe Ho Chi Minh prefaces the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence with a reference to the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America? 2. Identify and evaluate the specific grievances Ho Chi Minh lodges against the French in the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence.