The First Indochina War,
In late August 1945 the Communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh left his guerrilla base in the mountains of north Vietnam and traveled to the city of Hanoi. As Ho and his escort entered the capital, they found the streets decorated with Viet Minh flags—a gold star in the middle of a field of red. In the center of the city banners draped from tree to tree spanned the boulevards, denouncing French imperialism and proclaiming “Independence or death” and “Viet Nam for the Vietnamese.” French colonial officials, stripped of their power and under guard in the palace of the governor-general, watched apprehensively as Vietnamese revolutionaries took control of the city and proclaimed on September 2 the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). Ho, standing on a high wooden platform and wearing a khaki suit with a high-collared jacket, announced that “Viet Nam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence and in fact has become a free and independent country. 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 freedom and independence.”1 It seemed as if the old colonial order in Vietnam had suddenly and irreversibly collapsed.