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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. The political situation in the world after World War II
2. Reasons for the Vietnam War and the intervention of the USA
3. The development of the Vietnam War
3.1 The first phase: the Indochina War (1946-1954)
3.2 Further political riots in Vietnam and the beginning of the second phase (1955-1963)
3.3 The “hot” second phase: the military intervention of the USA (1964-1973)
3.4 The third phase: civil war and the end of the conflict (1973-1975)
4. Results of the Vietnam War
5. The standpoint of the American population towards this war
6. Memorials to the Vietnam War
9. List of literature, sources and means
The Vietnam War was the longest military conflict during the 20th century. It started in 1945 as the Vietnamese opposed the French colonialism to became an independent state. The USA interfered to contain the spread of communism, but the North Vietnamese fought very hard to defend their ideology. The intervention of the USA was often criticized and led to national and international protest. Thirty years later the North Vietnamese finally defeated the American-supported South Vietnamese Army and so the controversial war in Vietnam ended in the first military defeat in the history of the United States.
It was a war that is not treated in detail at school and many people don’t know anything about this war because it isn’t often mentioned in our history books. That’s why we’ve chosen this topic. We’ve tried to find out reasons for the Vietnam War by considering the political situation in the world at that time and we also wanted to describe the step by step intervention of the USA as well as reactions to the decisions of the American presidents. A further aim of us was to list the terrible consequences of the war and to show that this war isn’t forgotten till today and that there are many memorials all over the world to remember the people who had fought very hard.
It was really very difficult to summarize such an extensive war in only ten or twelve pages and to mention still all imported facts. Another problem was that we couldn’t find a lot of far-reaching literature in libraries or bookshops about this topic and so we felt compelled to use mainly sources in the internet.
Nevertheless we think that we succeeded in realizing our aims and we want to thank our parents, grand-parents and our English teacher Mrs Böhme for their support and advice. Anyway, this work was not only a task we had to do for school, but it was connected with fun and interest and we’re sure that it was a precious experience to our future.
1. THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN THE WORLD AFTER WORLD WAR II
During the World War II the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union had fought together against the nationalistic Germany. But already in the last year of the war there were more and more discrepancies in the coalition of these countries because the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin planned to expand his territory in Europe and wanted the West to tolerate his intention. First of all the British Prime Minister Churchill and U.S. President Roosevelt agreed to that but as they discerned how Stalin tried to suppress personal rights and democracy, their mistrust and resistance increased. One consequence of this was that no political solution for the occupied Germany was founded.
After the death of Roosevelt Harry Truman became the new President of the United States. Like many other Americans he thought that democracy and capitalism should be protected against communism. Provoked by the Soviet Union he carried out his “Policy of Containment” and proclaimed the so-called Truman-Doctrine that promised all peoples who are in conflict with communist countries the support of the USA. To prevent a Soviet expansion he wanted to combine the western part of Europe with the USA by the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the other side of the world Japan should become a westward oriented power by the peace treaty of 1952 to contain an expansion of the Chinese territory which was under the communist leadership of Mao Tse Tung (since 1949). The relations between East and West tensed more and more and the Cold War began. Besides the USA and the Soviet Union were constantly in competition with each other, for example in developing and testing weapons and nuclear arms.
But in the field of space travel the SU was superior to the USA. The first artificial satellite “Sputnik”, which was put into orbit in 1957, shocked America and as the Soviets established a wall between East and West Germany to dissociate themselves from democracy and capitalism, a so-called “Iron Curtain” split up Europe and the world. Because of this the USA felt itself provoked and in danger and wanted to take now effective measures against communism, among others by intervening in wars in which the SU tried to increase its influence.
The Vietnam War as well as the North and South Korean War were a result of the Cold War because the USA interfered in both wars to prevent the spread of communism and its aim was to show that they are superior to the Soviet Union. In Korea the USA succeeded in beating back the North Korean troops which were fallen upon the South since 1950 and after an armistice was signed in 1953, the country was divided into a northern, communist part and a southern, democratic part. But in Vietnam they had to accept a painful defeat.
2. REASONS FOR THE VIETNAM WAR AND THE INTERVENTION OF THE USA
- the tensed situation in the world after World War II, the Cold War between East and West and the competition of these two blocks caused an American intervention in the Vietnam War; the USA saw themselves as a protector of democracy and capitalism and wanted to show the Soviet Union that are superior to the Soviet Union and their system
- economic and strategic considerations, anticommunist tradition, developments in the domestic policy, foreign policy events and changes in the international system of states resulted in a thinking that visualised the threat of communism Æ the perception that democracy and capitalism should be protected against communism was represented by many Americans
- by applying the Truman-Doctrine the USA helped the westward oriented South Vietnam with their war against the communist North Æ the USA interfered in this war to prevent the spread of communism fearing that they could lose their power and influence in the eastern and southern states of the Pacific
- Tonkin-incident in 1964 which President Johnson used as an opportunity to order bombardments of the communist North
- Ho Chi Minh, an experienced revolutionary, knew how to inspire the people and wanted them to fight for their independence
- in 1941 he founded the “Vietnam Independence League” whose members were known as the Viet Minh; during the Indochina War they fought against France for exempt themselves from the French colonialism
- in the foreground of their policy the Viet Minh wanted to solve three problems: because of the famine they tried to find a deserved distribution of the food and knotted with that was the endeavour to expand their influence in Vietnam (their effect in the South was much lower than in the North); the third aim was to establish an own army
3.1 THE FIRST PHASE: THE INDOCHINA WAR (1946-1956)
The Vietnam War lasted 30 years and began in 1945 as a fight against the French colonial supremacy with the first of three phases of that war, the French phase (1945- 1954). It followed the American phase (1964-1973) and the civil war in Vietnam as the third of these phases.
Since 1880 the French governed the countries that are today Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. However, during the World War II the Japanese took control over this region in Southeast Asia which is also known as Indochina. After the surrender of the Japanese in August 1945, the “Democratic Republic of North Vietnam” was established in Hanoi on September 2, 1945. This republic demanded under their president Ho Chi Minh , the leader and founder of the communist “Vietnam Independence League” (known as Vieth Minh), the unlimited independence for the whole country. On the same day, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam by quoting from the text of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776: “We hold the truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These are undeniable rights”. With this statement he caused a military conflict with France that wanted to restore their colonial supremacy in Indochina. On September 13, 1945 British forces arrived in Saigon, South Vietnam. They prepared the way for the French’s return. But the coalition of Communists and left-wing Nationalists (Viet Minh) revolted against that.
An open conflict between France and Vietnam broke out as French forces bombarded Haiphong harbour and occupied Hanoi. As a result the Viet Minh started their first large scale attack against the French in Hanoi on December 19, 1946. Thus an eight-year struggle known as the Indochina War began. In 1949 the French appointed the Vietnamese emperor Boa Dai as head of state in Saigon (today Ho-Chi-Minh-City), South Vietnam. After the Communists had won the Chinese civil war against Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army, China promised to support the Viet Minh in political and military matters. So they sent military advisors and modern weapons to the Viet Minh and the West feared a spread of the communist movement to the neighbouring countries.
After the death of Roosevelt in 1945, Harry Truman came into power. Like many other Americans he had the opinion that democracy and capitalism should be protected against Communism. For this reason he proclaimed a doctrine that promised all nations which are in struggle with communist minorities the support of the USA. Consequently they complied with the request of France and sent them military and logistic aid. On the other side the communist Viet Minh got military and political support from China (under Mao Tse Tung) since 1950.
The USA saw themselves as a fighter against the Communism and when they sent financial and military aid to the French their indirect participation in this war began. In 1953 the Viet Minh could assert themselves in the biggest part of Vietnam. So the USA under their new president Dwight D. Eisenhower increased the U.S. military aid to the French in Vietnam to prevent a Communist victory. In his “Domino Theory” Eisenhower expressed that if the Communists would win the struggle, the surrounding countries would fall a victim to communism one after another like a row of dominoes.
From March 30 to May 1, 1954 10,000 French were trapped by the Viet Minh. The French urgently asked Washington for help. But President Eisenhower dismissed a conventional air raid after he got a strong negative response to such an action from America’s chief alley, Britain. Eisenhower also decided against sending U.S. ground troops to rescue the French, so no action was taken. On May 7, 1954 France suffered the decisive defeat at Dien Bien Phu which was their base in North Vietnam. Up to this day about 8000 Viet Minh and 1500 French had died.
One day after the surrender at Dien Bien Phu the Geneva Conference on Indochina began. It was attended by the United States, Britain, China, the Soviet Union, France and Vietnam with representatives of the Viet Minh on one side and with representatives of Boa Dai on the other. They all met to negotiate about a solution for Southeast Asia. The negotiations finished on July 21, 1954. Results were an armistice agreement between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the French government as well as a division of Vietnam into two parts at the 17th parallel. Vietnam was split into a northern, communist part and a southern, pro-western part. The North still remained the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh while the South became a Republic under Ngo-Dinh Diem as head of state. He was supported by the USA and North Vietnam received aid from China as well as from the Soviet Union and the States of the European Eastern Bloc. Besides the agreement decided elections which should be held in whole Vietnam within two years to reunify the country. The USA opposed these unifying elections, fearing a likely victory by Ho Chi Minh.
3.2 FURTHER POLITICAL RIOTS IN VIETNAM AND THE BEGINNING OF THE SECOND PHASE(1955-1963)
In 1955 the Republic of South Vietnam was proclaimed with Ngo Dinh Diem as its first president. In America, President Eisenhower pledged his support for the new government and offered military aid. The elections which were provided for 1956 for whole Vietnam failed because of the resistance of Diem and the USA. They didn’t want to hold these elections realizing that it would come to a victory of the Communists in all probability. In April 1956 the last French left South Vietnam.
From 1957 on the Viet Cong (Communists in South Vietnam) started to proceed against the regime of Diem and American military facilities. They could reckon on the support of North Vietnam and at attacks of the North Vietnamese in 1959 it came to the first American victims in Vietnam. In 1960 the Viet Cong established the so-called “National Liberation Front of South Vietnam”, an organisation which depended on North Vietnam. The new inaugurated American President John F. Kennedy declared in January 1961 that the USA would pay any price to defeat Communism in Southeast Asia. On the other side stated the leader of the Communist, Ho Chi Minh, stated that they would fight until Vietnam is independent and reunified. Under the pressure that the USA would lose Southeast Asia if the Communists win the struggle, President Kennedy expanded the number of U.S. military advisors and sent further 8000 soldiers to Vietnam. Kennedy justified the expanding of the U.S. military role with the attitude that it was in accordance with a policy their government followed since 1954. Until December 1961 the Viet Cong controlled much of the countryside in South Vietnam. Meanwhile the cost to America of maintaining South Vietnam’s army and managing the overall conflict in Vietnam rose to a million dollar per day.
At the beginning of the year 1963 the victory of the Viet Cong in the battle of Ap Bac made front page news in America as 350 Viet Cong fighters defeated a large force of American-equipped South Vietnamese.
In South Vietnam now Buddhists revolted against the government of Diem, too. As an act of protest they burned themselves publicly to death. Photos of such actions shocked the American population as well as President Kennedy. The White House started now discussions about whether the USA should support a military coup against Diem or not because he didn’t want to reform the government. Finally the U.S. government saw no possibility that the war could be won under a Diem administration and Diem was overthrown in November 1963.
Twenty days after that, on November 22, the American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
3.1 THE “HOT” SECOND PHASE: THE MILITARY INTERVENTION OF THE USA (1964-1973)
Lyndon B. Johnson became the successor of the murdered John F. Kennedy and wanted to continue Kennedy’s policy. But in contrast to Kennedy Johnson had no doubts about the rightness of the American engagement on this war.
Nevertheless he was in a dilemma till the middle of the year 1964: on one side he wanted to avoid a direct American participation, but on the other side he wouldn’t be the first president who had lost a war and therefore the next elections.
On August 2 and 4,1964 three North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the American destroyer U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin near the coast of North Vietnam. President Johnson used the incidents as an opportunity to order bombardments of North Vietnam and the U.S. Congress passed the so-called “Tonkin Resolution”. With it President Johnson had the permission to take all necessary steps , including the use of armed force, to prevent any further assault against U.S. forces. The Resolution granted enormous power to President Johnson and gave him the power of attorney to wage an undeclared war in Vietnam.
During the next year the USA started systematic bomb raids against military and economic targets in North Vietnam and against the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos and Cambodia which was the supply line for the Communists in the South (Viet Cong). The USA also increased the number of their combat troops, but although they were superior to the number of their forces and materials they could not induce a decision. Instead of a quick decision the Communists preferred a war of wear and tear to weaken the moral of the Americans.
In 1965 and 1966 the USA often signalled readiness to negotiate. However, North Vietnam rejected and the bombardments in North Vietnam were continued and even intensified. Meanwhile North Vietnam depended on the military and economic aid of China and the Soviet Union. Since 1966 the USA accepted consciously casualties of the civilian population and because of strategic reasons they used pesticide which made the forests infertile and defoliated them. The brutal destruction of whole towns and forests showed that the USA became nervous and that they pressed for a decision. In 1967 Vietnam swallowed again life, money and equipment in a fearful extent, but the American government saw the situation in Vietnam too rosy and more optimistic as it really was.
At the beginning of the year 1968 it seemed as if the USA got the better of the North Vietnamese but the appearances were deceptive. The Tet Offensive (named after the beginning of the offensive in month Tet of the Vietnamese calendar) at the end of January destroyed these illusions. It was a large scale offensive of the North Vietnamese which should lead to a the military breakdown of the USA. The Vietcong, aided by the army of North Vietnam, attacked a hundred cities and towns throughout South Vietnam. The duration, the striking power and the mobility of this offensive caused anxiety in the USA and President Johnson had to decide again whether the USA should comply with the demand for a reinforcement of the American troops and expand their military engagement or if he should admit the unsuccessfulness of the American policy in Vietnam.
At the end Tet was a military success but a political catastrophe for the USA because the methods that the regime of Saigon and American forces used to defend themselves shocked the U.S. population and called the moral of this war renewed into question. The release for the sharp critic was the terrible My Lai massacre in which the inhabitants of a small village (My Lai) were massacred by U.S. soldiers.
The most popular victim of the Tet Offensive was President Johnson. On March 31, 1968 he announced that he would not take part in the next elections in November. So the Communists reached despite high casualties their aims to release doubts about this war in the American population, to split the society of the USA and to overthrow a U.S. president. At the same time Johnson proclaimed the end of air raids on North Vietnam and peace negotiations between the USA and North Vietnam were started in May. However, no results were obtained and the war went on in an undiminished hardness. Looking back you can say that almost all decisions of Johnson’s administration with regard to Vietnam were based on wrong decisions with serious results. The consequence of this was that Richard M. Nixon was chosen as new president in the elections in November 1968 and Henry Kissinger became his National Security Advisor. By year’s end, the number of American deaths amounted to a total of 30 000 in the whole war. In 1968 over thousand a month were killed.
Only a few month after his inauguration President Nixon presented his programme of the “Vietnamization” of the war, that meant a step by step withdrawal of 90 000 soldiers till the end of 1969 and the extension of South Vietnamese forces as well as the gradual assignment of responsibility for the warfare to the government of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese army should be better equipped so that the USA could wage a retreat from Vietnam. However, North Vietnam demanded the full withdrawal of American troops as a basis for negotiations. In July 1969 the “Nixon-Doctrine” was made public. It advocated U.S. military and economic assistance to nations around the world struggling against Communism, but no more Vietnam-style ground wars involving American troops. One month later Henry Kissinger conducted his first secret meeting in Paris with representatives from Hanoi (North Vietnam).
But in 1970 the administration of Nixon expanded the war in Southeast Asia drastically. Nixon and his influential security advisor Kissinger knew that they could not defeat Communism without using diplomacy. With military success they wanted to win some time for the “Vietnamization” and the new U.S. diplomacy. Acted under the order of President Nixon, American and South Vietnamese troops marched into regions of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. This led to international critic and fierce resistance in the USA and moreover the American actions were for the most part without success. Although the forces withdrawn till the end of July, Cambodia was now definitely involved in the conflict. A further aim of the USA was the destruction of the infrastructure of the Viet Cong. In February 1971 South Vietnamese soldiers, supported by the U.S. air force, opened in South Laos a new front in the Vietnam War. With that they wanted to destroy the supply line of the Communists. Nevertheless the number of American troops as well as the U.S. casualties decreased in accordance with “Vietnamization” of the war successfully till the end of 1971.
On January 25, 1972 President Nixon announced a proposed eight point peace plan for Vietnam and also revealed that Kissinger had been secretly negotiating with the North Vietnamese. Furthermore he pursued the aim of “Vietnamization” and strove for the completion of the war or at least of the U.S. engagement.
While the Americans gradual left Vietnam and Kissinger negotiated once more about an armistice, the military struggles in South Vietnam increased more and more during the year 1972. Military supported by the Soviet Union, the Communists started a second large scale offensive against their enemies in the end of March. Hereon the USA responded with a counteroffensive that comprised the resumption of an unrestricted air war against North Vietnam after a break of four years. Nixon used the strategic bombs without consideration as a military, diplomatic and propagandistic weapon. With such actions he intended to put the Communists under pressure and to force them to confessions.
As on October 8, 1972 anew negotiations between Kissinger and the North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho took place, progresses were made because North Vietnam agreed to a plan that contained separate agreements for military and political fields. However, the negotiations stagnated again in the middle of December and President Nixon, who had won the presidential election in November 1972, issued an ultimatum to North Vietnam. With that he wanted to force the Communists to serious negotiations within 72 hours. But resultant from the deficient response of Hanoi, Nixon ordered bombardments against military targets in Hanoi. Finally, North Vietnam agreed to resume peace negotiations. In 1973 Nixon succeeded in taking the USA out of the Vietnam War.
After Kissinger and Le Duc Tho had negotiated about an armistice agreement almost five years, the Paris Peace Accords were signed by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong on January 27, 1973. It claimed the complete discontinuance of actions, the withdrawal of all forces of the USA and their allies as well as the liberation of prisoners of war within 60 days and the acknowledgement of the demilitarized zone as a provisional and not as a political or territorial border. Till March all American troops left Vietnam, but South Vietnam still received economic and military aid from the United States.
Suddenly, South Vietnam was less important for the USA. They were now occupied with more significant issues like the Watergate scandal (burglary in the election campaign building of the Democrats, the so-called Watergate building, by partners of President Nixon), the SALT-negotiations with the Soviet Union and the Middle East.
3.4 THE THIRD PHASE: CIVIL WAR IN VIETNAM AND THE END OF THE CONFLICT
Nether the armistice agreement nor the policy of “Vietnamization” implied an end of the struggles. Because of the endeavour of both sides to defend or extend their territories, the fights were undiminished continued and finished in a bloody civil war. By attacking a province in South Vietnam at the end of 1974, the North Vietnamese violated the Paris Peace treaty. With their assault they also wanted to test President Ford’s (Nixon resigned after the disclosure of the Watergate scandal) resolve to prevent any further military intervention of the USA, but in compliance with the Congressional ban on all U.S. military activity in Southeast Asia he responded with diplomatic protest. At the beginning of the new year the South Vietnamese, who had to fight now without any military assistance of the USA, felt compelled to withdraw more and more because of further unexpected offensives of the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army (NVA).
The final offensive of the Communists began in March 1975 as the NVA assaulted provinces located in the Central Highlands. Realizing that the South Vietnamese Army was approaching to fall down, the Communists accelerated their offensive and thereupon the President of South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu, decided to abandon the Highland region. This resulted in a military catastrophe and the NVA quickly occupied the deserted terrain. The South Vietnamese regime was overthrown and the Communists conquered now town to town. After initial resistance Saigon was taken by the NVA on April 30 and on the same day South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to North Vietnam. So the 30-year struggle in Vietnam finished with a complete breakdown of the South Vietnamese Army.
4. RESULTS OF THE VIETNAM WAR
As the South Vietnamese city Saigon was conquered by the NVA and the South Vietnamese Army surrendered unconditionally, the Communists took whole Vietnam. Finally, North and South Vietnam were reunified on July 2, 1976 and the Social Republic of Vietnam was founded. The aim of the new republic was a reshaping of the society and the economy of Vietnam. But the Communists still tried to be the leader in Indochina that entailed a tensed relation with China.
In the USA the victory of the Communists resulted in a shock because the longest and bloodiest American adventure in the period of the Cold War ended in the first military defeat of the United States in their history. Internationally, not the defeat but the war led to a worldwide loss of the reputation of the USA. Besides the belief that the USA is invincible was lost and their role as world police as well as the dominant position in the currency system of the world were damaged.
However, the United States showed in their domestic and foreign policy in the 1980s and 1990s under President Reagan, Bush and Clinton that they learned from the Vietnam War.
Consequences for Vietnam
- The war in Vietnam left deep wounds that aren’t healed up till today. Vietnam still suffers from the delayed effect of this war in ecological, social and economic fields ( and this is also valid for Laos and Cambodia).
- bombardments of whole areas destroyed the economy and infrastructure and the use of defoliant caused devastating and partly irreparable consequences
- where once were primeval forests are today just grass and scrubs
- about ten percent of the agricultural arable land was completely devastated
- till today nearly 1 million people suffer from the delayed effect of dioxin which can still be founded in food chains and which caused deformities, different types of cancer as well as a weakening of the immune system
- scientists assume that deformities like the Siamese twins or other genetic harms occurred because of the use of pesticide
- there were more than 2 million victims under the civilian population of Vietnam
- the neighbouring states of Vietnam felt overstrained by the number of refugees who wanted to left Vietnam during the war and when the war was over
Consequences for the USA
- the Vietnam War influenced and changed the attitude of many Americans towards their country; the times as the USA was something special and represented an example for other nations seemed to be over
- in the 1960s the positive image of America altered also in Germany
- about 57939 Americans lost their lives in this war and more than 153 000 were wounded
- the USA spent more than 112 thousand million dollar on that war
- the defeat changed completely the domestic and foreign policy of the United States
- combined experiences at the front were a deciding fact for the integration of black minorities (positive effect)
5. THE STANDPOINT OF THE AMERICAN POPULATION TOWARDS THIS WAR
The controversial Vietnam War had a big influence on the American culture, music and also on the international comprehension of the world politics. That’s why many American artists and musicians demonstrated with their works against this war, the ideology and of course against the absurd death of 38,000 Americans.
Many singers like Bob Dylan, Sheil Silverstein, Tom Leher, Ian Boydon or Perry Friedmann.
The should describe the thoughts on the situation during that time and the feelings of the people:
a) “Prayer for peace“; songwriter: Ian Boyden/ Ralph Dale (1967)
“Gentle Jesus, bless each bomb
We drop today in Vietnam,
And keep our helicopters safe
From natives they fly low to strafe. Amen.
Lord of Life, increase our skill
To build up added Overkill,
And let no pacifist decry
The strontium-90 in our sky.
Heavenly Father, we entreat
Let no one sell the Cubans wheat,
And grant us power to chastise
All insubordinate allies.
Holy Spirit, give us grace
To win the guided missile race,
And help our scientists amass
Vast arsenals of germs and gas.
From further dwindling, Lord, preserve
Our ever-shrinking gold reserve,
And we beseech Thee, come what may,
Let overseas investments pay.
The world’s most upright Christian land,
We ask these blessings at Thy hand—
Be Thine the glory, Lord on high,
When women weep and children die. Amen.“1
b) “ I don’t stand alone“; songwriter: Perry Friedmann (1968)
“My Name is David Mitchell,
I am twenty years old,
I refuse to fight in Vietnam,
And that’s a crime, I’m told.
I refuse to kill in Vietnam
Good folks like my own,
And I know I’m in the right, judge,
And I don’t stand alone.
The U.S. judge in Nuremberg
Who judged the Nazi crimes
Said killing’s just as bad a sin
When it’s done six million times,
I wouldn’t do it once, judge,
I never could atone,
And I know I’m in the right, judge,
And I don’t stand alone.
I saw the moving pictures
Of homes in napalm flames,
I saw men burning children,
Men with American names.
To fly those wicked missions,
I’d never leave my home,
And I know I’m in the right, judge,
And I don’t stand alone.
They dragged me in this courtroom
‘Cause I won’t play their game,
I won’t burn peaceful villages,
Won’t torture, gas, or maim.
Thou shalt not kill, the Lord said,
That’s what I learned at home,
And I know I’m in the right, judge,
And I don’t stand alone.”2
The Vietnam War split the American society, during the whole time one part of the population was critical against the war and many protests took place.
Here are some examples for the standpoint of different groups in the course of the time of the Vietnam War:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
6. MEMORIALS TO THE VIETNAM WAR
During the Vietnam War Era many people were killed in fights, altogether circa 9,087,000 persons served on active duty during this Era. Of the 2.7 million men and woman who served in the designated war zone 1.6 million either had to fought in combat or were exposed in enemy attacks, 303,704 were wounded, of that number 153,329 were hospitalized and 75,000 were permanently disabled.
All happenings of this time touched almost the whole world. Today it is also an event that interests many people and tourists come from all over the world to visit the memorials to remember the people who fought very hard.
There exist different groups of memorials, the most widely spread of them are the “Vietnam Veterans Memorials”, one of the most popular is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.:
The official name of the Memorial is the “Vietnam Veteran Memorial”, sometimes it is also known as “The Wall”. The figures which belong to the monument are called “The Three Servicemen”. This is not a war memorial, but a memorial to those who fought in the war and are dead ore to those who are still living but missing.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was founded by Jan Scruggs, the president of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Foundation (VVMF). The monument shouldn’t make a political statement about the war, Scruggs wanted the memorial to acknowledge and recognize the help and sacrifice of all who served in Vietnam. Significant support came from the U.S. Senators Charles McC. Mathias Jr. of Maryland and from John W. Warner of Virginia. Scruggs got with the agreement of the Congress two acre plot of the land in the Constitution Gardens, near the Lincoln Memorial.
The design and plans were finished on March 16, 1982 and the real work was begun on March 26, 1982. On November 11, 1984 all three units (the wall, the statue and the flag) were finished.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation raised nearly $9,000,000 through private contributions, for example from corporations, foundations and from the population. They did not need any federal money.
The memorial wall was created by Maya Ying Lin. She was born in Athens, Ohio in 1959 and she is a native-born American citizen. She worked with the architectural firm of Cooperation-Lecky Partnership on the construction of the memorial. The walls have a mirror-like surface which reflects the surrounding trees, lawns, monuments and visitors. Maya Lins` name and the names of the officers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, architects etc. are also on the wall.
On the memorial are listed 58,132 names, but about 1,300 of these people are still missing. Civilians are not listed there because the memorial is dedicated to the men of the U.S. military who served in the war zone. Only eight woman are listed on the wall and there are also some names of foreigners on it, for example persons from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Germany or from New Zealand.
Each of the wall is 246.75 feet long, it consists of 70 separate panels, including four at the end without names. The walls are between 10.1-35 feet high. There are also symbols on the panels like dots, numbers and letters to find out names very fast. The diamondes and pluses (crosses) show whether a person is really dead or still missing. A circle will be inscribed around the plus if the person will comes back alive. The stone is black granite from Bangalore, India. It is used for the walls and walkways. The symbols were engraved in a light grey.
The sculpture “Three Servicemen”, which is also called “Three Fighting Men” or “Three Infantrymen”, was planned by the sculptor Frederic Hart in 1982. The figures show men who wear uniforms and carry the equipment of war. They look directly to the wall and they are 150 feet away from it. Mr Hart received $333,000 for his work.
A flagpole with a flag which flies every day belongs also to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. The pole cost circa $18,000.
Vietnam Veterans Memorials in the USA :
- “The Alabama Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Mobile, Alabama
- “The Arkansas State Vietnam Memorial“; in Berkeley, California
- “The Porterville Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Porterville, California
- “The state of California Vietnam veterans Memorial“; situated in Sacramento, California
- “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Salinas, California
- “The Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorials“; in Danbury, Granby and Plainville (Connecticut)
- “The Wall South“; situated in Pensacola, Florida
- “The Buffalo Grove Veterans Memorial „; located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois
- “The Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Springfield, Illinois
- “The Kansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; situated in Junction, Kansas
- “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial“ which is located in Topeka, Kansas
- “The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Frankfort, Kentucky
- “The Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Baltimore, Maryland
- “The Dorchester, Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Massachusetts
- “The South Boston Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Boston, Massachusetts
- “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial“ which is located in Weymouth, Massachusetts
- “The Monroe County, Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; situated in Monroe, Michigan
- “The Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
- “The Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in St. Paul, Michigan
- “The Franklyn County Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in St. Clair, Missouri
- “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial“, in Wentzville, Missouri
- “The Montana state Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Billings, Montana
- “The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Holmdel, New Jersey
- “The Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Angel Fire, New Mexico
- “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial“ which is in Farmington, New Mexico
- “The New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; New York State
- “The North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Parks“; in North Carolina
- “The 82nd Airborne Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Bragg, North Carolina
- “The Lehigh-Northhampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; situated in Macungie, Pennsylvania
- “The Schuylkill County Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Pennsylvania
- “The Washington County Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; Pennsylvania
- “The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial“, located in Pennsylvania
- “The Pittsburgh Memorial“; Pennsylvania
- “The Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; situated in Midland, San Antonio and Big Springs (Texas)
- “The Utah Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; in Utah
- The Vermont Vietnam Veterans Memorial“; located in Vermont
- “The Piedmont Area Vietnam Veterans Memorial“ in Culpeper, Virginia
- “The Virginia’s War Monument“; situated in Newport News, Virginia
- “The Highground“; a Veterans Memorial in Neillsville, Wisconsin
- “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial“ in Cody; Woyming
- “The Wall“; located in Washington D. C.
- “The Moving Wall“; three, half-scale replicas of the Memorial in D. C. which travel around the country and spend about six days at each site
Other memorials of the Vietnam War in the world :
- “The American Travelling Tribute; an exhibit that pays tribute to the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces
- “The Charles E. Shelton Freedom Memorial“
- “The North Wall“; the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial; located in Windsor, Ontario
- “Roll of Honour“ which is in New Zealand
- “The Australian Vietnam Veterans Memorials“; situated in Canberra, Australia
- “The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project“; honouring military and civilian women who served their country
1. Which mighty countries were in competition with each other during the time of the Cold War?
(a) the USA and Japan
(b) Western Germany and the Soviet Union
(c) the USA and the Soviet Union
2. In how many phases could you subdivide the Vietnam War?
(a) five phases
(b) two phases
(c) three phases
3. Which part of Vietnam was the communist one?
(a) the north
(b) the south
4. Which famous communist leader died in 1969?
(a) Nguyen Van
(b) Le Duc Tho
(c) Ho Chi Minh
5. Which part of Vietnam got financial and military support from the USA?
(a) the north
(b) the south
6. Who were the so-called “Vietcong”?
(a) Communists in North Vietnam
(b) Americans in the Vietnam War
(c) Communists in South Vietnam
7. At the Geneva Conference on Indochina Vietnam was divided into two parts. When did this conference took place?
(a) in 1946
(b) in 1950
(c) in 1954
8. Who was killed for political reasons on November 22, 1963?
(a) Martin Luther King
(b) John F. Kennedy
(c) Lyndon B. Johnson
9. For which incident did President Johnson order Bombardments in 1968?
(a) Incident of Tonkin
(b) Incident of Tet
(c) Massacre in South Vietnam
10. Who achieved by closed negotiation with the communists a breakthrough of a peace treaty?
(a) Richard M. Nixon
(b) Lyndon B. Johnson
(c) Henry Kissinger
11. When did the USA signed a peace treaty with North and South Vietnam?
(a) in 1975
(b) in 1973
(c) in 1972
12. How many American died during the armed conflicts in Southeast Asia?
(a) circa 89,365
(b) circa 77,542
(c) circa 57,939
13. With the downfall of which town ended the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975?
14. Which side won finally the Vietnam War?
(a) the Communists
(b) the USA
15. How many years lasted the Vietnam War?
(a) 30 years
(b) 10 years
(c) 20 years
16. What is the name of the widely diffused memorials which shall remember of the people who fought in the war?
(a) the Vietnam Veterans Memorials
(b) the USA Veterans Memorials
(c) the Freedom Memorials
17. Which elements belong to the memorial which is located in Washington D.C.?
(a) wall, statue and sculptures
(b) wall and sculptures
(c) only a wall
18. How many names are listed on the wall of the memorial in D. C.?
Solutions of the quiz
Apokalypse Vietnam; Berlin 2000; Berlin Verlag GmbH
Bertelsmann illustrierte Chronik der Weltgeschichte; Gütersloh/München 1992; Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag; (Seite 315, 316)
9. LIST OF LITERATURE, SOURCES AND MEANS
information out of books
Frey, Marc: Geschichte des Vietnamkrieges: Die Tragödie in Asien und das Ende des amerikanischen Traums, 3. Auflage; München 1999; Verlag C.H. Beck
Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Enzyklopädie: ”Vietnamkrieg”; ©1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation
Moltmann, Günther: USA: Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten zum Nachschlagen; Würzburg 1996; Ploetz Verlag
Müller, Helmut M.: Weltgeschichte in Schlaglichtern; Mannheim 1992; Meyers Lexikonverlag (Seite 477, 501, 502)
Apokalypse Vietnam; Berlin 2000; Berlin Verlag GmbH
Sautter, Udo: Lexikon der amerikanischen Geschichte; München 1997; Verlag C.H. Beck
Wasser, Hartmut: USA: Wirtschaft - Gesellschaft - Politik, 2. Auflage; Opladen 1993; Leske+Budrich Verlag
information out of the internet
http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www artikel/vietnamk.shtml+Vietnamkrieg&h l=de
means of translating
Langenscheidt`s Power Dictionary, 7. Auflage; München 2000; Langenscheidt Verlag
Pons Kompaktwörterbuch, 2.Auflage; Stuttgart 1991; Ernst Klett Verlag für Wissen und Bildung