Indochine: Des Territoires et des Hommes, 1856-1956

November 20, 2013By Pierre TranWhat's New Potpourri

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Paris Update Parachutage sur Dien Bien Phu Indochine-Des-Territoires-et-des-Hommes-1856-1956

Parachutists arriving during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Photo: Daniel Camus/RMN-Grand Palais/Musée de l’Armée.

The Musée de l’Armée in Paris is holding a fascinating exhibition, “Indochine: Des Territoires et des Hommes, 1856-1956” (through Jan. 26) on the hundred years of French colonization and rule of Vietnam, previously known as Indochina. This essentially neutral and objective military account of French occupation begins with Emperor Gia Long’s remarkable saber of steel, gold, jade and coral, with a handle in the form of a dragon, and includes such exhibits as video clips from the Vietminh, the resistance fighters against the French.

The exhibition organizers even invited the late General Vo Nguyen Giap, known as the “Red Napoleon,” to the opening, but he could not come because of poor health (he died on Oct. 4, just before the exhibition opened). Giap led the 1954 Dien Bien Phu battle, which defeated French forces and led to independence.

One of the documentary film clips shows a 1953 visit by then-vice president Richard Nixon to Vietnam. The French may have finally left, but the Americans stepped into the Western gap. The rest is history. Pierre Tran

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