This site, because of its numerous images, may load slightly slowly at times

Search This Site

Custom Search

Vietnam War: The Vietcong

America was on a ego-trip when it sent its soldiers into Vietnam. "Our democracy is best for everybody in the world. These poor Vietnamese have to be saved from these commies" was the thinking. The Vietcong have come to have a negative image of sly little Vietnamese fighters who attacked and disappeared and killed good American soldiers. 

Viewed in another sense....

The Vietcong were freedom-fighters who believed in a better Vietnam. May be yes. Who knows what is best for humankind? American style capitalist democracy? Or Chinese capitalist communism? Who were the bad guys in Vietnam? The Americans? Or the Vietcong and the NVA?

Tough to say...

A Vietcong lays a mine


The Viet Cong, or National Liberation Front (NLF), was a leftist, political and military insurgent movement which was created in 1960 in South Vietnam and Cambodia to fight against South Vietnamese and American forces during the Vietnam War (1959-1975). The Viet Cong had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized and armed peasants in the territory it controlled. Many soldiers were recruited in South Vietnam, but others were attached to the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), which was the regular North Vietnamese army. The Viet Cong was a tool used by the communist government of North Vietnam to overthrow the South Vietman government and unite the country as one communist nation. Many of the Vietcong’s core members were "regroupees," southern Viet Minh guerrillas who had resettled in the North after the Geneva Accord (1954). Hanoi gave the regroupees military training and sent them back to the South along the Ho Chi Minh trail in the early 1960s. Northerners and southerners communist guerrillas were always under the same command structure.

The name "Viet Cong" derives from "Viet gian cong san", which means "Communist Traitor to Vietnam." It was a derogatory term that Ngo Dinh Diem gave to his communist opponents. The word appeared in Saigon newspapers for the first time in 1956. However, the earliest citation for "Vietcong" in English is from 1957. American soldiers referred to the Vietcong as Victor Charlie or VC. "Victor" and "Charlie" are both letters in the NATO phonetic alphabet. "Charlie" referred to communist forces in general, both Vietcong and North Vietnamese.


Viet Cong dead after an attack on the perimeter of Tan Son Nhut Air Base 


Vietnam, May 1968. With fear and apprehension showing on their faces, and at the urging of South Vietnamese troops, women and children scurry past the bodies of three Viet Cong killed in the fighting. (The stall in the backgound is an ice cream stand.)



This picture showing Viet Cong prisoners being loaded into a South Vietnamese Jeep was taken in 1962

It was perhaps the most controversial cover for LIFE magazine, which usually steered clear of controversy. Paul Schutzers captured this image of a VietCong prisoner gagged and bound, being taken prisoner by American forces during the Vietnam War. Photography and news coverage like this helped to turn the American public against the Vietnam war.

Schutzer, one of LIFE’s best photographers, worked frequently in the Middle East during his short career and there he would perish too: he was killed on assignment on June 5, 1967, the first day of the Six-Day War between Israel and its neighbouring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

It is almost dehumanizing to personally witness the execution, no matter what the victim had done. It mattered a little that the person about to be executed was a Viet Cong Guerrilla named Bay Hop responsible for killing twelve only that fateful morning. It matter a little that his group of guerillas had slaughtered the family of his executioner’s best friend in a house just up the road. America–a nation that still supports death penalty by overwhelming numbers (for various reasons)–was shocked to its core. In the picture, its framing, its lighting and its depth mattered little. For instance, picture was cropped again and again just to display the general and his victim. However, the act, ‘the thing itself’ spoke directly–the general is the personification of America’s hidden hand and her dirty involvement in the Vietnam Quagmire. The fact that the executioner was American-educated and trained Brig. General Nguyen Ngoc Loan (then South Vietnam’s National Chief of Police) did not help either.

In Adams’s photograph, we see Loan firing a bullet point blank into Hop’s head; Hop, wincing, appears to be receiving the bullet. Ironically enough, it has been argued that Ngoc Loan was only interested in publicly assassinating the Viet Cong prisoner because there were AP press corps there to capture the image. For him, the photographic evidence of the execution was meant to teach the Vietcong what would happen to their forces if caught.

The photograph was published on the front page of the New York Times and, along with the NBC film of the same event, is credited with having provoked the civilian outrage that lead to massive demonstrations against the war. Although the above photo was not as graphically violent an ending as shown by the television footage of the same incident, for many viewers, the picture was a climactic moment, proclaiming the horror and immorality of the war, signifying its barbarity and its incoherence. Within two months, President Johnson would be announcing his desire not to pursue a second term.
Source: iconicphotos


Post a Comment


Search This Site

Custom Search


Popular Articles On This Site
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
Read More


Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians