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A glimpse into the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

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No other event than the Vietnam War (1965-1975) in the last half of the last century has left so much despair, tragic and destruction in the world Americans still have to digest up into the modern times.

During the International Tourism Exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC) during 6-8 September 2018, members of the international media had the opportunity to visit the so-called “WarRemnants Museum” in Ho Chi Minh City. Actually, the War Remnants Museum was opened to the public under the name “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Regime Crime” already on September 4, 1975 – a few months after the final end of the infamous Vietnam War, which the Vietnamese people still call the American War. Only on 4 September 1995, it was finally renamed as “War Remnants Museum”.

Interesting to note is the fact that to see all the arranged 13 exhibitions within the museum is to go from the top second floor and the first floor down to the ground floor. Exhibition Hall Nr.1 in the corner of the second floor is telling the historical truths of the war. How did the war take place? Starting with President Ho Chi Minh reading the Declaration of Independence at Ba Dinh Square in Ha Noi on 2 September 1945, victory flags of Vietnam People’s Army were flying on the roof of French General De Castries tunnel in Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. The former French colonial masters had to leave their colony after the Geneva Agreement was signed on 20 July 1954 to suspend all hostilities in Indochina, comprising Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. But then the U.S. Government under President Eisenhower gave financial aid to General Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1954 to stabilize the South Vietnamese Government against the “communist” northern part of the country. On 8 March 1965, U.S. Marines landed on the beaches of Da Nang and started a war, where B-52 strategic airplanes tried to bomb Viet Nam into the stone-age. On 27 January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords on ending the war in Vietnam were signed, but only in the morning of 30 April 1975, when the liberation army’s tanks stormed the gate of the Independence Palace in Saigon, the end of the resistance finally had ended.

Exhibition Hall Nr.2 called “Requiem” is a photo collection of war correspondents died in action in Indochina, while “Vietnam – War and Peace” is a photo collection from Japanese correspondent Ishikawa Bunyo. Exhibition Hall Nr.4 shows documentary pictures by Japanese photographer Nakamura Goro on the cruel consequences of “Agent Orange” during the war. Also, the “White Doves” exhibition shows a children education chamber. The aftermath of the war was that approximately 3 million people died, some 2 million people got wounded and some 300,000 people are still missing. Thus, Exhibition Hall Nr. 6 on the first floor gives the evidence of war crimes of the aggressors, while Exhibition Hall Nr.7 demonstrates “Agent Orange Effects”. Exhibition Hall Nr.8 even brings to light “Agent Orange” consequences through children’s paintings. Hall Nr.9 is a conference room.

Coming to the ground floor, Exhibition Hall Nr.10 highlights international support from countries such as India, Russia, Australia, and Cuba for the Vietnamese people in their resistance war, while Hall Nr.11 has room for temporary exhibitions and museum services such as a bookstall and gift shop. Outside is a kind of open-air exhibition including the theme on “Imprisonment System during the Vietnam War” reproducing prisons in Phu Quoc and Con Dao with typical tiger cells (Exhibition Nr.12) as well as U.S. weapons and vehicles such as tanks, helicopters, and warplanes used in Vietnam (Exhibition Nr.13).

Do you want to live in times of war or peace? Think carefully, when you go through these remarkably important exhibition halls of the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. Open daily: 7.30 – 18.00.

Reinhard Hohler

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