The Việt Nam độc lập đồng minh, shortened as Viet Minh, the League for the Independence of Vietnam, was created on May 19, 1941 in Pác Bó (close to the border with China). The Indochina Communist Party was the coalition’s most prominent organization. With Ho Chi Minh at the helm, the Viet Minh looked to secure Vietnam’s independence at a time when the French colony was under Japanese occupation.
The Viet Minh managed to bring together urban nationalist groups and countryside rebel factions. With Vo Nguyen Giap taking charge of military operations, the coalition quickly rose to several hundred thousand members and sprung into action against the foreign powers.
With the imminent Japanese defeat in WW2, the US declared its support for France’s sovereignty over the territory. But on August 14, the “August Revolution” began, with massive pro-independence rallies in several cities. In two weeks, the Viet Minh was in charge of a large part of the country, including Hanoi, and on September 2 Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam.
In response, France launched military operations and formally reinstalled the former emperor, while the Viet Minh fell back to guerilla operations. This conflict became known as the First Indochina War. Unable to bend the Diap-led forces, who counted on Chinese and Soviet support, the French suffered a decisive defeat in Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and were forced to negotiate.
The Geneva Conference split the country in two, with the Viet Minh governing to the north of the 17th Parallel and a US- and French-backed administration to the south. But Washington made sure elections to unify the country never took place, with analysts certain of a Viet Minh victory, and ramped up its military involvement.
What followed was the brutal and bloody Vietnam War. With the Democratic Republic of Vietnam set up in the north, the Viet Minh gave way to the Vietnam People’s Army and the Viet Cong, the guerrilla in the south, with one same goal: an independent, unified country.
In years of combat, and despite the massive atrocities, the military might of the US and its allies were not enough to defeat the resistance of the Vietnamese people. The war, which also yielded the independence of Laos and Cambodia, was a massive defeat for US imperialism, with a defining moment on April 30, 1975, when the Vietnamese People’s Army took Saigon.