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Autopsy of a Massacre On a Political Purge in the Early Days of the Indochina War (Nam Bo 1947)

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This paper examines the history of an unknown “mass murder” perpetrated in 1947 in Southern Vietnam by the Viet Minh forces. It was organized in the outskirts of Saigon, mainly against Cao Dai and Hoa Hao religious forces that were portrayed as “reactionary” during their political revolutionary trials. Before presenting and analyzing the data of nearly 900 victims, the paper briefly presents the social, political and military conquest and context of French Cochinchina, as well as explains the political and military ambitions of the Viet Minh forces after the advent of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi on September 2, 1945. The focal point of this article is the review of the data related to the massacre and its uses, i.e.what they can reveal about the course of the massacre, its actors and victims. Finally, the paper's last section assesses the official historiography of the massacre, which has been recognized by the current regime in a 'soft' mea culpa. In conclusion, this article discusses the issue of violence in Southern Vietnam and its consequences for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in a more long term perspective.

Affiliations: 1: IR CNRS, IAO, ENS Lyon;, Email:


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