Winning victory in Dien Bien Phu is the most decisive full speed race, the severest mind game between the Vietnamese people and the French aggressive colonialists, said a war veteran.

The Foreign Information Service quoted historian-researcher Tran Thai Binh who did join the Dien Bien Phu Campaign as saying that it is the first victory of the East over the West, thus making a contribution to together with mankind turning the 20th century into the “de-colonisation century.”

Binh said that more than 16,200 enemy troops were killed and captured in Dien Bien Phu with the entire headquarters of the stronghold, including General De Castries and 16 colonels, 1,749 army officers and non-commissioned officers. 17 well-trained enemy battalions were wiped out, including 7 parachute battalions, 3 artillery battalions and one engineer battalion.

With this heavy defeat, France was forced to sit down at the Geneva Conference to negotiate for an end to the war and for restoration of peace in Indochina. As he viewed it, France’s Dien Bien Phu defeat is the defeat of colonialism and the victory of peace, independence and freedom.

A prisoner who was released earliest at that time was the nurse Genevière who came to Dien Bien Phu for medical evacuation operation. As ordered by President Ho Chi Minh, she was handed over to the French side on May 24, 1954 right after the complete victory of the People’s Army of Vietnam.

Another prisoner who was handed over to the French side on September 3, 1954 was Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Bigeard who had fought fiercely till the last day of the campaign. He later ended his military life with the general military rank. In 1993, he returned to the old battle field and replied the question of a foreign cameraman with a meaningful answer: “If I were a Vietnamese, I would become a member of Viet Minh.”

France’s Dien Bien Phu debacle had dealt a death blow at the will and spirit of the French colonialists and reactionaries, making the war mongers think seriously about the war and withdraw profound lessons.

General De Castries later admitted that they can defeat an army, but not a nation.

This is the spirit of the Vietnamese people, the creative mind of the majority of people to overcome any difficulty. This is the people’s strength which was mobilised and led in a marvelously skilful manner.

Binh quoted the French author Jules Roy: “France was defeated, not because of its facilities, but because of the great mind and the determination to win of the adversary.”

It is true. It is not enough to win with courage. It is the victory of the great mind and intelligence. Without the clear-sighted and courageous decision in the last minute to postpone the opening of the campaign on January 25, 1954 so as to change the tactics from the lightning fight to the firm fight and firm advance, we could not have had the complete victory on May 7, 1954 of the People’s Army of Vietnam.

The man who had made a great contribution to this great victory was General Vo Nguyen Giap, the commander of the campaign. This has been affirmed by both sides, our side and the French side. Over 10,000 prisoners in Dien Bien Phu were handed over to the French side.

Among these over ten thousand prisoners in Dien Bien Phu, there were the prisoners of different nationalities. They were termed as French foreign legionaries who were from North and Central Africa and Central Europe (Germany, Austria).

As Binh remembered, there was an Algerian prisoner named Slimane Hoffman who had asked the permission to join the rank of Viet Minh. Then he was advised to return to Algeria to serve his country. A few years later, he joined the Algerian National Liberation Front to fight against the French for the independence of his country. He had become a colonel of the Algerian liberation army.

Dien Bien Phu Victory is like the thunder reverberating throughout the word and it was to nobody’s surprise that a few years after that, a range of African colonial country had risen up and fought against colonialists for their countries’ independence with their chanting: Ho! Ho! Ho Chi Minh! Giap! Dien Bien Phu!.-VNA