Impact of the Geneva Accords on Viet Minh Leadership Video

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  • 0:03 The Geneva Accords
  • 1:19 Continued Popularity…
  • 2:04 Land Reform and Repression
  • 3:51 The National Liberation Front
  • 4:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.

The Geneva Accords left the Viet Minh with challenges and opportunities. Consider the new struggles that resulted following the ceasefire with the French in 1954.

The Geneva Accords

Have you ever agreed to something that you just knew wasn't going to work out? For instance, you make plans with friends, knowing that one of them is always a no-show or knowing that you yourself are going to bail when the time comes to hang out.

During the Geneva Conference of 1954, agreements were made that didn't pan out as expected. Perhaps some aspects of the agreements were made in good faith. On the other hand, perhaps the parties involved knew that the plans were doomed at the time.

These agreements, known as the Geneva Accords, included an intended path for Vietnam following the First Indochina War. In that war, the Vietnamese nationalists (the Viet Minh) had fought against the French with the aim of independence. At the end of the war, negotiations with representatives from world powers and the Viet Minh led to the key agreements which included:

  • A ceasefire line at the 17th parallel, creating a temporary separation between the Northern and Southern regions of Vietnam
  • A period of 300 days to allow each side to withdraw armed forces
  • Elections to be held to reunify the nation before July 1956

This lesson considers the impact of the Geneva Accords on the Viet Minh leadership.

Continued Popularity of Ho Chi Minh

Talk about mixed feelings. The agreement to wait almost two years for elections and establish the ceasefire at the 17th parallel was not exactly what Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Viet Minh, had in mind. However, a variety of factors led Pham Van Dong, the Viet Minh's representative, to concede to the less-than-ideal scenario. For example, the Soviet Union and China were not keen on engaging the United States in a major brawl and wanted the Viet Minh to appear reasonable in Geneva.

Despite the fact that the Viet Minh didn't come away with their preferred plan, the Viet Minh's success against the French was significant to the Vietnamese people who supported Ho Chi Minh. His popularity continued following the Geneva Accords.

Land Reform and Repression

By this point, independence from France wasn't all that the Viet Minh were aiming to achieve. For those who subscribed to Ho's communist vision for the country, reforms were desperately needed in how the people lived on the land. The political organization to move this campaign forward was the communist Lao Dong Party, also described as the Vietnamese Workers' Party.

Even prior to the end of the First Indochina War, land reforms had begun, including rent reduction to help alleviate the burden on poor peasants. The Geneva Accords allowed this process to speed up, since interference from the outside was temporarily limited.

The purpose of the land reforms was to restructure how the people, and particularly landowners, thought about who had a right to that land. Following a Chinese Communist philosophy, land was to be seized from wealthy landlords and divided among the people or set up as collectives, worked in common by the people. Poverty was a major problem for Vietnamese peasants who did not own any land or who only had small plots. Redistribution of the land was Ho Chi Minh's way of changing that situation.

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