A.

In the wake of French defeat, a new Axis-lead government rose from the rubble of World War II: Vichy France. Controlled by Germany, the Vichy government ruled from 1940-1944 and preceded the First Indochina War, a revolution that essentially destroyed France’s colonial dominion in L’Indochine. The purpose of this paper is not simply to investigate the colony, but to answer the following question: To what extent did the rise of Vichy France facilitate the demise of French Indochina? With this question in mind, I will research the periods before and after Vichy France so as to determine its role in the fall of French Indochina.

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B.) Summary of Evidence

Pre-Vichy France (Early 1900s-1940)

• Colonial Government and Policies
- In establishing their colonial government, the French dissolved two long-standing annamite institutions (the mandarinate and the commune), much to the chagrin of the native peoples [i].
- Headed by a Governor General, colonial leadership in Indochina was often called overly-centralized. The Governor’s relatively unstable power, in conjunction with the rising tide of dissent, often compelled him to “[strengthen] the hand of the federal government.” The government thus became a “regime of decrees,” [ii] pushing more and more Indochinese away from French rule.
- This “husbanding of power” afforded colonists little opportunity to voice their opinions, though to compensate, the government formed various councils. The earliest of which, such as le Conseil Superiur de l’Indochine, were composed of predominantly French officials and several hand-picked, intentionally docile natives. Other later councils, particularly those of Cochinchina, were composed solely of natives, though the appointment of representatives was based again on docility [iii].
- Civil liberties—including freedom of speech, press, assembly and travel—were virtually nonexistent at the hand of the government.

• Early Nationalist Movement
- Ho Chi Minh, who later lead the revolution, belonged to early Parisian Vietnamese Circles. In 1919, he presented the "Demands of the Indochinese People" to those at the Paris Peace Conference, though they were easily brushed aside by the delegation [v].
- A series of small rebellions, most notably that of 1916, gathered the attention of French socialists. By November of 1920, the "Vietnamese were making common cause with the more radical faction of the French Socialist Party" and thus gained heightened recognition abroad.
- The Yen Bay Uprising of 1931 witnessed a series of rebellions, demonstrations, attacks and protests that coincided with the region's ongoing economic rescission.

• à la Métropole
- To those living in France, colonization was justified by one altruistic belief: Mise en valeur. This ideal championed the “beneficial impact” of French enterprise abroad and encouraged not only the development of Indochinese rubber works, coal mines, and other industries, but the education the colonials, as well. [vi]
- In France, Indochinese uprisings acted as catalysts for both domestic protests and increased travel journalism. Roland Dorgele's Sur la Route Mandaraine, Louis Roubaud's SOS Indochine, and la tragedie Indochinese were just several examples of growing awareness to the violent nature of French colonial leadership [vii].
- Nevertheless, the 1931 Colonial Exhibition assembled à la metropole, portraying the Indochinese in an idealized and mythologized manner. Essentially, it "reinforc[ed] myths into the collective conscious" [viii].


During (1940-1944) and Post Vichy France

- The new German-lead government adopted the following colonial policy: "The French war fleet is ... [under] German and/or Italian control ... with the exception of those units released to the French Government for protection of ... its colonial empire." [ix] France could essentially maintain its empire so long as all other control belong to the Axis powers.
- But in his 1941 letter from abroad, Ho Chi Minh claimed that France's power had "completely collapsed," and that "the opportunity ha[d] come for [Indochinese] liberation" [x].
- Vichy's reign was characterized by increased aggression from neighboring nations, including Siam, China, and most notably, Japan []. From 1940-45, the French—who were denied aid by Germany— took on a conciliatory attitude towards Japan, permitting its increased presence (35,000 troops) and reorientation of Annam life []. Through the coup of March 9, 1949, Japan's influence surpassed that of France []; however, Japan's defeat by the Allies reinvigorated French colonialism.
- But by 1945, Indochina's figurehead emperor Bao Dai had already transferred power to Ho Chi Minh, and the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence had been issued. The First Indochina War—the conflict of which the French would lose—fast commenced.

C. Evaluation of Sources

Quinn-Judge, Sophie. Ho Chi Minh: The Missing Years. London: C. Hurst, 2003. Print.

Sohpie Quinn-Judge, the author of this book, is an accomplished historian who heads Temple University's Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society. Her involvement in the region--whether it be as a medical volunteer or a Soviet-Asian relations correspondent-- is, without question, extensive. With that in mind, this source can be deemed both reliable and valid. The purpose of this source is neither to persuade nor to entertain, but to simply enlighten the reader of Ho Chi Minh's actions from 1919-1941. It highlights the affects of both domestic and foreign affairs in shaping Vietnamese Communism throughout the 1920's and 30's, and in turn, further reveals the deeply rooted nature of the independence movement. With this new information, I can begin to determine the extent to which the rise of Vichy France or long-lasting revolutionary sentiment fueled the fall of France's colonies. Seeing as Quinn-Judge is a mere historian and was not present during the independence movement, this source is undeniably limited. Her perspective is based solely on research and therefore lacks in authenticity. Had it have been a first-person account of unrest during the era, this source would have been much fuller in its grasp of the revolution.

Cooper, Nicola. France in Indochina: Colonial Encounters. Oxford: Berg, 2001. Print

The author of this book, Nicola Cooper, is an accomplished historian who specializes in French colonialism and France's colonial wars at Swansea University. He has published many different works, most of which pertain to these subjects. With that in mind, both the reliability and validity of this source are sound. The purpose of this source is neither to persuade nor to entertain, but to simply enlighten the reader of the many French-colonial conflicts that are often overlooked. Because the book chronicles only the years prior to 1941 (the year in which VF rose to power), it is, in fact, very valuable in my investigation. It discusses not only France's imperial identity, but the nation's understanding of its own role, as well. Seeing as Cooper is a mere historian and was not present during the independence movement, this source is certainly limited. His perspective is based solely on research and therefore lacks in authenticity. Had it have been a first-person account of unrest during the era, this source would have been much fuller in its grasp of the revolution.

D. Analysis

As Vichy France rose to power, other imperial nations—namely Japan, Siam, and China— made their move. Although Vichy’s colonial policy was inherently lenient, the nation’s raw materials and weaponry were sent to Germany—not the colonies—thus contributing to Indochinese isolation. This isolation, in tandem with increased foreign aggression, sparked a number of revolts from nationalists within, as they viewed the colonial administration as weak and distracted. From this information alone, one can conclude the following: Vichy’s rise to power lead to its isolation, which lead to foreign aggression, which lead to a weakened/distracted colonial administration and ultimately to rebellion. However, this “cause and effect” mindset fully overlooks the era prior to 1940. Although the demise of French Indochina was directly incited by the rise of Vichy France, the blame cannot be pushed solely on this new government. Yes— Vichy's inattention to Indochina enabled the Japanese, whose attacks then enabled the nationalists, but what drove these nationalists in the first place? When considering the aforesaid evidence, it can be said that the empire's collapse was driven not by Vichy, but by years and years of failed colonial policy and willful ignorance on the part of pre-1940 France.

One such policy, Mise en Valeur, was founded on French altruism, though it hurt the empire more than it helped the colonists. Although it provided the Indochinese with "superior" architecture and modern innovation, it set a precedent for the French. This precedent was one of continued involvement and assistance, so much so that when the colony was isolated, the colonists felt "sold out" [], abandoned and "betrayed." Furthermore, Mise en Valeur was key in educating a select few. This, of course, was good for the Indochinese, but detrimental to the French in that it fostered a future generation of rebels. The select educated few noted that the ideals the French so vehemently championed--liberty, equality, and fraternity-- were notably absent in the colony. The governmental policy was such that the colonists were hardly represented, which, when brought to light by the nationalists, pushed more and more colonists away from French rule and towards dissent.

But failed policies were not the only omission of pre-Vichy France— those à la metropole possessed a willful ignorance, blind to the true nature of colonial conquest. For example, the Colonial Exhibition of 193


E. Conclusion



After much research, evaluation and analysis, the answer to the question—"To what extent did the rise of Vichy France facilitate the demise of French Indochina?"—seems within reach. The notion that French Indochina's fall was the fault of Vichy fully neglects the era prior to 1940, and to overlook this era is to overlook the revolution's foundation. In fact, the fall of the colony stems not as much from Vichy as from the period prior. Because of the Republic's early colonial policies, the events à la Metropole, and the nationalist movement, Vichy's Indochina was almost "doomed" before it began.



[i] Thompson, Virginia. French Indo-China,. New York: Octagon, 1937. Print.



[ii] Ibid.



[iii] Ibid



[iv] Quinn-Judge, Sophie. Ho Chi Minh: The Missing Years, 1919-1941. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2002. Print.



[v] Ibid.



[vi] Cooper, Nicola. France in Indochina: Colonial Encounters. Oxford: Berg, 2001. Print



[vii] Ibid



[viii] Ibid.



[ix] "Franco-German Armistice (1940)." World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society.ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.



[x] "Ho Chi Minh: letter from abroad (1941)." World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society.ABC-CLIO, 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.



[xi] "Bao Dai: abdication speech (1945)." World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society. ABC-CLIO,2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.