People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 42

October 20, 2013




Giap: A Revolutionary Hero


GENERAL Vo Nguyen Giap died at the age of 102, on October 4, 2013. This marked the passing away of one of the greatest military commanders, anti-imperialist fighter and communist revolutionary of the 20th century.


Giap’s name, after Ho Chi Minh, is inextricably linked with the heroic national liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people. Giap implemented the decision of Ho Chi Minh and the then Indochinese Communist Party to wage a revolutionary struggle against the French colonial power. At the end of 1941, Giap formed the first guerrilla groups. By the middle of 1945 he had built up an armed militia of 10,000 men.


Between 1945 and 1954 the Vietnamese People’s Army, called the Viet Minh, waged a relentless struggle against the French armed forces. Giap had begun life as a school teacher. He taught himself military strategy relying on the revolutionary spirit of the people.


In 1954 the historic battle of Dien Bien Phu took place. The French had built their military camp in this place which was surrounded by mountains thinking it would protect them from the Viet Minh. Under Giap’s command, thousands of peasants were drafted to carry heavy artillery and weaponry dismantled on cycles. The final assault led to the surrender of the French troops and the end of French colonial rule. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was set up in the north, while the southern part came under the control of the United States after the French left. Giap became the defence minister of the government in North Vietnam.


Giap had led the first phase of this struggle for national liberation with indomitable courage. His wife and sister-in-law were arrested by the French authorities. His sister-in-law was executed and his wife died due to torture in prison. His father was also killed. But Giap never wavered in his determination.


In 1960 they decided to launch the struggle for the reunification of North and South Vietnam. Giap, as the commander of the People’s Army, led the struggle against the US occupation in the south. A strategist of people’s war, Giap began the struggle as a guerrilla war. The most powerful army in the world, the United States armed forces, launched a full-fledged war of aggression. North Vietnam was subjected to continuous and heavy aerial bombardment while the armed struggle raged in the south. Giap provided the leadership for the logistics of moving troops and supplies to the south and conducting the armed struggle through different forms. The Tet offensive of 1968, when liberation forces struck the Americans in 35 places, was an example of Giap’s military prowess. The liberation war finally led to the defeat of the US military machine and in 1974 the puppet regime fell and Vietnam was reunited.


Giap was an outstanding strategist of people’s war. His well known work People’s War, People’s Army set out the fundamentals for building the people’s army. In it he stressed the importance of the leadership of the Communist Party and a correct political line adapted to the country’s economic, social and political conditions.


General Giap served in various capacities – as minister of defence, interior minister and vice premier – in the government. He was a member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of Vietnam till 1982.


Giap will forever be remembered as an ardent patriot, Marxist-Leninist and a revolutionary hero.