Tuoitrenews provides some historic facts involving important decisions and crucial arrangements leading up to the surrender of South Vietnam’s president Duong Van Minh or big Minh.
Following is an excerpt from the book “Lich su Nam bo khang chien” (history of the resistance war in the South):
Kissinger, who was enthusiastic in calling against deserting Saigon, eventually agreed to let the Vietnamese decide their own fate.
The last card
During the last days of April 1975 before the decisive Ho Chi Minh Campaign, there was no room for negotiation, no room for indecisiveness.
Top mission now is to reduce casualties, preventing destructive activities of the enemy.
The situation calls for the ruling out of a “Thieu government sans Thieu” and establishing a government ready for conciliation. This policy has been announced before by the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and now become the current aim of the revolution.
Intelligence officers through years have managed to get acquainted with intelligentsia, opposition and even officials from the Saigon regime.
They may have different political agendas but have one thing in common: demanding peace, an end to the war, the US withdrawing from South Vietnam.
During the decisive moments, one political figure stood out: big Minh.
General Duong Van Minh has been selected to head the Saigon regime.
Of the high ranking officials from Saigon regime, defense minister Tran Van Don supported the Duong Van Minh plan. Other top officers showing interest or approval include army chief of staff Cao Van Vien, Prime Minister Nguyen Ba Can and deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Van Hao.
French ambassador Mérillon thought Paris could take this opportunity to play as a mediator with Hanoi to create a Saigon government with Minh as president and a government which France could influence.
The US government still wants to negotiate to maintain its influence. The US embassy and CIA now pins hope on the Duong Van Minh card.
Intelligence officers, intellectuals like engineer To Van Cang, judge Trieu Quoc Manh, journalist Huynh Ba Thanh (artist Ot), Nguyen Van Cuoc and many close to the revolution like lawyer Tran Ngoc Lieng, brigadier general Nguyen Huu Hanh, and other figures like professor Ly Chanh Trung, lawyer Ngo Ba Thanh, and Ho Van Minh, consultant to Duong Van Minh and many others agreed to install big Minh as president to end the war.
In early April 1975, a meeting took place at the private house of Duong Van Minh to discuss his replacing Nguyen Van Thieu and several options to end the war including negotiation, handover or surrender to limit human casualty.
Duong Van Minh agreed to the proposal.
Duong Van Minh's cabinet surrendered on April 30, 1975
Press office announced Minh’s declaration protesting against a Thieu government sans Thieu in three languages (Vietnamese, English, French). The declaration was sent to many news agencies in and outside Vietnam, and supported by many Saigonese.
Brigadier general Nguyen Huu Hanh who had many years working with Duong Van Minh said there are three reasons for Duong Van Minh to be president: to oppose Nguyen Van Thieu’s pro-war government; to oppose Tran Van Huong’s “fight to the death” government; and work towards national conciliation, reunion.
US Colonel Dave Richard Palmer commented that an ally of parties wanting to save the day has thrust Duong Van Minh – withdrawn from politics for some time – into the political game to arrange for a surrender through negotiation.
Tran Van Huong wanted to call on the parliament session on April 26, 1975 to appoint a government to negotiate (meaning Duong Van Minh will not be president) or fight to the death even if “Saigon turns into a sea of blood”. However, the situation changed.
Oppositions supporting Duong Van Minh distributed 48 proclamations against Tran Van Huong. Newspapers printed the news that president Nguyen Van Thieu has fled.
Delegates to the meeting voted that Tran Van Huong must hand over power to Duong Van Minh.
A liberation soldier waving a victory flag