Sunday, March 29, 2009


Ngo Dinh Nhu

In this Vietnamese name, the family name is Ngô, but is often simplified to Ngo in English-language text. According to Vietnamese custom, this person should properly be referred to by the given name Nhu.
For his wife, see Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu.

Ngô Ðình Nhu (r) meeting Lyndon B. Johnson, vice President of the United States.
Ngô Ðình Nhu (help·info), (October 7, 1910 - November 2, 1963), was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first President, Ngô Ðình Diệm. He was widely regarded as the brains behind Diem's autocratic regime.
1 Biography
2 Rise to power
3 Power
4 Death
5 Notes
6 References
7 External links

[edit] Biography
Nhu's family originated from the village of Phu Cam in central Vietnam. His family had served as mandarins in the imperial court in Hue, and his father Ngo Dinh Kha was a counselor to Emperor Thanh Thai during the French colonisation. When the French deposed the emperor on the pretext of insanity, Kha retired in protest and became a farmer. Nhu was the fourth of six sons, born in 1910.[1]
He graduated from the École Nationale des Chartes, a French archivists’ school, and returned to Vietnam from France at the outbreak of World War II. He was influenced by personalism, a concept he had acquired in the Latin Quarter. It had been conceived in the 1930s by Catholic progressives such as Emmanuel Mounier. Mounier’s heirs in Paris, who edited the left wing Catholic review ’’Esprit’’ denounced Nhu as a fraud. He worked at Hanoi’s National Library and in 1943, he married Tran Le Xuan, making her known as "Madame Nhu". Prior to this, he was strongly rumoured to have been having an affair with his wife's mother, six years his senior. The French dismissed Nhu due to Diem’s nationalist activities, and he moved to Da Lat and lived comfortably, editing a newspaper. [2]
According to Cecil B. Currey's book, Victory at Any Cost, Ngo Dinh Nhu was "an opium-smoking megalomaniac." (p 238)

[edit] Rise to power
Main article: 1955 South Vietnamese election
Nhu's brother Diệm had been appointed Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam by Emperor Bao Dai after the French had been defeated at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. At the start of 1955, French Indochina was dissolved, leaving Diem in temporary control of the south.[3] A referendum was scheduled for October 23, 1955 to determine the future direction of the south. It was contested by Bao Dai, the Emperor, advocating the restoration of the monarchy, while Diem ran on a republican platform. The elections were held, with Nhu and the family's Can Lao Party, which supplied Diem's electoral base, organising and supervising the elections.[4][5] Campaigning for Bao Dai was prohibited, and the result was rigged, with Bao Dai supporters attacked by Nhu's workers. Diem recorded 98.2% of the vote, including 605,025 votes in Saigon, where only 450 thousand voters were registered. Diem's tally also exceeded the registration numbers in other districts.[6][4]
In his youth he had formed student movements. He created a web of covert political, security, labor and other organizations. Emulating the communists, he built a structure of five man cells to spy on dissidents and promote those loyal to Diem’s regime.[2]

[edit] Power
Nhu held no official role in the government, but ruled the southern region of South Vietnam, commanding private armies and secret police. Along with his wife and Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc, he lived in the Presidential Palace with Diem, as part of a nepotistic regime.[7] Pervaded by family corruption, Nhu competed with his brother Ngo Dinh Can, who ruled the northern areas for US contracts and rice trade.[8] He controlled the ARVN Special Forces commanded by Le Quang Tung, not for fighting the Vietcong but in Saigon to maintain the authoritarian rule of his family.[2] Tortures and killings of "communist suspects" were committed on a daily basis. The death toll was put at around 50,000 as well as 75,000 imprisonments, and extended beyond communists to anti-communist dissidents and anti-corruption whistle-blowers.[9] His agents infiltrated labor unions and social organizations, and he expanded the police forces from 20 to 32 officers. They conducted arrests without warrants and selective suppression of criminal activity and graft while turning a blind eye to regime loyalists.[10]
Nhu was an opium addict and Hitler admirer. He modelled the Can Lao secret police's marching style and torture styles on Nazi designs.[11] He and his wife amassed a fortune by running numbers and lottery rackets, manipulating currency and extorting money from Saigon businesses.[12]
Main article: Xa Loi Pagoda raids
As Buddhist demonstrations against the Diem government continued throughout the summer of 1963, the special forces loyal to Diem's brother Nhu raided the Xa Loi Pagoda in Saigon in August. The Pagodas were vandalised, monks beaten, the cremated remains of Thích Quảng Đức, which included a heart which did not disintegrate, were confiscated.[13] Simultaneous raids were carried out across the country, with the Tu Dam Pagoda in Hue being looted, the statue of Gautama Buddha demolished and a body of a deceased monk confiscated.[14] When the populace came to the defence of the monks, the resulting clashes saw 30 civilians killed and 200 wounded.[14] In all 1400 monks were arrested, and some thirty were injured across the country. The US indicated their disapproval of Diem's administration when their ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge visited the Pagoda in the aftermath.[15] No further mass Buddhist protests occurred during the remainder of his rule.[16]
During this time, his wife Madame Nhu, who was a defacto first lady due to Diem's bachelor life, inflamed the situation by mockingly applauding the suicides of Thích Quảng Đức and others, referring to them as "barbecues" while Nhu stated "if the Buddhists want to have another barbecue, I will be glad to supply the gasoline".[17]
Over time, relations with the United States decayed. The Americans wanted Nhu removed, believing he was alienating the populace and hindering the war effort. Aid to the Special Forces was to be withheld unless they were used to fight rather than attack dissidents. Nhu accused the Americans of “destroying the psychology of our country and called Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. a “man of no morality”.[18]

[edit] Death
Main articles: 1963 South Vietnamese coup and Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem
On November 2, 1963, Nhu was assassinated along with his brother by Captain Nguyen Van Nhung during a coup d'etat led by General Dương Văn Minh with the understanding that the United States would not intervene.[19]

[edit] Notes
^ Karnow, pp. 229–233.
^ a b c Karnow, pp. 280–284.
^ Maclear, pp. 65–68.
^ a b Karnow, p. 239.
^ Langguth, p. 99.
^ Jacobs, p. 95.
^ Karnow (1997)
^ Karnow p. 246.
^ Maclear, pp. 70–90.
^ Tucker, p. 461.
^ Olson, p. 65.
^ Olson, p. 98.
^ The Crackdown - TIME
^ a b The Crackdown - TIME
^ Gettleman, pp. 278–283.
^ Moyar, pp. 212–216, 231–234.
^ Tucker, 292–293.
^ Karnow, pp. 300–324.
^ Karnow, pp. 300–326.

[edit] References
Buttinger, Joseph (1967). Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled. Praeger Publishers.
Gettleman, Marvin E. (1966). Vietnam: History, documents and opinions on a major world crisis. Penguin Books.
Jacobs, Seth (2006). Cold War Mandarin: Ngo Dinh Diem and the Origins of America's War in Vietnam, 1950–1963. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 0-7425-4447-8.
Karnow, Stanley (1997). Vietnam: A history. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-84218-4.
Langguth, A. J. (2000). Our Vietnam. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-81202-9.
Maclear, Michael (1981). Vietnam:The ten thousand day war. Methuen. ISBN 0-423-00580-4.
Tucker, Spencer C. (2000). Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-040-0.

[edit] External links
JFK and the Ngos' Coup - Provided by the National Security Archive
vdeBuddhist crisis
Hue Vesak shootings · Hue chemical attacks · Self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc · Double Seven Day scuffle · Xa Loi Pagoda raids · 1963 South Vietnamese coup (reaction) · Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem

Joint Communique · Cable 243 · Krulak Mendenhall mission · McNamara Taylor mission · Secret peace talks between North and South Vietnam in 1963
Political orreligious figures
Ngo Dinh Diem · Ngo Dinh Nhu · Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu · Ngo Dinh Can · Ngo Dinh Thuc · Nguyen Ngoc Tho · Nguyen Dinh Thuan · Bui Van Luong · Vu Van Mau · Buu Hoi · Tran Van Chuong · Thich Tri Quang · Thich Quang Duc · Thich Tinh Khiet · Thich Thien Hoa · Frederick Nolting · Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. · Maxwell D. Taylor · Robert McNamara · Victor H. Krulak · Joseph Mendenhall · William Trueheart · Roger Hilsman · Averell Harriman · Michael Forrestal · John F. Kennedy
Military figures
Duong Van Minh · Tran Van Don · Ton That Dinh · Le Van Kim · Nguyen Van Thieu · Pham Ngoc Thao · Tran Kim Tuyen · Tran Thien Khiem · Nguyen Huu Co · Huynh Van Cao · Do Mau · Do Cao Tri · Nguyen Khanh · Nguyen Van Nhung · Le Quang Tung · ARVN Special Forces · Lucien Conein
David Halberstam · Malcolm Browne · Peter Arnett · Neil Sheehan · Marguerite Higgins

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