Historia Podcasts

Tet offensiv - historia

Tet offensiv - historia

I slutet av 1967 gick kriget starkt mot Viet Cong och nordvietnameserna. De bestämde sig för att starta en offensiv i hela landet som började med en attack mot USA: s ambassad i Saigon. Kommunisterna erövrade staden Hue, och striderna var hårda. Till slut besegrades kommunisterna på varje front.

Den amerikanska uppfattningen var dock att kriget hade gått förlorat. Det amerikanska folket hade fått höra att framsteg gjorts under hela kriget, och många amerikaner undrade hur de kommunistiska styrkorna kunde åstadkomma vad de hade, militärt och förlorat. Resultatet av offensiven tycktes vara en kollektiv förlust av vilja bland amerikanerna att fortsätta bekämpa Vietnamkriget.

Protesterna mot kriget ökade och president Johnson meddelade att han inte skulle ställa upp igen.


Tet offensiv

Tet -offensiven var en serie överraskningsattacker av Vietcong (rebellstyrkor sponsrade av Nordvietnam) och nordvietnamesiska styrkor, på mängder av städer, städer och byar i hela Sydvietnam. Det ansågs vara en vändpunkt i Vietnamkriget. Nordvietnamesiska ledare trodde att de inte kunde klara de stora förluster som amerikanerna åsamkade på obestämd tid och var tvungna att vinna kriget med en heltäckande militär insats. Dessutom var Ho Chi Minh nära döden, och de behövde en seger innan den tiden kom. De kombinerade styrkorna i Vietcong och North Vietnamese Regular Army (NVA), cirka 85 000 starka, inledde en stor offensiv i hela Sydvietnam. Attackerna började den 31 januari 1968, den första dagen på månens nyår, Vietnams viktigaste helgdag. Det tog veckor för amerikanska och sydvietnamesiska trupper att återta alla de fångade städerna, inklusive den tidigare kejserliga huvudstaden Hue. Även om offensiven var ett militärt misslyckande för de nordvietnamesiska kommunisterna och Vietcong (VC), var det en politisk och psykologisk seger för dem eftersom det dramatiskt motsatte sig optimistiska påståenden från den amerikanska regeringen om att kriget var nästan över. Planen utvecklas I slutet av 1967 hade styrkorna från den amerikanska armén, dess allierade och armén i Republiken Vietnam (ARVN) förankrat sig i de sex större städerna i Sydvietnam och rapporterade om växande framgångar på landsbygden. En rad spridda avledningsattacker från Vietcong drog gradvis fler amerikanska och ARVN -trupper från städerna. Sedan i slutet av januari 1968, på den första dagen i Tet, som tidigare observerats med en eldupphör, attackerade Vietcong fem av Sydvietnams städer, de flesta av provinsens och distriktets huvudstäder och cirka 50 byar. I Saigon attackerade de presidentpalatset, flygplatsen, ARVN: s högkvarter och kämpade sig fram till USA: s ambassad. USA: s och ARVN: s styrkor, som blev fångna, svarade snabbt och hade inom en vecka återhämtat det mesta av det förlorade territoriet. Nyans var dock en annan historia, eftersom Vietcong höll fasta. När staden togs tillbaka den 24 februari hade den historiska staden nästan varit jämn. Tusentals civila avrättades och 100 000 invånare hade förlorat sina hem. Det blev känt som "Massakern i Hue." Verkningarna Amerikanska talesmän beskrev initialt Tet -offensiven som ett misslyckande för Vietcong och pekade på deras reträtt och svindlande offer. Men när general William Westmoreland rapporterade att det skulle kräva 200 000 fler amerikanska soldater för att fullborda nederlaget i Vietcong och kräva en aktivering av reserverna, även lojala anhängare av krigsansträngningen började se att en strategiändring behövdes.

För ett växande segment av den amerikanska allmänheten demonstrerade Tet beslutsamheten i Vietcong och den svaga kontrollen som Sydvietnam hade över sitt eget territorium. Det hjälpte också att förena de hemma i sina avvikande åsikter om kriget.


55c. Tet -offensiven


Striderna som utgjorde Tet -offensiven varade i flera dagar i några sydvietnamesiska städer. Denna karta visar rutten som tagits av nordvietnamesiska trupper.

Under den buddhistiska semestern i Tet kom över 80 000 Vietcong -trupper fram från sina tunnlar och attackerade nästan alla större storstadscentrum i Sydvietnam. Överraskningsattacker gjordes på den amerikanska basen i Danang, och till och med den till synes ogenomträngliga amerikanska ambassaden i Saigon attackerades.

Under veckorna som följde återfick den sydvietnamesiska armén och amerikanska markstyrkor hela det förlorade territoriet och orsakade dubbelt så många skador på Vietcong som amerikanerna led.

Uppgörelsen var en militär seger för USA, men amerikansk moral fick ett oöverstigligt slag.

Doves Outnumber Hawks

När Operation Rolling Thunder började 1965 var det bara 15 procent av den amerikanska allmänheten som motsatte sig krigsinsatsen i Vietnam. Så sent som i januari 1968, bara några veckor före Tet, märkte bara 28 procent av den amerikanska allmänheten sig "duvor". Men i april 1968, sex veckor efter Tet -offensiven, var "duvor" fler än "hökar" 42 till 41 procent.

Endast 28% av det amerikanska folket var nöjda med president Johnsons hantering av kriget. Tet -offensiven övertygade många amerikaner om att regeringens uttalanden om att kriget nästan var över var falska. Efter tre års intensiv bombning, miljarder dollar och 500 000 trupper visade sig VC kunna attackera var de än ville. Budskapet var enkelt: det här kriget var inte nästan över. Slutet var ingenstans i sikte.

Hängande amerikansk truppmoral

Minskande offentligt stöd medförde en minskande truppmoral. Många soldater ifrågasatte visdomen i amerikanskt engagemang. Soldater ägnade sig åt alkohol, marijuana och till och med heroin för att slippa sina dagliga fasor. Incidenter med ”splittring” eller mord på officerare av deras egna trupper ökade under åren som följde på Tet. Soldater som avslutade sin årliga turné gjorde ofta fientliga mottagningar när de återvände till staterna.


Efter Tet -offensiven efterlyste general William Westmoreland ytterligare 200 000 trupper för att hjälpa till att bryta lösningen på Vietcong. Men president Lyndon B. Johnsons avslag på förslaget visade att Amerikas engagemang för kriget i Vietnam avtog.

Efter Tet begärde general Westmoreland ytterligare 200 000 trupper för att sätta ytterligare tryck på Vietcong. Hans begäran avslogs. President Johnson visste att det inte var politiskt hållbart att aktivera så många reserver, vilket innebär att det totala amerikanska engagemanget för nästan tre fjärdedelar av en miljon soldater.

Nordvietnameserna kände att den amerikanska beslutsamheten rasade. De visste att ju längre kriget rasade, desto mer antikrigsstämning i Amerika skulle växa. De spelade på att det amerikanska folket skulle kräva trupputtag innan militären nådde sina mål.

Under de kommande fem åren låtsades de förhandla med USA och gjorde förslag som de visste skulle avvisas. För varje dag som gick minskade antalet "hökar" i Amerika. Endast en liten andel amerikaner protesterade mot kriget på moraliska grunder, men en växande majoritet såg kriget som en insats vars segerpris var alldeles för högt.


30 januari 1968 CE: Tet Offensive

Den 30 januari 1968 inledde nordvietnamesiska och Viet Cong -trupper Tet -offensiven mot sydvietnamesiska och amerikanska mål. Tet -offensiven blev en stor vändpunkt i Vietnamkriget.

Samhällsvetenskap, amerikansk historia, världshistoria

Tet offensiv

Tet -offensiven förändrade allmänhetens uppfattning om Vietnamkriget. Även om det var en kostsam förlust för kommunistiska styrkor från Nordvietnam och Viet Cong, ledde attackerna till att sydvietnamesiska och amerikanska medborgare ifrågasatte resultatet av kriget.

Fotografera med tillstånd av U.S. Army

Den 30 januari 1968 inledde kommunistförbundna trupper från Nordvietnam och Viet Cong (en särskild politisk organisation) det som blev känt som Tet-offensiven mot Sydvietnam och dess amerikanska allierade. Tet -offensiven var en av de största militära operationerna under Vietnamkriget och blev en viktig vändpunkt i konflikten.

Tet -offensiven var en överraskningsserie av attacker som inleddes under Tet, den vietnamesiska nyårsfestivalen. Många sydvietnamesiska trupper var på semester när attackerna började, och militären blev oväntad. Kampanjen riktade sig inledningsvis till mer än 100 städer, inklusive den strategiska huvudstaden i södra Saigon, som nu heter Ho Chi Minh -staden.

Tet -offensiven var ett katastrofalt militärt misslyckande för kommunisterna. Historiker uppskattar att så många som 50 000 kommunistiska trupper dog i försöket att få kontroll över den södra delen av landet. De sydvietnamesiska och amerikanska förlusterna uppgick till en bråkdel av det antalet.

Trots en militär förlust var Tet -offensiven en fantastisk propagandaseger för kommunisterna. Faktum är att det ofta krediteras med att vända kriget till deras fördel. Sydvietnameserna började tappa inflytande när Viet Cong -gerillan infiltrerade landsbygdsområden som tidigare hölls av den sydvietnamesiska regeringen. Offensiven fläckade förhållandet mellan sydvietnameserna och USA.


Innehåll

Vietcong inrättade provisoriska myndigheter strax efter att den hade erövrat Huế under de tidiga timmarna den 31 januari 1968. De åtalades för att ha tagit bort den befintliga regeringsförvaltningen från makten i staden och ersatt den med en "revolutionär administration". Utifrån listor över "grymma tyranner och reaktionära element" som tidigare utvecklats av Vietcong -underrättelsetjänstemän, skulle många människor avrundas efter de första timmarna av attacken. Dessa inkluderade Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldater, tjänstemän, politiska partimedlemmar, lokala religiösa ledare, skollärare, amerikanska civila och andra internationella människor. [13] Kadrerna ropade ut namnen på sina listor över högtalare och beordrade dem att rapportera till en lokal skola. De som inte rapporterade frivilligt jagades. [14]

Kommunistiska preliminära ockupationsplaner och order Redigera

Kommunisternas agerande baserades på en rad order som utfärdades av överkommandot och PRG. I ett dokument på 3500 sidor som utfärdades den 26 januari 1968 av Trị-Thiên-Huế politiska direktoratet fick de politiska kadrerna specifika instruktioner: [15]: 28 "Verksamhet i nära stöd till de vanliga militära och gerillagrupperna, de politiska Kadren skulle: förstöra och desorganisera Republiken Vietnams (RVN: s) administrativa maskiner 'från provins- och distriktsnivåer till stadsavdelningar, gator och kajar' motivera Hu ofs folk att ta till vapen, jaga fienden, ta makten, och inrätta en revolutionär regering som motiverar (rekryterar) lokala medborgare till militära och "säkerhets" styrkor. transport- och försörjningsverksamhet och för att tjäna sårade soldater. upprätthålla ordning och säkerhet i staden. '"

Ett annat avsnitt, som handlar om målområde 1 ("Phu Ninh -avdelningen") läste: "Förinta alla spioner, reaktionärer och utländska lärare (som amerikaner och tyskar) i området. Bryt upp fängelser. Undersök kadrer, soldater och mottagliga civila. fängslad av fienden. Sök efter tyranner och reaktionärer som får behandling på sjukhus. " [15]: 29–30 Ordern för målområde 2 ("Phu Vinh -avdelningen") var liknande: "Förinta fienden i området. Samla den buddhistiska styrkan för att främja isoleringen av reaktionärer som utnyttjar katolikerna i Phu Cam. " [15]: 30 Beställningarna för målområde 3 ("bryggorna längs floden An Cuu och från Truong Sung till Kho Ren -bron") följde samma mönster: "Sök efter och förfölj spioner, tyranner och reaktionärer som gömmer sig nära kajen . Motivera folket i områdena längs floden att förinta fienden. " [15]: 30 För målområde 4 (distriktet inklusive Phu Cam och Binh Anh, Truong Giang, Truong Cuu och An Lang -sektionerna) var orderna "Sök efter och förfölj spioner och reaktionärer i området. Förstör makten och inflytandet av reaktionära ledare. "[15]: 31 För område 1 tilldelades Cell 3 jobbet som" Förintelse av tyranner och eliminering av förrädare ". [15]: 32

I juni 1968 fångade de amerikanska första kavalleritrupperna PAVN -dokument som inkluderade ett direktiv skrivet två dagar innan slaget började. Den innehöll dessa instruktioner: "För en lång ockupation av Huế bör vi omedelbart befria landsbygden och utplåna den onda GVN -administrativa personalen.

Specifikt uppdrag. Vi måste attackera fiendens nyckelorgan, ekonomiska installationer och kommunikationslinjer. Vi måste också utplåna fiendens mobiltrupper, reaktionära element och tyranner. "[15]: 113

Den 1 februari utfärdade provinsförvaltningen, efter att ha tagit kontroll över Huế, ett direktiv som delvis beordrade trupperna [16]: 193 "Att utplåna alla marionettadministrativa organ för marionett Thiệu-Kỳ (president Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, Vice president Nguyễn Cao Kỳ) klickar på alla nivåer i provinsen, staden och staden ner till varenda by. "

Samma dag meddelade Liberation Front-radion: "Vi säger till våra landsmän att vi är fast beslutna att störta regimen för den förrädiska Thiệu-Kique-klicken och straffa och förinta dem som har massakrerat och förtryckt våra landsmän. Vi ber våra landsmän. för att. hjälpa oss att arrestera alla grymma hantlangare från USA-marionetten. " [16]: 195

Yrke Redigera

Utrikesbetjänt Douglas Pike skrev att enligt Vietcong -dokument som fångades under och efter belägringen skulle medlemmar av provinsadministrationen tas ut ur staden, hållas och straffas för sina "brott mot det vietnamesiska folket". Dispositionen för dem som tidigare kontrollerade staden var noggrant upplagd och listorna var detaljerade och omfattande. De i den Saigon-baserade statspolisapparaten på alla nivåer skulle avrundas och hållas utanför staden. Höga civila och militära tjänstemän avlägsnades också från staden för att invänta studien av deras enskilda fall. [15]: 33

Vanliga tjänstemän som arbetade för "Saigon -fienden" av nödvändighet men inte motsatte sig kommunisterna var avsedda för omskolning och senare anställning. Lågnivå tjänstemän som någon gång varit inblandade i paramilitär verksamhet skulle hållas för omskolning men inte anställda. Det finns dokumenterade fall av individer som avrättades av Vietcong när de försökte gömma sig eller på annat sätt gjorde motstånd under de tidiga stadierna av Huếs ockupation. [17]

Inom dagar efter fångsten skickades US Marine Corps (USMC), US Army och ARVN -enheter för att motattacka och återta staden efter veckor av hårda strider under vilka staden och dess ytterområden utsattes för upprepade beskjutningar och bombningar. Det rapporterades att under attacken av USMC och ARVN hade Nordvietnams styrkor avrundat de personer vars namn det tidigare hade samlat in och låtit dem avrättas eller skickas norrut för "omskolning". [18]

Många människor hade tagit fristad från slaget i en lokal kyrka. Flera hundra av dem beordrades att genomgå indoktrinering i det ”befriade området” och fick veta att de skulle få återvända hem. Efter att ha marscherat gruppen söderut 9 km separerades 20 av människorna, prövades i en kängururätt, dömdes skyldiga, avrättades och begravdes. De andra togs över floden och överlämnades till en lokal kommunistisk enhet i ett utbyte som till och med inkluderade skriftliga kvitton. Douglas Pike noterade "Det är troligt att kommissarien avsåg att deras fångar skulle återutbildas och återlämnas, men med omsättningen gick saker från hans kontroll." Någon gång under de följande veckorna beslutade kommunisterna att döda individerna under deras kontroll. [19]: 49

Ögonvittnekonton Redigera

Nguyễn Công Minh, dotter till viceborgmästaren i Huế, rapporterade att hennes far, som var gammal, greps hemma i början av den kommunistiska ockupationen tre dagar efter att han beordrat sina barn (inklusive sig själv) och hans fru att fly via baksidan av deras hus när kommunistiska trupper först kom och knackade på deras hem. När han berättade för trupperna att han var biträdande borgmästare i Huế och var planerad att gå i pension om ett år (1969), beordrades han att rapportera till ett läger för omskolning och att packa kläder och mat tillräckligt i 10 dagar. Han sågs aldrig igen, och hans kvarlevor återfanns aldrig. Hon erinrade om att i sökandet efter hennes fars rester bevittnade hon att många av de kroppar hon stötte på i massgravarna befanns befinna sig i fosterställning, med händerna bundna bakom ryggen och baksidan av huvuden/skalle krossades, vilket indikerade att de knäböjde på marken före deras död och de dog på grund av trubbigt trauma i huvudet. [20]

År 1971, journalisten Don Oberdorfers bok, Tet !, dokumenterade några ögonvittnesberättelser om vad som hände i Huế under ockupationen. Pham Van Tuong, en vaktmästare på deltid för Huế-regeringens informationskontor som kom på Vietcong-listan över "reaktionärer" för att arbeta där, gömde sig med sin familj när den jagade efter honom. När han hittades med sin 3-åriga dotter, 5-åriga son och två brorsöner sköt Vietcong omedelbart alla och lämnade sina kroppar på gatan för resten av familjen att se. [14]

Don Oberdorfer tillbringade fem dagar i slutet av 1969 med Paul Vogle, en amerikansk professor i engelska vid Huế University, för att gå igenom Huế för att intervjua vittnen till ockupationen. Oberdorfer klassificerade alla morden i två kategorier: det planerade avrättandet av regeringstjänstemän och deras familjer, politiska och tjänstemän och samarbetspartners med amerikaner, och de civila som inte är kopplade till regeringen som sprang från förhör, som talade hårt om ockupationen, eller som ockupanterna trodde "visade en dålig inställning" till ockupanterna.

Oberdorfer rapporterade att på femte dagen av Viet Cong-ockupationen i det katolska distriktet Huế, Phủ Cam, tog alla funktionsdugliga män över 15 år, cirka 400 pojkar och män, som tog sin tillflykt i Phủ Cam-katedralen, bort och dödades. [14] Några hade funnits på Vietcongs svarta lista, vissa var i militär ålder och vissa såg bara välmående ut. [14] Oberdorfer intervjuade Ho Ty, en Vietcong -befälhavare som deltog i den avancerade planeringen av ett allmänt uppror. Han rapporterade att Ty berättade att kommunistpartiet "var särskilt angeläget om att få dessa människor till Phủ Cam. Katolikerna betraktades som våra speciella fiender." Det var tydligen den gruppen vars rester senare hittades i Da Mai Creek -sängen. [14] Morden på 500 personer i Da Mai godkändes av PRG -kommando "på grund av att offren hade varit förrädare till revolutionen." [15]: 85 [17]

En amerikansk veteran som befann sig i Huế -området skrev en redogörelse för hans enhets marsch till upptäckten av kropparna vid Dai Mai Creek. Han bekräftade informationen om att upptäckten var baserad på information som avslöjats av tre kommunistiska avhoppare som hade bevittnat massakern. Hans enhet gav säkerhet för myndigheterna som undersökte och återfanns resterna, och de hedrades av medborgarna i Huế för deras insatser. [21]

Tre professorer, professor Horst-Günther Krainick, Dr Alois Alteköster och Dr Raimund Discher, som undervisade vid Huế-universitetets medicinska fakultet och var medlemmar i det västtyska kulturmissionen, tillsammans med fru Elisabeth Krainick, greps och avrättades av nordvietnamesiska trupper under deras invasion av Huế i februari 1968. Den 5 april 1968 upptäcktes liken av de avrättade professorerna tillsammans med många vietnamesiska civila i massgravar nära Huế. [14] [22]

Philip W. Manhard, en amerikansk seniorrådgivare i provinsen Huế, fördes till ett krigsfångeläger av PAVN och hölls kvar till 1973. Manhard berättade att under PAVN: s utträde från Huế, avrättade de summariskt alla i deras förvar som stod emot tas ut ur staden eller som var för gammal, ung eller svag för att göra resan till lägret. [23]

Två franska präster, fäderna Urbain och Guy, sågs föras bort och led ett liknande öde. Urbains kropp hittades begravd levande, bunden i hand och fot. Guy, som var 48, avlägsnades från sin gänga och tvingades att knäböja ner på marken, där han sköts i bakhuvudet. Han var i samma grav med fader Urbain och 18 andra. [14] [24]

Fångad hemma hos vietnamesiska vänner blev Stephen Miller från U.S. Information Service bunden och skjuten på ett fält bakom ett katolsk seminarium. [22] Courtney Niles, en amerikansk civilist som arbetar för NBC International, dödades under en attack av kommunistiska styrkor i närvaro av amerikanska soldater. [14] [25]

Alje Vennema, en holländsk-kanadensisk läkare som bodde i Huế och bevittnade slaget och massakern, skrev Viet Cong -massakern vid Huế [16] 1976. Han berättar om många historier om mord. En 48-årig gatuförsäljare, fru Nguyen Thi Lao, "greps på huvudgatan. Hennes kropp hittades vid skolan. Hennes armar hade varit bundna och en trasa stoppad i hennes mun och det fanns inga sår på kroppen . Hon begravdes troligen levande. " [16]: 131 En 44-årig murare, herr Nguyen Ty, "togs i beslag den 2 februari 1968. Hans kropp hittades den 1 mars, hans händer var bundna och han fick ett skott i halsen som hade komma ut genom munnen. " [16]: 136 På Ap Dong Gi Tay "avslöjades 110 kroppar igen, de flesta hade händerna bundna och trasor stoppade i munnen. Alla var män, bland dem femton studenter, flera militärer och tjänstemän, unga och gamla . " [16]: 137 "Ibland eliminerades en hel familj, som var fallet med handlaren, herr Nam Long, som tillsammans med sin fru och fem barn sköts hemma." "Herr Phan Van Tuong, arbetare vid provinsens högkvarter, led ett liknande öde genom att skjutas utanför hans hus med fyra av sina barn." [16]: 141

Vennema listade 27 gravar med totalt 2 397 kroppar, varav de flesta hade avrättats. [16]: 129–141 Han citerade många ögonvittnesberättelser om avrättningar och beskrev tillståndet hos kroppar som hittades i gravarna. Många hade händerna bundna bakom ryggen. Några sköts i huvudet. Vissa hade trasor stoppade i munnen och hade inga tecken på sår, tydligen begravda levande. Vissa hade bevis för att ha blivit misshandlade. Några få identifierades som PAVN- eller VC -trupper som dödades under striden. [16]: 129–141

Vissa gravar hittades rent av en slump. En bonde som arbetade i sitt fält snubblade på en tråd som stack ut ur marken. Han drog i den för att ta bort den och en skeletthand dök upp ur marken. Andra gravar hittades när människor märkte misstänkt grönt gräs i sandiga områden. Da Mai Creek -massakern upptäcktes efter att tre Vietcong hoppade av och berättade för morden. [26] En ARVN -soldat på patrull söder om Huế märkte en tråd som stack ut ur marken. Eftersom han trodde att det var en fågelfälla, arbetade han mycket noga med att upptäcka det. Han upptäckte en gammal mans kropp, händerna bundna med tråden. Två dagar senare hade 130 kroppar avslöjats. [27]

. en trupp med dödsorder kom in i hemmet hos en framstående samhällsledare och sköt honom, hans fru, hans gifta son och svärdotter, hans unga ogifta dotter, en manlig och kvinnlig tjänare och deras bebis. Familjens katt blev kvävd, familjen hunden klumpades ihjäl guldfisken skopades ur fiskskålen och kastades på golvet. När kommunisterna lämnade fanns inget liv kvar i huset. [28]

Ett ögonvittne, Nguyen Tan Chau, berättade hur han fångades av kommunistiska trupper och marscherade söderut med 29 andra fångar bundna tillsammans, i tre grupper om tio. Chau lyckades fly och gömma sig i mörkret strax innan de andra avrättades. Därifrån bevittnade han vad som hände sedan.

De större fångarna separerades i par, knöts ihop rygg mot rygg och sköts. De andra sköts ensamma. Alla dumpades i två grunda gravar, inklusive de som hade skadats men inte var döda. [19]: 57

Dokument som bekräftar massakern Redigera

Fångade Vietcong -dokument skröt över att de "eliminerade" tusentals fiender och "förintade medlemmar från olika reaktionära politiska partier, hantlangare och onda tyranner" i Huế. [29]: 72–78 Bara ett regemente rapporterade att det dödade 1 000 människor. En annan rapport nämnde 2 867 dödade. Ännu ett dokument som skryter med över 3 000 dödade. Ytterligare ett dokument listade 2 748 avrättningar. [29]: 73–74 Ett fångat Vietcong -fiendedokument, som många författare citerade, inklusive Guenter Lewy i sin bok från 1980 Amerika i Vietnamoch Peter Macdonalds bok från 1993 Giap, registrerade att kommunisterna hade ”eliminerat 1 892 administrativ personal, 38 poliser, 790 tyranner”, 2720 politiskt förföljda personer totalt under kommunistens ockupation av staden. [14]

Översättningen av en officiell vietnamesisk kampanjstudie av Tet -offensiven i Thừa Thiên – Huế -provinsen som släpptes av kommunisterna erkände att Vietcong -kadrer "jagade och fångade tyranner och Vietnams militär- och regeringspersonal" och att "många bon av reaktionärer [. ] dödades." Hundratals andra "som var skyldiga blodskulder verkställdes". En annan officiell historia från kommunistisk sida, "Slagfältet Trị-Thiên-Huế under det segrande motståndskriget mot amerikanerna för att rädda nationen", erkände de omfattande morden men hävdade att de gjordes av civila som beväpnade sig och "reste sig i en flodvatten, dödar fiendens ligister, eliminerar förrädare och jagar fienden. Folket fångade och straffade många reaktionärer, fiendens ligister och fiendens hemliga agenter. " [14] Ordet "eliminera" kan emellertid vara en felöversättning av ordet "diệt" eller "loại khỏi vòng chiến đấu" och istället faktiskt betyda "förstöra" eller "neutralisera", som i att neutralisera deras administrativa funktion och eliminera av deras politiska inflytande genom förvar, i motsats till fysisk likvidation. [30] [31]

När Trương Như Tảng utnämndes till justitieminister i Vietcong strax efter Huế, förstod han att det var en kritisk position eftersom massakern hade ”lämnat oss ett särskilt behov av att ta itu med rädslor bland södra folket som en revolutionär seger skulle medföra ett blodbad. eller skräckvälde. " [32] Det berodde på att "ett stort antal människor hade avrättats" inklusive "fångade amerikanska soldater och flera andra internationella människor som inte var stridande". Enligt Trạng var "disciplinen i Huế allvarligt otillräcklig" och "fanatiska unga soldater hade sköt människor utan diskriminering och arga lokala medborgare som stödde revolutionen hade vid olika tillfällen tagit rätten i egna händer." [32] Massakern var "en av de fruktansvärda spontana tragedierna som oundvikligen följer med krig. " [32]

Den 4 februari meddelade Radio Hanoi, "Efter en timmes strid ockuperade de revolutionära försvarsmakterna marionettguvernörens bostad (i Huế), fängelset och marionettadministrationens kontor. De revolutionära försvarsmakten straffade de mest grymma agenterna från fienden och tog kontrollen över gatorna. rundade ihop och straffade dussintals grymma agenter och fick fiendens kontroll- och förtrycksorgan att rasa. " [19]: 54 Den 14 februari utfärdade Thừa Thiên-Huế People's Revolutionary Committee ett uttalande som delvis läste:

Oroade sig över landets överlevnad och sitt eget öde, den 31 januari 1968 reste sig Thừa Thiên-Huế-folket med vapen i händerna, krossade marionettstyrningsapparaten från provinsen till byn och bynivåer och befriade landsbygden helt och staden Huế. Fienden har lidit katastrofala nederlag. Ett antal ledare för marionettadministrationen har kapitulerat för folket eller har gripits och har gripits av de revolutionära krafterna. Med undantag för vissa orter och spridda bevakningsposter som ännu inte har likviderats har marionettadministrationen Thừa Thiên-Huế i princip sönderfallit. [16]: 196–197

I en post i ett fångat kommunistdokument av den 22 februari stod det: "Truppsprocessering av VC/PAVN -styrkorna var inte framgångsrik eftersom trupperna var tvungna att ägna sig åt att bekämpa uppdrag. Dessutom var de rädda för att bli upptäckta av fienden. Det var mycket svårt för dem att hantera krigsfångar så de genomförde politiken "fånga och döda." " "Vi fångade och utrotade tusentals människor i det revolutionära nätverket. Från provins till by bröt vi fiendens administrativa grepp för folket att resa sig." [15]: 115

En rapport som skrevs omedelbart efter slaget av en politisk officer i Folkets revolutionära parti listade 2 826 "administrativ personal, nationalistiska politiska partimedlemmar," tyranner "och poliser som dödades av deras trupper." [15]: 7

Ett annat dokument, odaterat, skrivet av en högt uppsatt politiskt officer och märkt "ABSOLUTE SECRET", hade titeln "Information on the Victory of Our Armed Forces in Huế from 31 January to 23 March 1968" det fångades av US 1st Cavalry Division den 25 April 1968 [29]: 212 - not 15 och rapporterade om resultaten av den politiska operationen.

Vi dödade också en medlem av Dai Viet Party Committee, en senator i Sydviet-Nam, 50 Quoc Dan Dang-partimedlemmar, sex Dai Viet Party-medlemmar, tretton Can Lao Nhan Vi Party-medlemmar, tre kaptener, fyra första löjtnanter och befriade. 35 byar med 32 000 personer. Vi eliminerade 1.892 administrativ personal, 38 poliser, 790 tyranner, sex kaptener, två första löjtnanter, 20 andra löjtnanter och många underofficerare. [29]: 74 [33]

Samma dokument innehöll ett avsnitt som läste:

Folket gick med i våra soldater i deras jakt på tyranner, reaktionärer och spioner. Till exempel följde fru Xuan våra soldater för att visa husen till de tyranner hon kände, även om hon bara hade sex dagar innan hon fött ett barn. [29]: 72

I mars 1968, i den officiella Hanoi -pressen, rapporterade norr:

Aktivt kombinerat sina ansträngningar med de från Folkets befrielse väpnade styrkor och befolkning, andra självförsvar och väpnade enheter i staden Huế arresterades och uppmanades att ge upp de överlevande funktionärerna i marionettadministrationen och officerare och män från marionettarmén som skulkade . Die-hard grymma agenter straffades. [16]: 191

Ett dokument från den 6 mars som skrevs av en befälhavare för Vietcong -sapperenheten berättade att hans enhet "deltog i dödandet av tyranner och grävning av skyttegravar" [15]: 112 En 13 mars 1968 post i fångade dokument granskade framgångarna med attacken mot Huế. "Enorm seger: Vi förintade mer än 3000 tyranniska marionettarméer och administrativ personal, inklusive biträdande provinschefen för Thừa Thiên." [15] : 115–116 A report written by the commander of the 6th Regiment on 30 March stated that they had captured thousands of "local administrative personnel, puppet troops, and cruel tyrants" and successfully "annihilated members of various reactionary political parties, henchmen, and wicked tyrants." It also stated that they had "killed 1,000 local administrative personnel, spies and cruel tyrants." [29] : 73

On 26 April 1968, Hanoi, reacting to the discovery of graves in Huế, announced that the people murdered by their troops were "hooligan lackeys who had incurred blood debts of the Huế compatriots and who were annihilated by the Front's Armed Forces in the early spring of 1968." [16] : 191 On 27 April 1969, Radio Hanoi criticized authorities in Huế and South Vietnam:

In order to cover up their cruel acts, the puppet administration in Huế recently played the farce of setting up a so-called committee for the search for burial sites of the hooligan lackeys who had owed blood debts to the Tri-Thien-Huế compatriots and who were annihilated by the Southern Armed Forces and people in early Mau Than spring. [16] : 191–192

A cadre diary captured by 1st Cavalry Division troops contained an entry that read:

The entire puppet administrative system from hamlet to province was destroyed or disintegrated. More than 3,000 persons were killed. The enemy could never reorganize or make up for his failure. Although he could immediately use inexperienced elements as replacements, they were good for nothing. [29] : 73

In December 1968, the Huế City People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee released a summary of the party's accomplishments during Tet. The summary included the following statement: "Thousands of tyrants were killed. Many reactionary factions and organizations were exterminated." [15] : 7

The same month, Don Oberdorfer reported,

Ho Ty was arrested by the government police on Sept. 4 this year. At the time of his arrest, he was party secretary for a section of Huế city. Ho Ty reported that the part of the plan from higher headquarters was to destroy the government machinery of Huế and the people who made it work. He said the killings were planned and executed by a separate group in charge of security. [34]

In 1987, at a Hanoi conference to discuss the history of the Tet offensive, Colonel General Tran Van Quang, one of the commanders of the Huế operation, assessed the strengths and weaknesses of his forces and cited as one of their strengths:

We resolutely carried out the orders and fulfilled the requirements set out for us by the High Command. We motivated our cadre, soldiers, and the civilian population through the use of the slogans, 'Tri-Thien fights for Tri-Thien and for the entire nation,' and 'Heroically and resolutely conduct attacks and uprisings.' [35]

In February 1988, Vietnamese communist leaders admitted "mistakes" were made in Huế. Col Nguyen Quoc Khanh, commander of part of the forces that took over Huế stated, "There was no case of killing civilians purposefully. Those civilians who were killed were killed accidentally, in cross fire." However, he admitted "some rank and file soldiers may have committed individual mistakes." [36] However, in an internal document discussing the 1968 Tet offensive in Hue, General (Tổng) Hồ Trung wrote, referring to the Giá Hơi section: "These forces hunted down and killed enemy thugs, reactionaries, and puppet policemen" and that they "cleaned out. nests of Catholic reactionaries." [37]

A first summary was published for the U.S. Mission in Vietnam by Douglas Pike, then working as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Information Agency in 1970. Pike identified three distinct phases for the executions in Huế. In a report published in 1970, The Viet Cong Strategy of Terror, the U.S. Information Agency analyst Douglas Pike wrote that at least half of the bodies unearthed in Huế revealed clear evidence of "atrocity killings: to include hands wired behind backs, rags stuffed in mouths, bodies contorted but without wounds (indicating burial alive)." [14] [19] : 47 Pike concluded that the killings were done by local Vietcong cadres and were the result of "a decision rational and justifiable in the Communist mind." [14] [19] : 52 The three phases are as follows:

  • Phase one was a series of kangaroo court trials of local ARVN officials. The highly publicized trials lasted anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes and the accused were always found guilty of "crimes against the people." [19] : 54–55
  • Phase two was implemented when the communists thought that they could hold the city long-term and was a campaign of "social reconstruction" along Maoist dogmatic lines. Those who the communists believed to be counter-revolutionaries were singled out. Catholics, intellectuals, prominent businessmen, and other "imperialist lackeys" were targeted in order to "build a new social order." [19] : 55–58
  • The last phase began when it became evident that the communists could not hold the city, and it was designed to "leave no witnesses." Anyone who could identify individual Vietcong members who participated in the occupation was to be killed and their bodies hidden. [19] : 58–60

After the Battle of Huế, between 1968 and 1969 a total of almost 2,800 bodies were recovered from mass graves, with 4 major mass grave finds. [14]

  • A few months after the battle, about 1,200 civilian bodies were found in 18 hastily-concealed mass graves. [14]
  • A second major group of graves were discovered in the first 7 months of 1969. [14] In February 1968, a list of 428 names of people identified from the recovered bones was released by local authorities. [14]
  • In September 1969, three communist defectors confessed to the 101st Airborne Division intelligence officers that they had witnessed several hundred people being killed in a 100-yard area at Da Mai Creek bed (about 10 miles south of Huế). [14]
  • In November 1969, another major mass grave were fount at Phu Thu Salt Flats, near the fishing village of Lương Viện, Vinh Hưng commune, Phú Lộc provincial district, 10 miles east of Huế and halfway between the cities of Huế and Đà Nẵng. [14]

In Bùi Tín's 2002 memoir, From Enemy to Friend: a North Vietnamese perspective on the war, the former PAVN Colonel acknowledged that executions of civilians had occurred in Huế. However, he added that under the intensity of the American bombardment, discipline of the troops disintegrated. The "units from the north" had been "told that Huế was the stronghold of feudalism, a bed of reactionaries, the breeding ground of Cần Lao Party loyalists who remained true to the memory of former South Vietnamese president Ngô Đình Diệm and of Nguyễn Văn Thiệu's Democracy Party." [38] Tin explained that over 10,000 prisoners were taken at Huế, with the most important of them sent to North Vietnam for imprisonment. When U.S. Marines launched their counterattack to retake the city, communist troops were instructed to move the prisoners with the retreating troops. According to Tín, in the "panic of retreat," the company and battalion commanders shot their prisoners "to ensure the safety of the retreat." [14] [38]

Marilyn B. Young disputes the "official figures" of executions at Huế. While acknowledging that there were executions, she cites freelance journalist Len Ackland, who was at Huế and estimated the number to be somewhere between 300 and 400. [14] [39]

Ngo Vinh Long claims that 710 people were killed by the communists. In an interview he stated, "Yeah, there was a total of 710 persons killed in the Huế area, from my research, not as many as five thousand, six thousand, or whatever the Americans claimed at that time, and not as few as four hundred as people like some of the people in the peace movement here claim. " [40]

The Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci reported, "In the last few days the Vietcong lost their heads and did nothing but make reprisals, kill, punish". However, citing a French priest to whom she spoke in Huế, she also claimed that the death toll of up to 8,000 included deaths by American bombardment, and at least 200 people, and perhaps as many as 1,100, who were killed following the liberation of Huế by the US and ARVN forces. [39] [41] Stanley Karnow wrote that the bodies of those executed by South Vietnamese teams were thrown into common graves. [39] Some reports alleged that South Vietnamese "revenge squads" had also been at work in the aftermath of the battle to search out and execute citizens supporting the communist occupation. [10] [11]

The historian David Hunt posited that Douglas Pike's study for the U.S. Mission was "by any definition, a work of propaganda." In 1988, Pike said that he had earlier been engaged in a conscious "effort to discredit the Vietcong." [42]

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, the historian Gareth Porter stated that there was little evidence that the communists carried out more than "several hundred" political executions and revenge killings in Huế, with only U.S. official assertions identifying all of over 2,800 bodies found as "victims of Communist executions." He alleged that the site of one set of mass graves was also the site of a major battle in which some 250 communist troops were reported killed in U.S air strikes and that Saigon's minister of health, after visiting burial sites, said the bodies could have been communist soldiers killed in battle. He dismissed Pike's claim that there were communist blacklists of students and intellectuals to be killed as unsupported by interviews and captured communist documents. [43]

The historian James Willbanks concluded, "We may never know what really happened at Huế, but it is clear that mass executions did occur." [14] According to Stanley Karnow, "Balanced accounts have made it clear, however, that the Communist butchery at Huế did take place—perhaps on an even larger scale than reported during the war." [44] Ben Kiernan's 2017 history of Vietnam acknowledges that "thousands" were killed at Huế in "possibly the largest atrocity of the war." [12]

Reports of the massacre had a profound impact on the South Vietnamese for many years after the Tet Offensive, with an anticipation of a bloodbath following any North Vietnamese takeover, like the one in Huế. Novelist James Jones, in a New York Times article wrote, "Whatever else they accomplished, the Huế massacres effectively turned the bulk of the South Vietnamese against the Northern Communists. In South Vietnam, wherever one went, from Can Tho in the delta to Tay Ninh to Kontum in the north, and of course in Huế, the 1968 Tet massacres were still being talked about in 1973." [45]

Anticipation of a bloodbath was a major factor in the widespread panic and chaos across South Vietnam when North Vietnam executed their 1975 Spring Offensive, and the panic culminated in the disintegration and defeat of South Vietnamese military forces, and the fall of the Republic of Vietnam on 30 April 1975. [14] Today, the massacre remains unrecognized and entirely ignored in the Vietnamese communist government's War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. [13] The Vietnamese government still does not acknowledge that a massacre took place and does not allow any public dissent from this position. [46]


TET: Who Won?

Shortly before 3 a.m. on January 31, 1968, a squad of Vietcong guerrillas blasted a hole in the outer wall of the U.S. Embassy compound in Saigon, gunned down two American military policemen who tried to stop them, and laid siege to the lightly defended headquarters building where the flag of the United States was officially planted in South Vietnam.

As part of a nationwide wave of surprise attacks by the Communists during the Lunar New Year—the Tet holiday—the resulting six-hour battle was militarily inconsequential. In fact, in strictly military terms, the two-month struggle known as the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the attackers. It ended with the expulsion of the North Vietnamese Army and the southern-based insurgent troops, known in the West as Vietcong, from each place they invaded.

In the theater of public opinion in the United States, however, the attacks were a great success for the North Vietnamese. Brought into the living rooms of Americans by new communications satellites over the Pacific, scenes of the carnage, particularly at the embassy, severely damaged national confidence in the war policies of President Lyndon Johnson, who was already under fire from a frustrated citizenry in a presidential election year. The dramatic developments set in train during Tet led eventually to the withdrawal of American forces and the collapse of South Vietnam.

Tet was a historical anomaly: a battlefield defeat that ultimately yielded victory. This remarkable result accounts for Tet's resonance whenever U.S. military forces meet even temporary reverses. In the 12 months after Baghdad fell in April 2003, for example, more than 200 stories in major English-language newspapers referred to the Tet Offensive. And faced with a flare-up of attacks in Iraq this past June, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a radio interviewer that he had no doubt the insurgents had "read about Tet and the fact that if they make a big enough splash, even though they get a lot of people killed and we pound them, they end up winning psychologically."

Nearly four decades after the battle, Tet still provokes sharp debate. Why did the attack come as such a surprise? Did the American press misreport a U.S. victory as a defeat? Such questions drew more than three dozen historians, some unborn when the battle took place, to reassess the Tet Offensive at this year's meeting of the Society for Military History in Bethesda, Maryland. (As a correspondent for the Knight newspapers during Tet and author of a book on the subject, I was invited to participate.)

At the time of the Tet Offensive, I had been covering the Vietnam War for three years, ever since Johnson dramatically raised the U.S. stake in the war by sending in ground combat troops. After arriving in Saigon on January 1, 1968, for my third extended visit to the war zone, I made plans to go at the end of the month to neighboring Laos in order to escape the journalistic void that would likely envelop Vietnam during Tet, the Lunar New Year and by far the most important national and family holiday for Vietnamese. But when I got to Laos, a British doctor told me that "the Vietcong have taken over the U.S. Embassy in Saigon" (news that was a gross exaggeration). Commercial flights to Vietnam were shut down, but I was able to reach a silent and demoralized Saigon on a U.S. military aircraft three days after the battle began. By then, the city was filled with the odor of rotting garbage and, here and there, the stench of the dead.

During the weeks that followed, I traveled widely. In the former imperial capital of Hue, I covered the bloody fighting of U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese troops and the North Vietnamese regulars who held the citadel of the former Nguyen emperors for 25 days before being driven out. It was in Ben Tre, a provincial capital in the Mekong Delta I visited on February 7, that an unnamed U.S. major famously told Peter Arnett of the Associated Press that "it became necessary to destroy the town to save it." Nearly everywhere I went, the lack of preparedness for the extraordinary attacks was an important part of the story.

We did not know then—and only learned with publication in 1988 of historical documents in Hanoi—that the North Vietnamese Politburo had decided as early as June 1967 to aim for a decisive battlefield victory in 1968, a U.S. presidential election year. The following month the Politburo approved a plan for simultaneous surprise attacks on Saigon and other urban areas of the South. In October 1967, according to the official history published in Hanoi, the Politburo decided that the attacks would begin during the Tet holiday, then only three months away.

Although the Communists tried to keep the offensive a secret, such an audacious project󈠓,000 troops attacking more than 100 targets—was bound to leak out. In mid-November, U.S. forces captured an early version of the attack plan, which declared that on an unspecified date, "troops should flood the lowlands" including Saigon and other urban areas in coordination with uprisings of the local population. The U.S. Embassy in Saigon actually distributed a translation of the Vietnamese document 25 days before the embassy was attacked it was widely discounted. On the copy I picked out of a bin at the embassy press office, I expressed my own skepticism in longhand: "moonshine." Though the U.S. military command had ordered American forces on "maximum alert" on the eve of the holiday, many officers did not take the threat seriously. In fact, the very night the Tet attacks began, some 200 U.S. colonels, all assigned to the intelligence branch of the U.S. command, went to a party in downtown Saigon.

As the Communists prepared their attacks, the White House was setting itself up for a political disaster with a misguided "success offensive," claiming that victory was in sight. From the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Företag, President Johnson declared that the war would continue "not many more nights." Most tellingly, Gen. William Westmoreland, the handsome, square-jawed commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, said before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.: "With 1968, a new phase is now starting. We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view."

In this context, the Tet attacks came as a particular shock. James J. Wirtz, a historian at the Naval War College who has closely studied the 1968 offensive, declared at the Bethesda conference that Tet was "an earth-shattering, mind-shattering event that changed the course of the war." Though the Politburo in Hanoi achieved neither the decisive victory on the battlefields nor the uprising by the Vietnamese people they had hoped for, they were able, as North Vietnamese Communist Party chief Le Duan had forecast in a letter to his southern fighters, to "shake the aggressive will of U.S. imperialism, compel it to change its strategy and de-escalate the war."

My friend and former Washington Post colleague, the late Peter Braestrup, blamed misreporting by the American press for the impact of Tet on the American public, citing "a portrait of defeat for the allies" that emerged from journalistic accounts. Many high-level military officials shared Braestrup's view, stimulating efforts by the post-Vietnam Pentagon to restrict press coverage of military operations.

Jag håller inte med. Unquestionably, there was misreporting of Tet, especially in the confusing and uncertain days following the attacks. In retrospect, some of my own reporting was too pessimistic, partly because I was misled by a CIA official who was trying to claim control of the delta for his agency.


Military Victory But Political Defeat: The Tet Offensive 50 Years Later

A unit of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, rests alongside a battered wall of Hue's imperial palace after a battle for the citadel in February 1968, during the Tet Offensive.

Looking back a half-century, to when they were young officers, their memories of the Battle of Hue are still fresh.

"What I saw was probably the most intense ground fighting on a sustained basis over several days of any other period during the war," says Howard Prince, an Army captain who worked with South Vietnamese forces.

"We were under fire, under heavy fire," says Jim Coolican, a Marine captain.

Mike Downs, another Marine captain, recalls, "We didn't know where the enemy was, in which direction even."

The enemy forces were everywhere. Inside houses and tunnels and in the sewer system, and they captured the citadel, a massive castlelike expanse in this city that was once the imperial capital, north of Saigon.

It was the bloodiest battle of the Tet Offensive and also the entire war — and it all took American officials completely by surprise, says author Mark Bowden.

"You had the incredible rose-colored reports coming from Gen. William Westmoreland, who was the American commander in Vietnam," says Bowden, who wrote the recent book Hue 1968. "[He was] assuring the American people that the end was near, that the enemy was really only capable of small kinds of ambushes in the far reaches of the country."

Two U.S. military policemen aid a wounded fellow MP during fighting in the U.S. Embassy compound in Saigon, at the beginning of the Tet Offensive. A Viet Cong suicide squad seized control of part of the compound and held it for about six hours before being killed or captured. AP hide caption

Two U.S. military policemen aid a wounded fellow MP during fighting in the U.S. Embassy compound in Saigon, at the beginning of the Tet Offensive. A Viet Cong suicide squad seized control of part of the compound and held it for about six hours before being killed or captured.

But then came Tet. North Vietnamese troops and their Viet Cong allies swept throughout cities and towns, into military bases, even breaching the walls of the U.S. Embassy grounds in Saigon.

Back in Washington, President Lyndon Johnson called his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, and asked for an explanation.

McNamara told him that the American people would realize that the enemy forces were stronger than they had been told, that the Pentagon was searching for targets but the Vietnamese enemies were still a "substantial force."

A substantial force. But just six weeks earlier, a top White House official had told New York Times reporter Gene Roberts the war was already over.

Roberts was heading off to Vietnam, so national security adviser Walt Rostow gave him a story idea. He told Roberts about a new U.S. agricultural program, Roberts recalls, "which would double the rice yields in Vietnam and would win the peace now that Americans had won the war."

Keeping his head low against North Vietnamese snipers, a medical corpsman scurries to help a U.S. Marine in Hue street fighting during the Tet Offensive. AP hide caption

Keeping his head low against North Vietnamese snipers, a medical corpsman scurries to help a U.S. Marine in Hue street fighting during the Tet Offensive.

The battle for Hue

Far from winning, the Americans were barely holding on in Hue. Roberts saw terrified refugees, wounded Marines and heavy gunfire. His first story said the Marines controlled just two blocks of the city. Reinforcements were needed — not just troops but artillery.

That was slow in coming. Coolican, the Marine captain, said his own military superiors didn't understand how desperate the Marines were. The Americans were badly outnumbered.

"The reaction we got — and I'm paraphrasing now, but the reaction we got was that we were overreacting. It isn't that bad," remembers Coolican.

More reporters showed up at Hue, including some from NBC. The pictures showed a desperate scene, talking to a Marine under fire who said he just wanted to go home.

Still, Westmoreland downplayed the situation, telling reporters the real enemy objective was a large and remote Marine base at Khe Sanh.

"In my opinion," Westmoreland told reporters, "this is diversionary to [the enemy's] main effort, which he had planned to take place in Quang Tri Province, from Laos toward Khe Sanh and across the demilitarized zone."

A U.S. Marine carries a 155 mm shell at Khe Sanh in January 1968. North Vietnamese troops attacked the remote outpost to serve as a diversion in the leadup to the Tet Offensive. Rick Merron/AP hide caption

A U.S. Marine carries a 155 mm shell at Khe Sanh in January 1968. North Vietnamese troops attacked the remote outpost to serve as a diversion in the leadup to the Tet Offensive.

But Prince, a young Army officer fighting at Hue, said Westmoreland had it backward: Khe Sanh was the diversion.

"Westmoreland and his staff, the people who were advising him, became fixated on Khe Sanh," says Prince, "to the point where they simply were not capable of entertaining other information."

Others were willing to entertain the importance of the Tet Offensive. Among them was Walter Cronkite, the CBS anchor who arrived in Hue and quickly realized he had been deceived by his official sources back in Washington.

What Cronkite saw on the ground led him to go on TV and say it was time for the U.S. to end the war.

"The only rational way out then," Cronkite said to a national audience, "will be to negotiate not as victims but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could."

Johnson is said to have told an aide, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

And maybe more than that. Bowden says Tet spurred not just a lack of trust about Vietnam policy but a more general disregard for government officials that continues to this day.

"On the heels of Hue," says Bowden, "on the heels of Tet then came the Pentagon Papers, came the Watergate break-in, a series of kind of catastrophic events in terms of the public's perception of its own leaders."

A month after the Tet Offensive, Johnson went on TV and said he would press for peace, stop the bombing in North Vietnam. Then, he dropped his own bombshell: He would not seek another term as president.

Members of Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, raise the U.S. flag on the south wall of the citadel in Hue after weeks of fierce fighting and heavy casualties. John Lengel/AP hide caption

Members of Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, raise the U.S. flag on the south wall of the citadel in Hue after weeks of fierce fighting and heavy casualties.

Prince watched it from his hospital bed in Texas, recovering from wounds he suffered at Hue.

"I was ready to throw a bedpan at the television set," he recalls, "because to me what that was was an admission of defeat and a denial of the sacrifice that all those young men had made and that I had made."

The Tet Offensive was an American military victory, says Prince. And Johnson should have taken the fight to North Vietnam and gone after the enemy's safe havens in Laos and Cambodia.

"We're doing the same thing today with the Taliban in Afghanistan," Prince says. "We're allowing you to run over into the borderlands in Pakistan and do the same thing."

Bowden agrees that even today, there are military parallels to the Vietnam War.

"We often find ourselves mired in situations where we don't have the cultural understanding, we don't have the historical understanding," Bowden says. "We can't gain the support of the people whether it's in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it stems from a kind of an arrogance and a general ignorance."

For his part, Downs, another young Marine officer, will say only that he and his men did their best.

This week Downs will remember those from Fox Company who were killed or wounded. Their names are carefully written in a small notebook he carried during those days a half-century ago. And he begins to read the names.

"The killed were, I think he was a [private first class], Stanley Murdock. D.I. Collins. A corpsman by the name of Gosselin, Doc Gosselin. Cristobal Figueroa-Perez."

And Downs says they were killed in just the first few hours of the Battle of Hue, which would last for weeks. During that time the casualty rate for his company reached around 60 percent killed or wounded, a rate similar to the D-Day landings at Normandy during World War II.

Correction Jan. 29, 2018

A previous version of this story located Hue as just north of Saigon. It's actually more than 600 miles north of there. Additionally, a reference to Doc Gosselin's last name was misspelled as Gooslin.


Tet Offensive

Definition and Summary of the Tet Offensive
Summary and Definition: On January 30, 1968, during Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year, a massive surprise attack was launched by the Vietnamese. The surprise attack became known as the 'Tet Offensive' in which the communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong guerrilla forces began a coordinated series of ferocious attacks on more than 100 south Vietnamese cities and towns, including the former, ancient imperial capital of Hue. There was even an attack by the Viet Cong on the American Embassy in Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. In the same week of the Tet Offensive, the tally of American soldiers who had died in Vietnam passed that of the Korean War.

The Tet Offensive ended on September 23, 1968 and was a turning point in the Vietnam War. Although the north Vietnamese suffered massive casualties it gained a psychological and political victory for the communists, dramatically contradicting optimistic claims by the U.S. government that the Vietnam War was all but over.

Tet Offensive Facts for kids

Tet Offensive Facts - 1: The Vietnam War (November 1, 1955 April 30, 1975) was fought between the Communist government of North Vietnam and Viet Cong guerrillas, who were supported by the Chinese, and the armies of South Vietnam, who were supported by the United States. In 1967 General Westmoreland had told the American public the war in Vietnam was progressing well and the end was in sight.

Tet Offensive Facts - 2: The 1968 Tet Offensive was a military campaign launched by Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War. The result of the conflict was a tactical victory for the US and South Vietnamese but a political, strategic and psychological victory for the communist North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong.

Tet Offensive Facts - 3: The primary objective of the Tet Offensive was to promote a popular uprising so that the South Vietnamese people would rise up in rebellion against their own government.

Tet Offensive Facts - 4: The Tet Offensive started on January 30, 1968 by communist forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnam against South Vietnam, the United States and their allies.

Tet Offensive Facts - 5: It is estimated that 85000 Viet Cong participated in the attacks in south Vietnam, supported by thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers.

Tet Offensive Facts - 6: On January 30, 1968, the Tet Offensive began when North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong forces simultaneously attacked towns and cities in South Vietnam. The attacks were a complete surprise because the enemy forces broke the temporary ceasefire that had been called for the Vietnamese lunar new year holiday of Tet. During previous Tet holidays both sides had stopped fighting for 3 days.

Tet Offensive Facts - 7: During the surprise Tet Offensive major targets in south Vietnam were attacked. These included over 155 villages, towns and cities that were subjected to rocket fire and massive artillery attacks. In some cities the Communists were repelled within hours. In others, it took weeks of fighting.

Tet Offensive Facts - 8: The Tet Offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the Vietnam war. It was conducted in south Vietnam in a series of three phases:

● Phase 1: January 30, 1968 March 28, 1968
● Phase 2: May 5, 1968 June 15, 1968
● Phase 3: August 17, 1968 September 23, 1968

The Viet Cong fought an open war during the Tet Offensive, not the guerrilla warfare that they usually fought.

Facts about the Tet Offensive for kids
The following fact sheet continues with facts about Tet Offensive.

Tet Offensive Facts for kids

Tet Offensive Facts - 9: At 2:45AM on the morning January 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet Offensive, the US embassy in Saigon was invaded. A suicide squad of some 19 Viet Cong had blasted its way through the high walls surrounding the embassy compound and held IT until 9:15AM. Outside the city of Saigon two Viet Cong battalions attacked the U.S. logistical and headquarter complex at Long Binh

Tet Offensive Facts - 10: Phase 1 of the Tet Offensive was aimed at luring the Allied forces out of the heavily populated cities to defend the borders, and then launching surprise attacks on the cities.

Tet Offensive Facts - 11: Phase 2 of the Tet Offensive was a smaller offensive and consisted of continuing heavy attacks on cities but also included attacks on villages. The advantage of the element of surprise had been lost and it was not nearly as effective as Phase 1 and the communist Vietnamese suffered numerous casualties.

Tet Offensive Facts - 12: Phase 3 of the Tet Offensive continued to target cities and villages in south Vietnam but was fought by North Vietnamese soldiers, no Viet Cong forces participated in Phase 3.

Tet Offensive Facts - 13: The Viet Cong scored their greatest triumph when they captured ancient Vietnamese capital city of Hue. By the time the communists were driven out of Hue, nearly 10,000 soldiers and civilians had been killed and the ancient city of Hue was reduced to rubble

Tet Offensive Facts - 14: At the end of the Tet Offensive, both sides had endured losses, and both sides claimed victory. The United States defeated the communists decisively, but at the same time handed them a strategic victory.

Tet Offensive Facts - 15: Militarily it was a defeat for the communists, they were not focused on specific targets and had found it impossible to coordinate the tens of thousands of soldiers and Viet Cong taking part in the assaults. But they gained a massive psychological and political victory contradicting optimistic claims by the U.S. government and the military that the Vietnam War was all but over.

Tet Offensive Facts - 16: The events of the Tet Offensive were brought into the living rooms of Americans by new communications satellites that conveyed the scenes of the carnage via the television. The invasion of the US embassy in Saigon was a terrible shock to the nation, severely damaging national confidence in the Vietnam war policies of President Lyndon Johnson

Tet Offensive Facts for kids

Tet Offensive - President Lyndon Johnson Video
The article on the Tet Offensive provides detailed facts and a summary of one of the important events during his presidential term in office. The following Lyndon Johnson video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 36th American President whose presidency spanned from November 22, 1963 to January 20, 1969.

Tet Offensive - US History - Facts - Major Event - Tet Offensive - Definition - American - US - USA - Tet Offensive - America - Dates - United States - Kids - Children - Schools - Homework - Important - Facts - Issues - Key - Main - Major - Events - History - Interesting - Tet Offensive - Info - Information - American History - Facts - Historical - Major Events - Tet Offensive


Outlines of the Vietnamese assault

In stark contrast to the mentioned US plans, the North Vietnamese were far from surrendering. In fact, by late 1967 they were planning a large offensive of their own. They planned to launch a wide coordinated attack on several important points in South Vietnam, hoping to inspire a national uprising against the American presence as well as the military junta which ruled in the south. The attack was launched on January 30th 1968, during the most important Vietnamese holiday known as Tet. It was the celebration of their lunar new year, which meant a substantial number of South Vietnamese soldiers were on leave. Neither the Americans nor their South Vietnamese allies expected such a grand offense on an important holiday which was also celebrated in North Vietnam. Furthermore, the US command doubted the communist troops would abandon guerilla tactics for head-to-head combat against them on a large front. Using the element of surprise, the North Vietnamese and their southern insurgents known as Viet Cong, attacked several important cities, including southern capital Saigon, as well as cities of Hue, Khe Sanh, Da Nang, and many others.

The fighting lasted for several weeks, as the North Vietnamese proved their grith against the superior enemy. However, as the initial shock of the attack weaned, the US troops began to regain their positions. It turned out that the Vietnamese made several miscalculations. First of all, they underestimated the maneuverability of the US troops, which were by then versed in the use of helicopters. That allowed them to quickly transport their troops after securing one part of the front to fight against the attackers on another. Furthermore, by spreading out their forces too widely, the North Vietnamese weakened their assault capabilities. However, the biggest mistake was the expectation of a nation-wide uprise, which never happened. Without the mass support of locals fighting against the US and their puppet regime, the offensive was doomed to fail. Furthermore, the Vietnamese casualties were high, meaning a prolonged assault of such magnitude was unsustainable. Thus, by March the attack was stopped, though two smaller offensives were launched later that year that some historians see as a continuation of the Tet Offensive.

U.S. Marines in a housing area near the Citadel in Hue, Vietnam, during the Tet Offensive, Feb. 18, 1968 pinterest.


This Day In History: The Tet Offensive Begins In Vietnam (1968)

On this day in 1968, the Tet Offensive began in the Vietnam War. It begin&rsquos on the first day of the Tet holiday truce. The communist Viet Cong supported by units of the regular North Vietnamese army launched a series of attacks on South Vietnamese and American targets. The communists wanted to bring the war to the urban areas of Vietnam and demonstrate to the world that the Americans were not winning the war. During the offensive, the communists attacked every large city and town in South Vietnam.

The communist had been planning the operation for months. The Viet Cong had sleeper cells in many cities and towns. When Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units attacked cities and towns, usually these sleeper cells would help them. The Tet Offensive caught the Americans and the South Vietnamese off-guard and the communist soon occupied many major urban centers such as Hue. The communists at the same time attacked many army bases. It is believed that during the Offensive that every major US base was attacked. The offensive was a massive intelligence failure and the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies were taken unawares. The communists had been able to achieve complete strategic surprise.

South Vietnamese soldiers in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. source National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier) 532451

The Viet Cong also infiltrated into Saigon and they even briefly managed to capture the US embassy. American marines and special forces eventually recaptured the embassy and killed all the Viet Cong attackers. The attack on the embassy shocked America. It took several days for the Americans and the South Vietnamese to regain control of Saigon.

Some of the heaviest fighting, took place in the ancient city of Hue. It took almost a month of heavy fighting for the Americans to dislodge the communists from that city. The Tet Offensive was over by the end of February and the Americans declared a victory. However, America had suffered heavy casualties and much of the fighting had been shown on television. The Tet Offensive was technical a military defeat for the communists. The Tet Offensive was a turning point in the war it because it fuelled growing disenchantment in America with the war. After the offensive, the anti-war movement in America expanded rapidly. The size of the offensive and its intensity was a surprise to many in the US who had previously believed the official version that their country was winning the war.

The Tet Offensive resulted in a backlash against Johnson and his claims that America was winning the war in Vietnam. This resulted in President Johnson announcing that he would not be running for re-election.


Titta på videon: CBS News - Walter Cronkites Report from Vietnam - 1968-02-27 (Januari 2022).