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The Viet Minh (abbreviated from Việt Nam Ðộc Lập Ðồng Minh Hội, "League for the Independence of Vietnam") was formed by Ho Ngoc Lam and Nguyen Hai Than in 1941 to seek independence for Vietnam from France. The league was later led by Nguyen Tat Thanh - better known as Ho Chi Minh who convinced everybody that he was non-communist. Ho Chi Minh, Le Duan, Vo Nguyen Giap, and Pham Van Dong slowly established their influence and found their way to key positions in the League.
During World War II, Japan occupied French-held regions in Asia (commonly called French Indochina). As well as fighting the French, the Viet Minh started a campaign against the Japanese. Due to their opposition to the Japanese, the Viet Minh received funding from the Americans and the Chinese. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the Viet Minh tried to take control of the country and declared independence from France. The declaration of independence was followed by nearly ten years of war against France, with France's effort largely funded by the United States.
French General Jean Etienne Valluy attempted to wipe out the Vietminh in one stroke, but failed. His French infantry with armored units went through Hanoi , fighting house to house against Vietminh squads. Days passed before the French finally routed the last Vietminh snipers. The Vietminh claimed more than twenty thousand kills.
The French encircled the Vietminh base, Viet Bac in 1947. They almost captured Ho Chi Minh, who slipped into a camouflaged hole. General Valluy with a total of fifteen thousand men was trying to defeat sixty thousand enemy troops. He was unsuccessful.
The French surrendered in 1954 following the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Shortly thereafter, as a result of peace accords worked out in Geneva, Switzerland, Vietnam was divided into North Vietnam and South Vietnam at the 17th Parallel, ostensibly only as a temporary measure until unifying elections would take place in 1956. The Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam on October 11, 1954. Ho Chi Minh was appointed Prime Minister of North Vietnam, which was turned into a communist state.
South Vietnam and its chief supporter, the United States, reneged on the 1954 agreement and refused to hold unifying elections, stating that Ho Chi Minh had terrorized people before the elections. As a result, communist infiltrators left in South Vietnam and those sent from the North were given a mission to turn South Vietnam into a communist state. Together they formed the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, called Viet Cong by Americans and South Vietnamese.
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