Wartime memories go on display

About 300 personal files and thousands of mementoes from soldier who fought on southern battlefields are now being showcased at the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hanoi.

The month-long exhibition, organised by the National Archive Centre III, the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Vietnam Military History Museum and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, opened yesterday.

The showing commemorates the 60th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh’s appeal for the national war of resistance against the French, December 12, 1946.

In 1959, many units silently passed the Truong Son mountain range to fight in the southern war zone, an attempt to bolster the revolution. Before leaving for the south, the soldiers left their belongings with the government’s National Reunification Committee, which was in charge of supervising the revolution in the south and managing the supply of troops. All the personal files were kept by the committee and then moved to the national archives.

The personal files were selected from a cache of about 70,000. Among them, is the file of doctor and martyr Dang Thuy Tram. The document holds her hand-written resume, an order confirming their work in the south, and other documents pre-dating her trip to Quang Ngai province.

“I hope other martyrs’ families will find the files of their beloved o­nes as I do,” Tram mother said at the opening ceremony.

At the exhibition, visitors can also see medals, merit certificates, letters, money, diaries and photos. There are also everyday items like an old-fashioned radio, mugs, spoons and rubber sandals.

A raincoat, lighter and canteen that o­nce belonged to tale general Nguyen Chi Thanh along with gifts from soldiers to President Ho Chi Minh are also o­n display.

The documents and artefacts are arranged in chronological order to help visitors understand the timeline of the Vietnam revolution. It runs from the beginning of the war, through the Geneva peace conference, and the implementation of the Geneva peace accord, among other periods.

“I think personal files are the most important things when we talk about a war since they tell different stories,” said Ginter Davis, an American researcher of modern Vietnamese history. “I really admire women soldiers like Tram who left home to save their country.”

The 70,000 files have also been put in a user-friendly database. Families of the soldiers can access the database and get back their beloved o­nes’ files five days a week, excluding Friday afternoon, during and after the exhibition.