The 1945 Declaration of Independence was not only a great work of literature on the founding of the State, but also a historical document having great political, legal, diplomatic, ideological and cultural values.

President Ho Chi Minh, for the Vietnamese people, read the Declaration of Independence at Ba Dinh Square on Sept. 2, 1945, declaring to the world the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the first people’s democratic State in Southeast Asia. The 1945 Declaration of Independence was not only a great piece of literature for the founding of the State, but also a historical document having great political, legal, diplomatic, ideological and cultural value, making a positive contribution to the foundation of a modern legal order in the 20th century.

With a diplomatic strategic vision, President Ho declared the Vietnamese people’s wish to establish friendly relations with France and the USA. With a unique and creative presentation and a precise and sharp diplomatic manner of the master of an independent country, Ho Chi Minh quoted the immortal statement that appeared in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776 to Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

He also quoted the essence of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, made at the time of the French Revolution in 1791 as saying, “All men are born free and with equal rights”.

This showed the great cause and clemency of the Vietnamese people. During the 30 years Ho Chi Minh went abroad to find a way to save the country, he witnessed much pain and misery suffered by the working people in France and its colonies. He understood thoroughly the cruel and exploitative nature of colonialism and imperialism. In the Declaration of Independence he exposed the French colonialists’ crimes over 80 years of its domination over Vietnam. But he wrote, “In spite of all this, our fellow-countrymen have always manifested a lenient and humane attitude towards the French. After the Japanese putsch of March 9, 1945, the Viet Minh helped many Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued others from Japanese jails and protected French lives and property.”

President Ho respected the warm sentiment of American people when President Thomas Jefferson made the first draft of the USA’s 1776 Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence of the new Vietnamese State commenced with the essences of the US Declaration of Independence at a time when the Allied Forces just defeated the fascists. Most interesting was that CIA’s OSS intelligence major L. A. Patty, who was present in Hanoi at that time and was given by President Ho a copy of the Declaration of Independence before the grand meeting in Hanoi said it was an unbelievable fact. Obviously, immediately after the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, President Ho took the initiative to lay the foundation for friendly relations between Vietnam and the US and French Governments and people. However, that historical opportunity was ignored by the contemporary Governments in the US and France, when the Vietnamese people shouldered with the Allied forces’ efforts to wipe out fascism in the world.

On legal and just foundations, the 1945 Declaration of Independence became an exemplary document on the art of splitting and isolating the enemy in order to eliminate each threatening enemy of the revolution. Confronting the French colonialists’ wicked intention to stage a come-back to Vietnam, the Declaration of Independence exposed their counterfeit protection under the Allied banner. With incisive arguments, the Declaration made it clear to the world that “in the autumn of 1940, the French colonialists opened the doors of our country to welcome the Japanese. Since then, Vietnam became a Japanese colony and the Viet Minh Front led the Vietnamese people to wrest back our independence from the Japanese, not from the French. So, the legal basis for the French colonialists’ interests in Vietnam and the whole of Indochina no longer existed.”

President Ho wrote in the Declaration, “We are convinced that the Allies, which at the Teheran and San Francisco Conferences upheld the principle of equality among the nations, cannot fail to recognize the right of the Vietnamese people to independence”. His incisive arguments basing on an international legal basis pushed out both old and neo-colonialism on the position of interventionists and invaders if they intended to shelter behind the Allied banner to annex our country again.

With a political sense and profound strategic vision, at a turning point in the nation’s history, President Ho clearly saw the direct and threatening enemy of the Vietnamese revolution and the peace loving people in the world.

So, he did all he could to oust the enemy and win support from each group with the stately commencement of our nation’s Declaration of Independence by citing the essence of the US 1776 Declaration of Independence. For the Vietnamese people, President Ho declared to the world, “Vietnam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their freedom and independence.”

Sixty-two years have elapsed since President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence at the historical Ba Dinh square on Sept. 2, 1945, Vietnam has seen major changes in its industrialisation and modernisation process for a rich people, strong country, and fair, democratic and civilised society under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Following Tran Hung Dao’s Proclamation to his Officers and Nguyen Trai’s Proclamation of Victory over Foreign Invaders, the 1945 Declaration of Independence became a powerful literature of the nation. It made a worthy contribution to human struggle for national, class and human freedom from oppression and exploitation of colonialism and imperialism and opened up a new era of national independence and socialism in Vietnam.

By MA Nguyen Duc Thang