On this day, 30,000 Viet Minh soldiers under Ho Chi Minh had attacked French positions in Hanoi, Vietnam, and three decades of war in Indochina began.
Ho Chi Minh first traveled to France at the end of World War I to crusade for Vietnamese independence and a communist revolution. On September 2, 1945, hours after Japan surrendered to the Allies in World War II, Ho proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, hoping to prevent the French from reclaiming their former colonial possession. Diplomatic efforts to gain independence collapsed, and French warships bombarded the North Vietnamese city of Haiphong in November 1946. On December 19, 1946–the date commonly recognized as the start of the First Indochina War–the Viet Minh launched the attack against the French in Hanoi. Ultimately, the Vietnamese were successful and by 1954 had defeated the French. The meeting in Geneva, symbolised the French withdrawal from Vietnam, leaving the Republic of Vietnam regime fighting a communist insurgency with USA aid. Ho Chi Minh was in command of the North and Emperor Bao Dai in control of the south pending free elections. In 1975, at the end of the Second Indochina War, Vietnam was united under communist rule.