It’s well known that one of the ways that the US started to support South Vietnam in 1954 was through propaganda.

Edward Lansdale is the person who is usually associated with that effort, and getting Vietnamese in the North to move to the South in “Operation [Passage to] Freedom” was reportedly one of his first tasks.

tacdong tudo

Photographs and newsreels about “Operation Freedom” have been published and included in documentaries for many years now. However, other than those materials, I’ve never seen any other products of the work of people like Lansdale from that period.

But in looking around in the US National Archives through the Online Public Access portal today, I found the following two images.

8 years

Here we have Vyacheslav Molotov, Zhou Enlai and Phạm Văn Đồng. At the top in red it says that “The Việt Minh have declared that they are in a war of resistance to unify and gain independence for Việt Nam.”

Then it says at the bottom, “This is the result of the 8-year ‘war of resistance’!”

go south

This one says at the top “Go to the SOUTH to avoid COMMUNISM,” and then at the bottom it has “The NAM VIỆT compatriots are waiting to welcome their Bắc Việt compatriots with open arms.”

Peter Hansen published a good essay in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies a few years ago (Bắc Di Cư: Catholic Refugees from the North of Vietnam, and Their Role in the Southern Republic, 1954–1959), in which he talked to some of the people who had gone south in 1954, and none of them recalled having seen propaganda like this.

So we don’t know what effect (if any) images like this had, but it is certainly interesting to see what people at that time tried to say, and the techniques that they used to do so.

The National Archives Identifiers for these images are: 6949141, 6949079 and 6949142.