I came across a report from October 1945 that was created by the US State Department. It contains biographies of nationalists in Indochina.
In the fall of 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam to be independent. This undoubtedly caught US officials by surprise, and this report was put together in an effort to figure out who the important people in Vietnam were.
The report therefore contains biographies of the main members of the “Provisional Viet-Nam Government.”
And it also contains biographies of the members of the “General Viet-Nam Council.” I can’t recall what this was. Was this an advisory group for the new government?
Then it also contains biographies of the members of the “Provisional Executive Committee of the South Viet-Nam Republic.”
And then in addition to people from these three groups, this report also contains biographies of other individuals who were determined to be prominent nationalists, such as Cao Dai leaders and members of various political parties.
Taken together, these biographies paint a confusing picture of the political scene in Vietnam at that time. I thought it would be interesting to try to “visualize” what this information that US intelligence officers compiled might look like.
So I created a couple of visualizations using RAW (which I explain here), and this is what they look like:
What I did was to create a spreadsheet where I put the names of these people whose biographies are in this report and their “political affiliations.” And then I used RAW to create these visualizations.
In many cases, the political affiliations of people were not clear, because not enough was known about the people.
So, for instance, several people are listed as members of the “General Viet-Nam Council.” But what exactly did that mean? It’s obvious that the person (or people) who compiled this information wasn’t really sure.
As a result, I find that making visualizations of the information in this report is very helpful. By creating different visualizations, we can try to imagine what it would have been like for an outsider (like members of the US State Department) to try to make sense of what was happening in Vietnam in 1945.
What becomes obvious is that it would have been very difficult to grasp what was going on, because the dynamics on the ground were obviously extremely complex.