Tag Archives: Indochina War

Germans in the First Indochina War

The First Indochina War (1946-54) was a struggle between the Viet Minh and the French for control of the country. It followed the defeat of Japan in 1945 and the power struggle following their withdrawal from Vietnam. The Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, seized the opportunity to declare Vietnamese independence on September 2nd 1945. By late 1946 the French had 50,000 troops in Vietnam and had regained control of Saigon. During this conflict, the French Foreign Legion saw its numbers swell due to the incorporation of Second World War veterans who couldn’t adapt to civilian life, as well as German prisoners of war. Even so, although the Foreign Legion distinguished itself, it also took a heavy toll during the war: constantly being deployed in operations, it even reached the point that whole units were annihilated in combat, in what was a traditional Foreign Legion battlefield. Units of the legion were also involved in the defence of Dien Bien Phu and lost a large number of men in the battle. Some Germans deserted, others defected to the Viet Minh. Some stayed in Vietnam beyond the war and started families.
The story of Germans in the French Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère) is being explored on the website More Majorum . It is entirely in German language, but contains a huge collection of photographs, copies of documents and pictures of uniforms and paraphernalia.

German former soldier in the French Foreign Legion with his family in Vietnam. Source: http://www.muenster.de/~redlich/family/poster.pdf

German former soldier in the French Foreign Legion with his family in Vietnam. Source: http://www.muenster.de/~redlich/family/poster.pdf

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