Vo Nguyen Giap, the brilliant and ruthless self-taught general who won both the First Indochina War against the French (1946-1954), and the Vietnam War (1960-1975) against the Americans died in a military hospital in Hanoi on 4 October 2013.
He was theHero of Dien Bien Phu, Hero of Vietnam, Minister of Defence of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Historical Statesman of the XXth Century. The Legendary General often was called as “ Red Napoleon “ .
He was born in 1911, in central Vietnam. Giap became active in politics in the 1920s and worked as a journalist before joining the Indochinese Communist Party. He was jailed briefly in 1930 for leading anti-French protests and later earned a law degree from Hanoi University.
He met Ho Chi Minh in 1940. In 1944, Ho Chi Minh called on Giap to organize and lead guerrilla forces against Japanese invaders during World War II. After Japan surrendered to Allied forces the following year, the Viet Minh / Giap’s Army / continued their fight for independence from France. Giap was known for his fiery temper and as a merciless strategist. The name of Vo Nguyen Giap has become identified throughout Africa and Latin America with the defeat of colonialism. Giáp remained commander in chief of the People's Army of Vietnam throughout the war against the United States.
In his final years, General Giap was an avuncular host to foreign visitors to his villa in Hanoi, where he read extensively in Western literature, enjoyed Beethoven and Liszt and became a convert to pursuing socialism through free-market reforms.
General Giap’s signature was not easy to receive. I wrote him several time, but my former letters were not answered.
Finally I had a photo of Giap showing him when he had met American Minister of Defence Robert McNamara in Hanoi in 1995. I sent this photo first to McNamara who signed it. After it, I sent the same photo to General Giap – via a kind contact person in Hanoi. I was very glad that Giap also signed and dated the photograph. But he wrote his name partly on the signature of McNamara. I think he wanted to show, he was „greater” than his former American enemy-colleague…..