Humanities › History & Culture Who Were the Viet Minh? Share Flipboard Email Print Three Lions / Hulton Archive via Getty Images History & Culture Asian History Southeast Asia Basics Figures & Events East Asia South Asia Middle East Central Asia Asian Wars and Battles American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kallie Szczepanski History Expert Ph.D., History, Boston University J.D., University of Washington School of Law B.A., History, Western Washington University Dr. Kallie Szczepanski is a history teacher specializing in Asian history and culture. She has taught at the high school and university levels in the U.S. and South Korea. our editorial process Kallie Szczepanski Updated January 04, 2018 The Viet Minh was a Communist guerrilla force founded in 1941 to fight against the joint Japanese and Vichy French occupation of Vietnam during World War II. Its full name was Việt Nam Ðộc Lập Ðồng Minh Hội, which literally translates as the "League for Viet Nam's Independence." Who Were the Viet Minh? The Viet Minh was an effective opposition to Japan's rule in Vietnam, although they were never able to dislodge the Japanese. As a result, the Viet Minh received aid and support from a variety of other powers, including the Soviet Union, Nationalist China (the KMT), and the United States. When Japan surrendered at the end of the war in 1945, Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam's independence. Unfortunately for the Viet Minh, however, the Nationalist Chinese actually accepted Japan's surrender in northern Vietnam, while the British took the surrender in southern Vietnam. The Vietnamese themselves did not control any of their own territories. When the newly-free French demanded that its allies in China and the U.K. hand back control of French Indochina, they agreed to do so. Anti-Colonial War As a result, the Viet Minh had to launch another anti-colonial war, this time against France, the traditional imperial power in Indochina. Between 1946 and 1954, the Viet Minh used guerrilla tactics to wear down French troops in Vietnam. Finally, in May of 1954, the Viet Minh scored a decisive victory at Dien Bien Phu, and France agreed to withdraw from the region. Viet Minh Leader Ho Chi Minh Ho Chi Minh, the Viet Minh leader, was very popular and would have become the president of all of Vietnam in free and fair elections. However, in negotiations at the Geneva Conference in the summer of 1954, the Americans and other powers decided that Vietnam should be temporarily divided between north and south; the Viet Minh leader would be empowered only in the north. As an organization, the Viet Minh were beset by internal purges, plummeting popularity due to a coercive land reform program, and a lack of organization. As the 1950s progressed, the Viet Minh party disintegrated. When the next war against the Americans, variously called the Vietnam War, the American War, or the Second Indochina War, broke out into open fighting in 1960, a new guerrilla force from southern Vietnam dominated the Communist coalition. This time, it would be the National Liberation Front, nicknamed the Viet Cong or "Vietnamese Commies" by anti-communist Vietnamese in the south. Pronunciation: vee-yet meehn Also Known As: Viet-Nam Doc-Lap Dong-Minh Alternate Spellings: Vietminh Examples "After the Viet Minh expelled the French from Vietnam, many officers at all levels in the organization turned against one another, sparking purges that greatly weakened the party at a crucial time."