Marxism spread to the French Indochina in the first quarter of the 20th century along with other national and modernization movements. The Communist Party of Vietnam/Indochinese Communist Party, formed in 1930, became the leading power in the resistance (Viet Minh) after the bloody Japanese occupation of 1940-45. After the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam was declared in 1945 and following the failed negotiations with the French colonial administration that did not agree with the idea of a communist regime, the First Indochina War began in 1946, which ended in 1954 with the Geneva Accord. The latter divided Vietnam into the communist North and the anti-communist South. The democratic general elections planned for 1956 to unite the state were not held and for generations Vietnam became a country ravaged by many wars and communist experiments. The hard-line communist period (dictatorship of the proletariat) in Vietnam lasted for more than 30 years, from 1953 to 1986.
The crimes of the Vietnam communist movement, which started in the 1930s with repressions against land owners and continued with Stalinist cleansing policies in the 1940s, were carried out following the examples of Stalinism and Maoism. The communists, hidden behind the common front of Viet Minh, continued their systematic acts of terror against landowners, political opponents and foreigners after the occupying Japanese forces left in 1945. Only in August and September of 1945, thousands of people were murdered and tens of thousands arrested on the orders of the Viet Minh. The Northern part of the country, which until the breakout of the First Indochina War in December of 1946 was under the control of the Indochinese Communist Party, already had internment camps and political police. During the First Indochina War, the focus of the communist repressions mainly turned to armed resistance against the French. Of the 20,000 imprisoned soldiers of the French Expeditionary Forces, about 9,000 were alive during the time of the Geneva Accord in July 1954.
During the agrarian reform carried out north of the 17th latitude in 1953-56, approximately 4-5% of the population was repressed. The consequences of this were the death of approximately 50,000 - 100,000 people in rural areas and the imprisonment of 50,000 - 100, 000 people. In addition to this, extensive cleansings took place in 1952-1956, 1963-1965 and 1967 in the party itself and in the military. The total number of victims is unknown. It is estimated that the actions of the regime in 1945-1956 lead to the death of up to 400,000 people. Different sources state that the communist regime that ruled the country during the Vietnam War from 1957 to 1975 killed approximately 200-300,000 people (in addition to the war victims). The total death toll on all fronts of the war during the period from 1959 to 1975 is estimated to be approximately 3-4 million.
In violation of the Paris Peace Accord, the communist National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam started a general assault on 13 December in 1974 against the Republic of South Vietnam. The assault was successful against the Republic of South Vietnam, abandoned by the USA, and in April 1975, the government of Saigon surrendered. Although the Stalinist communist party that came into power after the fall of South Vietnam on 30 April 1975 did not organize massive bloodbaths, the regime still had its share of concentration camps and terror.
With the elections organized by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1976, the country was unified and renamed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Soon the young republic fell into economic chaos and the political terror caused a massive wave of emigration to the West. During 1975-84, 554,000 boat refugees left the country and tens of thousands of them were lost at sea.
The death toll at the hands of the post-war communist regime (1975-87) is estimated to be approximately 430,000; 65,000-100,000 of those were executed, approximately 1 million sent to concentration camps, of whom 165 were killed, approximately 200-250,000 boat refugees lost at sea, and in addition to the aforementioned figures the victims of the different conflicts on the Indochina peninsula in the 1980s are added.
From 1986, the communist regime of Vietnam has slowly been transforming into a more humanist regime. Most of the political prisoners have been released and the camps have been closed, followed by economic reforms. Changing the communist regime has still been a controversial matter and the 1990s were characterized by an uneasy balance between the conservatives and reformists. To this day, the Communist Party of Vietnam is the only legal party in the country.