Last update: 15:00 | 16/08/2015
VietNamNet Bridge - Although the catastrophic famine in 1945 took place 70 years ago, it remains a painful national memory as it claimed over two million lives.
The famine was considered a “frightful destruction”, and was triggered after the Japanese army confiscated Vietnam’s rice reserves.
Late President Ho Chi Minh compared the famine to the losses of French and German people killed in the World War II.
“Famine is more severe than war. For example, during six years of war, France lost one million people and Germany three million people. The six-month famine in northern Vietnam claimed over two million lives.”
Several documents also indicate the number of deaths could be even higher.
The famine lasted from late 1944 through May 1945, ravaging the area from central Quang Tri Province to the northern region. The northern province of Thai Binh was the hardest hit.
The book Vietnam’s Famine in 1945 – Historical Evidence by Prof. Van Tao and Prof. Furuta Mota, said Thai Binh Province’s Tay Luong Commune in Tien Hai District was the worst hit by the famine, with nearly 67% of residents in the commune dying of famine.
From January 1945 to May 1945, dead bodies were found scattered the countryside from Quang Tri to the north.
Over the past 70 years, mass graves have left traumatic memories for several generations.
Many books were written about the famine, specifically describing the problem.
Writer To Hoai said in his work Hanoi’s Old Story, “Words cannot fully describe the famine in 1945. My words seemed to tremble uncontrollably. It’s too terrible.”
Professors Van Tao and Mota described the reason for the famine. They wrote that the Japanese government confiscated the rice that the French colonial administration had stored for emergencies.
Cholera quickly spread during floods. The Japanese government forced Vietnamese farmers to destroy rice and plant jute. Political and military instability seriously affected food production in the north, resulting in a severe food shortage.
Below are some rare photos of the famine by late photographer Vo An Ninh:
Naked women are trying to catch crabs and snails.
Children in a workhouse.
Starving people in the sun at Hang Da Market, Hanoi.
Picking up grains on the road.
The famine was worst in Thai Binh province.
Dead bodies found everywhere.
Collecting dead bodies on the street.