This museum, located
in the premises of the former United States Information Agency building,
opened in 1975 under the name: "Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes."
In 1990, the name was changed to "Exhibition House for Crimes of War
and Aggression." In 1995, following the normalization of diplomatic
relations with the United States, and the tremendous influx of American
investment and tourism, the references to "war crimes" and "aggression"
were dropped from the museum's title, and it became the "War Remnants
The outdoor displays of the War
Remnants Museum consist mainly of US military aircraft, tanks, artillery
and ordnance left here after the Vietnam War (known as the American War
The museum building in the courtyard
by the aircraft displays the history of the French Occupation and the Vietnam
War. Torture devices, cells and "tiger cages: are in abundance.
The main multi-storey building
concentrates on the destruction and human suffering resulting from the
war. As usual, history is written through the eyes of the victor and the
displays of the horrors of war are through the POV of Communist North Vietnam
and the Vietcong -- although a good many of the photographs are from Western
media. There is no mention of the horrors inflicted by the Vietcong who
had wiped out villages and had murdered hundreds of thousands of citizens.
Despite being blatantly one-sided and featuring a heavy dose of anti-American
propaganda, the museum does a fine job of graphically portraying
the horrors of war.
We met very few old people in
Vietnam -- millions were killed by and on both sides. Most of the people
we met were born after the war and are strongly influenced by Buddhist
beliefs which encourage forgiveness. The facts that they have been taught
here in school and in the media are strongly influenced by North Vietnamese
propaganda. The older South Vietnam survivors we met-- those who weren't
able to escape the country following the communist takeover -- had a somewhat
different and very bitter view of the wartime events as are officially
sanctioned by the government, but remain largely silent. Responses are
guarded, however, much can be read between the diplomatically tailored
replies. Serious dissenters may be tried and punished, lose privileges,
and family members and even ancestors may also pay a price.
The displays in the War Remnants
Museum are all subtitled in English and do an excellent job of presenting
this one-sided view of events to the West which has been exposed mainly
to events through opposing eyes and ears. In any case, the events of this
conflict were horrific and brought tremendous suffering to the Vietnamese
people as well as massive loss of life style, infrastructure, buildings,
and resources. There were no real winners in this very ugly war and incredible
atrocities were commited by all sides. A visit to this museum is a very