Who was Ta Thu Thau?

Submitted by Anon on 5 March, 2006 - 11:38

Ta Thu Thau (1906-45) was a leader of the once-strong Vietnamese
Trotskyist movement. Born into a poor family, he nevertheless managed
to gain a university place in Paris. (Vietnam was then ruled by
France). He joined the small French Trotskyist movement in 1929.
In 1930 the French government deported him back to Vietnam, and in
1931 he helped found the (illegal) Vietnamese Trotskyist movement. In
1933 a joint "workers' list", put together by the Trotskyists and the
(then not very numerous) Vietnamese Stalinists won two seats in the
elections for the city council in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

Ta Thu Thau was frequently jailed, but in 1939 he (and two comrades)
won election to the Colonial Council, this time on a straight
Trotskyist platform. In October 1940 the French authorities deported
him to an island concentration camp.

He got back to Vietnam in 1944. In March 1945 the Japanese army
ousted the (Vichy) French colonial regime, and installed Bao Dai as
emperor of Vietnam. In August 1945, when Japan conceded defeat in
World War 2, Bao Dai's regime collapsed.

The Stalinists, led by Ho Chi Minh, took power - but then sought a
compromise with French and British forces to have Vietnam re-enter
the "French Union" (the Communist Party was in France's coalition
government at the time). They helped the French and British suppress
Trotskyists and militant nationalists who fought for independence for
Vietnam. The Stalinists killed Ta Thu Thau in September 1945.

Later the Stalinists, in their turn, had to fight all-out wars for
Vietnamese self-determination, against the French and then against
the Americans. The Vietnamese Trotskyist movement, decimated after
the killings in 1945, was active mostly among Vietnamese exiles in
France. It supported Vietnamese self-determination but upheld
workers' rights against Ho Chi Minh's Stalinists.

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