Nguyen Van Thieu

From Academic Kids

 President Nguyen Van Thieu
President Nguyen Van Thieu

Nguyen Van Thieu (Nguyễn Văn Thiệu,Chu Nom: 阮文紹), (April 5, 1923September 29, 2001) was a former General and President of South Vietnam.



The son of a small landowner, as a patriotic teenager he joined the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh to liberate Vietnam under French colonialism. He abandoned them after learning of their true aspirations of ruling Vietnam under a Communist Dictatorship.

In 1949, he was educated at the National Military Academy in the former Imperial Capital Hue. He was commissioned a 2nd. Lieutenant from the first officer candidates' course of the Vietnam National Army which had been created by the Emperor Bao Dai.

Thieu was an Army lieutenant-colonel when the Republic of Vietnam was founded and it recovered full sovereignty after the withdrawal of French forces in 1955, following the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

Military Career

He was then assigned as commanders of the Vietnam Military Academy, the 1st Infantry Division, the 5th Infantry Division, and after participation in the Nov. 1, 1963, coup overthrowing the President Ngo Dinh Diem, he was promoted to brigadier general.

The following two years, he was appointed commander of the Army Corps IV, Chief of the General Staff, then was promoted to lieutenant-general and appointed Minister of Defense.

On June 19, 1965, Thieu was voted by the military leaders to head the Military Revolutionary Council, and became Chairman of the National Leadership Committee, or chief of state.

Political Career

Missing image
President Nguyen Van Thieu visiting a South Vietnamese Children Orphanage, who's parents were killed by North Vietnamese Communists
He served as South Vietnam's ceremonial head of state in Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky's government from 1965 - 67.
Missing image
President Nguyen Van Thieu sits in on drums for an impromptu musical session during dedication ceremonies for a rehabilitation center built by South Korean army troops.

In September 3, 1967, he ran successfully for the new executive presidency of South Vietnam earning 38% of the vote and held that position until the Fall of Saigon, South Vietnam's capital, became imminent in 1975.

Thieu's regime was accused of being far more corrupt than his predecessor. Unlike Ky, Thieu created a political party and greatly centralized political power in the executive branch at the expense of the elected congress. Close allies were placed in key ministerial and military posts in order to prevent threats to the president's leadership from emerging.

Missing image
President Nguyen Van Thieu and U.S. President Richard Nixon meet with reporters after announcing the beginning of American troop withdrawals from Vietnam. Thieu felt betrayed by the United States and its earlier commitment to fully eradicate Communist aggression from South Vietnam.

In 1971, Thieu ran for re-election, but his rumoured reputation for corruption made his political opponents believe the race would be fixed, and declined to run. As the only candidate Thieu was thus easily re-elected.

Just prior to the Communist victory, he resigned and absconded for Taiwan, quickly handing power to his readily available Vice President Tran Van Huong, who took over on April 21, 1975, nine days before South Vietnam unconditionally surrendered to the North Vietnamese on April 30, 1975.

Life in Exile

Thieu emigrated to Taiwan, later he settled in Surrey, Great Britain.Finally he took up residence in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, where he died in 2001.


  • "Don't listen to what the Communists say, but look at what they do."
  • "But the United States did not keep its word. Is an American's word reliable these days?"
  • "The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men."
  • "Losing a President Thieu, the military still has a three-star General Thieu. The people still have a soldier, Nguyen Van Thieu. I pledge to fight side by side with my brothers, the soldiers."
  • "You ran away and left us to do the job that you could not do."

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