Editor’s Note: Much of the following data points were picked from a well-written Wikipedia page on “Operation Passage to Freedom”
Superficially, it looked like a wise scheme to the planners. In the wake of France’s 1954 defeat in Vietnam, the U.S. and France transported and resettled around one million Vietnamese Catholics from their ancestral homes in northern Vietnam to southern Vietnam, where they were dropped off with few resources. The relocation was called “Operation Passage to Freedom.”
The mass relocation is a prima facie example of the huge downside of mass migration. In this case, it failed even though the people involved were all Vietnamese and spoke Vietnamese. The causa proxima of the failure lays in the concept of social ecology or social trust, which is decimation by uprooting and dumping peoples en masse. This applies both to the people moved and to the people on the receiving end.
In the wake of the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Geneva Accords of 1954 decided the fate of French Indochina after eight years of war between French Union forces and the Viet Minh. The accords resulted in the partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel north, with Ho Chi Minh’s communist Viet Minh in control of the North and the French-backed State of Vietnam in the South. The agreements allowed a 300-day period of grace, ending on May 18, 1955, in which people could move freely between the two Vietnams before the border was sealed.
The parties had given little thought to the logistics of the population resettlement during the negotiations at Geneva and assumed the matter would be minor. President Diem in the South expected no more than 10,000 refugees.
But a psychological operation under the notorious American Colonel Edward Lansdale, advised Diem that it was imperative to maximize the anti-communist population in the South in preparation for the national reunification elections. When Diem noted the limited ability of the South to absorb refugees, Lansdale assured him that the U.S. would bear the burden. Diem thus authorized Lansdale to launch an audacious propaganda scare campaign.
Surveys of the immigrants suggested they were largely content to follow the recommendation of the local priest, who the U.S. targeted.
By early August 1954, there were more than 200,000 evacuees waiting in Hanoi and Haiphong. Very few had any identification. Initially the ad hoc camps had insufficient sanitation and water quality control, leading to the possibility of outbreaks of disease. Some American representatives said that they were the worst conditions they had seen. There was no organization infrastructure as far as registration or medical records and immunization of the waiting evacuees.
The communists sent their propaganda activists through the camps and said that the lack of organization proved that life for prospective refugees would be even worse in the South, where they would be completely under the control of South Vietnam. Ultimately, this warning turned out to be correct and caused serious discontent and demoralization for South Vietnam.
The U.S. Department of Defense ordered the U.S. Navy to mobilize an evacuation task force. The first ship, the Menard, left Haiphong on August 17. It carried 1,924 refugees for a 1,600-kilometer, three-day journey to the southern capital.
By the time the migration was over in mid-1955, the South Vietnamese government calculated that a total of 928,152 refugees were relocated, of whom 98.3% were ethnic Vietnamese. The report said that 85% were engaged in farming or fishing for their livelihood, and 85% were Catholics. The remainder were Buddhists or Protestants.
The mass emigration of northerners was accompanied by a large humanitarian relief effort, bankrolled in the main by the United States government in an attempt to absorb large tent cities of refugees that had sprung up outside Saigon. Corruption by Vietnamese officials became endemic, which further soured relationships.
The northerners were housed in Saigon and Vũng Tàu in 42 makeshift reception centers. These consisted of existing schools, vacated French barracks, churches and tent cities on the grounds of Tan Son Nhut Air Base and Phú Thọ race course.
As part of the second phase, temporary villages were built and, by mid-1955, most of the one million refugees were living in rows of temporary housing settlements, primarily near highways leading out of Saigon, in provinces adjacent to the capital. The largest concentration of housing in this second stage was located to the north of the capital. Only a minority could be sent to the fertile Mekong Delta, as the area was already overcrowded.
Overcrowding was a serious problem in many of the ad hoc secondary camps set up in the Saigon region, and led to public health issues. The Biên Hòa region on the northeastern outskirts of Saigon was scheduled to have a capacity of 100,000 refugees, but this was soon exceeded. In the Ho Nai camp near Bien Hoa, which was supposed to hold only 10,000 refugees, more than 41,000 were present by the end of 1954. The area surrounding Thủ Dầu Một north of the southern capital had initially been allocated a quota of 20,000 even though there was no rice paddies in the area. The area near Tây Ninh was to accommodate 30,000 people, although the locals thought that 100,000 could fit in. Because of the excessive number of inhabitants, the infrastructure at many camps could not cope and the promises made to the refugees were not kept.
The third phase of the resettlement involved the dispersal of the new arrivals from the temporary villages in regions surrounding the capital and other large cities. The areas where the refugees had initially were over settled, notably Biên Hòa, where the population had doubled during the migration period. In the crowded provinces, there were fears of social unrest due to a shortage of work.
Smaller groups of northern Catholics were shipped to the Central Highlands and encroached upon land held by Montagnard indigenous people. As a result, the indigenous population began to support and fight for the Viet Minh.
Believing the northern Catholics to be a bastion of solid anti-communist support, President Diem, who was Catholic himself, proceeded to treat his new constituents as a special interest group. In the long run, the northern Catholics never fully integrated into southern society and Diem’s favoritism toward them caused tension that culminated in the Buddhist crisis of 1963, which ended with the downfall and assassination of the South Vietnamese leader.
With entire Catholic provinces moving south en masse, in 1956 the Diocese of Saigon had more Catholics than Paris and Rome. Of Vietnam’s 1.45 million Catholic minority, over a million lived in the south, of whom 55% were northern refugees. Prior to this, only 520,000 Catholics lived in the Dioceses of Saigon and Huế combined.
The mass influx of refugees presented severe social strains for South Vietnam. The new arrivals needed to be integrated into society with jobs and housing, as long periods in tents and temporary housing would sap morale and possibly foster pro-communist sympathies.
As a result of the general population’s discontent with the southern government, communist propagandists found it easier to win them over. Viet Minh cadres who stayed in the south after the partition pretended to be refugees and stirred up trouble inside the camps.
Many refugees were not economically integrated and lived from government handouts. Critics noted that the refugees had become a special interest group that fostered resentment.
Unlike the longer placed southern Catholics, the northern Catholics had little contact with the Buddhist majority population and often held them in contempt, sometimes flying the Vatican flag instead of the national flag. Peter Hansen, an Australian Catholic priest and academic scholar of religion, has added that tensions between northern and southern Catholics were also present, due to issues of regionalism and local traditions. Hansen also said that northern Catholics took a more defensive attitude toward other religions than their southern co-religionists, and were more likely to see non-Catholics as a threat.
Diem strikes us as the standard Trojan Horse takedown actor that is a core conspiracy inquiry and reality on our pages. He granted his new northern Catholic constituents a disproportionately high number of government and military posts on religious grounds rather than merit. The disproportionate number of northerners who occupied leadership posts also raised tensions among some regional-minded southerners who regarded them as intruders.
Diem continued the French practice of defining Catholicism as a “religion” and Buddhism as an “association,” which restricted their activities. This fostered a social divide between the new arrivals and their compatriots. While on a visit to Saigon in 1955, the British journalist and novelist Graham Greene reported that Diem’s religious favoritism “may well leave his otherwise tolerant country a legacy of anti-Catholicism.”
Catholic priests refused to obey government directives to settle in certain areas. Many of the refugees also refused to relocate from the camps on the outskirts of the capital, wanting to live an urban lifestyle, and objecting to Diem’s desire that they help develop inhospitable frontier territory where disease was more common and the economy less developed.
Throughout 1954, 60% of the new arrivals identified themselves as having an agrarian background, but only 20% of the total refugees were placed in arable farming areas, meaning that at least 40% of the northerners were in areas not appropriate for their skill set. There were also severe problems in finding and then distributing farming equipment to the northerners so that they could get to work and resuscitate the agricultural sector that was hindered by the war.
At the time, there was a lack of arable land in secure areas. In early 1955, the Viet Minh still controlled much of the Mekong Delta, while other parts were controlled by the private armies of the Cao Đài and Hòa Hảo religious sects. The Bình Xuyên organised crime gang controlled the streets of Saigon, having purchased the operating license for the national police from Emperor Bảo Đại.
Aside from disruption by communists, other non-communist movements, such as the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, were strong in areas of central Vietnam and were opponents of Diem. Some of them were military personnel.
In the following 1963 audio recording, U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson admits “we” killed Diem for being corrupt.
Winter Watch Takeaway
There are established impacts as to why the New Underworld Order favors multi-cultural migrations and refugee dumps into foreign lands. They simply don’t work. In fact, they serve to destabilize whole nations.
In South Vietnam, the lame-brained northern Catholic migration scheme increased opposition to the regime and made winning the hearts and minds of the people nearly impossible, thus ensuring a particularly nasty civil war.