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Data for Tonkin, although not Annam, allow the calculation of average daily per capita grams of rice available for consumption. Table 2 uses these data to show for to available rice if it had been distributed equally in each province. Rice availability calculations adopt Marr's figure of consumption of 85 per cent of rice harvested to allow for 5 per cent being held back for seed and 10 per cent lost to rodents and spoilage, and Gourou's conversion of a ton of paddy as equal to 0.

Data in the table do not allow for the French requisition of rice, which began in to build up stocks in the north because transport from Cochinchina had become difficult. Requisitions would not decrease total available rice which would depend chiefly on the harvest. However, requisitions would affect distribution and among the Vietnamese would probably disproportionately favour those in large cities through rationing.

Rice was distributed, largely to urban areas, as rations; confiscated by the Japanese military; and stored against eventual need. The Japanese authorities also stored rice, although apparently mainly in Cochinchina where stocks at the end of the war were some 60, tons. Colonel T. Also cf. Marr, Vietnam , p. Table 3 shows the percentage changes in rice available for consumption in Tonkin's provinces and the distribution across 14 provinces of , deaths between 1 January and 20 May reported in a government survey as attributable to famine. Although data exclude 10 Tonkin provinces, these were all, except Quang Yen, outside the delta and accounted for just Between and in the five Tonkin coastal provinces, rice availability, measured as grams per day, declined by between Falls in available rice in Tonkin's coastal provinces—with one exception not matched in any of Tonkin's other provinces—were soon reflected in deaths as a percentage of population.

Death rates were between 7. A death rate in Haiphong of 9. Average death rates for coastal provinces hide even more catastrophic effects of the famine on many villages where from 20 per cent to over 50 per cent of inhabitants died. Table 4 shows percentage drops in hectares of rice planted and rice yields as the components determining total output.

Between and in coastal provinces, falls in output ranged from Large output falls in coastal provinces compared to a rise elsewhere in the delta are principally explained by sharp drops in yields rather than in the area planted in rice. Yields probably fell mainly because flooding ruined rice which had been planted. In Tonkin between and , yields, averaged over the five coastal provinces, dropped by Throughout North Annam, rice output dropped sharply because a marked increase in hectares under rice cultivation was insufficient to offset large declines in yields.

An important question, to which we also return below, is why, since rice output increased in Tonkin and North Annam outside the eight coastal provinces, grain apparently did not flow from surplus to the deficit coastal areas and so help to alleviate famine there. Further explanations are the scant subsistence margins on which many throughout Tonkin and North Annam lived; that the rise in rice output outside the eight coastal provinces of 30, tons between and was not large; and that as news of famine spread this encouraged people to keep what rice they had.

Marr suggests that if available rice in Tonkin and North Annam had been shared absolutely equally, famine would have been avoided.

Moïse's Bibliography: WWII & 1st Indochina War

The basal metabolic rate the level at which no surplus for physical activity exists is, as a benchmark, around 1, calories for women aged 18 to 30 and 1, for men aged 18 to Table 2 indicates that by available rice per capita exceeded Marr's subsistence threshold in only one Tonkin coastal province. Even with totally equal sharing almost none of the coastal areas would have had available as much as a daily average of grams of rice. To obtain subsistence quantities of rice, most coastal provinces would have had to trade if this had been permitted with neighbouring provinces or obtain supplies from outside Tonkin and North Annam.

Even supposing that consumption for everyone of grams a day had been possible, this would probably still have had to be supplemented by potatoes, maize, or taros, which by the time famine struck could not be grown because of the exceptionally cold winter. In comparison to a subsistence level of grams, Gourou identified , and Nguyen , grams as the average daily rice ration for a Tonkinese, but stressed that this was insufficient for a working man.

Although famine reached its peak during the winter and spring of —5 preceding the June harvest, it continued to claim lives through the summer and autumn of and into During the first half of , some 20, people died of famine, mainly in remote villages missed by communist relief cadres and volunteers. In November , the north had a good rice crop. Data to test the relationship between rice availability and famine are limited. Nearly all Tonkinese lived in villages of only about 1, persons.

Villages were well separated and probably for logistical reasons the French colonial administration collected no more than a few broad social indicators. The only available data for provinces are population, area, annual rice harvests, hectares cultivated with rice, and the tabulation by 14 provincial authorities of famine deaths from 1 January to 20 May The regression omits Thai Nguyen because its figure of a 69 per cent increase in rice output is too large and too adrift of the 6.

While this leaves just 13 provinces, they comprised all but three provinces in the Tonkin Delta and accounted for 95 per cent of its population and 92 per cent of its rice production. It should be noted that in equation 1 the changes in both available rice and area cultivated occurred between and while the , deaths were between 1 January and 20 May , a temporal ordering which strengthens the possibility of causation.

The regression should be treated with caution because of the small number of observations. Regression results do, however, lend further weight to the evidence cited above for a lack of food due to bad weather as the causal explanation for the —5 famine table 5. In the first regression column 1 , the to change in rice availability is negatively related to famine deaths and significant at 5 per cent.

A second regression table 5 , column 2 tests down and shows rice availability is significant at 1 per cent. Both areas were similar in being occupied by the Japanese and neither was subject to any fighting. Appendix I tests for spatial autocorrelation and rejects this possibility. This result further strengthens the evidence that in Vietnam, a lack of rice consequent on adverse weather and war gave rise to mass famine. Even though famine arose from a decline in rice availability, its incidence was uneven and discriminate.

In both Tonkin and North Annam, a large section of society—the poorest 50 to 60 per cent identified for Tonkin by Gourou—risked an entitlements failure. High wartime inflation and largely inflexible money wages turned the terms of trade the rate at which labour exchanged for rice sharply against wage earners. Any entitlement to rations, private relief efforts, and various attempts at price control existed chiefly in cities. But even in Hanoi rice rations were inadequate and their distribution irregular. The great majority of peasants, landless and living on the edge of subsistence, lacked entitlements and had labour as their only endowment on which they relied to earn enough to trade for rice.

It is, if anything, surprising that famine did not claim more than a million or even 1. The practice, indicated above, of borrowing or buying enough rice to survive after consumption of all harvest rice points to the disaster that must suddenly have overtaken many peasant households by early Data collected from to in a joint survey by the Universities of Hanoi and Tokyo allow quantification of the relationship between land endowments and famine deaths.

When possible, and often, interviews were with those in official positions at the time of the famine and so thought best placed to have specific knowledge. Historical memory cannot be tested and although in north Vietnam's small, tightly knit villages good recall can be expected, a tendency to upward bias in stating famine incidence could exist.

An endowments hypothesis can be tested using data on land ownership and the proportion of household members who died due to famine. Data are for nine provinces with a population of 5. Two sets of data exist. One shows whether a household owned land or not. A second set, a subset of the first, records the amount of land owned. In an overwhelmingly agrarian economy like northern Vietnam's, dependent on organic raw materials, land ownership is a good proxy for wealth and especially informative.

Data for access to public land do not exist, but apparently even when recourse to it was possible this did little to reduce the likelihood of death. That was because public land per capita might be no more than m 2 and was often low quality. Table 6 presents descriptive statistics. The dataset recording land ownership or its absence contains observations for 1, households with a mean size of 4.

Data specifying the amount of land owned are for households and 4, individuals. The relationship between famine deaths and land ownership is estimated as: 2 where DH i is the percentage of household members dead from famine; SZADJ is the size of the household prior to any deaths adjusted to a zero mean; LA is land ownership entered as 1 if the household owned land and 0 otherwise, and SZADJLA is an interaction variable which multiplies household size and land ownership to take account of the impact of household size for those owning land.

In the regression table 7 , panel a household size is negatively related to death and significant at 5 per cent. Its coefficient implies for each additional household member a 1. These could, at times of distress, contribute to the family economy through finding jobs negatively correlated with the rice harvest or by discovering some other source of income, if necessary by leaving home villages—the use of migration to pool income and resources for family social insurance.

By contrast, the interaction variable which incorporates household size and land ownership is positively signed although somewhat outside the 10 per cent significance level. This suggests that the benefits of income diversification through mechanisms such as migration are not so easily achieved when the family owns land.

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The coefficient indicates that possession of land was associated with a 31 per cent drop in death rates. Landowners controlled access to rice and were able to retain seed from the harvest and so after a poor harvest were in a relatively strong position in Six provinces return significance at 1 per cent and two at 5 per cent. The regression's constant gives the predicted death rate for households of average size without land in the reference province Thai Binh and shows this as 57 per cent. Predicted death rates for the other provinces can be read off table 7 by adding their coefficients to Thai Binh's.

The two provinces on the coast near Thai Binh, namely Ninh Binh 68 per cent and Nghe An 72 per cent , also had high famine mortality, while inland provinces record substantially lower death rates than their coastal counterparts. Estimation of the relationship between famine deaths and amounts of land owned uses a subset of the data for table 7, panel a. The equation is similar to equation 2 but with some new variables: 3. Regression results appear as panel b in table 7.

Household size is now significant at 10 per cent and, positively signed, suggests among landowners a 0. The result is consistent with the positive coefficient found on the interaction variable SZADJLA in panel a of table 7, which also suggested that larger family size increased the death rate when associated with land ownership. Its coefficient is an elasticity: a 1 per cent increase in the amount of land owned caused a The collective significance of the terms for land ownership confirms that the relationship between this and the death rate is nonlinear. The order of the nonlinear terms was increased until they ceased to be significant.

Figure 4 graphs equation 3: even small amounts of land dramatically reduced household death rates, but this effect tailed off rapidly. The slight increase in household death rates for households with quite large land holdings relates to only a few observations but would be consistent with these households having extended families disproportionately weighted towards the young and elderly who are likely to be more susceptible to death. Seven province dummies are significant at 1 per cent or very close to it, although one is insignificant.

Note : The figure plots for equation 3 the relationship between land ownership and death rates given other variables held at their data averages. Source : Equation 3. Average predicted province death rates in table 7 , panel a, are plotted against the —4 fall in rice availability for provinces with both sets of information figure 5.

Five observations can be only suggestive. The figure does, however, lend support to the argument that famine can be traced to an absolute shortfall in food. Tonkin and North Annam were overwhelmingly rural. At least 90 per cent, and probably nearer 95 per cent, of the population lived in groupings which could not be considered even remotely urban. In , the region's two main cities were Hanoi , and Haiphong 70, Both cities were, however, greatly affected by the famine as an externality.

Hunger in the countryside gave rise to continuous streams of famine victims trying to reach cities. These people clogged the roads to Hanoi. Barricades at entrances to Hanoi and other cities erected by the French colonial administration were abandoned after the 9 March Japanese coup and installation, under Japan's control, of a Vietnamese nationalist government. A number of parents tried to sell or give away their children but if neither was possible simply abandoned them in the cities.

Many rural migrants died soon after arrival. Oxcarts made regular runs at 12 noon and 5 p. In June , when famine deaths were estimated at between and a day, corpses were buried by the hundred in shallow pits of about two metres square in Hanoi's Hop Thien Cemetery. In Vietnam, decreased food availability did not mean that famine was unavoidable. In , famine had been prevented despite adverse weather and high rainfall figure 2.

Because of the Second World War, however, prevention in would have required new and different institutional responses. Categorization is not, however, straightforward due to a paucity of information. A major omission is that all Japanese records were systematically destroyed just before or soon after the end of the war.

Nevertheless, this section tries to assess how far human agency on the part of the French, the Japanese, and the Americans could have mitigated, or even averted, famine. There are three main possible explanations for the French failure to stave off famine during the winter of —5 as they had in One is that colonial officials, even before they effectively lost all power after the March Japanese coup, had become indifferent or more concerned with their own and French army welfare than that of the Vietnamese. Tonkin officials were, however, alive to measures to counter famine.

Furthermore, although far from sufficient and largely confined to cities, a programme of rationing began, as did various attempts at famine relief, including public works. There was also a plan for junks to bring rice from the south, discussed below. Rather than deliberate French neglect, a more likely explanation is a second possibility that, in attempting to deal with a crisis of the scale of the winter of —5 and with only limited resources, the French response had a negative impact.

French attempts to manage the market significantly hindered the movement of rice and rather than preventing famine probably made it worse. In January , the French administration established five special committees to regulate transactions in rice. The plan to organize junks to transport rice failed because French officials insisted that junk owners sell 85 per cent of rice cargos at low, official prices, which gave insufficient incentive to make the journey northwards and risk American air attack. Yokoyama was perhaps the most important Japanese economic and political adviser in Indochina.

The archives reveal detailed procedures within provinces for permissions to move even tiny quantities of rice. In May , the Vietnamese government, after obtaining consent from the Japanese, allowed the free circulation and sale of grain up to 50 kilograms but by then the famine had passed its peak. A third explanation involves transport availability. After the poor November harvest, the only way fully to counter serious food shortages would have been to bring rice from the south to famine areas in the north.

For both, Vietnam's long, narrow configuration meant that the only possible route was along the coast, either by coastal vessels or the Transindochinois railway. With the interdiction of Indochina's rail and sea traffic, road transport might have seemed an option. It could not, however, link Vietnam along its long, narrow geography, because distances were great, petrol scarce, and numerous bridges damaged. Vehicles for road transport were, furthermore, in increasingly short supply.

By the winter of —5, the sharp deterioration in transport limited what the French could do. In turning to what the Japanese might have done to avoid famine, this article also shows how restricted transport was. Even before the March coup, the Japanese controlled rice exports and had the power to direct decisions in Vietnam. In the early years of the war, large quantities of Vietnamese rice were sent back to the Home Islands, but by Allied air and submarine attacks had so decimated Japan's merchant fleet that only about 45, tons was exported home table 1.

It is unrealistic to expect this rice not to have been sent to Japan, which by faced acute food shortages. However, even if all rice exported to Japan had gone instead to Tonkin and North Annam this would not have prevented famine. In fact, the overall effect was marginal because the acreage involved was small and some of it was in areas of Tonkin and Annam outside the coastal provinces.

However, insofar as land converted to oil seed and fibre crops had previously been used for root crops, the calorific and tonnage loss would have exceeded that of rice.

Les débuts de la guerre d’Indochine : Hanoï en décembre 1946

During the winter of —5 existing transport could no longer draw on a prewar stock, but only on equipment much diminished by war and a lack of spare parts. Moreover, US air attacks made even useable transport difficult and dangerous to operate. As early as December , neither the port of Haiphong nor coastal shipping northwards from Saigon were safe. Resulting severe damage to the Saigon—Hanoi railway line forced a reliance on makeshift coastal shipping and road transport.

Because of interdiction by air attacks, little coastal shipping was available. Just when the worst of famine began to be felt during December and January , railways were badly damaged and often unusable. Japanese messages from December , intercepted by American intelligence, show destruction of, or damage to, many of the railway bridges north of Vinh. These included the strategic Than Hoa bridge which carried both rail and road traffic and linked northern Annam and the southern perimeter of the Tonkin Delta figure 6. Although the Japanese could quickly repair bridges, US bombing maintained numerous cuts in the railway line.

Between and , rice shipped by rail halved to 51, tons and during halved again to 22, tons. Shipments by coastal vessels also fell sharply and in almost none of this traffic went to northern Vietnam. Japanese civilian officials hoped, nevertheless, to respond to the famine by moving northwards large amounts of rice stored in different stations south of Tourane, about halfway up Vietnam's coast.

However, the plan was abandoned as impracticable because the distances involved were too great and the quantities of rice to be moved too large. Another plan, apparently also abandoned, was to dig a canal from Vinh to Thanh Hoa as an alternative to the railway and colonial Route 1 road and also to avoid sea pirates. In the absence of Japanese records it is not clear how far transport might have been mobilized to prevent famine.

The Japanese military chose to reserve whatever transport was still available chiefly, or possibly even entirely, for its own purposes. Consequently, and because the military had greater control over transport than the French, the Japanese bore the larger responsibility for not using existing transport to take rice to the north.

Incongruously, the Americans escaped criticism and largely still do. Beginning in November , the American 14th Air Force had as a main objective the destruction of Vietnam's transport system. Between April and April , constant and increasing air attacks on coastal shipping and on the Transindochinois railway accomplished that objective. The Vietnam authorities, both French and Japanese, knew the implications of American air success for the worsening famine.

The Japanese military refused to allow a message to be sent for fear of betraying the weakness of their position. Whether the Americans would have permitted neutral ships carrying famine relief, envisaged by Drapier, is far from certain, as is the possibility of organizing such vessels.

Whether this or any other international appeal reached Washington is not known. Probably, however, the Americans knew of the famine before May, since during the latter stages of the war American diplomats in China were continuously in touch with the Viet Minh, a chief American intelligence source. When the US had knowledge of the famine, American policies do not appear to have altered. They remained focused on the war in China and the maintenance of cuts in the Transindochinois railway. As well as preventing supplies from the south reaching Japanese troops in the north, the Americans aimed to turn the civilian population against the Japanese.

Food, although for the US probably not specifically a weapon of war, was clearly a victim of it. Even if Japanese and American approaches to the famine had been different and large quantities of rice had been transported northwards, its effective distribution for famine relief might have been difficult. Also unknowable is the extent to which the French and Japanese would have been able or willing to organize effective famine relief, even supposing that transport was available. In fact, local transport suffered from shortages which would have hindered distribution, and villages were small and scattered.

Moreover, large parts of the countryside faced increasing chaos. Apparently, by March when the Japanese took control, many of the stores of rice collected by the French had been pillaged by bands of starving people, burned at the time of the Japanese coup, or monopolized by some Japanese troops. Asia had the greatest of the Second World War's many famines. As well as about one million deaths in Vietnam, famines in Bengal in —3 and during the same two years in Henan cost around two and three million lives respectively.

The —5 Java famine claimed 2. Of the three famines, Bengal's is the only one controversial in regard to a fall in food availability below a level needed to prevent death from outright starvation or disease. Otherwise, agreement exists in regard to all four of Asia's Second World War famines: that the bulk of the populations in each of the four areas was rural and existed at not much above subsistence levels; that each area was historically dependent on importing food from elsewhere to counter periodic threats of famine; that the Second World War made the famines worse; and that, despite the militating circumstance of war, famine need not have been so bad, and might not even have occurred, if human actions had been different.

Analysis of the absence of a significant decline in food availability during Bengal's famine, and so interpretation of it as an entitlements shortfall, rests heavily on the Famine Inquiry Commission's Report on Bengal. It seems unlikely that an adequate level of food could have been maintained in view of the 32 per cent reduction in the aman rice crop the larger of the two annual harvests in —3 compared to —2.

Furthermore, Bengal could no longer turn to the granary of Burma due to its occupation by Japan. The probable explanation for the Famine Inquiry's findings of little change in food supplies is that this would absolve the UK and colonial Indian governments of much of the blame for two million deaths. Virtually all who have written on the famine concur that it might largely have been averted by different government actions, although the nature of these depends on conclusions about the amount of food deficiency.

Moderate food decline directs blame towards speculators, hoarders, and weak public action. A lack of adequate food to sustain all Bengalis points towards the government's requisition of local ships to prevent their possible use by the Japanese and the unwillingness of the British or Indian governments to take food to Bengal despite famine conditions. Between and , grain output halved.

In and , attempted Nationalist reconstruction of dykes along the western bank of the Yellow River's new course was unsuccessful and repeated flooding occurred. In —2, grain output dropped to 22 per cent of that in At the same time, the Chinese and Japanese armies, both reliant on living off the land, made large demands for grain from the local population through taxes, forced deliveries, and raids.

One was migration in search of food. Beginning in , about three million people left their traditional areas. Flight was no more than a palliative, however. The other, necessary strategy was to bring food from elsewhere. However, the Nationalist government was reluctant in wartime to release grain for warehouses in neighbouring provinces or, faced with the need to finance war, to reduce grain taxes.


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Furthermore, demands from the Nationalist and Japanese armies left transport in short supply. Government and armies prioritized transport for war rather than food, as in Bengal and Vietnam. In in Java, rice supplies between surplus and deficit areas were adjusted through the transport of , tons by rail, , tons by truck, and , tons by water, in all War, Japanese occupiers, and drought in destroyed the island's fragile food equilibrium to create mass famine.

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