A battle for 'the fate of the world'

Hachiko

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At approximately 6:20 p.m. on May 7, 1954, the shooting had stopped everywhere but at one last outpost, called strongpoint Lily, where a handful of Moroccan soldiers under a French major, Jean Nicolas, still held out.

fl20040502a1a.jpg

Ambassador Chu Tuan Cap

In his landmark 1966 work on Dien Bien Phu, "Hell in a Very Small Place," the late French historian Bernard B. Fall described how the end came:

. . . as Nicholas looked out . . . from a slit trench near his command post, a small white flag, probably a handkerchief, appeared on top of a rifle hardly 50 feet [16 meters] away from his, followed by the flat-helmeted head of a Viet-Minh soldier.

"You're not going to shoot any more?" said the Viet-Minh in French.

"No, I am not going to shoot any more," said Nicholas.

"C'est fini?" said the Viet-Minh.

"Oui, c'est fini," said the French major.

And all around them, as on some gruesome Judgment Day, mud-covered soldiers, French and enemy alike, began to crawl out of their trenches and stand erect as firing ceased everywhere.

The silence was deafening.

Japan Times
 

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