Dan Vu

* 1957

  • “When I started noticing things around me, I was about seven years old and I was in my first year at school. That was in 1965. We all remember that year very well because that was when the Americans began bombing North Vietnam. I attended school for about half a year, then they evacuated us and everyone had to leave Hanoi. In my memories, Hanoi was dark, dirty, half empty, because we’d all fled to the countryside. Then when I returned from the evacuation, Hanoi was ruined, bombed up.”

  • “They took us to a village somewhere. Back then every rural family was to take in a certain amount of people from the city. We were in one family where there was a very old grandmother, then a woman, on maternity leave I think, whose husband was on the front. So we were there with my sister, brother, and with that family, which gave us what it had. Of course, our parents probably gave them some money. They visited us time to time, and they always spoke with that family, and I think that they gave them something for them to sustain us. We lived in a bamboo house with a straw roof. So we slept on the floor, on straw, and we were happy because the straw was warm in the winter.”

  • “Towards the end of the bombing I heard that our house had been hit. My brother and I returned to Hanoi. I saw so many dead people on the streets. They had attacked during the night, and we arrived in the city in the morning. Because our house was missing its roof, my brother and I went to find something to use as temporary roofing. We passed through a street where soldiers and policemen were dragging dead bodies out of collapsed houses and laying them out on the pavement. The pavement was endless, the bodies lay in line. That’s when I saw war with my own eyes for the first time. It means ruined houses and dead people. It’s still a nightmare to me. Even years later, I still see it often in my dreams. Once you’ve seen that, you can’t forget it.”

  • Full recordings
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    Nový Malín, 16.09.2016

    duration: 02:11:04
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

They ruined a whole generation of the nation

Dan Vu v roce 2016
Dan Vu v roce 2016
photo: Vít Lucuk

Dan Vu was born on 25 May 1957 in Hanoi, North Vietnam, under Communist rule. He belongs to the generation afflicted by the Vietnam War. He spent seven years without his parents, evacuated to the Vietnam countryside to be more protected from air strikes. He returned to Hanoi at the end of 1972, one day after the so-called Christmas bombing, when the American air force hurled thousands of bombs on the city. For the first time, he himself witnessed the suffering that war brings to people. After the war the Democratic Republic of Vietnam made an agreement with Czechoslovakia to accept several thousand Vietnamese citizens for the purpose of gaining professional experience. Dan Vu was one of those to go to Czechoslovakia in 1975. He trained as an electrician in Slovakia and was subsequently made manager of the newly arriving groups of Vietnamese, helping the new apprentices to better adapt to Czechoslovakia. He was later given charge of several groups of Vietnamese workers. One of his jobs was at the national enterprise Landworks Olomouc, where he managed some eight hundred men and women. In 1990 he started his own business. At first he imported various Vietnamese goods to Czechoslovakia (later the Czech Republic), later he started his own brand of shoes and finally began selling Czech products in Vietnam and other Asian countries.