Comradeship, Friendship, Wariness: The First Decade of Relations Between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Polish People’s Republic (1954-1964) | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


At a cursory glance, the first decade of the mutual Polish-Vietnamese relations seems very straightforward. Two communist countries, tied not only by the same ideology but also a common history of struggle against foreign occupation, in a cordial relationship of supporting each other. However, a much more nuanced relationship lay behind the official facade of smiles and handshakes. The initially amiable relations soured quickly in 1956 when the events of Polish October were decried in Vietnam as “bourgeois counterrevolution”. From that point both countries started to drift apart: Warsaw firmly backed the “peaceful coexistence” policy formulated in Moscow, while Hanoi moved into Beijing’s camp of revolutionary warfare. At the same time, both Poland and Vietnam desperately tried to maintain the unity of the communist camp threatened by the growing rift between the two red powers. Economic cooperation also did not satisfy either side. Warsaw was disappointed with Vietnam's low export opportunities, while Hanoi pressed for more and more material support, which Poland, struggling with its own problems, could not and did not want to provide. Besides typical political, cultural, and economic contacts, communist Poland played an additional important role in Indochina, by participating in the work of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC), which was established in 1954 with the task of overseeing the implementation of Geneva Agreements of that year. While Warsaw proved to be a steadfast ally of Hanoi, the mutual relation was not always easy. Poles favored engagement and flexibility in relations with their ICSC partners, in comparison to the usually ideologically rigid Vietnamese position, and refused to compromise its own international prestige and credentials to satisfy some Vietnamese demands. This paper is based on research in various Polish archives and the latest literature on the subject.


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