Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Dien Bien Phu is a city in Vietnam. This city happened to be the location of the biggest successes for Vietnam independence forces in 1954.
The war between France and Viet Minh started in 1946. The French, who had claimed Vietnam in 1893, had regained the land after a brief Japanese occupation during World War II. The Viet Minh had declared their independence in 1945.
French General Henri Navarre finally attempted to decide the war. He positioned his troops 200 miles behind the Viet Mihn lines, attempting to draw the Viet Mihn forces into a pre-set battle around Dien Bien Phu where his firepower could overwhelm them. However, Viet Minh General Vo Nguyen Giap knew the area, and had his troops entrench in the mountains surrounding the city. The Viet Mihn forces took three French outposts in quick succession. The French army was severely demoralized, and the leadership of the army collapsed. The French finally surrendered, but only after Viet Mihn took over eleven thousand prisoners.
The day after the battle ended, the Geneva Conference took place. An agreement was put in place where North Vietnam would be controlled by the Viet Mihn, while South Vietnam would be controlled by the French-supported State of Vietnam. The two sides were supposed to be reunited after voting took place in 1956, but the vote never took place, which sparked the Vietnam War.