In the second part of the Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) series, I wrote about exploring this city on foot. One of the places which you could visit when exploring and walking around in HCMC is the War Remnants Museum.
The War Remnants Museum is a gallery showcasing war crimes and its legacy in Vietnam – first those of the French and then those of the Americans. Some people feel that this museum is “blatantly one-sided with the emphasis on anti-American propaganda”. Regardless of one’s opinion on US involvement in the Vietnam War, one must visit this museum to learn, understand and ensure that history does not repeat itself, not just in Vietnam but anywhere in the world.
The War Remnants Museum was opened on 4 September 1975 and it was initially called the “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes”. Then the name was changed to “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression” in 1990. But when diplomatic relations with the United States normalized in 1995 along with the lifting of US embargo on Vietnam, the terms “war crimes” and “aggression” were removed; hence the museum became “War Remnants Museum”.
The museum displays aircraft, artillery and armour and there are also a number of defused explosives stored in the corner of the courtyard.
Majority of visitors would spend time on the upper floors of the building – these areas are the graphic photography of war atrocities such as the My Lai massacre, the effects of Agent Orange and the use of napalm bombs – the most silent areas of the building. I believe visitors are very moved by the photographs displayed – I know I was – and at one point, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as I walked past each graphic display of atrocities.
I didn’t want to take photographs of the exhibits – the museum doesn’t prohibit photography in these areas – but felt it wasn’t right. This is because the exhibits were not meant to give a feel-good factor but to provide a valuable history lesson to everyone that war is always wrong.
Location: At the corner between Vo Van Tan St. and Le Quy Don St
Entrance Fee: 10,000VND (US$0.50)
Opening Hours: 8.00-11.45am and 1.30-4.45pm