For the French army, Dien Bien Phu is a painful symbol. During this battle (March 13-May 7 1954), the bloodiest since World War II, thousands of French soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. This terrible French defeat brought the First Indochina War to a standstill and marked the beginning of decolonisation. On the Vietnamese side, Dien Bien Phu means victory. Our reporter went back to this town so symbolically linked with history.
More than 60 years later, the battlefield of Dien Bien Phu has given way to a major city. Veterans of Dien Bien Phu are slowly dying out and young Vietnamese seem to care little about the past, despite government efforts to glorify those heroic times. Our reporters went to meet them.