Ngo Dinh Nhu

Ngo Dinh Nhu

Ngô Ðình Nhu ( listen; 7 October 1910 – 2 November 1963) was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Ðình Diệm. Although he held no formal executive position, he wielded immense unofficial power, exercising personal command of both the ARVN Special Forces (a paramilitary unit which served as the Ngô family's de facto private army) and the Cần Lao political apparatus (also known as the Personalist Labor Party) which served as the regime's de facto secret police.

In his early age, Nhu was a quiet and bookish individual who showed little inclination towards the political path taken by his elder brothers. While training as an archivist in France, Nhu adopted the Roman Catholic ideology of personalism, although critics claimed that he misused that philosophy. Upon returning to Vietnam, he helped his brother in his quest for political power, and Nhu proved an astute and ruthless tactician and strategist, helping Diệm to gain more leverage and outwit rivals. During this time, he formed and handpicked the members of the secret Cần Lao Party, which swore its personal allegiance to the Ngô family, provided their power base and eventually became their secret police force. Nhu remained as its head until his own assassination.

In 1955, Nhu's supporters helped intimidate the public and rig the 1955 State of Vietnam referendum that ensconced his elder brother, Diệm, in power. Nhu used the Cần Lao, which he organised into cells, to infiltrate every part of society to root out opposition to the Ngô family. In 1959, he organized a failed assassination attempt via mail bomb on Prince Sihanouk, the leader of neighbouring Cambodia, with whom relations had become strained. Nhu publicly extolled his own intellectual abilities. He was known for making such public statements as promising to demolish the Xá Lợi pagoda and vowing to kill his estranged father-in-law, Trần Văn Chuơng, who was the regime's Ambassador to the United States, after the elder man condemned the Ngô family's behavior and disowned his daughter, Nhu's wife, Madame Nhu.

In 1963, the Ngô family's grip on power became unstuck during the Buddhist crisis, during which the nation's Buddhist majority rose up against the pro-Catholic regime. Nhu tried to break the Buddhists' opposition by using the Special Forces in raids on prominent Buddhist temples that left possibly hundreds dead, and framing the regular army for it. However, Nhu's plan was uncovered, which intensified plots by military officers, encouraged by the Americans, who turned against the Ngô family after the pagoda attacks. Nhu was aware of the plots, but remained confident he could outmanoevre them, and began to plot a counter-coup, as well as the assassinations of U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. and other American and opposition figures. Nhu was fooled by the loyalist General Tôn Thất Đính, who had turned against the Ngô family. On 1 November 1963, the coup proceeded, and the Ngô brothers (Nhu and Diệm) were detained and assassinated the next day.

Read more about Ngo Dinh Nhu:  Early Years, Rise To Power, Power, Strategic Hamlet Program, Buddhist Crisis, Coup and Death, Children

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1960 South Vietnamese Coup Attempt - Coup
... Diem headed for the cellar, joining his younger brother and confidant Ngo Dinh Nhu, and his wife Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu ... The rebels wanted Nhu and his wife out of the government, although they disagreed over whether to kill or deport the couple ... as prime minister and that Diem remove Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu from the palace ...

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