It’s always a wise thing to know about a country’s history before actually visiting the country. Unfortunately, not everyone can do this because of the lack of time and resources. However, in a historical country like Vietnam where museums are everywhere, it’s unlikely to leave Vietnam without knowing about the country’s war-ravaged past. The most famous museum that has captured much of its historical essence is the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.
The museum was previously known as Saigon’s Exhibition House of American War Crimes or The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government. To appeal more to tourists, the name was cut short to the War Remnants Museum instead. The museum houses many displays that depict the reality that happened in the Vietnam War especially during its American Phase and how the war continues to affect people today.
Operated by the Vietnam government, the museum opened in 1975 and has undergone many changes and renovations since. Most of it was due to the process of normalization of relations between the countries of Vietnam and the United States. Today, the museum’s main purpose is to display the war devastation between the two countries from 1961 to 1975. The exhibition displays the horrors and details of the worst brutality that happened during the Vietnam War. Many buildings of the museum store military equipment and disturbing photographs of the traumatizing consequences of Agent Orange.
Many Westerners would already know what Agent Orange is but only few are aware of how the toxin actually affected living people and unborn fetuses at the time. But what is Agent Orange really? Agent Orange was the name of a specific blend of herbicides that was sprayed on millions of trees and vegetation that were providing cover for many Vietnamese forces. Many Agent Orange veterans were exposed to these herbicides, causing many deformities, diseases and unfortunate conditions to the people. But Agent Orange did more than that. 500,000 children were born with birth defects that continued the negative effect of war despite the war ending decades ago.
Pictures of violence of the My Lai massacre, a guillotine that was used by the South Vietnam Government and three jars of deformed human fetuses that indicate the effect of the war on the subsequent generations are the notable things to be seen in the museum.
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These displays depict the cruelties involved in the killing of many innocent civilians, torturing of prisoners and the spreading of poisonous toxins. Bombs, tanks, planes and helicopters that were used during the Vietnam War can also be seen at the War Remnants Museum. On a lighter note, some rooms found outside the main museum display cultural products giving guests a taste of the Vietnamese culture.
Since the museum opened its doors, more than six million people have visited the museum in Ho Chi Minh City and among them, a million were foreign tourists. With such devastating pictures from the past, it’s been told that many travelers have failed to hold back their tears upon seeing such horrible remnants of history. Despite its disturbing displays, the War Remnants Museum will undoubtedly transform your ordinary visit to Ho Chi Minh City into an educational yet remarkable trip.