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Vietnam opens first exhibition on ‘sensitive’ Land Reform
By Trinh Nguyen - Thanh Nien News -

A poor Vietnamese peasant cottage built with straw and clay. Photo: Ngoc Thang

A torn Vietnamese peasant shirt from the 1940s. Photo: Ngoc Thang

The luxurious furniture of rich land owners in northern Vietnam before the Land Reform.
Photo: Ngoc Thang

A luxurious dress on display at the exhibition. Photo: Ngoc Thang

The National Museum of History in Hanoi launched an exhibition on Vietnam's Land Reform on Monday, which addresses the politically sensitive northern land redistribution campaign conducted in the northern region for the first time.
The exhibition at 1 Trang Tien Street features some 150 items, pictures and documents on the mass Land Reform (1946-1957).
The campaign involved the seizure and redistribution of more than 810,000 hectares (2 million acres) of land from rich landowners to 2.2 million households.
The exhibition features contrasting images of the rich land owners and poor peasants.
Exhibits include the luxurious furniture and clothing the landowners kept at home, models of peasant cottages, a punitive rod used by landowners, and a book recording taxes share croppers paid in rice, etc.
All are divided into four sections, including life before and after the Land Reform, wrongdoings in the process and corrections made.
Straightforward review
Nguyen Van Cuong, director of the National Museum of History, said he surprisingly faced no difficulty in preparing the exhibition, considering how sensitive it is politically.
“Experiences from the Land Reform are precious lessons for the protection of the country and for agriculture," he said. "Despite the fact that this is the first [exhibition on the subject], we have always been supported by relevant agencies."
Asked why the exhibition does not feature specific stories and witness accounts, Cuong admitted that some families suffered during the Reform and the museum owns many relevant materials.
“But they are just for reference and can’t be displayed to the public," he said. "We chose to focus on what good the Reform brought.”
“We do not consider it a wound but a ‘blood and bone’ lesson in a democratic revolutionary process… The focus of the exhibition isn't the damages it caused, that has been reviewed by the Communist Party already,” he said.
Historian Le Thi Quynh Nga called the exhibition “daring” after more than 60 years.
Nga, who studied the Land Reform in Thanh Hoa Province for her doctoral thesis, said that in 1956, the Party conducted a straightforward review of mistakes made during the Land Reform.
“For example, the Central Party’s 10th session reported about continuous and prolonged mistakes in the Reform. It was very straightforward,” she said, adding that the exhibition should have included this review.
Another historian, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the exhibition’s correction section should have displayed a touching picture of Uncle Ho (President Ho Chi Minh) crying after the Land Reform.