Trinh Thui NgoHanoi Hannah
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Posted 17 October 2016 - 12:17 AM
"Trinh Thi Ngo, who has died aged 87, was, for a generation of American troops serving in Indochina, better known as “Hanoi Hannah”, the silken-voiced propagandist on North Vietnamese radio, the Voice of Vietnam, who tried to convince GIs, in impeccable English, that they should lay down their arms and go home.
At the height of the war, broadcasting under the name Thu Huong (“Autumn Fragrance”), Trinh Thi Ngo hosted three 30-minute programmes a day, interspersing rock tunes such as the Animals’ We Gotta Get Out Of This Place and anti-war songs such as Pete Seeger’s Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (both banned on US Armed Forces Radio) with lists of the names and hometowns of GIs killed in action and messages, to exploit the ambivalence felt by many servicemen about the war.
“How are you, GI Joe?” ran one such broadcast in 1967. “It seems to me that most of you are poorly informed about the going of the war, to say nothing about a correct explanation of your presence over here. Nothing is more confusing than to be ordered into a war to die or to be maimed for life without the faintest idea of what’s going on.”
She broadcast messages from anti-war activists such as Jane Fonda, reported demonstrations around the world and sought to stir up racial tensions within US forces by playing up news of race riots at home.
She was popular listening for American soldiers, who enjoyed the music, though less popular with US commanders who failed to end the broadcasts by bombing a transmitter in Hanoi. Though most GIs were said to find her often inaccurate reports of the war entertaining, some confessed to being disconcerted by the impression that North Vietnamese spies must be everywhere. In fact most of her “intelligence” reports came from publications such as Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper.
Trinh Thi Ngo’s broadcasts lasted from 1965 until the Americans left in humiliation a decade later.
Trinh Thi Ngo was born in Hanoi, in French Indochina, on November 26 1930, and was an unlikely candidate to become the voice of communism. Born into what she described as a “nationalist bourgeois family”, she was the daughter of a prosperous glass factory owner and learnt English from private tutors, perfecting her command of the language by watching French-subtitled Hollywood films. “I always preferred American movies to French films,’’ she said in 1994. “The French talked too much.’’"
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