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Photographer's Note

HANOI HILTON

The prison was built in Hanoi by the French, in dates ranging from 1886–1889 to 1898 to 1901, when Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. The French called the prison Maison Centrale - a traditional term to denote prisons in France. It was located near Hanoi's French Quarter. It was intended to hold Vietnamese prisoners, particularly political prisoners agitating for independence who were often subject to torture and execution. A 1913 renovation expanded its capacity from 460 inmates to 600. It was nevertheless often overcrowded, holding some 730 prisoners on a given day in 1916, a figure which would rise to 895 in 1922 and 1,430 in 1933. By 1954 it held more than 2000 people; with its inmates held in subhuman conditions, it had become a symbol of colonialist exploitation and of the bitterness of the Vietnamese towards the French.

The central urban location of the prison also became part of its early character. During the 1910s through 1930s, street peddlers made an occupation of passing outside messages in through the jail's windows and tossing tobacco and opium over the walls; letters and packets would be thrown out to the street in the opposite direction. Within the prison itself, communication and ideas passed. Indeed, many of the future leading figures in Communist North Vietnam spent time in Maison Centrale during the 1930s and 1940s; in the end the prison served as an education center for revolutionary doctrine and activity, and it was kept around after the French left to mark its historical significance to the North Vietnamese.

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the first U.S. prisoner to be sent to Hoa Lo was Lieutenant, Junior Grade Everett Alvarez Jr., who was shot down on August 5, 1964. From the beginning, U.S. POWs endured conditions that were miserable, including poor food and unsanitary conditions. The prison complex was sarcastically nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by the American POWs, in reference to the well-known Hilton Hotel chain. Beginning in early 1967, a new area of the prison was opened for incoming American POWs; it was dubbed "Little Vegas", and individual buildings and areas were named after Las Vegas Strip landmarks, such as Golden Nugget, Thunderbird, Stardust, Riviera, and the Desert Inn. The naming was due to many pilots' familiarity with Las Vegas due to its proximity to Nellis Air Force Base.

The Hanoi Hilton was merely one site used by the North Vietnamese Army to torture and interrogate captured servicemen, mostly American pilots shot down during bombing raids.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Kevin KL (kk_wpg) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 88] (361)
  • Genre: Ludzie
  • Medium: Kolorowe
  • Date Taken: 2008-03-01
  • Categories: Wydarzenia
  • Naświetlenie: f/3.2, 1/4 sekund
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Wersja zdjęcia: Oryginalna wersja
  • Date Submitted: 2010-02-25 22:19
Viewed: 2919
Points: 1
Additional Photos by Kevin KL (kk_wpg) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 88] (361)
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