Madame nhu trần lệ xuân

Madame Nhu, who as the glamorous official hostess in South Vietnam’s presidential palace became a politically powerful & often harshly outspoken figure in the early years of the Vietnam War, died on Sunday in Rome, where she had been living. She was 86.

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Her death was confirmed by her sister, Lechi Oggeri.

Born in 1924 — the date is uncertain, though some sources say April 15 — she spent the last four decades in Rome và southern France.

Her parents named her Tran Le Xuan, or “Beautiful Spring.” As the official hostess lớn the unmarried president of South Vietnam, her brother-in-law, she was formally known as Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu. But lớn the American journalists, diplomats and soldiers caught up in the intrigues of Saigon in the early 1960s, she was “the rồng Lady,” a symbol of everything that was wrong with the American effort to lớn save her country from Communism.

In those years, before the United States deepened its military involvement in the war, Madame Nhu thrived in the eye of her country’s gathering storm as the wife of Ngo Dinh Nhu, the younger brother và chief political adviser lớn Ngo Dinh Diem, the president of South Vietnam from 1955 until 1963.


While her husband controlled the secret police & special forces, Madame Nhu acted as a forceful counterweight khổng lồ the diffident president, badgering Diem’s aides, allies & critics with unwelcome advice, public threats & subtle manipulations. Then, after both men were killed in a military coup mounted with the tacit support of the United States, she slipped into obscurity.

In her years in the spotlight, when she was in her 30s, she was beautiful, well coiffed and petite. She made the form-fitting ao dai her signature outfit, modifying the national dress with a deep neckline. Whether giving a speech, receiving diplomats or reviewing members of her paramilitary force of 25,000 women, she drew photographers like a magnet. But it was her impolitic penchant for saying exactly what she thought that drew world attention.

When, during Diem’s early days in power, she heard that the head of the army, Gen. Nguyen Van Hinh, was bragging that he would overthrow the president và make her his mistress, she confronted him at a Saigon party. “You are never going to lớn overthrow this government because you don’t have the guts,” Time magazine quoted her as telling the startled general. “And if you vì overthrow it, you will never have me because I will claw your throat out first.”

Her “capacity for intrigue was boundless,” William Prochnau wrote in “Once Upon a Distant War: Young War Correspondents and the Early Vietnam Battles” (1995). So was her hatred of the American press.

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“Madame Nhu looked & acted lượt thích the diabolical femme fatale in the popular comic strip of the day, ‘Terry và the Pirates,’ ” Mr. Prochnau wrote. “Americans gave her the comic-strip character’s name: the long Lady.”


ImageMadame Nhu at the Saigon airport in 1963.<br><p>Tran Le Xuan was the younger daughter of nam giới Tran Chuong, herself the daughter of an imperial Vietnamese princess, and Tran Van Chuong, a patrician lawyer who later became Diem’s ambassador to lớn Washington. As a willful girl, she bullied her younger brother, Khiem Van Tran, & was more devoted khổng lồ the piano and the ballet than khổng lồ her studies.</p><p>She later resisted any arranged marriage, choosing in 1943 khổng lồ wed one of her mother’s friends, Ngo Dinh Nhu. Fifteen years her senior, he was from a prominent Hue family of Roman Catholics who opposed both French colonial rule and the Communist rebels. Tran Le Xuan, raised a Buddhist, embraced her new family’s faith as well as its politics.</p><p>As World War II ended, Vietnam’s battle for independence intensified. In 1946, Communist troops overran Hue, taking Madame Nhu, her infant daughter và aging mother-in-law prisoner. They were held for four months in a remote village with little food and no comforts before being freed by the advancing French. After she was reunited with her husband, the family lived quietly for the next few years, an interlude that Madame Nhu would later refer lớn as her “happy time.” She và her husband would eventually have four children, two boys & two girls.</p><p>In 1955, Diem became president of the newly independent South Vietnam, his authority menaced by private armies, gangsters & disloyal officers lượt thích General Hinh. Madame Nhu publicly urged Diem khổng lồ act. This only embarrassed him, & he exiled her to lớn a convent in Hong Kong. Then he reconsidered, took her advice, smashed his opponents and forced Hinh into exile.</p><p>Madame Nhu returned, complaining that life in the convent had been “just lượt thích the Middle Ages.” But then, so was the lot of most Vietnamese women. After winning a seat in the National Assembly in 1956, Madame Nhu pushed through measures that increased women’s rights. She also orchestrated government moves khổng lồ ban contraceptives and abortion, outlaw adultery, forbid divorce và close opium dens and brothels. “Society,” she declared, “cannot sacrifice morality & legality for a few wild couples.”</p><br><p>Meanwhile, she kept a tight emotional hold on the president. According to a C.I.A. Report, Diem came to think of his sister-in-law lượt thích a spouse. She “relieves his tension, argues with him, needles him, and, like a Vietnamese wife, is dominant in the household,” the report said. It also said that their relationship was definitely not sexual. When Diem, who was notoriously prudish, once questioned the modesty of Madame Nhu’s low-cut dress, she was said lớn have snapped back: “It’s not your neck that sticks out, it’s mine. So shut up.”</p><p>In fact, both their lives were on the line. In 1962, renegade Vietnamese Air Force pilots bombed & strafed the presidential palace. Diem was not hurt. Madame Nhu fell through a bomb hole in her bedroom to lớn the basement two floors below, suffering cuts and bruises.</p><p>Vietnamese officers were judged by their loyalty to lớn Diem và Nhu, who kept their best troops close lớn Saigon, khổng lồ the exasperation of the Americans. As Communist strength grew, the South’s internal stresses mounted. Diem sought compromise with dissidents, but he was undercut by the Nhus. In August 1963, thousands of Buddhists were arrested and interned. In Washington, Madame Nhu’s father declared that Diem’s government had done more damage than even the Communists và resigned as ambassador; her mother, South Vietnam’s observer at the United Nations, also quit. That fall, Madame Nhu went on an American speaking tour, criticizing Diem’s critics as soft on communism. She was in Los Angeles on Nov. 1 when news flashed that Diem và her husband had been shot to death in a coup. “The deaths were murders,” she told reporters, “either with the official or unofficial blessing of the American government.”</p><p>Refused permission khổng lồ return to lớn Vietnam, she và her children moved khổng lồ Rome khổng lồ be near her brother-in-law, Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc. In July 1966, in a vehemently anti-American interview with a French journalist, she expressed sympathy for the Vietnamese Communists và declared that America preaches “the liberty of the jungle.”</p><p>In 1967, her eldest daughter, Le Thuy, was killed in an automobile accident in France. In 1986, her parents were found strangled in their Washington home. Her brother, Khiem, was charged in the killings, motivated, according to the authorities, by the fact that he had been disinherited. In 1993, after seven years in a mental hospital, he was declared incompetent but harmless, & released.</p><p>As time passed, Madame Nhu declined lớn be interviewed, but in November 1986 she agreed to lớn answer questions in an exchange of letters with The thủ đô new york Times. In these statements she continued to blame the United States for the fall of South Vietnam và for her brother’s arrest. Asked lớn describe her daily life, she wrote, “Outer life such as writing và reading has never seemed interesting enough khổng lồ be talked about, while inner life, more than a secret, is a mystery that cannot be so easily disclosed.”</p></div><!-- .entry-content -->

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