Romanian journalist's 30 minutes interview with military genius - General Vo Nguyen Giap
|Mrs. Dona Tudor went to Viet Nam in 1995 and had a memorable interview with General Vo Nguyen Giap. (Source: Romania Embassy in Ha Noi)|
Reportedly, you had the opportunity to interview the Genearal in Viet Nam, could you share more detail about this memory?
During those days I was the General Secretary of the Foreign News desk within the News Department of the National Romanian Television (Societatea Română de Televiziune). Together with the editor-in-chief Nicolae Melinescu, I was following the developments of the foreign events and 1995 was the year when international mass media was focused on the 20th celebration since the Vietnamese reunification day (April 30, 1975 – April 30-1995).
As journalists, both of us wished to have a direct experience with developments in Vietnam. During the 1970s, Nicolae Melinescu was a war correspondent in Hanoi and I desired to accomplish my personal journalism objective to conduct interviews with major personalities of the contemporary world and report from post-war countries.
Myself and Nicolae Melinescu, a small enthusiastic TV team, left Bucharest to travel to Ha Noi. A once in a life time chance was our meeting with H.E. Mr. Valeriu Arteni, Ambassador of Romania to Viet Nam, as well as his wife (in 2019 he became the first foreign citizen who was awarded the distinction of Citizen of Honor of the capital Ha Noi).
During our stay in Ha Noi, the ambassador and his wife joined our television work, as translators, advisers and also movie makers, providing best advice even with our filming recordings.
Both of them are fluent in Vietnamese and share a deep knowledge of the economic, social and cultural developments of Viet Nam, having a professional experience that in other conditions could have inspired a movie script (they met in Viet Nam during their university studies, married and had a son who also speaks Vietnamese).
We were extremely happy, like touching the sky, when we found out that our request to conduct an interview with General Giap was approved by the Vietnamese authorities. The night before the interview recording, I rigorously prepared my notes and went through all of the research I had prepared in advance on the topics that I intended to approach.
While studying journalism, I was taught that a reporter needs to know at least half of the answer, before asking the question. And I was about to meet a military genius whose fighting strategies and tactics were studied in all the High Military Studies Academies in the world, General Vo Nguyen Giap.
|"To me, General Giap was a different kind of God on earth", Mrs. Dona Tudor said. (Source: Romania Embassy in Ha Noi)|
Could you share your feelings about the General at that time? What is your most impressiveness about the General?
During a professional debate, one of my journalist colleagues teased me: Why are you struggling to go to conflict and war areas? You are married with two children. And you put your life at risk. So what is the meaning of everything if you pass away?
Then, I will strive to make an interview with God.
To me, General Giap was a different kind of God on earth.
To others, he was "Napoleon The Red”. When his name was pronounced, the Foreign Legion was taking a deep breathe. The battle of Dien Bien Phu is history, but can never be forgotten. And the Tet offensive brought about a social cyclone in the USA.
Still, 20 years after the Vietnam war, I was finding myself, as a journalist, in a country that was unified following this war which reflected the spirit of independence of the Vietnamese people, inspired by President Ho Chi Minh.
And the military strategist that faced the USA was standing in front of me. I was meeting a legend and the legend was so lively and smiling at me.
At first sight, I was surprised by General Giap’s resemblance to the first literary portrait of the Romanian voivode Stefan cel Mare (Stefan the Great), as described by the chronicler Grigore Ureche "a man of not big stature”. Nevertheless, there was no time for me to lean on these thoughts, since a strong handshake, a warm vise-like grip made me address to him with a charming enthusiasm, "Bonjour, mon General”… and our meeting continued in French.
We exchanged autographed books. I offered him a poetry volume that was recently published and he gifted me a memoir book.
In front of me, there was a man of 83 years old. And one would have been tempted to describe somebody this age as a kind elder.
But, he was nothing about this. With meditative eyes that were incredibly clear, his looking was captivating. The reason behind his narratives highlighted a perfect self – control, a mindful record of the avalanche of memories, and a strength of his temper and character perfectly connected to the rapid changing world.
When I told him that the time of war of all the people might have passed (although it was assessed that the military strength resided also in the peoples’ will), he answered to me wisely: "maybe, but the time of nations will last”.
I was working at that moment at my PhD thesis, deepening the conceptual apparel of the hybrid war definitions: the social information used as an aggressor power, the audiovisual space as a fight theater, the mediatic terrorism.
The way General Giap accentuated the need to clarify the objective of any action, the effectiveness of any planning and the maneuver surprise, made me feel that he admired Napoleon and was a connoisseur of Sun Tzu.
In front of me there was not only a great patriot endowed with clair vision, but also a man of the people, with practical intelligence.
Being surprised that I was regretting the impossibility to visit the Mekong Delta, he assured me that I would not depart Viet Nam without seeing the Mekong Delta, the Gulf of Tonkin, Ho Chi Minh City and that I would meet in person one of the war fighter pilots that took down the famous flying fortress, the strategic American bomber, B 52.
And it happened so.
|Mrs. Dona Tudor, born on the 23rd of November, 1950, is a reputed Romanian radio and TV journalist. (Source: Romani Embassy in Ha Noi)|
How did the General inspire you about Viet Nam-Romania relation?
More than a quarter of century passed since my first and last visit to Viet Nam and since my meeting with one of the greatest military strategists of the world history. As a journalist I had the opportunity to meet notable Vietnamese people working in political, economic, social and cultural areas, part of the community of more than 4000 Vietnamese students who studied in prestigious Romanian universities during the 1970s and 1980s, still fluent in Romanian language even today.
I was also had the opportunity to live that human joy of being welcomed everywhere I travelled in Viet Nam with the wonderful traditional cup of tea, a blessing of Vietnamese hospitality. I met a people blessed with eternity, forced by history to re-born from its own ashes, having confirmed all along the time the resilience of its national will while finding itself at the confluence of the interests of the major powers.
It will be the merit of military historians to bring to light the military support provided by Romania to Viet Nam during the challenging events of the Vietnamese history as well as the merit of the historian diplomats to disclose the mediator role of Romania in the Asia region.
To me, the meeting with General Giap, a great thinkers of nowadays, was emblematic.
After my visit to Viet Nam, I continued to work as war correspondent in conflict areas, such as Angola, Bosnia, Albania, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
I can only say that nowadays the words of General Giap are more relevant then ever: “the time of nations continue to last”.
After returning back to Romania, the 30 minute interview and documentary with General Giap was broadcasted in April 1995 on Channel 1 of the Romanian National Television, under the title: “Viet Nam – the raising dragon”.
This title remains a reality when talking about Viet Nam.
The very source of Vietnamese inner leans on grandiose peaks, two prominent Vietnamese leaders: Ho Chi Minh and General Giap.
Dona Tudor, born on the 23rd of November, 1950, is a reputed Romanian radio and TV journalist, a poetry and prose writer and an university professor for audiovisual journalism.
During her 50 years of journalism career, she approached all types of journalism and realised thousands of documentary reports, conducted interviews with personalities of the contemporary world and in the last years of her work she focused on developments in conflict areas, where she travelled extensively.
She is the first Romanian female civilian owing a PhD in military sciences, her research project being titled: “Information aggression and mass-media networks”.
A national scientific conference was held via videoconference on August 25 to highlight the military talent and the prestige of General Vo Nguyen Giap.
The Vietnamese Embassy in Algeria opened an exhibition on late General Vo Nguyen Giap on August 25 to mark his 110th birth anniversary (August 25, ...