Võ Nguyên Giáp was born in the village of An Xa, Quang Binh province 25 August 1908. His father worked the land, rented out land to neighbors, and was not poor. At 14, Giáp became a messenger for the Hui Phòng Power Company. Later he was expelled for continued Tan Viet movement activities. In 1933, at the age of twenty-one, Giáp enrolled in Hanoi University.
He was educated at the University of Hanoi where he gained a bachelor's degree in political economy and laws. After leaving university he taught history in Hanoi. He later joined the Communist Party and took part in several demonstrations against French rule in Vietnam.
Võ Nguyên Giáp was arrested in 1930. In 1940 he escaped to China, where he joined up with Ho Chí Minh, the leader of the Vietnam Revolutionary League (Vietminh). While he was in exile, his sister was captured and executed. His wife was also sent to prison, where she died.
Between 1942 to 1945 Võ Nguyên Giáp helped organize resistance to the occupying Japanese Army. When the Japanese surrendered to the Allies after the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, the Vietminh was in a good position to take over the control of the country and Võ Nguyên Giáp served under Ho Chí Minh in the provisional government.
In September, 1945, Ho Chí Minh announced the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Unknown to the Vietminh Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had already decided what would happen to post-war Vietnam at a summit-meeting at Potsdam. They had agreed that the country would be divided into two, the northern half under the control of the Chinese and the southern half under the British.
France refused to recognise the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and fighting soon broke out between the Vietminh and the French troops. At first, the Vietminh under General Võ Nguyên Giáp, had great difficulty in coping with the better trained and equipped French forces. The situation improved in 1949 after Mao Zedong and his communist army defeated Chiang Kai-Shek in China. The Vietminh now had a safe base where they could take their wounded and train new soldiers.
On March 13, 1954, Võ launched his offensive against the French at Dien Bien Phu. For fifty-six days the Vietminh pushed the French forces back until they only occupied a small area of ?i?n Biên Ph?. Colonel Piroth, the artillery commander, blamed himself for the tactics that had been employed and after telling his fellow officers that he had been "completely dishonoured" committed suicide by pulling the safety pin out of a grenade.
The French surrendered on May 7th. French casualties totalled over 7,000 and a further 11,000 soldiers were taken prisoner. The following day the French government announced that it intended to withdraw from Vietnam.
Võ Nguyên Giáp remained commander-in-chief of the Vietminh throughout the Vietnam War. Peace talks between representatives from United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the NLF had been taking place in Paris since January, 1969. By 1972, Richard Nixon, like Lyndon B. Johnson before him, had been gradually convinced that a victory in Vietnam was unobtainable.
In October, 1972, the negotiators came close to agreeing to a formula to end the war. The plan was that U.S. troops would withdraw from Vietnam in exchange for a cease-fire and the return of 566 American prisoners held in Hanoi. It was also agreed that the governments in North and South Vietnam would remain in power until new elections could be arranged to unite the whole country.
The North Vietnamese refused to change the terms of the agreement and so in January, 1973, Nixon agreed to sign the peace plan that had been proposed in October. However, the bombing had proved to be popular with many of the American public as they had the impression that North Vietnam had been "bombed into submission."
President Thieu of South Vietnam appealed to President Richard Nixon for more financial aid. Nixon was sympathetic but the United States Congress was not and the move was blocked. At its peak, U.S. aid to South Vietnam had reached 30 billion dollars a year. By 1974 it had fallen to 1 billion. Starved of funds, Thi?u had difficulty paying the wages of his large army and desertion became a major problem.
The NLF arrived in Saigon on April 30, 1975. Soon afterwards the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established. In the new government, Võ Nguyên Giáp was minister of defence and deputy premier until 1980.

Vo Ngyuen GIAP - 1911-2002; Den vietnamesiske general Giap var guerillakrigsstrategiens store praktiker. Han førte kommunisterne til sejr i den krig, som fra et vietnamesisk perspektiv er blevet kaldt "Trediveårskrigen". Giap besejrede først den franske kolonimagt i 1954 og i 1975 det sydvietnamesiske styre, som fra 1965-1973 blev aktivt støttet af USA.
GIAP blev født d. 28.august 1911 i en landsby tæt ved Hue. Vietnam var dengang et del af Fransk Indokina (inkl. Laos og Cambodja).
Hans ægteskab med en universitetsprofessor-datter varede kun 3 år, hvorefter hun blev henrettet i et fængsel i Hanoi. Dette skete i slutningen af 30erne, hvor GIAP sammen med resten af det indokinesiske kommunistparty flygtede til Kina. - I 1941 oprettede den indokinesiske kommunistleder Ho Chi Minh guerillaorganisationen Viet Minh. Med tiden blev den verdens 4 største hær ( ca. 1 mio. mand). I perioden 1946-49 førte GIAP traditional guerillakrig i landområderne i Vietnam. Den kommunistiske sejr ( 1949) i Kina betød, at Viet Minh ikke behøvede at frygte andgreb fra nord. Samtidig blev der tilført store våbenforsyninger til guerillakrigen.
GIAPs første forsøg mod franskmændede var en taktisk fejltagelse ("menneskebølge-taktiken). Slaget ved Dien Bien Phu (1954) var derimod den største triumf for GIAP, der udtalte "En fattig nation havde besejret en stor kolonimagt...det betød meget; ikke blot for os, men for alle mennesker i verden."
Guerillakrigen fortsatte senere mod USA og militærstyret i Sydvietnam; Te-offensiven, operation Lam Son og Påskeoffensiven var nogle af højdepunkterne. I april 1975 blev der sluttet fred og effekten var et samlet Vietnam.
GIAP forblev forsvarsmin. indtil 1980, senere medlem af Politbureauet. GIAP forblev hele sit liv en stor praktiker af Maos teorier og et forbillede for mange revolutionære bevægelser i den Tredie Verden.
Sit århundrede vel nok største guerilla-strateg.