this a brief interview with Fran Stoddard of VPT, a local PBS station here in Vermont, that decided to show PEOPLES WAR as part of the Ken Burns' Vietnam film brought to you by the Bank of America.
50 years after the 'controversial' film was made... 50 years!
the NEWSREEL film - PEOPLES WAR
In the summer of l969, Newsreel went to North Vietnam. From that trip came PEOPLE'S WAR. This film moves beyond the perception of the North Vietnamese as victims to a portrait of how the North Vietnamese society is organized. it shows the relationship of the people to their government-how local tasks of a village are coordinated and its needs met. It deals with the reality of a nation that has been at war for twenty-five years, that is not only resisting US. aggression and keeping alive under bombing, but that is also struggling to raise its standard of living and to overcome the underdevelopment of centuries of colonial rule. Amid much publicity, the footage was confiscated upon its return to the US. . Despite this attempt at suppression, PEOPLES' WAR has become one of the most sought-after films on Vietnam.
Blue Ribbon at U.S.A. Film Festival in Houston, Texas. and the Golden Bear Award, Moscow, USSR. - l969 - 40 minutes
in 1969 Newsreel was invited to film a statement by Ho Chi Minh to the American people. We accompanied a delegation of members of the peace movement to Hanoi. However, Ho Chi Minh was then unable to be filmed because of his health (he died but a few months later). We instead travelled from Hanoi to the DMZ and filmed the destruction of the war and the continuing struggle of against US imperialism (as it was then called). when we returned from Hanoi our film was seized at customs. a court injunction forced the return of the film which had already been processed by Army intelligence. out of this material was made the film PEOPLES' WAR
RUMBLE, WESLEY LEWIS
Name: Wesley Lewis Rumble
Branch/Rank: UNITED STATES AIR FORCE/O2
Unit: 389TH TFS
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: OROVILLE CA
Date of Loss: 28-April-68
Country of Loss: NORTH VIETNAM
Loss Coordinates: 171300 North 1064400 East
Status (in 1973): returnee
Other Personnel in Incident: JOHN FINLAY, returnee
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File.
REMARKS: 690805 RELEASED
Quang Binh Province
No further information available at this time.
Three Released in August
The most recent release three men, again came in August of this year and illustrates how completely Hanoi milks the prisoner situation for its own purposes. However, it marked a minor breakthrough of sorts. For the first time, North Vietnam released prisoners who had been held captive for fifteen to twenty-eight months.
The new policies of the Nixon Administration may have had something to do with the release of the longer-term prisoners. Publicity about two of the men had been widely aired by DoD several months earlier.
Like the two preceding releases, the third also was carried out under the banner of David Dellinger. On this occasion, he designated a somewhat ragtag escort group. The group was substantially larger than any previously dispatched. There were four escorts. They took along three cameramen.
Leader and spokesman was Rennard C. Davis, twenty-nine, National Coordinator of Dellinger's National Mobilization Committee. A member of Students for a Democratic Society, Davis is also under indictment on charges growing out of the Chicago riots. He had to obtain a court ruling in order to leave the country.
With Davis in the escort group were Linda Sue Evans, twenty-two, an SDS regional organizer; Grace Paley, forty-six, a member of antiwar and anti-draft organizations; and James Johnson, twenty-three, Negro, former GI who served a stockade term for refusing to fight in Vietnam. The three cameramen, from an underground movie-making outfit, were identified as Robert Kramer, thirty-six, an SDS member during a stint at Columbia University; Norman Fruchter, thirty-two; and John B. Douglas, thirty-one.
Team Flew to Hanoi
The seven-member team flew to Hanoi in mid-July, about two weeks after North Vietnam announced plans to release the prisoners. For the next couple of weeks they received Hanoi's "grand tour," were escorted on a 500-mile trip into the DMZ, met with the Prime Minister, and were ultimately entertained at a farewell party well-oiled with rice liquor and propaganda.
At the farewell ceremony, according to details churned out by the North Vietnam News Agency (VNA), the prisoners were "handed over . . . to the American antiwar delegation" with a Madame Bui Thi Cam denouncing the "monstrous crimes" perpetrated by the "US imperialists" who had destroyed towns and crops and "massacred . . . women, children, and old folk."
She said US pilots "caught in the act of committing grave crimes" are not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions, but are, nevertheless, treated "in accordance with the humanitarian policy of the government."
James Johnson, accepting the prisoners ''on behalf of the American antiwar delegation," said, "We know, as these pilots must know, that all over the world the United States has been branded an outlaw nation." His statement, running some 500 words, might almost have been written by Hanoi.
The North Vietnam News Agency said, "The three released American military men then took turns in expressing, each in his own [way], their deep gratitude to the Vietnamese People, the DRVN government, and the Vietnam People's Army, for this humanitarian act as well as for the humane treatment all of them had received throughout the period of their detention."
The names of the prisoners were revealed. Two were Navy men: Lt. Robert F. Frishman, captured twenty-one months earlier, and Seaman Douglas B. Hegdahl, imprisoned for two years and four months. The third was Air Force Capt. Wesley L. Rumble, held for fifteen months.
The prisoners and their escorts left Hanoi on August 5 . Arriving in Vientiane, Laos, that night, they were seen for the first time by US newsmen. They were described as "pale and gaunt," clad in "dungarees and sandals."