Entitled “Vietnam 1972. Ein Land unter Bomben. Mit Notizbuch und Kamera im Norden unterwegs” (Vietnam 1972. A country under bombs. Out and about in the North with a notebook and camera), the 256-page book presents a large number of writings and 36 photos that the author took in the North of Vietnam, bringing readers a panorama and true picture on the resistance war of the Vietnamese people, especially in the tough fight in 1972.
In its first part, the book reviews major milestones in the history of the Vietnamese revolution from 1945 to 1965 when the US started bringing its first troops to the South of Vietnam and bombing the North, forcing Vietnam to sit at the negotiating table.
The author underlined that the US sprayed Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) in Vietnam not from 1965 but as early as 1961 and lasted until 1971. The spraying of this toxic chemical has left devastating consequences on Vietnamese people and their offspring.
Decades after the war ended, about 1 million Vietnamese, including about 100,000 children, mostly with birth defects, have still suffered the consequences of this crime. Even today, in the fourth generation, every year about 6,000 children are born with birth defects or serious diseases.
According to the author, no one can say when the incalculable suffering of the Vietnamese people will end. The perpetrators of the crimes were never prosecuted and the Vietnamese victims were not compensated by the US, while in 1984, thousands of US soldiers affected by AO were compensated by the manufacturers with 180 million USD.
The cover of the book (Photo: VNA)
Kapfenberger noted that Vietnam is making every effort to support AO victims. When the war ended, the US continued to punish Vietnam for nearly two decades with strict embargo and blockade measures. It was not until the early 1990s that US President George H. W. Bush launched the first negotiations on the normalisation of bilateral relations.
In its introduction, Wiljo Heinen publishing house wrote that 1972 was a terrible year when the US, under the command of President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, tried to break the resistance of the Vietnamese people with a cruel bombing campaign. The information and images collected by journalist Kapfenberger, introduced in the book, reflect the devastating consequences of attacks on civilians that have left thousands dead, and turned towns and villages into ruins and ashes. According to the publisher, the testimonies of Kapfenberger are not only contemporary documents but also a demonstration of solidarity with a nation that stood up to struggle for its own independence and freedom.
Speaking at the launching of the book, Vietnamese Minister Counsellor Chu Tuan Duc highly evaluated the deep sentiments that journalist Kapfenberger have given to Vietnam. He said that what the journalist wrote about Vietnam would help German friends and readers get a better understanding and insight on Vietnam, thus helping promote the sound relations between the two countries' people.
Kapfenberger, born in 1933, worked as a resident reporter in Vietnam in the 1970-1973 and 1980-1984 periods. After returning home, he actively joined solidarity activities with Vietnam.
He is also the author of many other books about Vietnam, including "Berlin - Bonn - Saigon - Hanoi", “Ho Chi Minh – Politische Biografie” (Political Biography), “Vietnam - ein dreizigjähriger Krieg 1945-1975” (Vietnam – A 30-year war 1945-1975), and “Duong mon Ho Chi Minh” (Ho Chi Minh Trail).