I just had a free tour with a tour guide come from Hanoi free walking tours in Hoa Lo Prison. So, today I have some information about this prison, I think foreigners should know before visiting Vietnam.
Hoa Lo Prison(later known as Hanoi Hilton) was a famous prison of Crimes and built by French in the wartime between Vietnam and France, it was used by French colonial government, and later North Vietnamese fighters( Ho Chi Minh’s army) during the Vietnam War. In the long history, this place became a breeding ground for the resistance movement in Vietnam, and later on became main holding camp for American Prisoners of War that were captured during the war by Vietnamese army. During its active years, the conditions were terrible and in this prison deteriorated as the number of prisoners increased, and in the years of the Vietnam War American, POW was held there in the truly horrific environment, although Vietnam government denies those claims to this day.
Hoa Loa Prison was built by the French between 1886 and 1901 at that time it carried the name Maison Centrale (Central House). As the years went, more and more prisoners crowded this small facility. In 1913 renovated prison held over 600 inmates, but after that but the numbers continued to grow until it held over 2000 prisoners in 1954. Large population, poor and very terrible conditions continued were one of the reasons why this prison became so hated in the Vietnam until now, and many people being sent there, they were treated very badly and they had to eat dirty and smelly food, they became more and more angry against French colonization and their Government . It was recorded that many Vietnamese political prisoners started gathering like-minded people to became one of the symbols of colonialist exploitation that contributed to the start of the Vietnamese war.
After French army fled out of Vietnam, Hoa Loa prison became one of the central points for American prisoner POWs who were captured by Vietnamese army. In addition to the inhumane treatment of the prisoners, Vietnamese government used Immense ways of torture to extract military information out of the US soldiers.
Thank for this great free tours that makes me understand more about Vietnamese history