Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Hanoi Hilton

The front entrance
Leg irons and sleeping area

No trip to Hanoi for an American would be complete without a visit to see the Hỏa Lò Prison or what was sarcastically referred to as the Hanoi Hilton.  The prison is now a museum.  


The name 'Maison Centrale' in French means Central House.  This is where the most dangerous prisoners were housed.

Like the Opera House, it was built over a hundred years ago.   It held political dissidents who opposed French colonization.


Electric wire and broken glass atop the wall

The conditions during the French rule were extremely brutal.  Prisoners were packed into small rooms and bound with chains and rebar leg irons.  The conditions reminded us of our visit to the Khmer Rouge S-21 prison in Phnom Penh described in a previous blog.  There was torture and even a Guillotine on site.  Much of this remains today in the museum.

This is the real deal.  Left by the French

In 1945, there was a famous escape right out of the movie Shawshank Redemption where 16 death row prisoners cut a hole in a sewer pipe and escaped. 


They later became independence leaders and later officials of the newly formed government. 


The sewer pipe used in the 1945 escape

During the Vietnam War, American pilots were held here for interrogation and internment.


The most famous prisoner here was Senator John McCain.  There are storyboards displayed showing that the pilots were treated very well and that their activities were like those at summer camp.   

Anti-American Propaganda


We know from debriefings from released prisoners that it is total propaganda.  There was torture and harsh conditions but not as bad as when the french ran the place.

See how much fun it was to be a POW

They even have a flight suit displayed that is claimed to be John McCain’s even though he said that his was shredded from his ejection and that it was cut off of him by the medics because of his injuries. 


They probably just bought a flight suit on ebay. 

The John McCain Storyboard

Much of the prison has been torn down replaced by apartments.  The only original part that remains is the museum.


More Propaganda


The apartments that replaced much of the prison






No comments:

Post a Comment