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A block above the park, at 28 Vo Van Tan, the War Remnants Museum is the city’s most popular attraction but not fro the faint- hearted. Unlike at the HoChiMinh City Museum, you are unlikely to be distracted here by the horrors of modern warfare. Some of the instruments of destruction are on display in the courtyard outside, including a 28 –tones howitzer and a ghoulish collection of bomb parts. There’s also a guillotine that harvested heads at the Central Prison on Ly Tu Trong, first for the French and later for Diem.

Inside a series of hall present a grisly portfolio of photographs of mutilation, napalm burns and torture. Most shocking is the gallery detailing the effects of the 75 million liters of defoliant sprays dumped across the country; beside the expected images of bald terrain, hideously malformed fetuses are preserved in pickling jars. A gallery that looks at international fortunes to the war as well as the American peace movement adds a sense of balance, and makes a change from the self – glorifying tone of most Vietnamese museums. Accounts of servicemen – such as veteran B52 pilot Michael Heck – who attempted to discharge themselves from the war on ethical grounds are also featured. Artifacts donated to the museum by returned US servicemen add to the reconciliatory tone.

At the back of the museum is a grisly mock – up of the tiger cadger the godless prison cells of Con Son Island, which could have been borrowed from the movie set of Papillon. The souvenir shop, hidden between the tanks and planes in the courtyard, sells Zippo lighters, penknives, dog tags and models crafted from spent bullets.

 

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