The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese conquered the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon. After the fall of Saigon more than 800,000 (South) Vietnamese fled out of the country by boat for fear of the new communistic regime, the so-called boat refugees. It is estimated that there are about 200,000 boat refugees died by famine, disease, piracy and hurricanes. Almost 2 million Vietnamese died in the Vietnam war.

Photos of our escape on my father’s fishing boat. Read more in Portrait of my father.

The Vietnamese boat refugees who were lucky were saved by American and European navies and traders that they encountered on the way. They were often brought to neighboring countries and islands, waiting for asylum in a third country. Most Vietnamese ended up in America, Canada, Australia and Western Europe. A small part arrived until the 1980s in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has about 20,000 people of Vietnamese origin.

The first wave of immigration of Vietnamese began in 1957 after the French colonial era in Indochina, when many Vietnamese migrated to France. The emergence of economic and political ties in the 1980s between communist Vietnam and communist countries from Eastern Europe, sent young (North) Vietnamese men to Eastern European countries to pay off the high state debt in work and salary. Mainly to Russia and Czechoslovakia. After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, many Vietnamese fled to Germany, France, the Netherlands and England. There are approximately 3 million Vietnamese diaspora.