Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Madame Nhu Dies at 86

The always controversial Tran Le Xuan, better known as Madame Nhu, wife of Ngo Dinh Nhu, the un-official first lady of South Vietnam died on Easter Sunday in Rome at the age of 86. Having already posted on "The Dragon Lady", a great-granddaughter of Emperor Dong Khanh, I shall not re-tell her story. Although we would certainly be at odds on at least one topic, I always had rather a soft spot for Madame Nhu, a very tough lady who had a refreshingly blunt sort of honesty. It seems rather fitting that she died on Easter, given that she left Buddhism for Christianity and had all of the zeal of a convert, doing her best to uphold Catholic morality in the Republic of Vietnam. She was also an ardent anti-communist who wished that the Christian nations could show as much solidarity as the anti-Christian, atheistic ones did. Unfortunately, she will be mostly remembered, as she has been, in a very negative light, as the woman who said unkind things about monks burning themselves alive and the woman who managed to outlaw abortion, divorce and dance halls in Vietnam. She spent her long years of exile in France and Italy, mostly Italy, going out only to attend mass as she waited for the day she would be reunited with her husband. Like her or not, that day has come for Madame Nhu. I hope she rests in peace. MM


  1. Yes, indeed, RIP. A handsome lady!

  2. MY OWN CONDOLENCES to those she leaves behind, and hopes hr Soul finds Rest in God.

    May she Rest in Peace.


  3. I believe Madam Nhu will meet a kinder reception at the Pearly Gates than many of her detractors, for the very reasons they criticize her.

  4. She had a very hard life, not many are aware of it. Even before she became famous around the world she and her family had been taken prisoner by the reds and had to be rescued by the French army. Her husband was not the only member of her family to be murdered and despite claims that she smuggled a fortune out of the country, when it was all over for the Ngo family she really had nothing. Yet, she never lost her principles, she never gave up in her staunch belief that communism was doomed to failure and she remained devoutly religious throughout her life. I shall look forward to reading her memoirs when they come out in English.

  5. My Vietnamese(and Catholic) mother was very sad that day. Madam Nhu was a very beloved lady. It warms my heart to see this post.

    Thank you.

  6. As was my Vietnamese "mother" and she's a Buddhist with very little in common with Madame Nhu on the values front but she always supported the Diem regime because they were (in her view) the most anti-communist and the most determined to take care of the situation themselves. She was too young to remember much about the last Emperor, though she said she supported him just because she thought he was a hunk!


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