The steel fortress that sheltered the former Saigon regime

By Phong Vinh   June 2, 2016 | 05:00 pm GMT+7

On April 8, 1975, as bombs began to fall on Independence Palace, the then President Nguyen Van Thieu and his family hid in a steel-encased concrete bomb shelter beneath the building. Now the palace is open to the public, the underground system has come to light too.

On April 28, some rooms at Independence Palace have been open to the public. But it's just the tip of the iceberg.

On April 28, some additional rooms in the Independence Palace were opened to the public, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.

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The underground system inside the Independence Palace was designed by engineer Phan Van Dien to be a workplace and shelter for former Saigon regime President Nguyen Van Thieu and his cabinet.

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The system is 72.5 meter long, and up to 2.5 meters underground. It is divided into two sections, with the deeper one able to withstand a 2,000-kilogram bomb.

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The first room was the consulting area where all the intelligence was gathered and analyzed.

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The rooms were connected by small concrete corridors sheathed in 5 millimeter thick steel. Above is the code room.

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This section was used as the communications center, and had telegraph, radio and telephony equipment.

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The telecom office. Around 40 people worked in this area.

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The president’s bedroom and office. In case of emergency, the president would climb down a ladder from his office upstairs. On April 8, 1975, the room was put into use.

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Even now, some areas still remain restricted.

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Most of the corridors are still in a good condition with the original tiles that radiate the vibe of Saigon decades ago.

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At the end of the system is the kitchen, featuring the original equipment used by the Saigon regime.

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This white Mercedes 200 W110, made in Germany in the 60s, used to carry President Thieu.

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