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Cold War Files: All Units: Events: South Vietnamese Coup Begins

November 1, 1963
South Vietnamese Coup Begins

Lodge has a routine meeting with Diem from 10 a.m. until noon at the presidential palace, then departs. At 1:30 p.m., during the traditional siesta time, the coup begins as mutinous troops roar into Saigon, surround the presidential palace, and also seize police headquarters. Diem and his brother Nhu are trapped inside the palace and reject all appeals to surrender. Diem telephones the rebel generals and attempts, but fails, to talk them out of the coup. Diem then calls Lodge and asks "...what is the attitude of the United States?" Lodge responds "...it is four thirty a.m. in Washington, and the U.S. government cannot possibly have a view." Lodge then expresses concern for Diem's safety, to which Diem responds "I am trying to restore order."

At 8 p.m., Diem and Nhu slip out of the presidential palace unnoticed and go to a safe house in the suburbs that belongs to a wealthy Chinese merchant.

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