Young teacher collects wartime objects

A young teacher from Ha Nam Province has spent the last decade amassing a collection of more nearly 1,000 wartime objects.


Small “museum” of wartime objects

Pham Van Diep, 29, is a physical education teacher at Hoang Dong Primary School. Even though he was born after the war, he has had a keen interest in collecting wartime objects since he was a secondary school student.

“When I was a little boy, I had some chances to listen to war veterans who told me stories about their fights using simple tools. Each object has its own story and is connected to the lives of solders and young volunteers. So I decided to collect these objects when I was studying at secondary school,” Diep said.


Neatly organised items

His collection is quite diverse, ranging from everyday solders’ tools like knives, water-bottles and compasses to mortar shells, bicycles, old stamps and solders’ personal papers.

He carefully organises the objects in a room in his house, which now looks like a small museum.

He has travelled to several places in search of such objects and has spent his own money buying them. He regularly has to negotiate with the owners of the objects.


Results long collection efforts

“Many of these souvenirs were significant to soldiers’ lives, so they are invaluable. Sometimes, I ask dozens of times to buy something, but still get no for an answer. Surprisingly, many were willing to give things to me when they learned what I was trying to accomplish,” he said.

When he acquires a new object, he carefully labels it information about the former owner, the time and location of the find along with any stories related to how he got the object.

“I want to take careful notes of important information related to each object in order to avoid any mistakes. I’m really happy to share the information with visitors,” he stated.

His collection includes some objects that originated very far from his hometown, including an Italian Marelli fan that he bought from a mandarin who lived through war in Saigon. Many objects were gathered from the central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue.

He also places several exhibits belonging to the feudal period.


Regular cleaning

In order to preserve these objects he cleans them whenever he has free time and keeps the room where they reside dry.

Creating such a comprehensive collection on a modest teachers salary has been no small feat, leaving many to wonder why he would put so much of his time and money into such a project.

“I plan to open a private museum or a solders’ café in order to share them with interested visitors. I hope this will help young people understand how hard our forefathers worked to build and defend our country. My hope is to instill a gratitude for our peaceful time and respect for those who made it possible,” he added.

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