271. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

688. For Lodge. News of Diem, Nhu suicides2 shocking here and presumably in rest of world. Generals must preserve to extent possible good reputation their actions have thus far created. Therefore important to establish publicly beyond question that deaths actually suicide if this true and it not by violence. Believe best way to do so would be verification by unquestionably impartial group such as members UN team or members diplomatic corps with accompanying doctor’s report.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15-1 S VIEI Secret; Flash. Drafted by Koren and cleared with Harriman and Forrestal.
  2. The news of Diem’s and Nhu’s supposed suicides was reported to Washington in CAS Saigon Critic telegram 22, DTG 020410Z, November 2, received at the Department of State at 12:24 a.m., November 2, as follows:

    “Best estimate this time is that Diem and Nhu dead. Radio announcement reports they committed suicide by poison. CAS officers report have been informed by Viet counterparts that suicide committed en route from city to JGS but unable to find out how or when. Bodies reported to be JGS in armored personnel carrier or inside building. Feel with reasonable certainty that they are dead and continuing to check by what means and where now located.” (Ibid., POL 26 S VIET)