Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wartime bomb shelter officially opens May 22, 2012

Wartime bomb shelter officially opens

May 22, 2012
LookAtVietnam – Nearly 40 years after the end of the war in Vietnam, for the first time an old wartime bomb shelter of Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel opens to the public today, almost one year after its discovery.

Miss International 1964 Gemma Cruz Araneta, a Filipino journalist.
The 40sq.m bomb shelter has been well-preserved and was reopened to honour the Metropole staff’s extraordinary efforts of ensuring the safety for important guests against US aerial bombardment during the war, said the hotel’s general manager Kai Speth at a press conference yesterday.
“Today this space serves as a memorial to their courage and perseverance, and to remember what should never be forgotten,” he added.
The shelter served to protect guests from air raids. After the war, it was closed and sealed until a chance rediscovery by the hotel’s engineering department during the renovation of the Bamboo Bar in 2011. It was discovered nearly 3m below ground in the hotel’s gardens next to the bar.
“I believe it is part of the hotel’s history and every effort must be made to resurrect it and open it as a memorial so we can share more of our past with our guests”, the manager affirmed.
When the shelter was found, the underground chambers and corridors had become completely flooded. However after the water was pumped out, a number of items were discovered, including two old wine bottles, intact light bulbs, air vents, metal blast doors and and the words engraved on the wall by former Australian diplomat Bob Devereaux.
Many important guests stayed in the shelter in the period between 1960 and 1972.
Gemma Cruz Araneta, a Filipino journalist and Miss International 1964, described the shelter in May 1968 as “a long narrow semi-subterranean room of concrete”.
“It is lined with green wooden chairs and although there was no electricity, I noticed an electric fan was on. Really, the Vietnamese are such gracious hosts. The kitchen helpers and hotel employees patrol the premises armed with rifles and helmets and they persuaded the other guests to go into the shelter”, recalled Araneta.
Well-known American actress and political activist Jane Fonda, and American musician Joan Baez also spent time at the shelter.

Former Australian diplomat Bob Devereaux.
Araneta took part in the shelter’s opening ceremony yesterday together with Devereaux who did not remember why he engraved his named on the wall.
“Maybe at that time the shelter was flooded and I was groping my way around to find the Australian wine bottle, so I engraved my name on the wall to remember the way,” he recalled.
Historian Andreas Augustin, who wrote a history book about the hotel, was also present at the ceremony. He has built an exhibition area of the hotel’s historical path dating back to 1901. The exhibition area runs 18m along the hotel’s corridor to highlight Metropole’s 110-year-old history. On display are photos of the hotel’s early days, as well as names of its more than 300 famous guests, including English comic actor Charlie Chaplin and French writer Marguerite Duras.
The hotel offers guests access to the shelter and the exhibit via a scheduled tour programme starting today.


Hàng trăm khách mời và báo giới xếp hàng xuống thăm căn hầm trú ẩn chiều 21/5.
Hundreds of guests and correspondents waited to visit the bomb shelter on May 21.
Sau một năm phát hiện ra, hầm đã được xây dựng một lối đi xuống để phục vụ khách tham quan.

Một tấm biển gắn trang trọng tại cửa hầm.
Các du khách bước xuống hầm đều phải đội mũ bảo hộ.
Căn hầm rộng 40m2 trở nên bé nhỏ khi chỉ với hơn 10 người bước bên trong.
Visitors have to wear helmets.
Căn hầm được dọn dẹp sạch sẽ hơn và bảo tồn nguyên trạng.
Một trong những chiếc bóng đèn vẫn còn nguyên.
Nhà báo Philippines, Gemma Cruz Araneta, người từng có mặt tại đây năm 1968 mô tả trong cuốn nhật ký của mình nơi đây như một căn phòng bê tông dài và hẹp.

Khu vực khách không được bước vào trong hầm.
Căn hầm tránh bom có tổng cộng 6 cửa sắt, hai cửa gỗ, nắp thông hơi, ống thông khí, cầu đấu sứ, lõi khoan, một số mẫu bê tông nắp hầm, bốn bảng điện và 12 bóng đèn.
Bob Devereaux, nhà ngoại giao Australia, người đã khắc tên mình trên bức tường của căn hầm vào năm 1975. Cuối năm 2011, Devereaux tình cờ đọc bài báo tại Australia viết về việc phát hiện căn hầm này, ông đã liên lạc ngay với khách sạn Metropole Hà Nội và cho hay chính ông đã khắc tên mình lên tường hầm vào tháng 8/1975.
Former Australian diplomat Bob Devereaux wrote his name on the wall in 1975.
Ông Bob Devereaux (giữa) và nhà báo, hoa hậu Gemma Cruz Araneta tại buổi lễ khai trương căn hầm chiều qua.
Bob Devereaux (middle) and Gemma Cruz Araneta at the opening ceremony on May 21.
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