The Disappearance of Antoine Ratinassamy
Antoine Ratinassamy
Letter of request

Antoine Ratinassamy was a policeman in the Hanoi police force in the 1940s. He was on leave in Saigon in September 1945 when he was taken by the Viet Minh during the coup aimed at restoring French control over southern Indochina. This request for information about his whereabouts was penned by his father, Louis Ratinassamy, a Pondicherrian whose career was spent working with the French colonial administration in Hanoi. This document is valuable for what it reveals about networks which overlapped and extended beyond the boundaries of French Indochina. It shows – in a way we are not used to seeing -- how Vietnam's nationalist struggle reached into other parts of Southeast Asia, while indicating that Louis Ratinassamy relied on the movements of Indian merchants in the region to gather what information he could about his son's fate. It is also a deeply personal story for Antoine's family. They were never fully sure whether he was kidnapped by the Viet Minh or he cooperated with them; the only certainty was that he did not return.

The request and photograph are part of a small repository of family documents linked to Indochina kept by Antoine's nephew in Pondicherry.

(Images with permission of Mr. Maurice Sinnas, Advocate, 135 Needarajapaier Street, Pondicherry, son of late Mr. George Sinnas and Madame Simone Sinnas. Click for full size.)




Natasha Pairaudeau
Postdoctoral research fellow, Sites of Asian Interaction Project
Centre for History and Economics, University of Cambridge

Added February 2014