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Ho Chi Minh

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Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh
Portrait c. 1946
Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam
In office
19 February 1951 – 2 September 1969
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Position abolished
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam
In office
1 November 1956 – 10 September 1960
Preceded by Trường Chinh
Succeeded by Lê Duẩn
1st President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
In office
2 September 1945 – 2 September 1969
Preceded by Position established
Bảo Đại (as Emperor)
Succeeded by Tôn Đức Thắng
1st Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
In office
2 September 1945 – 20 September 1955
Preceded by Position established
Trần Trọng Kim (as Prime Minister of the Empire of Vietnam)
Succeeded by Phạm Văn Đồng
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 August 1945 – 2 March 1946
Succeeded by Nguyễn Tường Tam
In office
28 August 1946 – March 1947
Preceded by Nguyễn Tường Tam
Succeeded by Hoàng Minh Giám
Member of the Politburo
In office
31 March 1935 – 2 September 1969
Personal details
Born Nguyễn Sinh Cung
(1890-05-19)19 May 1890
Kim Liên, Nghệ An Province, French Indochina
Died 2 September 1969(1969-09-02) (aged 79)
Hanoi, North Vietnam
Nationality Vietnamese
Political party French Section of the Workers' International
French Communist Party
Communist Party of Vietnam
Spouse(s) Zeng Xueming (m. 192669)
Relations Bạch Liên (or Nguyễn Thị Thanh) (Sister)
Nguyễn Sinh Khiêm (or Nguyễn Tất Đạt) (brother)
(Nguyễn Sinh Nhuận) (brother)
Children none
Parents Nguyễn Sinh Sắc (father)
Hoàng Thị Loan (mother)
Alma mater Communist University of the Toilers of the East
Profession Politician

Hồ Chí Minh (;[1] Northern Vietnamese pronunciation: , Southern Vietnamese pronunciation: ; 19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969; Chinese: 胡志明), born Nguyễn Sinh Cung,[2][3][4] or Nguyễn Sinh Cung, also known as Nguyễn Tất Thành and Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister (1945–55) and president (1945–69) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945, as well as the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Việt Cộng (NLF or VC) during the Vietnam War.

He led the Việt Minh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French Union in 1954 at the battle of Điện Biên Phủ. He officially stepped down from power in 1965 due to health problems, but remained a highly visible figurehead and inspiration for those Vietnamese fighting for his cause—a united, communist Vietnam—until his death. After the war, Saigon, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam, was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City.


  • Early life 1
    • First sojourn in France 1.1
    • In the United States 1.2
    • In the United Kingdom 1.3
  • Political education in France 2
  • In the Soviet Union and China 3
  • Independence movement 4
    • Birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 4.1
  • Becoming president and Vietnam War 5
  • Personal life 6
  • Death 7
  • Legacy and personality cult 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
    • Essays 10.1
    • Biography 10.2
    • Việt Minh, NLF and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 10.3
    • War in Vietnam 10.4
    • American foreign policy 10.5
  • External links 11

Early life

Ho Chi Minh was born Nguyễn Sinh Côn (as appeared in a letter from the director of Collège Quốc học, dated August 7, 1908),[2][3][4] or Nguyễn Sinh Cung, in 1890 in the village of Hoàng Trù (the name of the local temple near Làng Sen), his mother's village. From 1895, he grew up in his father Nguyễn Sinh Sắc's village of Làng Sen, Kim Liên, Nam Đàn, Nghệ An Province. He had three siblings: his sister Bạch Liên (or Nguyễn Thị Thanh), a clerk in the French Army; his brother Nguyễn Sinh Khiêm (or Nguyễn Tất Đạt), a geomancer and traditional herbalist; and another brother (Nguyễn Sinh Nhuận) who died in his infancy. As a young child, Côn studied with his father before more formal classes with a scholar named Vuong Thuc Do. Côn quickly mastered Chinese writing, a prerequisite for any serious study of Confucianism, while honing his colloquial Vietnamese writing.[5]:21 In addition to his studious endeavors, he was fond of adventure, and loved to fly kites and go fishing.[5]:21 Following Confucian tradition, at the age of 10, his father gave him a new name: Nguyễn Tất Thành ("Nguyễn the Accomplished").

Côn's father, Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, was a Confucian scholar and teacher, and later an imperial magistrate in the small remote district of Binh Khe (Qui Nhơn). He was demoted for abuse of power after an influential local figure died several days after having received 102 strokes of the cane as punishment for an infraction.[5]:21 In deference to his father, Côn received a French education, attended lycée in Huế, the alma mater of his later disciples, Phạm Văn Đồng and Võ Nguyên Giáp and his later enemy, Ngô Đình Diệm.

First sojourn in France

Previously, it was believed that Thành was involved in an anti-tax (anti-corvée) demonstration of poor peasants in Huế in May 1908, which endangered his student status at Collège Quốc học. However, a document from the Centre des archives d'Outre-mer in France shows that he was admitted to Collège Quốc học on August 8, 1908, which was several months after the anti-corvée demonstration (April 9–13, 1908)[3]]. The exaggeration of revolutionary credentials was common among Vietnamese communist leaders, as shown in Tôn Đức Thắng's falsified participation in the 1919 Black Sea revolt. Later in life, Hồ would claim the 1908 revolt had been the moment when his revolutionary outlook emerged, but his application to the French Colonial Administrative School in 1911 undermines this version of events. He chose to leave school in order to find a chance to go abroad. Because his father had been dismissed, he no longer had any hope for a governmental scholarship and went southward, taking a position at Dục Thanh school in Phan Thiết for about six months, then traveled to Sài Gòn.

He worked as a kitchen helper on a French steamer, the Amirale de Latouche-Tréville, while using the alias "Văn Ba". The steamer departed on 5 June 1911 and arrived in Marseille, France on July 5, 1911. The ship then left for Le Havre and Dunkirk, returning to Marseille, France in mid-September. There he applied for the French Colonial Administrative School but his application was rejected. Instead, he decided to begin traveling the world by working on ships and visited many countries from 1911 to 1917.

In the United States

In 1912, while working as the cook's helper on a ship, Thành traveled to the United States. From 1912–13, he may have lived in New York City (Harlem) and Boston, where he claimed to have worked as a baker at the Parker House Hotel. The only evidence that Thành was in the United States is a letter to French colonial administrators dated December 15, 1912 and postmarked New York City (but he gave as his address Poste Restante in La Havre and stated that he was a sailor) [6]:20 and a postcard to Phan Chu Trinh in Paris where he mentioned working at the Parker House Hotel. Enquires to the Parker House management revealed no records of his ever having worked there.[5]:51 Among a series of menial jobs, he claimed to have worked for a wealthy family in Brooklyn between 1917–18, and for General Motors as a line manager. It is believed that while in the United States, he made contact with Korean nationalists, an experience that developed his political outlook, but Sophie Quinn-Judge admits that this is "in the realm of conjecture".[6]:20

In the United Kingdom

At various points between 1913 and 1919, Thành claimed to have lived in West Ealing, and later in Crouch End, Hornsey. He reportedly worked as either a chef or dish washer [reports vary] at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing.[7] It is claimed that Hồ trained as a pastry chef under Auguste Escoffier at the Carlton Hotel in the Haymarket, Westminster, but there is no evidence to support this.[6]:25 [8] However, the wall of New Zealand House, home of the New Zealand High Commission, which now stands on the site of the Carlton Hotel, displays a blue plaque, stating that Hồ Chí Minh worked there in 1913 as a waiter. Thành was also employed as a pastry boy on the Newhaven–Dieppe ferry route in 1913.[9]

Political education in France

Ho Chi Minh, 1921

From 1919–23, while living in France, Thành began to show an interest in politics, being influenced by his friend and Socialist Party of France comrade Marcel Cachin. Thành claimed to have arrived in Paris from London in 1917, but the French police only had documents recording his arrival in June 1919.[6]:20 He joined a group of Vietnamese nationalists in Paris whose leaders were Phan Chu Trinh and Phan Văn Trường. They had been publishing newspaper articles advocating for Vietnamese independence under the pseudonym Nguyễn Ái Quốc ("Nguyễn the Patriot") since before Nguyễn Tất Thành's arrival in Paris in 1919.[10] Following World War I, the group petitioned for recognition of the civil rights of the Vietnamese people in French Indochina to the Western powers at the Versailles peace talks, but was ignored.[11] Citing the language and the spirit of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, they expected U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to help remove the French colonial rule from Vietnam and ensure the formation of a new, nationalist government. Although they were unable to obtain consideration at Versailles, the failure further radicalized Thành, while also making him a symbol of the anti-colonial movement at home in Vietnam.[12] Since Nguyễn Tất Thành was the public face behind the publication of the document (although it was written by Phan Văn Trường),[13] he soon became known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc and first used the name in September during an interview with a Chinese newspaper correspondent.[5]:60

In 1920, Quốc became a representative to the Congress of Tours of the Socialist Party of France, Quốc voted for the Third International and was a founding member of the Parti Communiste Français (FCP). Taking a position in the Colonial Committee of the PCF, he tried to draw his comrades' attention towards people in French colonies including Indochina, but his efforts were often unsuccessful. During this period he began to write journal articles and short stories as well as running his Vietnamese nationalist group. In May 1922, Quốc wrote an article for a French magazine criticizing the use of English words by French sportswriters.[14]:21 The article implored Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré to outlaw such Franglais as le manager, le round and le knock-out. While living in Paris, he reportedly had a relationship with a dressmaker named Marie Brière.

In the Soviet Union and China

In 1923, Quốc left Paris for Moscow carrying a passport with the name Chen Vang, a Chinese merchant,[5]:86 where he was employed by the Comintern, studied at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East,[5]:92[15] and participated in the Fifth Comintern Congress in June 1924, before arriving in Canton (present-day Guangzhou), China, in November 1924 using the name Ly Thuy.

In 1925–26, he organized "Youth Education Classes" and occasionally gave socialist lectures to Vietnamese revolutionary young people living in Canton at the Whampoa Military Academy. These young people would become the seeds of a new revolutionary, pro-communist movement in Vietnam several years later. According to Duiker, he lived with and married a Chinese woman, Zeng Xueming (Tăng Tuyết Minh), on 18 October 1926.[16] When his comrades objected to the match, he told them: "I will get married despite your disapproval because I need a woman to teach me the language and keep house."[16] She was 21 and he was 36.[16] They married in the same place where Zhou Enlai had married earlier, and then lived in the residence of a Comintern agent, Mikhail Borodin.[16]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bảo Đại
as Emperor
President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
2 September 1945 – 2 September 1969
Succeeded by
Tôn Đức Thắng
Preceded by
Trần Trọng Kim
as Prime Minister of the Empire of Vietnam
Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
2 September 1945 – 20 September 1955
Succeeded by
Phạm Văn Đồng
Party political offices
Preceded by
New title
Chairman of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Trường Chinh
First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Lê Duẩn
  • The Drayton Court Hotel
  • , 4 September 1969The New York TimesHồ Chí Minh obituary,
  • TIME 100: Hồ Chí Minh
  • Ho Chi Minh selected writings
  • Hồ Chí Minh's biography
  • Satellite photo of the mausoleum on Google Maps
  • Final Tribute to Hồ from the Central Committee of the Vietnam Workers' Party
  • Bibliography: Writings by and about Hồ Chí Minh
  • , November 12, 2000Hồ Chí Minh: A Life interview with William Duiker on Booknotes

External links

American foreign policy

War in Vietnam

Việt Minh, NLF and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

  • William J. Duiker. 2000. Ho Chi Minh: A Life. Theia.
  • Jean Lacouture. 1968. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. Random House.
  • Khắc Huyên. 1971. Vision Accomplished? The Enigma of Ho Chi Minh. The Macmillan Company.
  • David Halberstam. 1971. Ho. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Hồ chí Minh toàn tập. NXB chính trị quốc gia
  • Sophie Quinn-Judge. 2003. Ho Chi Minh: The missing years. C. Hurst & Co. ISBN 1-85065-658-4
  • Tôn Thất Thiện, Was Ho Chi Minh a Nationalist? Ho Chi Minh and the Comintern Information and Resource Centre, Singapore, 1990


  • Bernard B. Fall, ed., 1967. Ho Chi Minh on Revolution and War, Selected Writings 1920–1966. New American Library.


Further reading

  1. ^ "Ho Chi Minh". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Duiker, William J. Ho Chi Minh: A Life. New York: Hyperion, 2000.
  6. ^ a b c d e f
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ For a thumbnail of a photograph in the Library of Congress collection showing Quốc at the Versailles Conference, see "Ho Chi Minh, 1890–1969, half length, standing, facing left; as member of French Socialist Party at Versailles Peace Conference, 1919", Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
  12. ^ Huynh, Kim Kháhn, Vietnamese Communism, 1925–1945. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982; pg. 60.
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c d e
  15. ^ , 4 September 1969The New York TimesObituary in
  16. ^ a b c d e Brocheux, P. pp. 39–40
    Duiker, p. 143.
  17. ^ a b Davidson, Phillip B., Vietnam at War: The History: 1946–1975 (1991), p. 4.
    Hoàng Văn Chí. From Colonialism to Communism (1964), p. 18.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Ho Chi Minh Was Noted for Success in Blending Nationalism and Communism", The New York Times
  20. ^ Interview with Archimedes L. A. Patti, 1981,
  21. ^ Interview with OSS officer Carleton Swift, 1981,
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ The Black Book of Communism
  26. ^ Joseph Buttinnger, Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled, vol 1 (New York: Praeger, 1967)
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b c
  30. ^ a b c
  31. ^ Currey, Cecil B. Victory At Any Cost (Washington: Brassey's, 1997), p. 126
  32. ^ [1]
  33. ^ Tucker, Spencer. Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: a political, social, and military history (vol. 2), 1998
  34. ^ Colvin, John. Giap: the Volcano under the Snow (New York: Soho Press, 1996), p. 51
  35. ^ Vietnamese WorldHeritage profile of Nguyễn Hải Thần
  36. ^ Chính phủ Liên hiệp Kháng chiến Việt Nam
  37. ^
  38. ^ Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: a History.
  39. ^ Robert F. Turner, Vietnamese Communism: Its Origins and Development (Hoover Institution Press, 1975), pp57-9, 67–9, 74 and "Myths of the Vietnam War", Southeast Asian Perspectives, September 1972, pp14-8; also Arthur J. Dommen, The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans (Indiana University Press, 2001), pp153-4.
  40. ^ Lời kêu gọi toàn quốc kháng chiến
  41. ^ Fall, Bernard. Last reflections on a War, p. 88. New York: Doubleday (1967).
  42. ^ Chiến dịch Biên giới
  43. ^ Luo, Guibo. pp. 233–36
  44. ^ Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Chronology", p. 45.
  45. ^ Dommen, Arthur J. (2001), The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans, Indiana University Press, pg. 252.
  46. ^
  47. ^ Robert F. Turner (1975), Vietnamese Communism: Its Origin and Development, Hoover Institution Press, p. 75.
  48. ^ The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 134.
  49. ^ The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 119.
  50. ^ a b The Pentagon Papers (1971), Beacon Press, vol. 3, p. 140.
  51. ^ Rummel, Rudolph, Statistics of Vietnamese Democide, in his Statistics of Democide, 1997.
  52. ^ Alec Holcombe, Politburo's Directive Issued on May 4, 1953, on Some Special Issues regarding Mass Mobilization Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer 2010), pp. 243–247, quoting a translated Politburo directive from 4 May 1953. This directive was published in Complete Collection of Party Documents (Van Kien Dang Toan Tap), a 54 volume work authorized by the Vietnamese Communist Party.
  53. ^
  54. ^ cf. Gittinger, J. Price, "Communist Land Policy in Viet Nam", Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 29, No. 8, 1957, p. 118.
  55. ^ Dommen, Arthur J. (2001), The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans, Indiana University Press, p. 340, gives a lower estimate of 32,000 executions.
  56. ^ Cheng Guan Ang & Ann Cheng Guan, The Vietnam War from the Other Side, p. 21. (2002)
  57. ^ The Economist, 26 February 1983.
  58. ^ Lind, 1999
  59. ^ Davidson, Vietnam at War: the history, 1946–1975, 1988
  60. ^ Chen Jian. "China's Involvement in the Vietnam Conflict, 1964–69", China Quarterly, No. 142 (June 1995), pp. 366–69.
  61. ^ [2]
  62. ^ Translated version:
  63. ^
  64. ^ Interview with Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi 1964
  65. ^ A Vietnam Television History (1983) crew 's interview with Ho Chi Minh private secretary Vu Ky in Vietnamese
  66. ^ A Vietnam Television History (1983) crew 's interview with Ho Chi Minh private secretary Vu Ky in Vietnamese
  67. ^ Vietnamese WorldHeritage article on Huy Thuc
  68. ^ Nghị quyết của Quốc hội nước Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam về việc chính thức đặt tên thành phố Sài Gòn - Gia Định là thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
  69. ^ a b
  70. ^ [4]
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^ Ruane, Kevin, (2000), The Vietnam Wars, Manchester University Press, p. 26; ISBN 0-7190-5490-7
  74. ^ Boobbyer, Claire (2008) Footprint Vietnam, Footprint Travel Guides. p. 397; ISBN 1-906098-13-1.
  75. ^ a b
  76. ^


Publications about Ho's non-[76] There's also a personality cult surrounding Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, Ho Chi Minh's father.

Shrine devoted to Ho Chi Minh

The Communist regime has also continually maintained a personality cult around Ho Chi Minh since the 1950s in the North, and later extended it to the South, which it sees as a crucial part in their propaganda campaign about Ho and the Party's past. Ho Chi Minh is frequently glorified in schools to schoolchildren. Opinions, publications and broadcasts that are critical of Ho Chi Minh or that identify his flaws are banned in Vietnam. Both Vietnamese and foreign activists, writers, reporters and commentators who criticize anything about Ho in the slightest are arrested and imprisoned or fined for "opposing the people's revolution". Ho Chi Minh is even glorified to a religious status as an "immortal saint" by the Vietnamese Communist Party, and some people "worship the President", according to a BBC report.[69]

In Vietnam today, Ho's image appears on the front of all Vietnamese currency notes. His portrait and bust are featured prominently in most of Vietnam's public buildings, in classrooms (both public and private schools) and in some families' altars. There is at least one temple dedicated to him, built in Vĩnh Long shortly after his death, in 1970, in Viet Cong-controlled areas.[70]

Ho Chi Minh holding his god-daughter, baby Elizabeth (Babette) Aubrac, and Elizabeth's mother, Lucie Aubrac in 1946

Chilean musician Víctor Jara referenced Ho Chi Minh in his song "El derecho de vivir en paz" ("The Right to Live in Peace").

The Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hanoi is dedicated to his life and work.

Ho's embalmed body is on display in Hanoi in a granite mausoleum modeled after Lenin's Tomb in Moscow. Streams of people queue each day, sometimes for hours, to pass his body in silence. This is reminiscent of other Communist leaders like Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong.

The former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City on 2 July 1976[68] by the new VCP-controlled National Assembly of Vietnam. However, the name provokes strong anti-communist feeling in a substantial number of Vietnamese. Many Vietnamese, especially those living abroad, continue to refer to the city as Sài Gòn, in rejection of the new Communist-imposed name and in honor of the former capital of anti-communist, republican South Vietnam.[69]

Temple devoted to Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, Ho Chi Minh's father

See also: Tăng Tuyết Minh (Zeng Xueming), Nông Thị Xuân, Nông Đức Mạnh, Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai

Legacy and personality cult

During North Vietnam's final campaign, a famous song written by Huy Thuc was often sung by People's Army of Vietnam soldiers, "Bác vẫn cùng chúng cháu hành quân" ("You are still marching with us, Uncle Ho").[67] Six years after his death, at the Fall of Saigon, several PAVN tanks in Saigon displayed a poster with the words "Bác vẫn cùng chúng cháu hành quân".

With the outcome of the Vietnam War still in question, Ho Chi Minh died at 09:47 on the morning of 2 September 1969 from heart failure at his home in Hanoi, aged 79. His embalmed body is currently on display in a mausoleum in Ba Đình Square in Hanoi despite his will stating that he wanted to be cremated.[5]:565 News of his death was withheld from the North Vietnamese public for nearly 48 hours because he had died on the anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He was not initially replaced as president, but a "collective leadership" composed of several ministers and military leaders took over, known as the Politburo.

Ho Chi Minh statue outside Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Ho Chi Minh City


Ho remained in Hanoi during his final years, demanding the unconditional withdrawal of all non-Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. By 1969, with negotiations still dragging on, Ho's health began to deteriorate from multiple health problems, including diabetes which prevented him from participating in further active politics. However, he insisted that his forces in the south continue fighting until all of Vietnam was reunited under his regime regardless of the length of time that it might take, believing that time was on his side.[66]

Ho Chi Minh as a President held formal receptions to foreign heads of state and ambassadors at the Presidential Palace but he personally not living there. He ordered to build a stilt house at the back of palace where now became Presidential Palace Historical Site. His hobbies (said by his secretary Vu Ky) were reading, gardening, feeding fishes (many of them still living until now) and visiting places full of children.[65] He usually appeared in a white khaki (felt black for winter) Vietnamese- style Mao suit. His special footwear is a pair of rubber sandals, which Americans called Ho Chi Minh sandals, he wore these everyday (sometimes with socks) and even in many formal oversea events. His suit and sandals with beard are considered unique symbols of his simple life and distinctive fashion style among world politician leaders.

Stilt house of "Uncle Ho" in Hanoi

During nearly 30 years in exile, he can speak fluently as well as read and write professionally in French, English, Russian, Cantonese and Mandarin in addition to his mother tongue Vietnamese.[63] In 1920s, he was bureau chief / editor of many newspapers which he established to criticize French Colonial Government of Indochina and serving communism propaganda purposes. Examples are Le Paria (The Pariah) first published in Paris 1922 or Thanh Nien (Youth) first published on 21 June 1925 (21 June was named by The Socialist Republic of Vietnam Government as Vietnam Revolutionary Journalism Day). In many state official visits to Soviet Union and China, he often talked directly to their communist leaders without interpreters especially about top secret information. While interview with western journalists, he used French.[64] His Vietnamese has a strong accent of central province Nghe An – his birthplace, but can be widely understood through the country.

Other than a politician, Ho Chi Minh is also a writer, journalist, poet and polyglot. His father was a scholar and teacher, who got a high degree in the Nguyen Dynasty Imperial examination so Ho was taught to master Classical Chinese while he still a boy. Before August Revolution, he was often written poetry in Chữ Hán (Vietnamese name of Chinese writing system). One of those is Poems from the Prison Diary made when he was imprisoned by Republic of China police. This poetry chronicle is Vietnam National Treasure No.10, it was translated to many languages and currently teaching in Vietnamese high schools.[62] After Vietnam gained independence from France, the new government brought Chữ Quốc Ngữ (Vietnamese writing system in Latin characters) exclusivity to eliminate illiteracy. Ho Chi Minh started changing to create more poems in modern Vietnamese language to disseminate for a wider range of reader. Almost every year after he became President until he got serious health problems, a short poem of him was regularly displayed on Nhân Dân Newspaper Tết (Lunar new year) edition to encourage his people in working, studying or even fighting (Americans) towards a new year.

Ho Chi Minh watching a soccer game in his favourite fashion. His closest comrade - Prime Minister Pham Van Dong is the person sitting next to him on the right corner.

Personal life

As fighting escalated, widespread aerial and artillery bombardment all over North Vietnam by the U.S. Air Force and Navy begin with Operation Rolling Thunder. In July 1967, Ho and most of the Politburo of Workers Party of Vietnam met in a high profile conference where they all concluded the war had fallen into a stalemate, since the United States Army presence forced the People's Army of Vietnam to expend the majority of their resources maintaining the Ho Chi Minh trail instead of reinforcing their comrade's ranks in the South. With Ho's permission, the Viet Cong planned to execute the Tet Offensive to begin on 31 January 1968, gambling on taking the South by force and defeating the U.S. military. The offensive came at great cost and with heavy casualties on NLF's political branches and armed forces. It appeared to Ho and to the rest of his government that the scope of the action had shocked the world, which had up until then been assured that the Communists were "on the ropes". The overly positive spin that the U.S. military had been attempting to achieve for years came crashing down. The bombing of Northern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh trail was halted, and U.S and Vietnamese negotiators began to discuss how to end the war. From then on, Ho and his government's strategy, based on the idea of "avoiding conventional warfare and facing the might of the U.S. Army, which would wear them down eventually, while merely prolonging the conflict would lead to eventual acceptance of Hanoi's terms" materialized.

Ho Chi Minh meeting a North Vietnamese circus troupe after their performance at the Presidential Palace, Hanoi, 1967.

In late 1964, PAVN combat troops were sent southwest into officially neutral Laos and Cambodia.[59] According to Chen Jian, during the mid-to-late 1960s, Le Duan permitted 320,000 Chinese volunteers into North Vietnam to help build infrastructure for the country, thereby freeing a similar number of PAVN personnel to go south.[60] However, there are no sources from Vietnam, US or the USSR confirming the number of Chinese troops stationed in Northern Vietnam. By early 1965, U.S. combat troops began arriving in South Vietnam, first to protect the airbases around Chu Lai and Da Nang, later to take on most of the fight, as "More and more American troops were put in to replace Saigon troops who could not, or would not, get involved in the fighting".[61]

At the end of 1959, Lê Duẩn was appointed by Ho to be the acting party leader, after becoming aware that the nationwide election would never happen and Diem's intention to purge out all opposing forces (mostly ex-Viet Minh). Ho began requesting the Politburo to send aid to the Viet Cong's uprising in South Vietnam. This was considered by Western's analyzers as a loss of power by Ho, who is said to have preferred the more moderate Giap for the position.[56] North Vietnam invaded Laos in 1959 aided by the Pathet Lao, and used 30,000 men to build invasion and supply routes through Laos known as the Ho Chi Minh trail,[57] which allowed the North to send troops and aid to the Vietcong through Laos and Cambodia, thus escalating the war and tipping the balance, turning it to their favor.[58] Duan was officially named party leader in 1960, leaving Ho a public figure rather than actually governing the country. Ho maintained much influence in the government, Tố Hữu, Lê Duẩn, Trường Chinh, and Phạm Văn Đồng would often share dinner with him, and later all of them remained key figures of Vietnam throughout and after the war. In 1963, Ho purportedly corresponded with South Vietnamese President Diem in the hopes of achieving a negotiated peace.[14]:174 This correspondence was a factor in the U.S. decision to tacitly support a coup against Diem in November later that year.

Ho Chi Minh with East German sailors in Stralsund harbour, 1957

The government launched "rent reduction" and "land reform" programs, which resulted in significant political oppression. Declassified Politburo documents confirm that 1 in 1,000 North Vietnamese (i.e., about 14,000 people) were the quota targeted for execution during the "rent reduction" campaign.[52] During the land reform, testimony from North Vietnamese witnesses suggested a ratio of one execution for every 160 village residents, which extrapolated nationwide would indicate nearly 100,000 executions. Because the campaign was concentrated mainly in the Red River Delta area, a lower estimate of 50,000 executions became widely accepted by scholars at the time.[53][54][55]

In North Vietnam during the 1950s, political opposition groups were suppressed; those publicly opposing the government were imprisoned in hard labor camps. Many middle-class, intellectual Northerners had been lured into speaking out against Ho's communist regime, and most of those who did were later imprisoned in gulags or executed; this became known as the Nhân Văn–Giai Phẩm affair. Some prisoners died of exhaustion, starvation, illness (often having received no medical attention), or assault by prison guards. Political scientist R. J. Rummel suggests a figure of 24,000 camp deaths during Ho's rule of North Vietnam between 1945 and 1956.[51]

Following the Geneva Accords, there was to be a 300-day period in which people could freely move between the two regions of Vietnam, later known as South Vietnam and North Vietnam. More than 1 million North Vietnamese people fled to the South, while a much smaller number moved North.[46] It is estimated that as many as two million more would have left had they not been stopped by the Viet Minh.[47] Neither the United States government nor Ngo Dinh Diem's State of Vietnam signed anything at the 1954 Geneva Conference. With respect to the question of reunification, the non-communist Vietnamese delegation objected strenuously to any division of Vietnam, but lost out when the French accepted the proposal of Viet Minh delegate Phạm Văn Đồng,[48] who proposed that Vietnam eventually be united by elections under the supervision of "local commissions".[49] The United States countered with what became known as the "American Plan," with the support of South Vietnam and the United Kingdom.[50] It provided for unification elections under the supervision of the United Nations, but was rejected by the Soviet delegation and North Vietnamese.[50]

The 1954 Geneva Accords concluded between France and the Viet Minh, allowing the latter's forces to regroup in the North whilst anti-communist groups settled in the South. Ho's Democratic Republic of Vietnam relocated to Hanoi and became the government of North Vietnam, a communist-led single-party state.

"Charles DeGaulle and Ho Chi Minh are hanged" by Students demonstration in Saigon, July 1964, observing the tenth anniversary of the July 1954 Geneva Agreements

Becoming president and Vietnam War

In February 1950, after the successful removal of the French border's blockade,[42] Ho met with Stalin and Mao Zedong in Moscow after the Soviet Union recognized his government. They all agreed that China would be responsible for backing the Viet Minh.[43] Mao's emissary to Moscow stated in August that China planned to train 60,000–70,000 Viet Minh in the near future.[44] The road to the outside world was open for Viet Minh forces to receive additional supplies which would allow them to escalate the fight against the French regime throughout Indochina. In 1954, after the crushing defeat of French Union forces at Battle of Dien Bien Phu, France was forced to give up its fight against the Viet Minh. The Viet Minh assassinated between 100,000 and 150,000 civilians during the war.[45]

The Viet Minh then collaborated with French colonial forces to massacre supporters of the Vietnamese nationalist movements in 1945-6.[39] The Communists eventually suppressed all non-Communist parties but failed to secure a peace deal with France. In the final days of 1946, after a year of diplomatic failure and many concessions in agreements such as the Dalat and Fontainebleau conferences, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam government found that war was inevitable. The bombardment of Haiphong by French forces at Hanoi only strengthened the belief that France had no intention of allowing an autonomous, independent state in Vietnam. On 19 December 1946, Ho, representing his government, declared war against the French Union, marking the beginning of the Indochina War.[40] The Vietnam National Army, by then mostly armed with machetes and muskets immediately attacked, waging assault against French positions, smoking them out with straw bundled with chili pepper, destroying armored vehicles with Lunge Mines and Molotov cocktails, holding off attackers by using roadblocks, mines and gravel. After two months of fighting, the exhausted Viet Minh forces withdrew after systematically destroying any valuable infrastructure. Ho was reported to be captured by a group of French soldiers led by Jean-Étienne Valluy at Việt Bắc in Operation Lea. The person in question turned out to be a Viet Minh advisor, who was later killed trying to escape. According to journalist Bernard Fall, after fighting the French for several years, Ho decided to negotiate a truce. The French negotiators arrived at the meeting site: a mud hut with a thatched roof. Inside they found a long table with chairs and were surprised to discover in one corner of the room a silver ice bucket containing ice and a bottle of good Champagne which should have indicated that Ho expected the negotiations to succeed. One demand by the French was the return to French custody of a number of Japanese military officers (who had been helping the Vietnamese armed forces by training them in the use of weapons of Japanese origin), in order for them to stand trial for war crimes committed during World War II. Ho replied that the Japanese officers were allies and friends whom he could not betray. Then he walked out, to seven more years of war.[41]

Ho Chi Minh (right) with Võ Nguyên Giáp (left) in Hanoi, 1945

In September 1945, a force of 200,000 Republic of China Army troops arrived in Hanoi to accept the surrender of the Japanese occupiers in northern Indochina. Ho made a compromise with their general, Lu Han, to dissolve the Communist Party and to hold an election which would yield a coalition government. When Chiang forced the French to give the French concessions in Shanghai back to China in exchange for withdrawing from northern Indochina, Ho Chi Minh had no choice but to sign an agreement with France on 6 March 1946, in which Vietnam would be recognized as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union. The agreement soon broke down. The purpose of the agreement, for both the French and Vietminh, was to drive out Chiang's army from North Vietnam. Fighting broke out in the North soon after the Chinese left.

On 2 September 1945, following Emperor Bảo Đại's abdication, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam,[37] under the name of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In Saigon, with violence between rival Vietnamese factions and French forces increasing, the British commander, General Sir Douglas Gracey, declared martial law. On 24 September, the Viet Minh leaders responded with a call for a general strike.[38]

Birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

However, it was noted that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam's first Congress had over two-third of its members come from non-Viet Minh political factions, some without election. NPV party leader Nguyễn Hải Thần was named Vice President.[35] They also held four out of ten ministerial positions.[36]

In 1946, when Ho traveled outside of the country, his subordinates imprisoned 2,500 non-communist nationalists and forced 6,000 others to flee.[31] Hundreds of political opponents were jailed or exiled in July 1946, notably members of the National Party of Vietnam and the Dai Viet National Party, after a failed attempt to raise a coup against the Vietminh government.[32][33] All rival political parties were hereafter banned and local governments were purged[34] to minimize opposition later on.

In 1946, future Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Hồ Chí Minh became acquainted when they stayed at the same hotel in Paris.[29][30] Ho Chi Minh offered Ben Gurion a Jewish home-in-exile in Vietnam.[29][30] Ben-Gurion declined, telling Ho Chi Minh: "I am certain we shall be able to establish a Jewish Government in Palestine."[29][30]

Several sources relate how,[25] during a power struggle in 1945, the Viet Minh killed members of rival groups, such as the leader of the Constitutional Party, Bui Quang Chieu, the head of the Party for Independence, and Ngo Dinh Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Khoi.[26] Purges and killings of Trotskyists were also documented in The Black Book of Communism. Hồ, when asked by a reporter about the murder of Ta Thu Thau, a leading Trotskyist and personal friend, answered matter-of-factly, "Anyone who does not follow the line determined by me will be smashed."[27][28]

Following the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.[22] Although he convinced Emperor Bảo Đại to abdicate, his government was not recognized by any country. He repeatedly petitioned American President Harry S. Truman for support for Vietnamese independence,[23] citing the Atlantic Charter, but Truman never responded.[24]

In April 1945 Ho met with the OSS agent Archimedes Patti and offered to provide intelligence to the allies provided that he could have "a line of communication with the allies."[20] The OSS agreed to this and later sent a military team of OSS members to train Ho's men and Ho himself was treated for malaria and dysentery by an OSS doctor.[21]

Ho Chi Minh (third from left, standing) with the OSS in 1945

In 1941, Ho returned to Vietnam to lead the Viet Minh independence movement. The "men in black" were a 10,000 member guerrilla force that operated with the Viet Minh.[19] He oversaw many successful military actions against the Vichy French and Japanese occupation of Vietnam during World War II, supported closely but clandestinely by the United States Office of Strategic Services, and later against the French bid to reoccupy the country (1946–54). He was jailed in China by Chiang Kai-shek's local authorities before being rescued by Chinese Communists.[14]:198 Following his release in 1943, he returned to Vietnam.

Independence movement

In 1938, he was allowed to return to China and served as an advisor to the Chinese Communist armed forces, which later forced China's government into exile on Taiwan.[6] Around 1940, Quốc began regularly using the name "Hồ Chí Minh",[6] a Vietnamese name combining a common Vietnamese surname (Hồ, ) with a given name meaning "He Who has been enlightened" (from Sino-Vietnamese : Chí meaning 'will' (or spirit) and Minh meaning "bright").[5]:248–49

He remained in Thailand, staying in the Thai village of Communist Party of Vietnam. In June 1931, he was arrested in Hong Kong. To reduce French pressure for extradition, it was (falsely) announced in 1932 that Nguyễn Ái Quốc had died.[14]: 57–58 The British quietly released him in January 1933. He made his way back to Moscow, Russia, where he studied and taught at the Lenin Institute.[18] He moved to the Soviet Union, where he spent several years recovering from tuberculosis. It is said that in this period he lost his positions in the Comintern because of a concern that he had betrayed the organization. His influence among his Vietnamese comrades faded significantly.

Chiang Kai-shek's 1927 anti-communist coup triggered a new era of exile for Hồ. He left Canton again in April 1927 and returned to Moscow, spending some of the summer of 1927 recuperating from tuberculosis in the Crimea, before returning to Paris once more in November. He then returned to Asia by way of Brussels, Berlin, Switzerland, and Italy, where he sailed to Bangkok, Thailand, arriving in July 1928. "Although we have been separated for almost a year, our feelings for each other do not have to be said in order to be felt", he reassured Minh in an intercepted letter.[16] In this period, he served as a senior agent undertaking Comintern activities in Southeast Asia.

, never denounced Nguyễn Ái Quốc. house arrest was responsible for Chau's capture. Chau, sentenced to lifetime Nguyễn Thượng Hiền Other sources claim that :126–128[5], William Duiker considered but rejected this hypothesis.Ho Chi Minh: A Life In [17]

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