Ho Chi Minh

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Ho Chi Minh

(hô chē mĭn), 1890–1969, Vietnamese nationalist leader, president of North Vietnam (1954–69), and one of the most influential political leaders of the 20th cent. His given name was Nguyen That Thanh. In 1911 he left Vietnam, working aboard a French liner. He later lived in London and in the United States during World War I before going to France near the end of the war. There he became involved in the French socialist movement and was (1920) a founding member of the French Communist party. He studied revolutionary tactics in Moscow, and, as a Comintern member, was sent (1925–27) to Guangzhou, China. While in East Asia, he organized Vietnamese revolutionaries and founded the Communist party of Indochina (later the Vietnamese Communist party). He also established a training institute that attracted many Vietnamese students, where he taught a unique blend of Marxism-Leninism and Confucian-inspired virtues. In the 1930s, Ho lived mainly in Moscow and China. He finally returned to Vietnam after the outbreak of World War II, organized a Vietnamese independence movement (the Viet MinhViet Minh
, officially Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh [League for the Independence of Vietnam], a coalition of Communist and nationalist groups that opposed the French and the Japanese during World War II.
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), and raised a guerrilla army to fight the Japanese.

Ho proclaimed the republic of Vietnam in Sept., 1945, and later agreed that it would remain an autonomous state within the French Union. Differences with the French, however, soon led (1946) to an open break. Warfare lasted until 1954, culminating in the French defeat at DienbienphuDienbienphu
or Dien Bien Phu
, former French military base, N Vietnam, near the Laos border. It was the scene in 1954 of the last great battle between the French and the Viet Minh forces of Ho Chi Minh in Indochina. The French occupied the base by parachute drop in Nov.
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. After the Geneva Conference (1954), which divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel, Ho became the first president of the independent republic of North Vietnam. The accord also provided for elections to be held in 1956, aimed at reuniting North and South Vietnam; however, South Vietnam, backed by the United States, refused to hold the elections. The reason was generally held to be that Ho's popularity would have led to reunification under Communist rule. In succeeding years, Ho consolidated his government in the North. He organized a guerrilla movement in the South, the National Liberation Front, or Viet CongViet Cong
, officially Viet Nam Cong San [Vietnamese Communists], People's Liberation Armed Forces in South Vietnam. The term was originally applied by Diem's regime to Communist troops (about 10,000) left in hideouts in South Vietnam after the Geneva Conference of 1954,
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, which was technically independent of North Vietnam, to win South Vietnam from the successive U.S.-supported governments there (see Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
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).

Bibliography

See biographies by J. Lacouture (1968), D. Halberstam (1971), J. Sainteny (1972), C. Fenn (1974), D. O. Lloyd (1986), and W. J. Duiker (2000).

Ho Chi Minh

 

(real name, Nguyen Tat Thanh; for many years used various party pseudonyms, including Nguyen Ai Quoc; adopted the name Ho Chi Minh in early 1942). Born May 19, 1890, in the village of Kiem Lin, Nghe An Province; died Sept. 3, 1969, in Hanoi. Figure in the Vietnamese and international communist movements and in the national liberation movement. Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Vietnam (WPV). President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV).

The son of a rural teacher, Ho studied at the Lycée Quoc Hoc in Hue and subsequently taught French and Vietnamese. In late 1911 he left Vietnam as a galley hand aboard a French ship and from 1912 to 1916 was a sailor and deckhand on French and British ships. He lived in England and in the USA from 1916 to 1919, when he took up residence in France. During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20, Ho submitted to the participants at the conference a memorandum on behalf of Vietnamese patriots that demanded independence for the peoples of Indochina. In 1920 he attended the Tours Congress of the French Socialist Party, at which the French Communist Party was formed; Ho immediately joined the new party. He took part in the Fifth Congress of the Comintern in 1924, where he delivered a speech on the colonial question.

In 1925, Ho organized the Fellowship of Revolutionary Youth of Vietnam from existing communist groups in Vietnam. Under his leadership, Vietnam’s communist organizations were united in the Communist Party of Indochina in 1930. Repeatedly arrested and imprisoned for his revolutionary activities, Ho was sentenced to death in absentia in 1929. From 1934 to 1938 he studied at the Communist University for Workers of the East and worked in Moscow; he took part in the seventh Congress of the Comintern in 1935.

In 1941, Ho returned to Vietnam where, during World War II, the revolutionary movement against the French colonialists and the Japanese occupying forces developed under his leadership. In May of that year he organized the League of Struggle for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh), which united the patriotic forces of the country; Ho was elected the league’s chairman.

After the victory of the August Revolution of 1945 in Vietnam, Ho served as chairman of the Provisional Government of the DRV from August 1945 to March 1946. He became president of the DRV in March 1946 and concurrently held the post of prime minister of the DRV from 1946 to 1955: In 1951 the Second Party Congress adopted a resolution changing the name of the Communist Party of Indochina to the Workers’ Party of Vietnam (renamed the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1976), and Ho was elected chairman of the Central Committee of the WPV, a post he held until his death. He was honorary chairman of the Lien Viet from 1946 to 1955 and became honorary chairman of the Fatherland Front of Vietnam in 1955. While chairman of the Central Committee of the WPV, he served concurrently as general secretary of the Central Committee of the WPV from 1956 to 1960. Led by the Central Committee of the WPV under Ho, the Vietnamese people waged a struggle against the imperialist aggression of the USA that resulted in victory for the Vietnamese patriots.

Ho consistently supported the strengthening and development of friendship between the Vietnamese and Soviet peoples. In his testament he called on the party and people to fight for a united, independent, and prosperous Vietnam, for solidarity in their ranks, and for a cohesive international communist movement based on Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism.

Ho wrote on the working-class and national liberation movements, the development of the Vietnamese revolution, and the struggle of the Vietnamese people for the liberation and unification of the country and for the building of socialism in Vietnam. His works strongly emphasized the enormous influence exerted by the October Revolution in Russia on the development of the Vietnamese revolution and stressed the importance of the Soviet experience in the building of socialism in Vietnam.

Ho was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1967. At the 1976 session of the National Assembly, which adopted a resolution uniting the country and forming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the city of Saigon was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

WORKS

In Russian translation:
Izbr. stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1959.
O Lenine, leninizme i nerushimoi sovetsko-v’etnamskoi druzhbe. Moscow, 1970.

Ho Chi Minh

original name Nguyen That Tan. 1890--1969, Vietnamese statesman; president of North Vietnam (1954--69). He headed the Vietminh (1941), which won independence for Vietnam from the French (1954)