Thursday, July 2, 2015

Há»" Chí Minh (/ˈhoÊŠ ˈtʃiː ˈmɪn/; Northern Vietnamese pronunciation: [ho̞˧˩ tÍ¡É•i˧˥ mɪŋ˧], Southern Vietnamese pronunciation: [ho̞˧˩ t͡ɕɪj˧ mɪ̈n˧]; 19 May 1890 â€" 2 September 1969; Chinese: 胡志明), born Nguyá»…n Sinh Côn, or Nguyá»…n Sinh Cung, also known as Nguyá»…n Tất Thành and Nguyá»…n Ái Quá»'c, was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister (1945â€"55) and president (1945â€"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 Cá»™ng (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 causeâ€"a united, communist Vietnamâ€"until his death. After the war, Saigon, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam, was renamed Há»" Chí Minh City.

Early life

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh was born Nguyá»…n Sinh Côn (as appeared in a letter from the director of Collège Quá»'c học, dated August 7, 1908), or Nguyá»…n 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 Nguyá»…n Sinh Sắc's village of Làng Sen, Kim Liên, Nam Đàn, Nghệ An Province. He had three siblings: his sister Bạch Liên (or Nguyá»…n Thị Thanh), a clerk in the French Army; his brother Nguyá»…n Sinh Khiêm (or Nguyá»…n Tất Đạt), a geomancer and traditional herbalist; and another brother (Nguyá»…n 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. In addition to his studious endeavors, he was fond of adventure, and loved to fly kites and go fishing. Following Confucian tradition, at the age of 10, his father gave him a new name: Nguyá»…n Tất Thành ("Nguyá»…n the Accomplished").

Côn's father, Nguyá»…n Sinh Sắc, was a Confucian scholar and teacher, and later an imperial magistrate in the small remote district of Binh Khe (Qui NhÆ¡n). 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. In deference to his father, Côn received a French education, attended lycée in Huế, the alma mater of his later disciples, Phạm Văn Đá»"ng 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 Quá»'c học. However, a document from the Centre des archives d'Outre-mer in France shows that he was admitted to Collège Quá»'c học on August 8, 1908, which was several months after the anti-corvée demonstration (April 9â€"13, 1908)]. The exaggeration of revolutionary credentials in common among Vietnamese communist leaders, as shown in Tôn Đức Thắng's falsified participation in the 1919 Black Sea revolt. Later in life, Há»" 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 Harve 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 1912â€"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) 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. Among a series of menial jobs, he claimed to have worked for a wealthy family in Brooklyn between 1917â€"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".

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. It is claimed that Há»" trained as a pastry chef under Auguste Escoffier at the Carlton Hotel in the Haymarket, Westminster, but there is no evidence to support this. 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 Há»" Chí Minh worked there in 1913 as a waiter. Thành was also employed as a pastry boy on the Newhavenâ€"Dieppe ferry route in 1913.

Political education in France

Ho Chi Minh

From 1919â€"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. 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 Nguyá»…n Ái Quá»'c ("Nguyá»…n the Patriot") since before Nguyá»…n Tất Thành's arrival in Paris in 1919. 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. 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. Since Nguyá»…n Tất Thành was the public face behind the publication of the document (although it was written by Phan Văn Trường), he soon became known as Nguyá»…n Ái Quá»'c and first used the name in September during an interview with a Chinese newspaper correspondent.

In 1920, Quá»'c became a representative to the Congress of Tours of the Socialist Party of France, Quá»'c 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, Quá»'c wrote an article for a French magazine criticizing the use of English words by French sportswriters. 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

Ho Chi Minh

In 1923, Quá»'c left Paris for Moscow carrying a passport with the name Chen Vang, a Chinese merchant, where he was employed by the Comintern, studied at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, 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 1925â€"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. 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." She was 21 and he was 36. They married in the same place where Zhou Enlai had married earlier, and then lived in the residence of a Comintern agent, Mikhail Borodin.

Hoàng Văn Chí argued that in June 1925, Há»" betrayed Phan Bá»™i Châu, the famous leader of a rival revolutionary faction and his father's old friend, to French Secret Service agents in Shanghai for 100,000 piastres. A source states that Há»" later claimed he did it because he expected Châu's trial to stir up anti-French sentiment, and because he needed the money to establish a communist organization. In Ho Chi Minh: A Life, William Duiker considered but rejected this hypothesis. Other sources claim that Nguyá»…n Thượng Hiền was responsible for Chau's capture. Chau, sentenced to lifetime house arrest, never denounced Nguyá»…n Ái Quá»'c.

Chiang Kai-shek's 1927 anti-communist coup triggered a new era of exile for Há»". 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. In this period, he served as a senior agent undertaking Comintern activities in Southeast Asia.

He remained in Thailand, staying in the Thai village of Nachok, until late 1929 when he moved on to India, then Shanghai. In early 1930, in Hong Kong, Nguyá»…n Ái Quá»'c chaired a meeting with representatives from two Vietnamese communist parties in order to merge them into a unified organization, 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 Nguyá»…n Ái Quá»'c had died. 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. 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.

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. Around 1940, Quá»'c began regularly using the name "Há»" Chí Minh", a Vietnamese name combining a common Vietnamese surname (Há»", 胡) with a given name meaning "He Who has been enlightened" (from Sino-Vietnamese å¿— 明: Chí meaning 'will' (or spirit) and Minh meaning "bright").

Independence movement

Ho Chi Minh

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. 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 (1946â€"54). He was jailed in China by Chiang Kai-shek's local authorities before being rescued by Chinese Communists. Following his release in 1943, he returned to Vietnam.

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." 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.

Following the August Revolution (1945) organized by the Viet Minh, Ho became Chairman of the Provisional Government (Premier of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and issued a Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. 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, citing the Atlantic Charter, but Truman never responded.

Several sources relay how, 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. Purges and killings of Trotskyists were also documented in The Black Book of Communism. Há»", 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."

In 1946, future Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Há»" Chí Minh stayed at the same hotel in Paris, and became very friendly. Ho Chi Minh offered Ben Gurion a Jewish home-in-exile in Vietnam. Ben-Gurion turned the offer down, however, telling Ho Chi Minh: "I am certain we shall be able to establish a Jewish Government in Palestine."

In 1946, when Ho traveled outside of the country, his subordinates imprisoned 2,500 non-communist nationalists and forced 6,000 others to flee. 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. All rival political parties were hereafter banned and local governments were purged to minimize opposition later on.

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. They also held four out of ten ministerial positions.

Birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

On 2 September 1945, following Emperor Bảo Đại's abdication, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam, 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.

In September 1945, a force of 200,000 Republic of China Army troops arrived in Hanoi. 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 later traded Chinese influence in Vietnam for French concessions in Shanghai, 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.

"The last time the Chinese came, they stayed a thousand years. The French are foreigners. They are weak. Colonialism is dying. The white man is finished in Asia. But if the Chinese stay now, they will never go. As for me, I prefer to sniff French shit for five years than to eat Chinese shit for the rest of my life." â€" Ho Chi Minh, 1946

However, the historian Professor Liam Kelley of the University of Hawaii at Manoa on his Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog challenged the authenticity of the alleged quote where Ho Chi Minh said he would rather sniff French shit than eat Chinese shit, noting that Stanley Karnow provided no source for the extended quote attributed to Ho in his 1983 Vietnam: A History, and that the original quote was most likely forged by the Frenchman Paul Mus in his 1952 book Viêt-Nam: Sociologie d’une Guerre, Mus was a supporter of French colonialism in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh knew that there was no danger of Chinese troops staying in Vietnam, and in fact the Vietnamese at the time were busy spreading anti-French propaganda as evidence of French atrocities in Vietnam emerged, while Ho Chi Minh showed no qualms about accepting Chinese aid after 1949.

The Viet Minh then collaborated with French colonial forces to massacre supporters of the Vietnamese nationalist movements in 1945-6. 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. 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.

In February 1950, after the successful removal of the French border's blockade, 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. Mao's emissary to Moscow stated in August that China planned to train 60,000â€"70,000 Viet Minh in the near future. The road to the outside world was open for Viet Minh forces to receive additional supplies which 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 up to 150,000 civilians during the war.

Becoming president and Vietnam War

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.

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. It is estimated that as many as two million more would have left had they not been stopped by the Viet Minh. 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 Đá»"ng, who proposed that Vietnam eventually be united by elections under the supervision of "local commissions". The United States countered with what became known as the "American Plan," with the support of South Vietnam and the United Kingdom. It provided for unification elections under the supervision of the United Nations, but was rejected by the Soviet delegation and North Vietnamese.

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 Vănâ€"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.

The government launched "rent reduction" and "land reform" programs, which, according to Steven Rosefielde, were "aimed at exterminating class enemies." Declassified Politburo documents confirm that 1 in 1,000 North Vietnamese (i.e., about 14,000 people) were the minimum quota targeted for execution during the earlier "rent reduction" campaign; the number killed during the multiple stages of the considerably more radical "land reform" was probably many times greater. Lam Thanh Liem, a major authority on land issues in Vietnam, conducted multiple interviews in which communist cadres gave estimates for land reform executions ranging from 120,000 to 200,000. Such figures match the "nearly 150,000 houses and huts which were allocated to new occupants". A number of sources have suggested that about 30% of the "landlords" executed were actually communist party members. Landlords were arbitrarily classified as 5.68% of the population, but the majority were subject to less severe punishment than execution. Official records from the time suggest that 172,008 "landlords" were executed during the "land reform", of whom 123,266 (71.66%) were later found to be wrongly classified. Victims were reportedly shot, beheaded, and beaten to death; "some were tied up, thrown into open graves and covered with stones until they were crushed to death". The full death toll was even greater because victims' families starved to death under the "policy of isolation." As communist defector Le Xuan Giao explained: "There was nothing worse than the starvation of the children in a family whose parents were under the control of a land reform team. They isolated the house, and the people who lived there would starve. The children were all innocent. There was nothing worse than that. They wanted to see the whole family dead." Hoàng Văn Chí wrote that as many as 500,000 North Vietnamese may have died during the 1950s and 1960s as a result of the policies of Ho's government. In 1956, about 6,000 peasants in Nghệ An Province were allegedly massacred by PAVN government troops in response to a revolt against unbearable taxes.

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. 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, 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. 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, Tá»' Hữu, Lê Duẩn, Trường Chinh, and Phạm Văn Đá»"ng 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. This correspondence was a factor in the U.S. decision to tacitly support a coup against Diem in November later that year.

In late 1964, PAVN combat troops were sent southwest into officially neutral Laos and Cambodia. 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. 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".

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 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.


Ho Chi Minh

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. 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.

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"). 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".

Legacy and personality cult

Ho Chi Minh

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

The former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City on 2 July 1976 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.

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

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

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 VÄ©nh Long shortly after his death, in 1970, in Viet Cong-controlled areas.

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.

Publications about Ho's non-celibacy are banned in Vietnam, because the Party maintains that Ho had no romantic relationship with anyone in his lifetime in order to portray a puritanical image of Ho to the Vietnamese public, and advance the image of Ho as "the father of the [communist] revolution" and of a "celibate married only to the cause of revolution". A newspaper editor in Vietnam was dismissed from her post in 1991 for publishing a story about Tang Tuyet Minh. William Duiker's Ho Chi Minh: A Life (2000) presents much information on Ho's relationships. The government requested substantial cuts in the official Vietnamese translation of Duiker's book, which was refused. In 2002, the Vietnamese government suppressed a review of Duiker's book in the Far Eastern Economic Review. In 1987, UNESCO officially recommended to member states that they "join in the commemoration of the centenary of the birth of President Ho Chi Minh by organizing various events as a tribute to his memory", considering "the important and many-sided contribution of President Ho Chi Minh in the fields of culture, education and the arts" who "devoted his whole life to the national liberation of the Vietnamese people, contributing to the common struggle of peoples for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress." There's also a personality cult surrounding Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, Ho Chi Minh's father.


Ho Chi Minh

Further reading

Ho Chi Minh


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


  • 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.
  • Há»" chí Minh toàn tập. NXB chính trị quá»'c 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

Việt Minh, NLF and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

  • William J. Duiker. 1981. The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam. Westview Press.
  • Hoang Van Chi. 1964. From colonialism to communism. Praeger.
  • TrÆ°Æ¡ng NhÆ° Tảng. 1986. A Viet Cong Memoir. Vintage.

War in Vietnam

  • Frances FitzGerald. 1972. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. Little, Brown and Company.

American foreign policy

  • Henry A. Kissinger. 1979. White House Years. Little, Brown.
  • Richard Nixon. 1987. No More Vietnams. Arbor House Pub Co.

External links

Ho Chi Minh
  • The Drayton Court Hotel
  • Há»" Chí Minh obituary, The New York Times, 4 September 1969
  • TIME 100: Há»" Chí Minh
  • Ho Chi Minh selected writings
  • Há»" Chí Minh's biography
  • Satellite photo of the mausoleum on Google Maps
  • Final Tribute to Há»" from the Central Committee of the Vietnam Workers' Party
  • Bibliography: Writings by and about Há»" Chí Minh
  • Booknotes interview with William Duiker on Há»" Chí Minh: A Life, November 12, 2000

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