Ho Chi Minh
|Famous as||Former PM and President of Democratic Republic of Vietnam|
|Born on||19 May 1890|
|Born in||Hoang Tru|
|Died on||02 September 1969|
|Works & Achievements||Established the communist governed Democratic of Vietnam|
Ho Chí Minh was born on 19 May 1890, in Hoang Tru Village, his mother’s hometown in Central Vietnam. His original name was Nguyen Sinh Cung, which means “Nguyen will be victorious”. His father, Nguyen Sinh Sac was an imperial magistrate in a small remote district Binh Khe, but he eventually resigned, reportedly to protest growing French domination over his country. As a child, Ho Chí Minh attended the prestigious National Academy in Hue but, possibly in response to his father's political views abandoned schooling before graduation. He later left his studies and chose to teach at Duc Thanh School in Phan Thiet. Ho could not understand how a country like France with the expression "Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!" could oppress Vietnam. At that time, the French were building their own schools hospitals, roads in the region.
On 5 June 1911, Ho Chí Minh signed on as a cook's apprentice on a French steamer Amiral Latouche-Treville. Ho spent most of his free time in public libraries reading history books and newspapers to familiarize himself with Western society and politics. In 1912, Ho changed the company and sailed to the United States of America, as an apprentice. After reaching New York, Ho Chi Minh joined as a baker at the Parker House Hotel. It is believed that during his stay in the US Ho Chi Minh contacted Korean nationalists.
In 1913, Ho Chi Minh moved to London and stayed there for the next six to seven years. He is reported to have worked as a chef at the Drayton Court Hotel, on The Avenue, West Ealing. 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, “Ho worked here in 1913 as a waiter”.
Ho Chi Minh again moved back to France and presented a petition to the Versailles Peace Conference demanding “independence for Vietnam” in accordance with the principle of self-determination. Ho Chi Minh became a well-known face in the radical circles and in 1920 became one of the founding members of the “Parti Communiste Français” French Communist Party. During the next three years, he actively worked among radical exile groups from the colonies who were living in France.
In 1923, Ho left for Moscow, where he studied Marxist doctrine and worked at Comintern headquarters. He at the time was suffering from tuberculosis. Ho Chi Minh again sailed back to Paris before traveling to Bangkok, Thailand. He reached Bangkok in July 1928. After spending few days there, Ho Chi Minh moved on to Hong Kong. In June 1931, he was arrested in Hong Kong by the British police and imprisoned for two years. After his release in 1933, Ho Chi Minh made his way back to the Soviet Union, where he spent several more years recovering from tuberculosis. In 1938, Ho Chi Minh returned to China and where he briefly visited Chinese Communist headquarters in Yan'an and also served as a guerrilla training instructor in central China before joining as an adviser with Chinese Communist armed forces.
Ho Chi Minh’s real assignment was to establish a communist movement in French Indo-china. In 1941, Ho returned to Vietnam to lead the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam). Within months, Ho recruited radical Vietnamese patriots living in exile in South China into a new revolutionary organization. In conformity with prevailing Leninist theory and Ho's own proclivities, the league's program combined social revolution with nationalism and soon became a leading force within patriotic circles in Vietnam.
In August 1945, Viet Minh forces launched a revolution to overthrow Emperor Bao Dai and seized power throughout Vietnam. They victoriously occupied Hanoi and on 2 September a Democratic Republic of Vietnam was created with Ho Chi Minh as President. Although democracy was established in Vietnam, no other country recognized it. He repeatedly petitioned American President Harry Truman for support for Vietnamese independence, citing the Atlantic Charter, but unfortunately, Truman never responded.
In September 1945, China sent around 200,000 personnel to Hanoi. In an effort to drive out the Chinese forces, Ho Chí Minh on 6 March 1946 signed an agreement with France. The agreement stated that from now onwards, Vietnam would be recognized as an autonomous state in the Indo-Chinese Federation and the French Union. The agreement helped in sending back the Chinese troops but at the same time led to fighting between Vietnam and France. A troop of French soldiers led by Jean-Etienne Valluy had almost captured Ho Chi Minh but he somehow managed to escape.
Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the Ho Chi Minh-led Vietnam government. In February 1950, Ho Chi Minh met Stalin and Mao in Moscow and concluded that Viet Minh would be supported by Soviet and China. Although support from China enabled Ho Chi Minh to escalate the fight against France, Ho decided to negotiate a truce. France also sounded similarly but it could not be materialized as French negotiator demanded Minh to handover all the Japanese military officers who had been helping the Vietnamese armed forces by training them. Ho Chi Minh, without any second thought replied that the Japanese officers were allies and friends whom he could not betray. In 1954, after the important defeat of French paratroopers at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, France was forced to give up its empire in Indo-China.
After 1954, Ho Chi Minh continued to serve as the President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam but delegated the regular responsibilities to trusted lieutenants such as Pham Van Dong, Truong Chinh, and Le Duan.
In the 1954 Geneva Accords, signed between France and the Vietminh, stated that communist forces regroup in the North and non-communist forces regroup 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. Convinced of the importance of Soviet friendship, he was also sensitive to the brooding presence of China and attempted to maintain cordial relations with the leaders of both communist states.
During the 1960s, he appeared to decline in health and his role was reduced to occasional public appearances. He died of an apparent heart attack on 3 September 1969, at the age of seventy-nine. Six years after his death, when the communists were successful, North Vietnamese tanks showed a poster with the following quote, "You are always marching with us, Uncle Ho".
Ho Chi Minh Timeline:
1890: May 19: Birth of Ho Chi Minh
1911: June 5: Joined as a cook’s apprentice
1912: Ho changed company and moved to the US
1913: Ho shifted to London
1914: Ho Chi Minh formed the French Communist Party
1920: He left for Moscow, Soviet Union, where he studied Marxist doctrine
1928: Ho traveled to Bangkok, Thailand
1931: Visit to Hong Kong, where he was arrested and imprisoned for two years
1938: Ho Chi Minh returned to China and served as a guerilla war instructor
1941: Ho returned to Vietnam to lead the Viet Minh
1945: Viet Minh toppled Emperor Bao Dai
1945: China sent around large number of troops to Hanoi
1946: March 6: Signed an agreement with France declaring Vietnam as autonomous state
1950: Ho Chi Minh visited Moscow to meet Stalin and Mao
1954: France lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
1954: Geneva Accords signed
1969: 2 September: Seventy nine year old Ho Chi Minh passed away