Ho Chi Minh
Date of Birth: 19 May 1890
Date of Death: 2 Sep 1969
Occupation during Vietnam War: Prime Minister (1945-1955)/President (1945-1969)
Significance/Contribution to the War
Spending much of his life away from Vietnam proved to be the foundation for Ho Chi Minh’s education. He learned about Western culture and politics, and embraced communism while abroad. In France, he cemented his belief that anticolonial nationalism and socioeconomic revolution were inseparable. To break free from colonial rulers, it was necessary for the native people to establish socioeconomic standards that did not rely upon those of the European nations that for so long lorded over them.
Upon returning to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh independence movement beginning in 1941, first against Japanese occupation (and the Vichy French collaborators) and then against the French following the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam on 2 Sep 1945. For this he is regarded as the father of his country.
As opposed to the First Indochina War, Ho Chi Minh was not as active in policy during the Vietnam War. His failing health had much to do with this.
- 1920 – Founded the French Communist Party
- Organized the Thanh Nien Cach Menh Dong Chi Hoi (Revolutionary Youth League) to advocate and campaign for Vietnamese indepedence
- 1930 – Helped to organize the Indochinese Communist Party
- 1941 – Founded the Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Moi (League for Vietnamese Independence), or Viet Minh
- Worked with the Allied powers against the Japanese during WWII
- The name Ho Chi Minh is a pseudonym meaning “He Who Enlightens”. He was born Nguyen Sinh Cung and went by a number of other names as well.
Disagreement among scholars still exists around a few aspects of Ho Chi Minh’s life and beliefs. The main controversy is whether communism was a means to an end for him in which nationalism truly was the foundation for his actions, or whether nationalism was a convenient line. Another point of contention is the extent to which he was involved in the planning of the 1968 General Offensive-General Uprising (otherwise known as the Tet Offensive).
- Dictionary of the Vietnam War edited by James Olson
- Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War edited by Stanley I. Kutler
- The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War edited by Spencer C. Tucker
- Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War: Documents and Essays edited by Robert McMahon (transcript of the Proclamation of Independence of the DRV)
- Image: AFP/Getty
- Ho Chi Minh: A Life by William J. Duiker
- Ho by David Halberstam
- Ho Chi Minh on Revolution: Selected Writings 1920-66 edited by Bernard Fall
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