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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 established
Succeeded by Post 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
President of Vietnam

In office
2 September 1945 – 2 September 1969
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Tôn Đức Thắng
Prime Minister of Vietnam

In office
2 September 1945 – 20 September 1955
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Phạm Văn Đồng
Personal details
Born Nguyễn Sinh Cung
(1890-05-19)19 May 1890
Nghệ An Province, French Indochina
Died 2 September 1969(1969-09-02) (aged 79)
Hanoi, North Vietnam
Nationality Vietnamese
Political party Workers’ Party of Vietnam
Spouse(s) Tang Tuyet Minh[1][2][3]

Hồ Chí Minh (Northern Vietnamese pronunciation : [ho̞˧˩ t͡ɕi˧˥ mɪŋ˧], Southern Vietnamese pronunciation : [ho̞˧˩ t͡ɕɪj˧ mɪ̈n˧]; 19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969), born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Tất Thành, Nguyen That Thanh[4] and Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister (1945–1955) and president (1945–1969) 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; however, the name Sai Gon is still very widely used.

Early life

Ho Chi Minh (Chữ nho: 胡志明) was born 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, Nguyễn studied with his father before more formal classes with a scholar named Vuong Thuc Do. Nguyễn quickly mastered Chinese writing, a prequisite for any serious study of Confucianism, while honing his colloquial Vietnamese writing.[5] In addition to his studious endeavors, he was fond of adventure, and loved to fly kites and go fishing.[5] Following Confucian tradition, at the age of 10, his father gave him a new name: Nguyễn Tất Thành (“Nguyễn the Accomplished”). Cung’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 100 strokes of the cane as punishment for an infraction.[6] In deference to his father, Nguyễn received a French education, attended lycée in Huế, the alma mater of his later disciples, Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap.

First sojourn in France

It is believed that Nguyễn was involved in an anti-tax demonstration of poor peasants in Huế in 1907, which endangered his student status. He chose to leave school in order to find a chance to go abroad. Because his father had been dismissed, he had no longer a 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 in December. 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 1911, while working as the cook's helper on a ship, Nguyễn traveled to the United States. From 1912–13, he lived in New York (Harlem) and Boston, where he worked as a baker at the Parker House Hotel. 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.[7]

In the United Kingdom

At various points between 1913 and 1919, Nguyễn 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.[8] It is claimed that Nguyễn trained as a pastry chef under Auguste Escoffier at the Carlton Hotel in the Haymarket, Westminster, but there is no evidence to support this.[7][9] 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 Nguyễn worked there in 1913 as a waiter. Nguyễn was also employed as a pastry boy on the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry route in 1913.[10]

Political education in France

Ho Chi Minh, 1921

From 1919–23, while living in France, Nguyễn began to show an interest in politics, being influenced by his friend and Socialist Party of France comrade Marcel Cachin. Nguyễn claimed to have arrived in Paris from London in 1917, but the French police only had documents recording his arrival in June 1919.[7] He joined a group of Vietnamese nationalists in Paris whose leaders were Phan Chu Trinh and Phan Văn Trường, bearing a new name Nguyễn Ái Quốc (“Nguyễn the Patriot”). 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 Nguyễn, while also making him a symbol of the anti-colonial movement at home in Vietnam.[12]

In 1920, as a representative to the Congress of Tours of the Socialist Party of France, Quốc voted for the Third International and became 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, Nguyễn wrote an article for a French magazine criticizing the use of English words by French sportswriters.[13] 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.[13]

In the Soviet Union and China

In 1923, Nguyễn (Ho) left Paris for Moscow, where he was employed by the Comintern, studied at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East,[14][15] and participated in the Fifth Comintern Congress in June 1924, before arriving in Canton (present-day Guangzhou), China, in November 1924. 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, Tang Tuyet Minh (Zeng Xueming), 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]

Hoang Van Chi argued that in June 1925, Nguyễn betrayed Phan Boi Chau, 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.[17] A source states that Nguyễn later claimed he did it because he expected Chau's trial to stir up anti-French resentment, and because he needed the money to establish a communist organization.[17] In Ho Chi Minh: A Life, William Duiker repudiated this hypothesis. Other sources claim that Nguyen Thuong Hien was responsible for Chau's capture. Chau, sentenced to lifetime house arrest, never denounced Nguyễn Ái Quốc.

Chiang Kai-shek's 1927 anti-communist coup triggered a new era of exile for Nguyễn. 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. He remained in Thailand, staying in the Thai village of Nachok,[18] until late 1929 when he moved on to India, then Shanghai. In early 1930, in Hong Kong, Nguyễn Ái Quốc 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 Nguyễn Ái Quốc had died.[19] The British quietly released him in January 1933. He made his way back to Milan, Italy, where he worked in a restaurant. The restaurant now serves traditional Lombard cuisine and has a portrait of Ho Chi Minh on the wall of its main dining room.[20][21] 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.[7] Around 1940, Quốc began regularly using the name "Hồ Chí Minh",[7] a Vietnamese name combining a common Vietnamese surname (Hồ, 胡) with a given name meaning "He Who has been enlightened" (from Sino-Vietnamese 志 明: Chí meaning 'will' (or spirit) and Minh meaning "bright").[22]

Independence movement

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.[23] 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.[24] 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." [25] 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.[26] 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.[27] Although he convinced Emperor Bao Dai to abdicate, his government was not recognized by any country. He repeatedly petitioned American President Harry S. Truman for support for Vietnamese independence,[28] citing the Atlantic Charter, but Truman never responded.[29]

According to some sources,[30] during a power struggle in 1945, the Viet Minh killed members of rival groups, such as the leader of the Constitutional Party, the head of the Party for Independence, and Ngo Dinh Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Khoi.[31] Purges and killings of Trotskyists were also documented in The Black Book of Communism.

In 1946, future Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Ho Chi Minh stayed at the same hotel in Paris, and became very friendly.[32][33] Ho Chi Minh offered Ben Gurion a Jewish home-in-exile in Vietnam.[32][33] 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."[32][33]

In 1946, when Ho traveled outside of the country, his subordinates imprisoned 2,500 non-communist nationalists and forced 6,000 others to flee.[34] 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.[35][36] All rival political parties were hereafter banned and local governments were purged[37] 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 Nguyen Hai Than was named Vice President.[38] They also held four out of ten ministerial positions.[39]

Birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

On 2 September 1945, following Emperor Bao Dai's abdication, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam,[40] 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.[41] 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." — Ho Chi Minh, 1946[42]

The Viet Minh then collaborated with French colonial forces to massacre supporters of the Vietnamese nationalist movements in 1945-6.[43] 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.[44] 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-Etienne Valluy at Việt Bắc in Operation Lea which 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.[45]

In February 1950, after the successful removal of the French border's blockade,[46] 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.[47] Mao's emissary to Moscow stated in August that China planned to train 60–70,000 Viet Minh in the near future.[48] 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 assasinated up to 150,000 civilians during the war.[49]

Becoming president and Vietnam War

Ho Chi Minh (right) with Vo Nguyen Giap (left) in Hanoi, 1945

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

House of "Uncle Ho" in Hanoi

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.[50] It is estimated that as many as two million more would have left had they not been stopped by the Viet Minh.[51] 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 Pham Van Dong,[52] who proposed that Vietnam eventually be united by elections under the supervision of "local commissions".[53] The United States countered with what became known as the "American Plan," with the support of South Vietnam and the United Kingdom.[54] It provided for unification elections under the supervision of the United Nations, but was rejected by the Soviet delegation and North Vietnamese.[54]

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 Nhan Van-Giai Pham 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.[55] The government launched "rent reduction" and "land reform" programs, which, according to Steven Rosefielde, were "aimed at exterminating class enemies."[56] 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.[57] 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".[58] A number of sources have suggested that about 30% of the "landlords" executed were actually communist party members.[58][59][60][61][62] 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.[63] 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".[64] The full death toll was even greater because victims' families starved to death under the "policy of isolation."[65] 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."[66] Hoang Van Chi 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.[67] 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.[64] At the end of 1959, Le Duan 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 Vietcong'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.[68] 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,[69] 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.[70] 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, To Huu, Le Duan, Truong Chinh, and Pham Van Dong 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.[71] This correspondence was a factor in the U.S. decision to tacitly support a coup against Diem in November later that year.[71]

In late 1964, PAVN combat troops were sent southwest into officially neutral Laos and Cambodia.[72] 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.[73] 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 Danang, 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".[74]

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 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 Hochiminh 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.[citation needed]


Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi

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

With the outcome of the Vietnam War still in question, Ho Chi Minh died at 9:47 a.m. 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 Dinh Square in Hanoi despite his will requesting that he be cremated.[75] 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").[76] 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".


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

The former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City on 1 May 1975, shortly after its capture which officially ended the war. However, the name provokes strong anti-communist feeling in a substantial number of Vietnamese. Many Vietnamese, particularly those living abroad, continue to refer to the city as Sài Gòn.[77]

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 Victor 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 Vinh Long shortly after his death, in 1970, in Viet Cong-controlled areas.[78]

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. Activists, writers, reporters and commentators who criticize 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.[77] 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."[79] However, this was met with an uproar amongst some overseas Vietnamese, especially in North America, Europe and Australia, who criticize Ho as a Stalinist dictator and blamed Ho for the human rights abuses of his government.[80]

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[citation needed]. A newspaper editor in Vietnam was dismissed from her post in 1991 for publishing a story about Tang Tuyet Minh.[81][82] William Duiker's Ho Chi Minh: A Life (2000) presents much information on Ho's relationships.[83] The government requested substantial cuts in the official Vietnamese translation of Duiker's book, which was refused.[84] In 2002, the Vietnamese government suppressed a review of Duiker's book in the Far Eastern Economic Review.[84]


  1. Brocheux, Pierre , (2011), [1], Cambridge University Press, p. 39; ISBN 9781107622265
  2. Duiker, William J., (2000), [2], Hyperion, p. (no page # in source); ISBN 9781107622265
  3. Truong, Hoa Minh , (2011), [3], Strategic Book Group, p.82; ISBN 978-1-60911-161-8
  4. "Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969)". BBC News. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Duiker, William J. Ho Chi Minh: A Life. New York: Hyperion, 2000.
  6. Duiker, p. 41
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Quinn-Judge, Sophie. Hồ Chí Minh: The Missing Years, University of California Press, 2002; ISBN 0-520-23533-9
  8. "The Drayton Court Hotel". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  9. Forbes, Andrew, and Henley, David: Vietnam Past and Present: The North (Section on Ho Chi Minh in the United Kingdom). Chiang Mai. Cognoscenti Books, 2012. ASIN: B006DCCM9Q.
  10. Harries, David, Maritime Sussex, S.B. Publications, 1997.
  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. 13.0 13.1 Brocheux, Pierre. Ho Chi Minh: A Biography, p. 21, Cambridge University Press (2007).
  14. Obituary in The New York Times, 4 September 1969
  15. Cf. Duiker (2000), p.92
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Brocheux, P. pp. 39–40
    Duiker, p. 143.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Davidson, Phillip B., Vietnam at War: The History: 1946–1975 (1991), p. 4.
    Hoang Van Chi. From Colonialism to Communism (1964), p. 18.
  18. Brocheux, P., pp. 44 and xiii (2007)
  19. Brocheux, P., pp. 57–58.
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  22. Duiker, pp. 248–49.
  23. "Ho Chi Minh Was Noted for Success in Blending Nationalism and Communism", The New York Times
  24. Brocheux, p. 198
  25. Interview with Archimedes L. A. Patti, 1981,
  26. Interview with OSS officer Carleton Swift, 1981,
  27. Zinn, Howard (1995). A People's History of the United States: 1492–present. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 460. ISBN 0-06-092643-0. 
  28. "Collection of Letters by Ho Chi Minh". Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  29. Zinn, Howard (1995). A People's History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 461. ISBN 0-06-092643-0. 
  30. The Black Book of Communism
  31. Joseph Buttinnger, Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled, vol 1 (New York: Praeger, 1967)
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 "Ben-gurion Reveals Suggestion of North Vietnam’s Communist Leader". 8 November 1966. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 "ISRAEL WAS EVERTHING". 21 June 1987. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  34. Currey, Cecil B. Victory At Any Cost (Washington: Brassey's, 1997), p. 126
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  44. vi:Lời kêu gọi toàn quốc kháng chiến
  45. Fall, Bernard. Last reflections on a War, p. 88. New York: Doubleday (1967).
  46. vi:Chiến dịch Biên giới
  47. Luo, Guibo. pp. 233–36
  48. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Chronology", p. 45.
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  59. Nhan Dan, 13 August 1957.
  60. Time, 1 July 1957, p. 13, says they were given a proper burial.
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  65. Nhan Vhan, 5 November 1956: "In the agrarian reform, illegal arrests, imprisonments, investigations (with barbarous torture), executions, requisitions of property, and the quarantining of landowners’ houses (or houses of peasants wrongly classified as landowners), which left innocent children to die of starvation, are not exclusively due to the shortcomings of the leadership, but also due to the lack of a complete legal code. If the cadres had felt that they were closely observed by the god of justice... calamities might have been avoided for the masses." Nhan Vhan was one of the best-known opposition periodicals that was allowed during the three-month period of relative intellectual freedom in the fall of 1956, modeled on Mao's "Hundred Flowers" campaign.
  66. Turner, Robert F. "Expert Punctures 'No Bloodbath' Myth". Human Events, 11 November 1972.
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  • Bernard B. Fall, ed., 1967. Ho Chi Minh on Revolution and War, Selected Writings 1920–1966. 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.
  • 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
  • Ton That Thien, Was Ho Chi Minh a Nationalist? Ho Chi Minh and the Comintern Information and Resource Centre, Singapore, 1990

The 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.
  • Truong Nhu Tang. 1986. A Viet Cong Memoir. Vintage.

The 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

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

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