Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician. He led the Việt Minh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945. He was a key figure in the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
Ho Chi Minh Early Life
Ho Chi Minh was born on May 19, 1890, in the village of Kim Lien in Annam, in central Vietnam.
His father was a Confucian scholar and teacher and later an imperial magistrate in the small remote district of Binh Khe.
Ho was the youngest of three children. As a young child, Ho studied with his father before more formal classes.
He quickly mastered Chinese writing, a prerequisite for any serious study of Confucianism, while honing his colloquial Vietnamese writing.
Ho Chi Minh attended the prestigious National Academy School in Hue, but did not complete his graduation.
Ho Chi Minh World Tour
For a short time, he worked as a teacher in a South Annam fishing town before travelling to Saigon, where he got training as a kitchen boy and pastry cook’s assistant and took a course in navigation.
He worked as a kitchen helper on a French steamer, which arrived in Marseille, France on 5 July 1911.
There, he applied for the French Colonial Administrative School, but his application was rejected.
So he decided to begin traveling the world by working on ships and visited many countries from 1911 to 1917.
After the World War I, he moved to Paris and was active in socialist organisations into the 1920s.
From 1919 to 1923, Ho began to show an interest in politics while living in France. His friend and Socialist Party of France comrade Marcel Cachin greatly influenced him.
During this period, he began to write journal articles and short stories as well as running his Vietnamese nationalist group.
In 1923, he left Paris for Moscow carrying a passport with the name Chen Vang, a Chinese merchant.
He visited the Soviet Union to study revolutionary tactics and was sent to China to spread communism throughout Asia.
Ho Chi Minh and Viet Minh
In 1930, Ho Chi Minh founded the Indochinese Communist Party, and spent almost a decade living in China and the Soviet Union.
Ho was in Vietnam during World War II, where he organized the league for the Independence of Vietnam, called the Viet Minh.
From the period (1942–43), he was jailed by the anti-communist Nationalist Chinese, during which time he took the name, Ho Chi Minh (“He Who Enlightens”).
He was in exile for nearly 30 years, so he could speak fluently as well as read and write professionally in French, English, Russian, Cantonese and Mandarin as well as his mother tongue Vietnamese.
After World War II, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam declaring himself as the President.
Ho Chi Minh led the Viet 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 Dien Bien Phu.
He officially stepped down from power in 1965 due to health problems.
Le Duan was officially named party leader in 1960, leaving Ho to function in a secondary role as head of state and a member of the Politburo.
Ho Chi Minh Final Years and Death
“Uncle Ho,” is the symbol of the communists’ willingness to sacrifice and to endure a war of attrition.
Ho Chi Minh remained in Hanoi during his final years. He demanded the unconditional withdrawal of all non-Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam.
By 1969, with negotiations still dragging on, his health began to deteriorate from multiple health problems, including diabetes which prevented him from participating in further active politics.
In 1969 six years before the war ended, 79 years Ho died of heart failure at his home in Hanoi at 9:47 on the morning of 2 September 1969.
Government embalmed his body and put it on display in a mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi. Government did not honor his wish of cremation.
Many across the country tearfully mourned his death. Newspaper initially reported his death day on September 3.
Actually he died on September 2, but government changed it, so that it coincided with the National Day as celebrated in Vietnam.
Recently, the government changed his official death day to September 2. Government put his embalmed body on display in a granite mausoleum modeled after Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow.
Ho Chi Minh Legacy
In Vietnam today, Ho Chi Minh’s image appears on the front of all Vietnamese currency notes.
The new Communist government renamed former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, as Ho Chi Minh City on 2 July 1976.
Historian considered Ho Chi Minh as one of the most influential leaders in the world. Time magazine listed him in the list of 100 Most Important People of the Twentieth Century(Time 100) in 1998.