He adopted the name of Ho Chi Min meaning "He Who has been enlightened" and returned to Vietnam in 1941 after 30 years abroad. Ho spoke fluently in French, English, Russian and Chinese and was a capable leader who fought tirelessly for Vietnamese independence. Ho Chi Minh led the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN or North Vietnamese Army) and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
Facts about Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh was born Nguyen Sinh Cung, aka Nguyen Ai Quoc, but in later life adopted the name of Ho Chi Minh meaning "He Who has been enlightened".
He was born on May 19, 1890, in Kim Lien, a small village in Annam in Central Vietnam. The country of Vietnam had been under French control since 1862 and had divided the country into three separate states consisting of Cochin China (South Vietnam), Annam (Central Vietnam), and Tonkin (North Vietnam).
He was educated at a local school and then in 1907 went on to study at the Franco-Vietnamese academy in Hue. After graduating he briefly worked as a schoolteacher in the town of Phan Thiet.
In 1911 Ho left Vietnam. He had decided to travel and made his way to Marseille, France. He visited various cities in Europe, including London, where he witnessed the outbreak of World War I (1914 - 1918). Moving back to Paris, France in 1917 he became became involved in anti-colonial and communist activism.
Ho helped to found the Association for Annamite Patriots, composed of Vietnamese living in France who opposed the colonial rule of Vietnam by the French.
After WW1, Ho wrote a petition for the independence of Vietnam at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919 at Versailles and, although the petition was failed to be recognized, his patriotic efforts gained recognition in Vietnam.
Ho became a founding member of the newly created French Communist Party, founded in December 1920, supporting the ideas of Vladimir Lenin following the Russian Revolution of 1917. He strongly supported to the principles of Communism, that was based on the collective ownership of property and the organization of labor. He admired the efforts of Joseph Stalin who was transforming the USSR peasant society into an industrial and military superpower.
In 1923 Ho traveled to the USSR and met with influential communists, including Stalin and Trotsky, and was trained in revolutionary and organizational techniques as an agent of the Comintern. (Comintern advocated world communism and promoted the spread of revolution and communism abroad).
In 1925 Ho traveled to China with Mikhail Borodin, a prominent Comintern agent, to promote the Chinese Nationalist revolution. During this time Ho formed the Thanh Nien, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League, composed of Vietnamese exiles living in China and dedicated to revolution in Vietnam. WhilST operating in China, Ho was known by the Chinese name of Sung Man Cho.
In 1927 Chiang Kai-shek, a nationalist party leader, launched a violent anti-communist purge. In response Mao Zedong, a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party led the Autumn Harvest Uprising, the first armed uprising by the Communists. The uprising failed and Ho Chi Minh was forced to leave China.
Ho fled to the Soviet Union but, as an agent of the Comintern, made frequent trips back to China to recruit Vietnamese exiles as members for Thanh Nien. The Thanh Nien, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League, was designed to prepare the ground for a revolutionary armed struggle against the French occupation in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh arrived in Hong Kong in 1929 in a bid to organize communist revolutionaries across Asia. In 1930, whilst in Hong Cong, Ho founded the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), later called the Communist Party of Indochina (ICP).
In 1930 and 1931 the first Vietnamese peasant revolts, organized by communists, erupted in Vietnam but were suppressed by French forces in collaboration with Ngo Dinh Diem.
In 1931 the British authorities in Hong Cong, tipped off by the French, arrested Ho Chi Minh for his involvement in revolutionary activities. After a twenty-month prison term at Victoria Prison in Hong Cong, Ho was released and returned to Moscow.
In 1937 China was subjected to attacks by the Japanese and the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) broke out. In 1938 Ho Chi Minh, again acting as a Comintern agent, traveled to China to serve as a military advisor for the Chinese Communist Party.
In September 1940, the Japanese invaded French Indochina, the federation of states controlled by the French consisting of the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In the same year Germany invaded France. The Second World War (1939 - 1945) drastically weakened the grip of France on Indochina making colonial governance from France impossible.
As the Japanese forces moved into Vietnam in 1940, the French colonial authorities agreed to allow Japanese occupation under the condition that the French colonial administration not be dismantled.
Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam in 1941 and formed the communist Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam) to counter the Japanese invasion of Vietnam. It was around this time that he adopted the name 'Ho Chi Minh meaning "He Who has been enlightened".
The Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam) was formed in 1941 to counter the Japanese invasion of Vietnam. The Viet Minh, led by Ho, were totally committed to Vietnamese independence
In July 1942 he returned to China to meet the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in attempt to gain support against Japan. Just after he entered China he was arrested by the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) authorities in China and briefly imprisoned before he was rescued by Chinese communists. He then returned to Vietnam.
In July and August 1945, the Allied Powers met in Berlin for the Potsdam Conference and agreed to partition Vietnam into a Northern and a Southern region.
At the end of WW2 in 1945 Japan handed Vietnam to the Viet Minh. French troops arrived back in Vietnam to re-establish French rule.
In September 1945 Ho Chi Minh declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and became its first prime minister
In 1946 war broke out between the French and the Viet Minh.
Between 1946 and 1954, Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh to fight against the French for control of Vietnam, known as the Indochina War. In 1949 Communist China was established and following negotiations with Ho Chi Minh allowed the Viet Minh to train in China, away from French attacks.
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu (March 13, 1954 – May 7, 1954) ended the French effort to retain Vietnam in the Indochina War.
The Geneva Accords of 1954 were designed to secure peace in Vietnam and organize an interim government in Vietnam pending elections in 1956 to reunify the country and Vietnam’s transition to independence
Ho Chi Minh became the first president of communist North Vietnam (1954-1969) and the leader of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN or North Vietnamese Army) and Ngo Dinh Diem proclaimed the formation of the Republic of Vietnam and became President of South Vietnam.
The United States promised $100 million worth of aid to the anti-communist Vietnam, in line with the US Policy of Containment to restrict the spread of communism.
Ngo Dinh Diem cancelled the General Election that had been agreed in the Geneva Accords, Ho Chi Minh and his followers began their mission to reunify Vietnam. Ho organized a guerrilla army known as the Viet Cong who formed armed guerrilla groups to fight in the jungles of South Vietnam.
The Viet Cong were Vietnamese supporters of the communist National Liberation Front (NLF or National Front for the Liberation of the South) who used guerrilla warfare in South Vietnam between 1959 and 1975 in an attempt to topple President Ngo Dinh Diem and his American backers.
The Vietnam War (1955 - 1975) started on November 1, 1955. Fighting began between Diem's forces in South Vietnam against the communist North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong guerrillas.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower increased aid and sent hundreds of military advisors to train South Vietnam's army in order to keep South Vietnam from falling under the control of communism.
Despite the assistance to South Vietnam from the United States, the Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong gained more power and influence because many Vietnamese opposed Ngo Dinh Diem's corrupt, anti-communist government and its anti Buddhist laws.
The 'Buddhist Crisis' started on June 11, 1963 in which Buddhist monks committed suicide by burning themselves to death as a public protest to the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government led by Ngo Dinh Diem.
The 'Buddhist Crisis' and Diem's brutal dictatorship convinced President Kennedy that Diem would never be able to unite the South Vietnamese against communism. Vietnamese generals launched a US-backed military coup and seized power on November 1, 1963.
On November 2, 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated. Diem was replaced by Nguyen Van Thieu, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of South Vietnam. The new government grew increasingly weak and unstable and the USA became even more involved in the Vietnam War.
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident occurred on August 2, 1964 when the American destroyer USS Maddox came under attack by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Lyndon B. Johnson signed Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, on August 10, 1964, giving President Johnson a free hand to escalate the war in Vietnam.
The first US combat troops were sent to Vietnam in March 1965 and began a full military campaign against the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War would last until 1973.
On January 30, 1968, during Tet the Vietnamese new year, a massive surprise attack, master-minded by Ho Chi Minh, was launched by the Vietnamese. The surprise attack became known as the 'Tet Offensive' in which the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong guerrilla forces began a coordinated series of ferocious attacks on more than 100 south Vietnamese towns.
On March 16, 1968, the My Lai Massacre saw the mass killing of unarmed South Vietnamese people most of whom were old men, women and children. When news of the massacre emerged in November 12, 1969, together with details of a US cover-up and attempted whitewash, public opinion in America shifted against fighting in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh did not live to see the end of the Vietnam War. Ho Chi Minh died on September 2, 1969 at the age of seventy-nine years old.
In 1975, North Vietnam launched a full-scale invasion of South Vietnam and toppled the South Vietnamese government. Vietnam was officially united under a communist government in 1976.
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