Ho Chi Minh
Asia History

Research Report
Web Resources


    According to Time magazine, “Communist propaganda elevates Ho to the status of sage, national hero, saint. He has become the Strategist, the Theoretician, the Thinker, the Statesman, the Man of Culture, the Diplomat, the Poet, and the Philosopher. All these names are accompanied with adjectives like "legendary" and "unparalleled." He has become Ho the Luminary, Ho the Visionary. Peasants in the South build shrines to him. In the North old women bow before his altar, asking miracles for their suffering children.”

Historical Background

        Ho Chi Minh was not only the founder of Vietnamese communism he was the very soul of the revolution and of Vietnam's struggle for independence. He personal qualities of simplicity, integrity, and determination were widely admired, not only within Vietnam but elsewhere as well, even by many who strongly disagreed with his political beliefs. His successors rely heavily on his memory to keep alive the spirit of revolution in Vietnam.

Research Report

        Nguyen Tat Thanh better known as Ho Chi Minh, was born on May 19, 1880, the youngest of three. Born in the village of Kimlien, Annam (central Vietnam), he the son of an official who had resigned in protest against French domination of his country which was indirectly ruled by the French through the puppet emperor, Emperor Bao Dai.  “In 1911 he was employed as a cook on a French steamship liner and thereafter worked in London and Paris.  After World War I using the pseudonym Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the patriot), Ho engaged in radical activities and was in the founding group of the French Communist party.”
        The communist party in the Soviet Union summoned him to Moscow for training and, soon Ho was a covert agent for Moscow. He was often disguised as a Chinese journalist or a Buddhist monk.  He surfaced in Canton, Rangoon, and even Calcutta, where he organized a revolutionary movement among Vietnamese exiles. Often he would disappear to take care of his tuberculosis and other chronic diseases. As befit a professional conspirator, he employed a baffling assortment of aliases. Many times he was reported dead, but e would only relocate to a new location. In 1929 he assembled a few militants in Hong Kong and formed the Indochinese Communist Party. Local authorities cracked down on Communist activities, forcing him to leave, but he “returned in 1930 to found the Indochinese Communist party (ICP).”  On February 18, 1930, he drafted the following program for a conference of Vietnamese Communists who met in the British colony of Hong Kong:

“Workers peasants, soldiers, youth, pupils!   Oppressed and exploited compatriots!   The Communist Party of Indochina is founded. It is the party of the working class. It will help the proletarian class lead the revolution in order to struggle for all the oppressed and exploited people. From now on we must pin the Party, help it and follow it in order to implement the following slogans:

1. To overthrow French imperialism, feudalism, and the reactionary Vietnamese capitalist class.
2.. To make Indochina completely independent.
3. To establish a worker­peasant and soldier government.
4. To confiscate the banks and other enterprises belonging to the imperialists and put them under the control of the worker­peasant and soldier government.
5. To confiscate all of the plantations and property belonging to the imperialists and the Vietnamese reactionary capitalist class and distribute them to poor peasants.
6. To implement the eight­hour working day.
7. To abolish public loans and poll tax. To waive unjust taxes hitting the poor people.
8. To bring back all freedom to the masses.
9. To carry out universal education.
10. To implement equality between man and woman.

        He stayed in Hong Kong as representative of the Communist International. In June of 1931 Ho was arrested by British police.   He remained in there until he was released in 1933. He returned to the Soviet Union, where he spent several years recovering from tuberculosis. In 1938 he returned to China and served as an advisor with Chinese Communist armed forces. In 1940, Japan's legions swept into Indochina and French officials in Vietnam, loyal to the pro-German Vichy administration in France, collaborated with them. Nationalists in the region greeted the Japanese as liberators, but to Ho they were no better than the French. Slipping across the Chinese frontier into Vietnam--his first return home in three decades--he urged his disciples to fight both the Japanese and the French. There, in a remote camp, he founded the Viet Minh, an acronym for the Vietnam Independence League, from which he derived his nom de guerre, Ho Chi Minh--roughly "Bringer of Light."
        In August 1945, when Japan surrendered, the Vietminh seized power and proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh, now known by his final and best known pseudonym (which means the 'Enlightener'), became president.
        On December 19, 1946, the War of Resistance against the French forces began.  The French responded by seizing control of several cities.  Ho Chi Minh and his men had to withdraw from those cities and started to fight using guerrilla warfare tactics against the French Expeditionary Army.  Thus, the start of the Vietnam War.  On September 3, 1969, he died in Hanoi of heart failure. In his honor, after the Communist conquest of the South in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Historical Significance

        Ho was the leader of North Vietnam and guiding light in Vietnam's struggle for independence from France and unification.  He was more of a nationalist than a communist and successful expelled 3 Japan, France, and the United States from occupying his country.  He felt so strong about the struggle that he stated that the Vietnamese would lose many more men in the struggle, but that in the end it would make no difference: Vietnam would be free. He died a hero before the war ended.


Duiker, William J, Ho Chi Minh, New York: Hyperion, 2000.

Karnow, Stanley, Vietnam: A History, New York: Penguin Books, 1991.

O'Nan, Stewart, Editor, The Vietnam Reader, New York: Anchor Books, 1998.

Farish, Terry, If The Tiger: A Novel, South Royalton, VT:  Steerforth Press, 1995.

Sainteny, Jean, Ho Chi Minh and his Vietnam; a personal memoir. Translated from the French by Herma Briffault, Chicago: Cowles, 1972.

Web Resources

    On this page I found useful information about the beginning of the Vietnam Conflict.

    On this page I found information on Ho Chi Minh's involvement in battling the Frech Regime that once ruled Vietnam.

    On this page I found information about the death of Ho.

    On this page I found great facts about the early life of Ho Chi Minh

    ON this page I found information about the life of Ho Chi Minh

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