Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh, originally named Nguyễn Sinh Cung, also known as Nguyễn Tất Thành, Nguyễn Ái Quốc (a name used by other individuals as well), Lư Thụy, Hồ Quang (among others) and popularly called Bác Hồ (uncle Hồ) in Vietnam (May 19, 1890 - September 2, 1969) was a Vietnamese revolutionary, statesman, Prime Minister (1954) and President (1954 - 1969) of North Vietnam.
Hồ was born in Kim Lien, district of Nam Dan, province of Nghe An, Vietnam. Following Confucian traditions, he received the name Nguyễn Tất Thành at age 10. Hồ had two siblings, his brother Nguyen Tat Dat (or Ca Khiem), a geomancer and traditional herbalist and his sister Bach Lien (or Thanh) who worked as a clerk in the French Army. His father was a convicted after he killed a friend after a drink session. Afraid of repercussions from the Authorities, Hồ went into hiding.
His father, Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, was a Confucian scholar, and Hồ himself received a strong Confucian upbringing. He also received a modern secondary education at a French-style Lycee in Hue (city), the same alma mater of his later disciples, Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap. Hồ wanted to work for the French colonialists. He made an application form for a course at the French "Colonial Administrative School" which Hồ filled out right after he arrived in Marseilles. This document is still preserved at the National Archives of France. Historian Nguyen The Anh has photocopied and published it in his book. After his application is rejected, Hồ built up anger against France. Hồ embraced Communism while living abroad in England (where he trained as a pastry chef under Escoffier) as well as France from 1915 - 1923.
In 1925, he allegedly colluded with French Officials on the whereabouts of Nationalist Leader Phan Boi Chau for a reward of 10,000 dollars. This led to Phan's capture by French agents in Shanghai and his return to Hanoi, where he was tried and sentenced to hard labor for life. This sentence was later commuted to house arrest until his death in 1940.
Following World War I, Hồ petitioned the great powers at the Versailles peace talks for equal rights in French Indochina but was ignored. He asked the U.S. President at the time Woodrow Wilson for help to overthrow the French in Vietnam and to have a free democratic government like the French, but was again denied. He soon helped form the French Communist Party and spent much time in Moscow. He later moved to Guangzhou, China, where he founded the Vietnamese Communist Party.
After adopting the name Hồ Chí Minh (胡 志明), a Sino-Vietnamese name of a common surname (Hồ) and a given name meaning aspiring (Chí) to light (Minh), he returned to Vietnam in 1941 to lead the Viet Minh independence movement, conducting successful military actions against the Japanese occupation forces and later against the French bid to reoccupy the country (1946-1954). Hồ Chí Minh became President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) in 1954 (he had declared himself President on March 2, 1946 but this was not recognised internationally), when he forced Emperor Bao Dai to abdicate.
He signed an agreement with France which recognized Vietnam as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union on March 6, 1946 but that compromise did not prevent the war that begun that December between Hồ's forces and the French who tried to re-establish their colonial rule in the country; following the Chinese withdrawal from the North in exchange for French-occupied territories in China. Hồ was almost captured by a group of French Soldiers Lead by Jean Etienne Valluy at Viet Bac , but he was able to slip into a camouflaged hole at the last minute.
He was a leading force in trying to re-unite North Vietnam with South Vietnam through infiltration and insurrection during the 1960s. Hồ led the war against the French (1946-1954) and, later, against the United States until his death.
During his presidency, Hồ was the center of a large personality cult in North Vietnam which increased in force after his death and when the former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon (Sàig̣n), was captured it was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City within 24 hours.
To his supporters Hồ Chí Minh is viewed as a committed Nationalist and Vietnamese Communist, who fought for a united Vietnamese state. His opponents feel that he was not, because he mandated the invasion of South Vietnam that resulted in the deaths of over a million of its citizens.
The Communist government's official statement is that Hồ led a bachelor life, but it has been reported by the Far Eastern Economic Review that he may have been married at least twice, both times to french women and may have even fathered a child.
Hồ died on September 3, 1969 at age 79. His embalmed body was put on display in a granite mausoleum modelled after Lenin's Tomb in Moscow. This was consistent with other Communist leaders who have been similarly displayed before and since, including Mao Zedong, Kim Il-Sung, and for a time, Josef Stalin, but the "honor" violated Hồ's last wishes. He wished to be cremated and his ashes buried in urns on three Vietnamese hilltops, each in one of the three main regions of Vietnam (North, Central and South). He wrote, "Not only is cremation good from the point of view of hygiene, but it also saves farmland."
- "Nothing is more precious than Independence and Liberty."
- "You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and I will win."
- "It is better to sacrifice everything than to live in slavery"
- "If the Tiger does not stop fighting the Elephant, the Elephant will die of exhaustion." (referring to Vietnam War)
- “The Vietnamese people deeply love independence, freedom and peace. But in the face of United States aggression they have risen up, united as one man."
- Richard Nixon, Reprint edition (November 1, 1987).No More Vietnam. Arbor House Pub Co.
- Bernard B. Fall, ed., 1967. Ho Chi Minh on Revolution and War, Selected Writings 1920-1966. New American Library.
- Francis Fitzgerald. 1972. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and Americans in Vietnam. Little, Brown and Company.
- William J. Duiker. 2000. Ho Chi Minh: A Life. Theia.
- N. Khac Huyen. 1971. Vision Accomplished? The Enigma of Ho Chi Minh. The Macmillan Company.
- VietNam's Independence and Ho Chi Minh
- New York Times Obituary, May 19, 1969
- TIME 100: Ho Chi Minh
- Ummasking Ho Chi Minh
- Facts About Ho Chi Minh by his former ColonelBui Tin
- Ho Chi Minh Biography From Spartacus Educational
- Ho Chi Minh Archive at Marxists.org.
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