Ho Chi Minh

circa 1965:  North Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh (1892 - 1969), born Nguyen That Thanh.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Born: May 19, 1890 in Nghệ An Province, French Indochina
Died: Sept 2, 1969 (at age 79) in Hanoi, North Vietnam
Nationality: Vietnamese
Famous For: Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader. He was the prime minister of Vietnam between 1945 and 1955 and later the president until 1969. He played a big role in the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

Early Life

Ho Chi Minh was born in Hoang Tru Village in Vietnam on May 19, 1890. When he was a young boy, his father prepared to take Confucian civil service exams in order to become a local government official. However, His father did not pass this exam on his first attempt. Instead, he became a tutor for the village children.

After a while, the family moved to Hue. As his father aged, Ho got the chance to go to school. In school, he learned the Chinese language and Confucian classics. In 1901, Ho Chi Minh lost his mother as she died while giving birth to the fourth child who only lived for one year.

Life in the US

In 1911, Ho Chi Minh got a job as a cook aboard a ship. He traveled to many places around the world and during this time he interacted with the French people in France. He concluded that the French were very kind people.

He then stopped in the US for a few years where he worked as a baker’s assistant. In the US, the young man observed that the Asian immigrants had good chances of living a good life compared to those under the colonial rule in Asian.

Communism in France

In 1918, as the First World War drew to a close, the leaders of the great European powers organized a meeting. The meeting was meant to discuss an armistice deal in Paris. Although the political powers in the western world were not interested in giving the African and Asian colonies their independence, the communist and socialist parties were more sympathetic.

Minh’s Life in China

After being introduced to communism in Paris, Ho went to Moscow in 1923 to work for Comintern. Here, he quickly learned the basics of planning a revolution. In November of 1924, he went to China. His intentions were to find a base in East Asia where he could build a communist revolutionary for Indochina.

For the next two years, Ho Chi Minh lived in China. He trained about 100 Indochinese operatives and gathered enough money to fund strikes against the French colonial rule in Southeast Asia.

In April of 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek started a serious purge of communists. This massacre killed more than 12,000 real or even suspected communists in Shanghai. It actually killed about 300,000 more people nationwide the following year. Afterwards, Ho Chi Minh left China for good.

Leadership in Vietnam

After leaving China, Ho Chi Minh spent the next 13 years moving from one country to another in Asia and Europe. Finally in 1914, he returned home to Vietnam. The Second World War created a lot of distraction and this gave him a chance to evade the French. In Vietnam, he led the guerrilla movement, Viet Minh, that opposed the Japanese occupation. The Japanese left Indochina in 1945 after they were defeated in the war.

On September 2, 1945, Ho declared the independence of Vietnam, with himself as the president. Several months later, the French returned to Indochina. Ho refused to quit presidency and he therefore transitioned back into guerrilla warfare. He fought against the French for almost eight years before rising victorious.

On September 2, 1969, Ho Chi Minh died at the age of 79.