Acclaimed as the leader and primary force behind Vietnam’s struggle for independence, Ho Chi Minh was born in 1890 at Hoang Tru village, near Vinh. After studying in Hue, Ho Chi Minh, then known as Nguyen Tat Thanh, left Vietnam in 1911 to travel the world. Influenced by socialist ideologies during his stay in Europe, he founded communist organizations in Paris, Moscow, and China. He returned to Vietnam in 1941, where he took the name Ho Chi Minh (Bringer of Enlightenment) and formed the Vietnamese Independence League, or Viet Minh. In 1955, he became president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, leading long and bitter wars against France and the United States. Though he died six years before reunification, Vietnam’s independence is considered his greatest achievement.
Nguyen Ai Quoc or Nguyen the Patriot is a pseudonym that Ho Chi Minh adopted during the 1920s. Greatly taken with socialist beliefs, he was a founding member of the French Communist Party in Paris, part of the Soviet Union Communist Party, and founder of the Indochinese Communist Party in China.
The prestigious Quoc Hoc School in Hue is where Ho Chi Minh studied, along with future general Vo Nguyen Giap and Pham Van Dong, the future prime minister of Vietnam.
A photograph dated 1945 shows Ho Chi Minh preparing for a military campaign against the French. Full-scale war broke out in 1946, and the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, waged a bloody battle that would last eight long years.
Camped in secret tunnels and caverns, Ho Chi Minh spent hours perfecting military strategies, which included employing underground resis- tance and guerilla tactics to expel the French forces, who were finally defeated in 1954.
Personally a gentle and unassuming man, Ho was much loved by children and adults alike. He could also speak several languages fluently, including Chinese, Russian, French, and English.Revered and loved as the father of modern Vietnam,
Ho Chi Minh is featured in the form of statues and
portraits throughout the country, honoring his
commitment to the unity of the nation. Kim Lien (see
p155), his childhood village, is now a national shrine.