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Ho Chi Minh

Political Figure

Born: 19 May 1890
Died: 2 September 1969
Birthplace: Kim Lien, Vietnam
Best known as: Communist leader of North Vietnam, 1945-69
Ho Chi Minh was the communist leader of North Vietnam from the end of World War II until his death in 1969. Born in a village in central Vietnam, his original name was either Nguyen Sinh Cung or Nguyen Tat Thanh (sources vary) and he was educated in Hue and apprenticed to a technical institute in Saigon. He left for Europe in 1911 and was in England when World War I began. After the war he moved to Paris and was active in socialist organizations into the 1920s. He visited the Soviet Union to study revolutionary tactics and was sent to China to spread communism throughout Asia; he founded the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930 and spent the rest of the decade living in China and the Soviet Union. During World War II he was in Vietnam, where he organized the League for the Independence of Vietnam, called the Viet Minh. He was jailed briefly (1942-43) by the anti-communist Nationalist Chinese, during which time he took the name Ho Chi Minh ("He Who Enlightens"). After World War II Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam with himself as president. He led the Viet Minh through eight years of underground resistance against French colonial forces (1946-54), then turned to guerilla warfare against the anti-communist government in South Vietnam. By the time the United States became involved in the fight against the Viet Minh (and its successor, the Viet Cong), Ho Chi Minh was in failing health and not as active in directing his forces. He was, however, "Uncle Ho," the symbol of the communists' willingness to sacrifice and to endure a war of attrition. He died in 1969, six years before the U.S. withdrew from South Vietnam.
Extra credit: After the fall of South Vietnam, the city of Saigon was renamed Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh, or Ho Chi Minh City... He was also called Nguyen Ai Quoc ("Nguyen the Patriot").

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