October 29, 2014

1320 VIETNAM - Hồ Chí Minh (1890-1969)

Hồ Chí Minh led the Vietnamese nationalist movement for more than three decades, fighting first against the Japanese, afterwards against the French colonial power and then against the US-backed South Vietnam. He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in 1945, becoming also its prime minister (1945-1955) and its president (1945-1969). Today, he has in Vietnam an almost god-like status, still being called Uncle Ho. In 1987, UNESCO officially recommended to Member States that they "join in the commemoration of the centenary of the birth of President Ho Chi Minh by organizing various events as a tribute to his memory", considering "the important and many-sided contribution of President Ho Chi Minh in the fields of culture, education and the arts" and that Ho Chi Minh "devoted his whole life to the national liberation of the Vietnamese people, contributing to the common struggle of peoples for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress". In his honor, after the Communist conquest of the South in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

He was born Nguyễn Sinh Cung in 1890 in Hoang Tru in central Vietnam, then a French colony, but under the nominal rule of an emperor. Following the Confucian tradition, his father gave him a new name at the age of 10: Nguyễn Tất Thành (Nguyen the Accomplished). He attended school in Hue, where he received a French education, then briefly taught at a school in Phan Thiet. In 1911 was employed as a kitchen helper on a French steamship liner and thereafter worked in United States and United Kingdom. After WWI, returned to France and, using the pseudonym Nguyễn Ái Quốc (Nguyen the Patriot), he engaged in radical activities, being in the founding group of the French Communist party. In 1923 he went to Moscow for training, being then sent to Canton to organize a revolutionary movement among Vietnamese exiles. Forced to leave China, returned in 1930 and founded the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP). He stayed in Hong Kong as representative of the Comintern, and in 1931 was arrested by British police and remained in prison until 1933. He then made way back to the Soviet Union, where spent several years recovering from tuberculosis. In 1938 he returned to China, but in 1941, when Japan occupied Vietnam, he resumed contact with ICP leaders, under the name Hồ Chí Minh (He who has been enlightened), and helped to found Việt Minh, a Communist-dominated independence movement.

In 1945, after Japan surrendered and following the August Revolution organized by the Việt Minh, Ho became Premier of DRV and issued a Proclamation of Independence. Although he convinced Emperor Bảo Đại to abdicate, his government wasn't recognized by any country. Under the pressure of Republic of China Army, Ho signed an agreement with France in which Vietnam remained an autonomous state within French Union. Việt Minh collaborated with colonial forces to massacre supporters of the Vietnamese nationalist movements, and suppressed all non-Communist parties. The French were unwilling to grant independence to Vietnam, so in late 1946 war broke out. For eight years Việt Minh guerrillas were fought with French troops, finally defeating them in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. During the war, the Việt Minh assassinated up to 150,000 civilians.

The 1954 Geneva Accords concluded between France and the Việt Minh, allowed the latter's forces to regroup in the North whilst anti-communist groups were settled in the South. After suppressed the political opposition, North Vietnam invaded Laos and builded invasion and supply routes through this country (Ho Chi Minh trail), which allowed its to send troops and aid to Việt Cộng in South. In 1960 Lê Duẩn was officially named party leader, leaving Ho, in poor health, only a public figure with a largely ceremonial role. Fearing the spread of communism, the United States increased the levels of support to South Vietnam. Since 1965 large numbers of American troops arrived in Vietnam and the fighting escalated into a major conflict. Ho demanded permanently the unconditional withdrawal of all non-Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam, and insisted that his forces to continue fighting until both Vietnams will be reunited under a Communist regime. On September 3, 1969, he died of heart failure in at house in Hanoi at age of 79, without seeing the end of the war and North's victory.

About the stamps

The stamps were issued on December 1st, 2013, to celebrate the Year of the Horse.

Ho Chi Minh - Wikipedia
Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) - BBC official website
Uncle Ho - Vietvalue Travel website
Biography of Ho Chi Minh - Ho Chi Minh, Selected Works (Hanoi, 1960-1962), Vol. 2 - Marxists Internet Archive

Sender: Chu Manh Trung
Sent from Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon (Southeast Region / Vietnam), on 13.02.2014

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