Monday, 11 April 2016

Ho Chi Minh

This was one of my High School History Reports from 2014.

Nguyễn Sinh Cung was born on the 19 May 1890, at the Kim Liên, Nghệ An Province, French Indochina -
- died Sept. 2, 1969, Hanoi.

*As a child Nguyễn's farther, Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, (a Confucian scholar and teacher, and later an imperial magistrate in the small remote district of Binh Khe (Qui Nhơn), took him out of a Chinese/Confusion school to a school that offered Nguyễn a French education. His mother died when he was 11, heavily influencing his overall development.

*At the age of 21 in 1911, he learned to become a kitchen helper. This allowed him to work on ships, and thus discover a world beyond Vietnam. He traveled to many corners of the world, in particular French colonies and saw what he considered to be the terrible effects colonialism had on people all over the world.

*He eventually applied to get into an academy to become and serve as a French official across the world. Nguyễn was rejected and thus he perhaps thought that in order to make a change, he could not work in the system, but must work outside the system. This was perhaps one of the first steps that led to him becoming a revolutionary.

*Nguyễn travelled around the world to get an idea of how people of different ethnicities were treated and how different political systems operated.   He went to New York and saw how, although non-white people were not treated as fairly as those with fair skin yet still better than European colonies, they were allowed to vote. He then went to become a chief in England, before moving back to Paris. During Nguyễn's time in Paris during the Great War, he joined a French socialist group who sympathised with his views that Vietnam should be liberated. Being a member of this group provided him with the opportunity to publish his visionary views in a news paper that was enjoyed by the Vietnamese-Frence community but more so by the people of Vietnam. This angered the French colonials in Vietnam and thus ordered Nguyễn's immediate execution upon arrival in Vietnam.

*Nguyễn was present at the treaty of Versailles. He agreed with the American president Woodrow Wilson's popular idea of self-determination among nations. He tried to speak with Woodrow Wilson in hopes that the President of the USA might put pressure on the French to liberate Vietnam. Unable to reach him however, Nguyễn went elseware - to Vladimir Lenin. Nguyễn probably had no interest in communistic ideologies. However he did have a common interest with the communists, but for different reasons. The shared opinion was that European colonialism must end.

*Nguyễn learnt from the communists in Moscow during the 1920s about how they accomplished a revolution. In the 1930s he left and disappeared in South East Asia, determined to liberate Vietnam or die tying. His whereabouts was largely unknown during the 1930s. During this time he was said to have used 50 different names. He knew that there would be an appropriate time to actively liberate Vietnam. That time came at the outbreak of World War 2. He re-emerged in 1941 with his currently recognised title Ho Chi Minh, which translated as the "Bringer of Light".
*In 1941 he when to the Vietnamese northern countryside and gained favour of the locals by talking simply to them like an uncle, gaining their favour. Eventually he went from being a local leader to a national leader. As the French were kicked out by the Empire of Japan in the early 1040s, Ho Chi Minh could have sided with the Japanese. However he felt the Japanese were foreign invaders no better than the French.

*In 1942 he moved up to China to offer his support to the Nationalists who were fighting the Japanese. Ho was seen as a communist and and was jailed by the Chinese Nationalists. Eventually Ho Chi Minh successfully spoke his way out of jail, claiming that he could work as a valuable intelligence agent.

*In 1945 Ho Chi Minh came back and took back North Vietnam. However he faced opposition from France, wishing to reclaim their imperial territory that had been taken from them by the Japanese 5 years earlier. Ho Chi Minh went back to Paris for the last time in his life. This was his first attempt to diplomatically push for is vision of a autonomous Vietnam. Negations failed. The French would not give up their colony without a fight.

*As a chance of avoiding war, Minh appealed to America for help. He had worked with them during World War 2. However as the Cold War was just beginning and France was geographically a strongpoint on Western Europe, it was apparently necessary that America stay out of the affairs of Frances imperial colonies. America never responded to Minh's appeal.

*Diplomacy failed. Ho Ch Minh Now saw that the only way to attain a liberated Vietnam would be to wage a guerrilla war against the French. And thus began the first Indo China war. This gorilla war waged from 1946 to 1954, ending with an embarrassing defeat for France. This was the second time a European colonial power was defeated and forced to leave by the colonials. The first being Britain losing America.

*Vietnam was now divided into the north and south. The Americans occupying the south. Eventually on to the most significant proxy conflicts of the Cold War broke out in 1964. Ho Ch Minh died in 1969 aged 79. It would be another 6 years until his dream of a unified and independent Vietnam became a reality.

*Today Ho Chi Minh is commonly thought of as a communist leader who, with the backing of communist China, would stop at nothing to get his way. However through study, one might find that he was more of a person with humanitarian values, and would stop at nothing to achieve his goal. He did not always care about the means or time taken. What mattered to him were the results.


"You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours.
But even the odds, you will lose and we will win."
-Ho Chi Minh

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