Ho Chi Minh

Vietnamese communist leader (1890–1969)

Hồ Chí Minh, born Nguyễn Sinh Cung, (May 19, 1890 - September 2, 1969) was the leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh
Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
In office
19 February 1951 – 2 September 1969
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byPosition abolished
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
In office
1 November 1956 – 10 September 1960
Preceded byTrường Chinh
Succeeded byLê Duẩn
1st President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
In office
2 September 1945 – 2 September 1969
Preceded byPosition established
Bảo Đại (as Emperor)
Succeeded byTôn Đức Thắng
1st Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
In office
2 September 1945 – 20 September 1955
Preceded byPosition established
Trần Trọng Kim (as Prime Minister of the Empire of Vietnam)
Succeeded byPhạm Văn Đồng
Personal details
Nguyễn Sinh Cung

(1890-05-19)19 May 1890
Kim Liên, Nghệ An Province, French Indochina
Died2 September 1969(1969-09-02) (aged 79)
Hanoi, North Vietnam
  • Vietnamese
  • French
Political partyFrench Section of the Workers' International
French Communist Party
Communist Party of Vietnam
Spouse(s)none (disputed)
RelationsBạch Liên (or Nguyễn Thị Thanh) (Sister)
Nguyễn Sinh Khiêm (or Nguyễn Tất Đạt) (brother)
(Nguyễn Sinh Nhuận) (brother)
ParentsNguyễn Sinh Sắc (father)
Hoàng Thị Loan (mother)
Alma materCommunist University of the Toilers of the East

Early life


'Hồ Chí Minh', meaning 'Hồ with the will of light', was not his real name. He took that name around the time of the August Revolution in 1945. His real name was Nguyễn Sinh Cung when he was born. At ten, he changed his name to Nguyễn Tất Thành, according to Confucian tradition. He would later use many pseudonyms (false names). Other than 'Hồ Chí Minh', his most famous name was probably Nguyễn Ái Quốc meaning "Nguyễn (by far the most common Vietnamese last name) who loves his country." The Vietnamese people commonly refer to him as Bác Hồ (Uncle Hồ).

Nguyễn studied in Paris from 1919 to 23. In those years, he started following communism, and began to believe that Vietnam- then a French colony-should be independent. During this time he wrote a letter, which was ignored, to United States President Woodrow Wilson, asking for U.S. military aid to help overthrow the French colonial rulers. He joined the French Communist Party, and started visiting Moscow regularly, as a member of the Asian branch of the Comintern.

First Indochina War


Hồ led a revolution against the French rulers of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954. After overthrowing the French, a communist regime supported by the Soviet Union and China was set up in the northern half of the country, with himself leading the country as both president and prime minister. But, an anticommunist government supported by the United States, was set up in the southern half of the country because the United States did not want all of Vietnam to be communist during the Cold War.

1946 appeal from Hồ Chi Minh to U.S. President Harry Truman, asking Truman for aid in fighting French.
Vietnamese name
VietnameseHồ Chí Minh
Vietnamese birth name
VietnameseNguyễn Sinh Cung

Second Indochina War (Vietnam War)


South Vietnam and America refused to hold an election and unite the two halves into one country because they feared a communisty victory. Hồ then led Vietnam into a military and political struggle to bring the rice fields of South Vietnam under his communist rule. Two decades of war followed that killed millions of Vietnamese. The United States supported South Vietnam with military aid, and the Soviet Union (led by Nikita Krushchev and then Leonid Brezhnev) and the People's Republic of China (led by Mao Zedong) continued to support North Vietnam's war effort.

In the end, North Vietnam won the war several years after Hồ Chí Minh had died.

Death and legacy


Suffering from diabetes and heart problems, Hồ Chí Minh died on the morning of September 2, 1969, of a heart attack.

In his will he said he wished to be cremated and have his ashes be buried in hills in the north, center, and south of Vietnam. However, his followers embalmed his body and put it in a tomb, the mausoleum, where he is still worshipped today.

In 1976, in the style of the Soviet Union, the victorious communists in North Vietnam renamed the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, to Ho Chi Minh City in honour of their leader.