Vietnam in the early to mid 1900s was in a state of constant danger. The poor people were mistreated and many of them even starved to death. The living conditions the people had to endure were terrible. Communism came in as a hero for the people. The ideals and goals of communists, to share wealth and treat everyone equally appealed to the people who were struggling to survive.
In particular one man was heavily influenced by communism. Ho Chi Minh, as a young man started to become involved in politics. Ho was an intellectual who came from a wee-to-do, anti-french family, who wished for liberation of his people. Lenin is someone who Ho looked up to as well, he states I loved and respect Lenin because he was a great patriot who had liberated his fellow countrymen1 Inspired by the way Lenin liberated his people through communism, Ho continued to support and rally people for Communism. Ho Chi Minh believed that he found the answer to liberate his people. He was in complete awe, Dear martyr compatriots. This is what we need, this is our path to liberation.2 As mentioned before Vietnam was going through many tough times. All the people wanted was to be liberated from the French and to be treated better.
Looking at some writings of the peasants of Vietnam at the time you can see why communism sounded so appealing. All three of these citizens of Vietnam shared stories about how terrible it was to live there. One girl, Nguyen Thi Dinh, writes of her experience during this time. She explains how the rich mistreat the poor and get away with it. Dinh’s brother got involved in communism and was eventually locked away, but her and her brother remained close. When Dinh’s brother finally got out they would come to talk to her brother, all seemed like good honest people. She dedicated her life to the communist movement in hopes of making life better Dinh often tells her brother I only want to work for the revolution, I don’t want to get married yet.3 Another peasant, Pham Van Ha, also speaks of the harsh conditions poor Vietnamese citizens faced. Pham’s father had passed away when she was eleven due to an illness, in an interview she states, My mother died of starvation during the great famine of 1945. I was fourteen at the time.4 Pham continues on about how they work hard and eat just a bowl of rice a day. Throughout her life she lost another sister to starvation, a brother to a bombardment, and another brother who died in the army. All the while she struggled to get by herself. Pham explains how the rich would also frame peasants from crimes in order to force the to sell what little bit of land they owned. As we can see the conditions of living in Vietnam in the early 1900s is terrible. Communism promises to share resources and treat all people equally. They are supposed to be a community of people who all work together to be greater whole. In a land where the poor people are the ,ass and are being treated so poorly communism comes in shining like bright knight, All the ideals and promises stick in the minds of the people, encouraging them to support the revolution. Tuan Doanh, another peasant of Vietnam who is also a member of a communist committee writes of the communist revolution. He explains how they began to gather people. Slowly they started gaining more and more people’s support and eventually building up a military. They built networks all around Vietnam and the people supported them. Doanh told a story about how the Japanese coup came and toppled the administration and they were pretty much set free, The peasants took all the rice stocks the rich people stored and distributed it evenly to the people. This is a huge win for communism because all the people were able to experience and see communism in person, and it helped. It gave communism the mage it already claims, it confirmed it for people. Doanh says In August 1945, we took over every district land Suddenly we found ourselves enjoying independence and freedom.5 As you can see none of these people had anything good to say about their way of life. Vietnam was in a state of chaos and their people were tired of it.
In 1945 Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnamese independence from the Japanese and French. Ho addresses a huge crowd in Hanoi about the injustices they face from the Japanese and French colonialists. At this point Ho had power over the Vietnamese as the leading revolution against them. His words were important because he brought about change. Ho boasts about ideals and how he believes they should be true for all citizens of Vietnam. Most of the people are in support of the revolution but in order to gain support of outsiders Ho mentions the Allied powers.6 Referring to the way they have faced French slavery for years and fight to overcome it, he says such a people must be free, such as people must be independent.7 Ho was a communist in power who had brought change for his people. Looking back, it’s not wonder the citizens decided to follow communism. The system they were living had completely failed them and forced them to find new answers. They lost their people day in and day out and didn’t even have rights that people should be allowed to have. They struggled through all of this and the one thing that helped was communism. Ho Chi Minh being an intellectual leader also gained the support of the people. Ho was also a communist. The reason the people decided to follow through with communism is because it was the only system helping them.
1. Minh, Ho Chi, Ho Chi Minh Recalls Discovering Communist anti-colonialism in The World Transformed: A
2. Ibid., 108.
3. Dinh, Nguyen Thi Nguyen Thi Dinh, Recalling Her Road to Revolutionary Politics in the 1930s, 1965 in The
4. Ha, Pham Van Pham Van Ha (Local Party Secretary in Hung Yen, Interview, 1967 in The World Transformed:
5. Doanh, Tuan, Tuan Doanh( Member of the Communist Party Provincial Committee for Hung
6. Allied Powers- Britain, France, Russia, U.S. and some other countries ally together during WW2 to fight the
Germans, and the Italians (Axis powers)
7. Minh, Ho Chi, Ho statement read in Hanoi declaring independence, September 2, 1945 in The
Dinh, Nguyen Thi Nguyen Thi Dinh, Recalling Her Road to Revolutionary Politics in the
1930s, 1965 in The World Transformed: A Documentary Reader, 2nd Edition, ed. Michael H. Hunt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 110-112.
Doanh, Tuan, Tuan Doanh( Member of the Communist Party Provincial Committee for Hung
Yen), Interview 1967 in The World Transformed: A Documentary Reader, 2nd Edition, ed. Michael H. Hunt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 112-113.
Ha, Pham Van Pham Van Ha (Local Party Secretary in Hung Yen, Interview, 1967 in The
World Transformed: A Documentary Reader, 2nd Edition, ed. Michael H. Hunt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 113-114.
Minh, Ho Chi, Ho Chi Minh Recalls Discovering Communist anti-colonialism in The World
Transformed: A Documentary Reader, 2nd Edition, ed. Michael H. Hunt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 106-108.
Minh, Ho Chi, Ho statement read in Hanoi declaring independence, September 2, 1945 in The
World Transformed: A Documentary Reader, 2nd Edition, ed. Michael H. Hunt (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2015), 108-109.