Who's Who: North Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh
Born Nguyen Sinh Cung, and known as "Uncle Ho," Ho Chi Minh led the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 1945-69. Ho had embraced communism while living abroad in England and France from 1915-23; in 1919, he petitioned the powers at the Versailles peace talks for equal rights in Indochina. He later moved to Hong Kong, where he founded the Indochinese Communist Party. After adopting the name Ho Chi Minh, or "He Who Enlightens," he returned to Vietnam in 1941 and declared the nation's independence from France. Ho led a nearly continuous war against the French and, later, the Americans until his death in 1969.
An original founder of the Indochina Communist Party, Le served on North Vietnam's Central Committee under Ho, and directed the formation of an underground Communist organization in South Vietnam. After Ho's death, Le assumed leadership of North Vietnam. He was known publicly as Ba, or "Second Son."
Tran Van Tra
As a deputy commander in the Communist military, Tran Van Tra led the attack on Saigon during the Tet offensive. After the war, Tra published an account of the Communist offensive that offended officials in the newly unified Vietnam, and led to his being purged from the party for which he had fought so diligently.
Le Duc Tho
Ten years of imprisonment by the French did not lessen Le's commitment to the Vietminh, or Vietnamese independence movement. He served as a senior Communist official from 1945 on, and directed Viet Cong military efforts in South Vietnam from 1955-75. Le negotiated a cease-fire with Henry Kissinger in 1973, but refused the Nobel Peace Prize, which he and Kissinger were awarded jointly.
Pham Van Dong
An associate of Ho Chi Minh, Pham helped establish the Indochinese Communist Party. He acted as Ho's prime minister from 1950 through the end of the war, and led reunified Vietnam until he retired in 1986.
Vo Nguyen Giap
A brilliant military tactician, Vo commanded the Vietminh forces that liberated Vietnam from French colonial rule, fought the Americans and the South Vietnamese, and reunified Vietnam as a Communist nation. After the reunification, Vo served as Vietnam's minister of defense and later as deputy prime minister.