Ho Chi Minh DBQ

By Leonard C. Ornstein
Baldwin Senior High School, Queens, NY

Document-Based Question
This question is based on the accompanying documents (1-9). This question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. Some of these documents have been edited for the purposes of this question. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of each document and any point of view that many be presented in the document.

Historical Context: Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was the leader of the Vietnamese resistance against the French, Japanese, and United States. He was the founder of the Vietnamese Communist Party and the President of Communist North Vietnam.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of global history, answer the questions that follow each document in Part A. Your answers to questions will help you write the Part B essay, in which you will be asked to:

-Discuss Ho Chi Minh's nationalism
-Discuss Ho Chi Minh's Communism
-Evaluate the extent to which Ho Chi Minh was influenced by both philosophies


Part A
Short-Answer Questions

Directions: Analyze the documents and answer the short-answer questions that follow each document.

Document 1

The revolutionary movement in Vietnam has now begun the stage of proletarian leadership. Vietnam, therefore, must have a communist party. The Communist Party is the avant-garde of the proletariat, and the peasantry is the leader of the proletariat, so the peasantry will overthrow the French Imperialists, seize political power, and set up the dictatorship of peasants and workers in order to achieve a communist society
Ho Chi Minh
"The Communists Must Organize Themselves into a Single Party," 1929

1. According to Ho Chi Minh, what must the peasants do to overthrow the French?


Document 2

First, you must understand that to gain independence from a great power like France is a formidable task that cannot be achieved without some outside help, not necessarily in things like arms, but in the nature of advice and contracts. One doesn't in fact gain independence by throwing bombs and such. One must gain it through organization, propaganda, training and discipline. One also needs…a set of beliefs, a gospel, a practical analysis, you might even say a bible. Marxism-Leninism gave me that framework.

Ho Chi Minh to U.S. intelligence officer Charles Fenn, 1945

2. How does this statement both reaffirm and question Ho Chi Minh's commitment to Communism?

Document 3

There is ample evidence that, whether or not he was an orthodox Marxist, under his patriotic exterior beat the heart of a dedicated revolutionary…. In Ho's brave new world, patriotism would be replaced by the Leninist concept of a future global federation of Communist societies.

Ho Chi Minh: A Life
William Duiker pg. 570

3. According to Ho Chi Minh biographer, William Duiker, what would replace Ho Chi Minh's patriotism?

Document 4

A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent. For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country.

Ho Chi Minh's "Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam"
September 2, 1945

4. According to Ho Chi Minh, what do the people of Vietnam deserve?

Document 5

Long live great Marxism-Leninism
Long live the heroic working class and people of Vietnam!
Long live the Vietnam Workers Party!
Long live the solidarity and unity of the fraternal Parties and of the big socialist family headed by the great Soviet Union!
Long live a peaceful, unified, independent, democratic, prosperous, and strong Vietnam!
Long live world peace!

Ho Chi Minh's Speech opening the 3rd national congress of the Vietnam Workers' Party September 5, 1960

5. How would a non-communist Vietnamese patriot react to this speech?

Document 6

There seems little doubt that for Ho Chi Minh the survival of his country was first and always his primary concern

Ho Chi Minh: A Life
Duiker pg. 570

6. According to Ho Chi Minh biographer, William Duiker, what was Ho Chi Minh's main goal?

Document 7

The victory of the proletarian revolution is impossible in rural and semi-rural countries if the revolutionary proletariat is not actively supported by the mass of the peasant population. Only if the revolutionary wave sets in motion the rural masses under the leadership of the proletariat, will the revolution be able to triumph. Hence the exceptional importance of Party agitation in the countryside

Ho Chi Minh in
"The Party's Military Work among the Peasants," 1928

7. According to Ho Chi Minh, how are rural areas important to revolutions?

Document 8:

Ho Chi Minh was half Lenin and half Gandhi.

Ho Chi Minh: A Life
William Duiker 576

8. How can a person be "half Lenin and half Gandhi?"

Document 9:

The issue is thus not whether he was a nationalist or a Communist- in his own way, he was both. It is more a question of his tactics. Ho Chi Minh was a believer in the art of the possible, of adjusting his ideals to the conditions of the moment.

Ho Chi Minh: A Life
William J. Duiker pg. 571

9. According to Duiker, was Ho Chi Minh a Communist or nationalist?

Part B: Essay

-Write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

-Use evidence from at least four documents to support your response.

-Include additional related information.

Historical Context: Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was the leader of the Vietnamese resistance against the French, Japanese, and United States. He was the founder of the Vietnamese Communist Party and the President of Communist North Vietnam.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of global history, answer the questions that follow each document in Part A. Your answers to questions will help you write the Part B essay, in which you will be asked to:

-Discuss Ho Chi Minh's nationalism
-Discuss Ho Chi Minh's Communism
-Evaluate the extent to which Ho Chi Minh was influenced by both philosophies

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