Phạm Văn Đồng
Phạm Văn Đồng (1 March, 1906 - 29 April, 2000) was a Vietnamese revolutionary who was the successor to Hồ Chí Minh as Premier of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1955 until reunification in 1976 and was Premier of Vietnam after reunification from 1976 until his resignation in 1987. He was considered a staunch communist and was one of Hồ Chí Minh's closest lieutenants. He was also the longest serving Premier in Vietnam's history.
Phạm Văn Đồng was born on 1 March, 1906 in Duc Tan village to a family of civil servants. During the 1920s he worked for the revolutionary association in Saigon, but was later arrested as a result. he was then put on trial and then was sentenced to 10 years in prison until he was released in 1936. He secretly went to China and met with Võ Nguyên Giáp, Phạm Văn Đồng officially joined the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1940, 10 years after its foundation and continued to take part in activities led by Hồ Chí Minh during World War II who would eventually rise to power on August of 1945 during the August Revolution of 1945 marking the beginning of the French-Indochina War. Shortly after coming to power and proclaiming the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Phạm Văn Đồng was appointed as the Minister of Finance by Hồ Chí Minh who was then serving as both the President and Premier of North Vietnam at the same time. Phạm was then appointed as the Deputy-Premier in 1949. At the end of the first war, Phạm was later appointed as Foreign Minister to attend the Geneva Conference. After the conference, he signed the treaty with the French Prime Minister ending the war but also splitting Vietnam into two countries.
During the 5th central committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1955, Phạm was appointed as the Premier of North Vietnam replacing Hồ Chí Minh who continued to stay in power as president. But during the early-1960s in the early stages of the Vietnam War, president Hồ Chí Minh has suffered several strokes, causing him to retire from day-to-day management putting most of his responsibilities to both Premier Phạm Văn Đồng and the then-newly appointed First Secretary Lê Duẩn to take the responsibility and the duties throughout the duration of the war. Owing to President Hồ's absence, Premier Phạm became the face of North Vietnam during its battle against both the American and South Vietnamese troops during the 1960s, talking with journalists and foreign diplomats. In 1963, Phạm mentioned that he was interested in his plans of "coming to an agreement with the two Vietnams" as long as the "American advisors left South Vietnam". In 1964-65, Phạm even stated that "the American terms are unacceptable" and demanded the Americans to end assistance to South Vietnam. He also wanted South Vietnam to be neutral in the Cold War, and the Việt Cộng to take part in the South Vietnamese government as part of a coalition.
When president Hồ Chí Minh died in 1969, Phạm Văn Đồng became the center of attention in North Vietnam. While not as powerful as First Secretary Lê Duẩn or President Tôn Đức Thắng (both of whom are also Hồ's successors), he did have a much bigger spotlight representing the leadership of a post-Hồ Chí Minh North Vietnam during the 1970s. After the Fall of Saigon which marked the end of the Vietnam War, Phạm and Lê would eventually visit Saigon and bring the two Vietnams together leading to reunification in 1976, forming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with Phạm as its Premier.
Throughout the late-1970s to much of the 1980s, life in Vietnam had became very miserable. Lê's overly strict and destructive policies led to the life in Vietnam to worsen, the conditions in the country had both physically and economically declined. Poverty has risen, people have been starved to death, and many more were oppressed and imprisoned resulting in a large amount of people fleeing the country. 1985 has seen the biggest decline in the Vietnamese economy and the country was marked as the "single most repressive state in the world" by the US department of state.
By 1986, Lê Duẩn had died and Trường Chinh had taken over as the acting leader, it was just after the 6th central committee is when the new leaders have been set in place, Nguyễn Văn Linh became the new General secretary replacing the deceased Lê Duẩn leading to the introduction of numerous reforms. Phạm along with many other communist hard-liners opposed Nguyễn's reforms, as a result of this many hard-liners were forced to resign as many liberal minded moderates slowly took over the government. In 1987, Phạm resigned from office as Premier after some pressure from the reformists. After spending a little more than 30 years in office, Phạm was the longest serving Premier in Vietnamese history.
Through the last few remaining years of his life, Phạm's vision had also deteriorated to the point where he ended up spending the last 10 years of his life blinded. He continued to appear in certain ceremonies and meetings until he eventually died on 29 April 2000 at the age of 94.