The Geneva Conference of 1954, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, was the turning point for Vietnam. The Geneva Accord was then written and placed as a binding agreement that separated Vietnam in two zones divided by the 17th parallel (Moss, 2010). Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh controlled the northern Vietnam; control of the south was given to Bo Dai, which was later taken over by Ngo Dinh Diem (then the Emperor) (Moss, 2010). Both leaders displayed different governing styles and tactics but maintained the common goal of freedom and independence for the Vietnamese people.
This paper will reveal reasons why these two leaders had such devoted followers in the Vietnamese people. As leader of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was a man of the people. He identified himself among the feeble and humble citizens of North Vietnam. He was relatable among them. His main objective was to gain independence for Vietnam no matter the sacrifice. As a communist, Minh founded the French Communist Party in 1930 (Moss,2010). “Ho Chi Minh was by far the best known Vietnamese leader.
His leadership of the struggle to liberate Vietnam from French colonialism had earned him enormous prestige and a popular following among the rural masses who comprised 85 percent of the Vietnamese population. Ho and the other Vietminh leaders were committed to unifying Vietnam under their rule (Moss, 2010 p. 83). ” His leadership skills were personable and this aided in his quest to employ communism in his country. Minh visited many countries and educated himself on the communist rule of those countries.
Through this he became a nationalist accruing support from other countries creating an overseas movement to help the Vietnamese fight for their independence. (Moss, 2010) Contradictory to Minh’s leadership style, Ngo Dinh Diem had a dictatorship approach to governing South Vietnam. He also fought for the independence of the Vietnamese. He was in opposition of the French colonial rule. As a Roman Catholic, Diem would occupy positions of authority with those who practiced Catholicism (Moss, 2010).
Eventually, the Catholic Church would own most of South Vietnam land and they were deemed exempt from redistribution of their land (Moss, 2010). Subsequently, Catholics benefited from sharing the same religious beliefs as Diem leading to a mass conversion of Catholicism throughout South Vietnam. Like Minh, Diem was passionate about regaining the independence of Vietnam and structured his government to support his vision. “Diem also insisted that only his government stood for the fulfillment of the nationalist aspirations of all Vietnamese people to live within a unified, independent Vietnam (Moss, 2010 p. 1). ”
Having their livelihood stripped during the French Indochina, the Vietnamese were desperate for independence. Both leaders, Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dinh Diem had plans to recover that lifestyle for the people. Minh with his relatable personality and Diem with his strong personality and religious beliefs, were destined to bring Vietnam to independence. Both leaders were influential to their people and with the agenda of regaining freedom; they both were able to gain a strong following of their people.