Sunday, 23/2/2020
General Nguyen Chi Thanh - an outstanding political and military theoretician and talented general of the Vietnam People’s Army
20/3/2014 9:29' Send Print
General Nguyen Chi Thanh. Picture:

General Nguyen Chi Thanh, former-member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (2nd and 3rd tenures), former-Chairman of the General Political Department of the Vietnam People’s Army (from 1950 to 1960), former-Political Commissar of the Liberation Armed Forces of Southern Viet Nam (from 1964 to 1967) was born on 1 January, 1914 into a poor peasant family in Niem Pho hamlet, Quang Dien district, Thua Thien province (now Thua Thien - Hue province). He joined the revolution since 1934 and became a member of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1937. He was arrested by the French imperialists three times and detained in Hue, Lao Bao and Buon Ma Thuot prisons. He escaped from the prison and continued his revolutionary activities.

For more than 30 years of active revolutionary activities, in whatever position, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh showed his absolute loyalty to revolutionary ideology, the Party and the people. He was a staunch communist fighter; an outstanding political and military activist of the Communist Party of Viet Nam; a wise, courageous and persistent commander of the people’s armed forces; a talented and ethical cadre who represented the will “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom”. He was determined to fight against imperialism and egoism. His deeds always matched his words and his theories went with his practices. He showed boundless love to his compatriots and comrades.

While the resistant war against the French colonialists was entering the most important and fiercest transitional period, the Communist Party of Viet Nam and President Ho Chi Minh requested him to work as Chairman of the General Political Department of the army and Deputy Secretary of the Central Military Commission. In this period, in his new position, he devoted all his might and main together with other comrades in the Party Central Committee and Central Military Commission to directly lead the armed forces in the implementation of the Party’s political will, in the fight for greater victories and eventual triumph over the French colonial invaders and American interventionists in the historic Dien Bien Phu campaign (May 1954).

Profoundly understanding Marxist-Leninism, he possessed a dialectical and scientific way of thinking, a special sense for politics and harmony in theory and practice, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh was one of the outstanding disciples of President Ho Chi Minh who fully grasped and applied Ho Chi Minh’s ideology in revolutionary war and armed force building. He made great contribution to consolidating the Party’s leadership over the army and building the Vietnam People’s Army into strong political and ideological forces. He organized, fostered and promoted the revolutionary nature of the army, building good Party and political work and strengthened the fighting spirit of the army. He often cared for, trained, educated and tested military cadres of the people for the people and by the people who could meet increasingly high demands of the revolution.

A Chairman of the General Political Department of the Vietnam People’s Army, General Nguyen Chi Thanh showed constant concern to primary important issue of consolidating and strengthening the Party leadership over the army. He affirmed: “The Party is the sole and the vanguard of the army. The Party is strong, everything will be successful. The Party is weak, everything is not ensured”. He said: “The Party’s leadership is the life of the People’s Army”. The People’s Army should come under direct, absolute and unified leadership of the Communist Party of Viet Nam in all aspects. It is the supreme and immutable principle, the source of strength and the basis for all victories of the army. The Party’s absolute leadership over the army demonstrates the full awareness of fundamental ideology of Marxist-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh ideology on war and new-type of army of the proletariat and a valuable historical lesson from the patriotic struggle of the Vietnamese nation.

Comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh many a time pointed out: The most fundamental and important cause to the glorious victory of the Vietnam People’s Army was that it was led by the Party of the proletariat, equipped with Marxist-Leninism and imbued with genuine patriotism and international proletarianism. The Vietnam People’s Army absolutely follows the leadership of the Party and holds high the role and leadership of party organization in the army. This is a most important conclusion and lesson from the army’s building and operation.

In Party building, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh firmly grasped the principle of collective leadership of the party while associating closely with the mass, listening to opinions of army cadres and soldiers and promoting internal democracy. Considering collective leadership the highest principle of leadership, he confirmed: “Reality shows that thank to strict implementation of the principle we are united internally and thus the army is united. We have brought into play wisdom of party members and the mass, lessened subjectivity and bias in leadership and prevent individualism, dictatorship and anarchy”.

Comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh - who made great contribution to leading and building the mechanism and work of the party committees in the Vietnam People’s Army - showed much concern to strengthening and completing the mechanism, and observing the principle of democratic centralism in Party activities. Identifying the mechanism of party committee as the core to unified leadership in the army and following the mechanism in which the leader is assigned the task of management under the collective and unified leadership of party committee, he stated that by completing the party committee we are unified and consolidate the leadership of the Party over the army. The characteristic of Party’s democratic centralism was to promote positive and proactive spirit of mass organizations and party members in the Party’s cause, disciplines and unity. Party’s resolutions did not come from any individual but from collective and careful consultations of leading organizations. Collective mechanism in the leading organizations was based on proactive spirit of the mass and party members.

In army building, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh considered building the army in political and ideological fields the most important and decisive factor and a foundation for all activities of army building. He said: “The fighting spirit of any revolutionary army originates from class and political awareness of each army cadre and soldier”. Political awareness of Vietnamese army cadres and soldiers is always the combination of patriotism and socialism. He often reminded army units: “To educate cadres and soldiers to raise their class and national awareness to promote ardent patriotism and hatred towards enemies and resolutely continue the resistant war to complete victory”.

He said that the core issue of the army building in politics and ideology is building the nature of the working class for the army. The Vietnam People’s Army is led, educated and fostered by the Communist Party of Viet Nam, their working class nature is that of the Party and the strict observance of the Party’s political, ideological and organizational nature which conforms to characteristics and functions of a military organization.

Fully imbued with Uncle Ho’s teaching, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh always educated and explained to soldiers that the Vietnam People’s Army was the people’s army, from the people and for the people. The relation between the army and people is like that of fish and water. The close association with people is the source of life and strength of the Vietnam People’s Army.

While leading the armed struggle, combining revolutionary enthusiasm with wisdom, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh was not only a firm, resourceful and talented commander. He made great contribution to summarizing theories and military strategic leadership in line with the Communist Party of Viet Nam’s policies and ideology on people’s war which was conducive to creative development of military theory of people’s war.

In the resistant war against the US imperialists for national liberation, the biggest achievement of comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh was closely following the situation in the front, the enemy situation, correctly assessing their weak and strong points, analytically assessing comparative strength of our army and the enemy and contributing to develop correct and accurate strategies of the Party Political Bureau and the Central Committee. He studied, identified, summarized and consolidated into leading theory on some fundamental issues concerning military strategies of which the basic ideology was resolute offensive, proactive offensive and constant offensive.

In fighting method, comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh made important contribution to laying theoretical foundation for the fighting method of the people’s war, identifying its superiority, disseminating that method and encouraging its application in line with the Party military ideology to force the enemy to follow our rules.

In his capacity as a deputy secretary of the Central Military Commission and Chairman of the Political General Department, General Nguyen Chi Thanh assisted in leading the army to adhere to the Party’s class policy in both ideology and organization, fight against any attempt to belittle the Party’s leading role and the work on Party and political work, correctly settle relations between man and weapons, politics and technology in building and operation to ensure that the Vietnam People’s Army can bring into play its revolutionary nature and tradition in all circumstances and enhance its fighting strength to defeat any enemy.

Comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh paid much attention to training and fostering cadres with ethic, talent, virtue and capacity for the army who follow the class guidelines of the Party and would be able to live up to the tasks and situation in each revolutionary stage. He showed concern to educate army cadres on perspectives of the mass, democracy, disciplines and unity. He reminded them to be politically equal to soldiers, showing love, care and assistance to them. He cared for and reminded cadres to constantly and highly promote revolutionary consciousness of the mass so that they could be responsible before the Party and the army and uphold creativity of the mass for new initiatives, vitality and possibility. He maintained that exercising political, economic and military democracy was a lively content of the policy on the mass of the Vietnam People’s Army. He set a bright example on democratic and collective manner for army leaders. Many cadres and soldiers still remember their meetings with comrade Nguyen Chi Thanh, his sincerity, openness, modesty, simplicity and close bond. His attitude helped him to understand the situation of cadres and soldiers and their thinking. Prompted by these experiences, he identified and solved problems on political and military theory, contributing to make the armed forces develop rapidly and win glorious victories.

We are proud to be cadres of the people’s armed forces, to have an exemplary leader and commander with talent and ethic like General Nguyen Chi Thanh. As an outstanding disciple of President Ho Chi Minh, he was a bright example of boundless loyalty to the Party’s revolutionary cause, the love for the country and people, the persistent standpoint of class, the absolute revolutionary spirit to be consistently and continuously offensive, to fight tirelessly to win victory for the revolution and to protect the Party and truth, undeterred by dangers and difficulties while upholding the staunch spirit of the communists.

We will never forget the intimate images, beautiful memories full of human love and comradeship left by General Nguyen Chi Thanh in the political and fighting life of the army. We will forever remember his sincerity, encouragement, guidance and education. His noble revolutionary ethic and great contribution to the Party’s revolutionary cause and people’s armed force building are precious lessons to each of the army cadre and soldier. We pledge to learn from him and to continue the Party’s revolutionary cause in memory of and live up to General Nguyen Chi Thanh./.


This article was published in Communist Review, No 854 (December 2013)

Le Kha PhieuFormer General Secretary of the Central Committee Communist Party of Viet Nam