Children and Uncle Ho: Ho Chi Minh and His Image as a Propaganda Tool to Fasten New Generations to the Party and the State

Friday, January 5, 2018: 2:30 PM
Diplomat Ballroom (Omni Shoreham)
Olga Dror, Texas A&M University
“Who loves children as much as Uncle Hồ Chí Minh does? Who loves Uncle Hồ Chí Minh as much as children do?” These lines from a very popular children’s song exude love and devotion between Hồ Chí Minh and children. Catriona Kelly, in her stimulating book Children’s World: Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991, discusses the phenomena of leader’s cults in Russia, that of Vladimir I. Lenin and Yosif V. Stalin. According to Kelly, Lenin served for children as a model for emulation. Stalin’s cult presented him as the patron and guide of children. Hồ Chí Minh’s cult combined both of these in a unique way. This paper focuses on the creation of Hồ Chí Minh’s cult for children in Vietnam between 1945 and 1969, the year of Hồ Chí Minh’s death. I rely on texts written primarily for children and by children: books, the children’s newspaper Thiếu niên tiến phong, and textbooks. I argue that Hồ Chí Minh and his image were widely used as an extremely important propaganda tool to fasten children to the ideas promulgated by the governing bodies of the Communist Party and the State. These ideas as well the governing bodies themselves were hard to comprehend, much less to love, for young hearts and minds. Hồ Chí Minh, who assumed the image and the position of Uncle, a member of the children’s families, proved to be an indispensible connection between the new generations and the governing bodies.
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