Lê Đức Thọ

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Lê Đức Thọ 1973

Lê Đức Thọ (born October 14, 1911 in Pich-Le in the Hà Nam province ; † October 13, 1990 in Hanoi ; actually Phan Đình Khải ) was a Vietnamese politician and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize , but he refused to accept it.

life and work

Early years and political development

Lê Đức Thọ was born as Phan Đình Khải as the son of an official of the French colonial administration of Vietnam in 1911. His mother came from a large, wealthy, small-scale industrial family in Phan Rangs. Ironically, he was related to many of the last senior South Vietnamese politicians on his mother's side and later ordered his relatives to be "re-educated". From a young age, Lê Đức Thọ was fascinated by radical theories and in 1930 he co-founded the Indochinese Communist Party . Because of his political activities, he was exiled to ten years of forced labor on the island of Poulu Condor (Côn Sơn) in the same year . He was released early in 1936, after which he went to Nam Định and headed the communist party's propaganda work. In 1939 he was arrested again, but was able to flee to China in 1940 and was involved in the founding of the League for the struggle for Vietnam's independence. He was arrested again that same year and remained in Sơn La Prison until 1944 .

In 1945 he became a member of the Central Committee and Standing Committee of the Indochinese Communist Party . In the same year he was, together with Hồ Chí Minh and Võ Nguyên Giáp , founder of the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, (FNL) , also known as the Viet Cong. From 1948 he organized the fight against the French colonial power together with Lê Duẩn .

Political career in North Vietnam

After the French troops withdrew after the defeat by the Vietnamese rebels at beiiện Biên Phủ in 1954 and the division of the country had been decided at the Geneva Conference on Indochina , Lê Đức Thọ went to the new capital of North Vietnam , Hà Nội , and became a member of the Politburo and leader of the Communist Party and chairman of the South Vietnamese FNL . This made him the leading representative of the region and, after 1954, also the organizer of resistance and attacks against the South Vietnamese government. The resistance against South Vietnam arose primarily due to the anti-communist attitude of the country, the government and the troops of South Vietnam, at the same time the economic situation did not improve.

Intervention in South Vietnam and the Vietnam War

In 1960, the resistance in South Vietnam organized itself with the support of North Vietnamese fighters in a liberation front that sought to reunite the two countries under communist leadership. The situation escalated until the assassination of the head of state Ngô Đình Diệm in November 1963 and the subsequent US-backed military dictatorship under Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and Nguyễn Cao Kỳ . In 1964 there was the Tonkin incident and, as a result, the Tonkin resolution , from the point of view of the US government the legitimation for the US to intervene in the Vietnam War . Lê Đức Thọ became head of military operations during the war.

The Vietnam War lasted until 1975, but the first peace negotiations between Lê Đức Thọ and the US special envoy and later Foreign Minister Henry Kissinger took place in Paris as early as 1968. These lasted for several years, and in 1973, after several interruptions and incidents, a ceasefire agreement was reached. In the same year he and Henry Kissinger were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Lê Đức Thọ refused to accept the award on the grounds that there was still no peace in his country.

Despite the withdrawal of the American soldiers, the American government continued to support the South Vietnamese army with arms deliveries. Lê Đức Thọ led, together with Võ Nguyên Giáp , the military actions against the South Vietnamese dictator Nguyễn Văn Thiệu , which in 1975 led to the collapse of the South Vietnamese regime. In July 1976 Vietnam was formally reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Intervention in Cambodia

In 1978, under the orders of Lê Đức Thọ, the neighboring country of Cambodia was occupied after several military clashes with the Khmer Rouge had already taken place. As part of the United Movement for the Liberation of Cambodia, which was founded in Hanoi, the Khmer Rouge should be ousted. This happened in January 1979 when the Vietnamese troops marched into Phnom Penh . Even after the withdrawal of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia remained occupied by Vietnam until 1989 despite international protests.

Lê Đức Thọ himself remained a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam until his political withdrawal in 1986. He died in Hanoi in 1990 the day before his 79th birthday. His widow moved to Saigon.


  • Interview with Le Duc Tho - “The only way to solve the Vietnam problem peacefully” (Excerpt from the magazine “Focal Point”). In: Kommunistische Volkszeitung , central organ of the Communist League of West Germany (KBW). December 12, 1974, Vol. 2, No. 28, p. 14.
  • Bernhard Kupfer: Lexicon of Nobel Prize Winners. Patmos-Verlag, Düsseldorf 2001.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Why Le Duc Tho refused his Nobel Peace Prize. Transcription of Lê Đức Thọ's letter about the rejection of the Nobel Prize (unofficial translation by the New York Times ). In: Black and White Cat. December 11, 2010; Archived from the original on January 1, 2011 ; accessed on April 15, 2015 .

Web links

Commons : Lê Đức Thọ  - collection of images, videos and audio files