After World War I, using the pseudonym Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot), Ho engaged in radical activities and was in the founding group of the French Communist party.
When Japan occupied Vietnam in 1941, he resumed contact with ICP leaders and helped to found a new Communist-dominated independence movement, popularly known as the Vietminh, that fought the Japanese. In August 1945, when Japan surrendered, the Vietminh seized power and proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh, now known by his final and best-known pseudonym (which means the "Enlightener"), became president.
The DRV, with Ho still president, now devoted its efforts to constructing a Communist society in North Vietnam. In the early 1960s, however, conflict resumed in the South, where Communist-led guerrillas mounted an insurgency against the U.S.-supported regime in Saigon. Ho, now in poor health, was reduced to a largely ceremonial role, while policy was shaped by others. On September 3, 1969, he died in Hanoi of heart failure. In his honor, after the Communist conquest of the South in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh was not only the founder of Vietnamese communism, he was the very soul of the revolution and of Vietnam's struggle for independence. His personal qualities of simplicity, integrity, and determination were widely admired, not only within Vietnam but elsewhere as well.