To Hieu – A Faithful Communist Soldier
To Hieu was born in 1912 in Xuan Cau village, Nghia Tru commune, Van Giang district, Hung Yen province. He was the youngest boy in a poor family, and he joined revolutionary activities since he was 14 years old.
From 1925 to 1926, he studied at Franco-Vietnam school in Hai Duong town; he participated in the movements demanding the release of Phan Boi Chau and the mourning for Phan Chu Trinh. As a result, he was made to fail the final examination of primary school.
In 1927, he went to Hanoi to live with his elderly brother namely To Tu. During that time, he studied, worked for living and participated in patriotic activities of the student movement, and then he enrolled in the Indochinese Communist Party. In 1930, he was arrested by the French colonial government, sentenced to 4 - year imprisonment and sent to Con Dao Island.
In 1934, he was released; then he came back to his hometown. Despite living under a house arrest, he still took part in many revolutionary activities in Hanoi, Hung Yen and Hai Phong. Also, he mobilized all villagers to build a school for pupils. In 1935, he was assigned to Thai Nguyen in order to establish the revolutionary base. Then, he moved to Hanoi to work as a member of the Northern Communist Party and was in charge of propaganda and instruction activities as well as leading the Hanoi revolutionary movement. He wrote many articles in public newspaper so as to provide guidance for revolutionary officials and assigned the staff to coal mines for stimulating the movement of coal mine workers
In the autumn of 1938, the Party assigned him to be in charge of northern coastal area and the Secretary of the Communist Party in Hai Phong. Under the leadership of the Communist Party, the movement reached its high peak. A number of struggles requesting for increasing salary, reducing working-hour and improving living standards of workers in cement factories, electric factories, water plants and textile factories achieved great results. Typically, thanks to the struggle led by To Hieu with the participation of 3000 workers in textile factories from 16th to 22nd April, 1939, all workers’ requests were satisfied by the factories.
On May 30th, 1939, To Hieu led the struggle against the tax levied on electricity and water supply. When the French police carried out repression and arrested 72 people, he managed to escape with the support of workers. However, tuberculosis made his health worse during this time. Although the local communist party asked him to rest for recovering, he continuously involved in the movement with high enthusiasm.
On December 1st, 1939, he was arrested on the way bringing materials to the printing house. The colonial judged him in Kien An court and sentenced him to 5-year imprisonment.
In 1940, he was sent into exile in Son La. In Son La prison, he was selected to be the Secretary of the Party Cell; he led his comrades to struggle for the improvement of prison’s conditions. He and his comrades wrote materials, conducted training in politics and culture for other prisoners to “change the prison into school”, trained for communist officers and tried to contact with outside communist units.
Because of the hard living conditions in prison as well as the severe torture of the enemy, his health became worse and worse. However, he was very positive and believed in the success of the Communist Party. In 1943, when hearing the good news about the victory of Russian Red Army in Leningrad, despite his bad health condition, he reaffirmed that “Russia will win, fascism will be defeated, the war will end and the Vietnam revolution will succeed”. On March 7th, 1944, he died in Son La. His tomb was buried in The Guava garden cemetery.
Today, when visiting Son La prison, you can see the green peach tree planted by To Hieu As the spring arrives, the peach branch grafted from this tree blossoms with red petals. In his honor, many streets and schools were named To Hieu.