Pham Van Lam - a steadfast communist soldier

Monday, 2019-05-13 17:14:15
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Martyr Pham Van Lam, former Secretary of the Saigon - Cho Lon municipal Party Committee.
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NDO – The resistant war ended as memories and milestones of a period that witnessed the whole nation struggling in a battle for freedom and independence have become legendary. Time has passed by, but those glorious pages and the immense contributions of revolutionaries have been made clear and glorified in the nation’s history. In the ranks of patriots who devoted their whole lives to the national independence, it is crucial to mention martyr Pham Van Lam (Pham Phong Lam), former Secretary of the Saigon - Cho Lon municipal Party Committee in 1945.

In 1958, the situation in Saigon was extremely turbulent, as enemies raided the revolutionary forces day and night. The intelligence network run by comrade Dinh Thi Van, Hero of the People's Armed Forces and an Intelligence Colonel, was broken, interrupting the liaison line with the Intelligence Department. After that, a staff member of the Saigon - Cho Lon Special Zone helped to reconnect the line. His name was Nguyen Van Thanh, in charge of the communications work among the communists and also a professional journalist, whose pseudonym was Hoa Lu. His physique was so thin that he was also called Mr. Ba “Thinny”.

Pursued by enemies, Ba Thinny hid in the house of Mrs. Sau “emigrated" (Dinh Thi Van). Through the sensitivity of her profession, Van knew that he was her comrades who were hunted by the enemies. At that time, Ba Thinny was exhausted and was cared for by a hidden revolutionary facility in a local hospital. He knew he would not survive and before he took his last breath, he gave all the documents he was carrying to Van and said: "Later someone will repay you". Van kindly replied: "You can rest assured. The Party is caring for you." Ba smiled and then passed away. Van did not know how to bury her comrades carefully. Finally, she decided to make Ba her husband to publicise his funeral, while covering the enemies’ eyes. With a white scarf on her head, Van tried to report to her superiors and made contact with them to return all of the important documents that Ba wanted to send to the Saigon - Cho Lon Party Committee. This was a very important contribution of spy Dinh Thi Van in protecting the Party's base in the Saigon - Cho Lon Special Zone.

In 1975, the country was united, but it was not until 1994, 36 years after Pham Van Lam died, through newspapers and television, that his family learnt of and found benefactor Hero Dinh Thi Van. From this important point, Lam’s family and the authorities connected with revolutionary officials who worked since the early days of the resistant war until Lam’s death, in which there are officials who are the upper echelons of Lam. That helped the local authorities and historical research department of Yen Mo district in Ninh Binh province, as well as living witnesses, to clarify the status and career of steadfast communist soldier Pham Van Lam.

Comrade Pham Van Lam was born on September 27, 1905, in a peasant family with a strong tradition of fondness for learning and patriotism in Non Khe village, Yen Tu commune, Yen Mo district, Ninh Binh province. During his revolutionary career, he also had other names and nicknames, such as Pham Phong Lam, Ba “Thinny”, Hoa Lu, Pham Ngoc Lam, Tran Van Thanh and Nguyen Van Thanh. In 1926, Pham Van Lam joined Pham Ngoc Nhi and Pham Ngoc Du from the same commune to study at Thanh Chung Nam Dinh high school. They were inspired by revolutionary teacher Nguyen Van Hoan and joined the resistant movement at the school which was famous for its revolutionary tradition.

In 1927, Lam joined the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League in Thanh Chung Nam Dinh school and was assigned to monitor and propagate the revolutions theories to students and officials at the school. The facility has helped facilitate the training of many generations of patriotic students, contributing significantly to the process of spreading Marxism-Leninism and national independence. The typical names here can be listed as Nguyen Duc Canh, Nguyen Danh Doi, Nguyen Van Hoan, Truong Chinh and Nguyen Co Thach, many of whom became key leaders of the Party and State during the resistance wars against foreign invaders and in the national construction period.

In 1928, Yen Tu commune established a branch of Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League led by Ta Uyen, who served as the secretary in charge of heading a local group. The second group consisted of Lam, Nhi and Du working in Thanh Chung Nam Dinh school. During his time at the school, Lam often went back to his hometown to take part in communication work to develop revolutionary facilities in the locality. In June 1929, the Communist Party of Indochina was born. In July 1929, in Yen Mo, the first local communist cell was established in Coi Tri, Yen My commune, led by Ta Uyen serving as the secretary and Pham Van Lam was in charge of the recruitment of new party members.

In early 1930s, Lam was captured by the enemies and sentenced to 20 years of forced labour and 15 years of house arrest. After that, comrade Lam was helped by his parents-in-law as they sold their properties to get money to bail him out and by all means fight for Lam to be released. He was only placed on probation in his homeland, so he had conditions to connect with the revolutionary establishments to continue his activities. During 1936-1939, in Indochina, the movement of national liberation launched by the Communist Party of Indochina was at its highest and widely connected with the public through the Indochina Democratic Front organisation, accompanied by the support of local parties concerned, people and intellectuals. Pham Van Lam actively participated in advocating and supporting the struggle of 8,000 workers in Nam Dinh Textile Factory to demand salary increases and reduced hours, as well as to not beat workers. He also joined the struggle of the Phuong Nai people in fighting against two landowners Hoi Ky and Chanh Huyen, forcing them to return land to farmers for farming. From 1941 to 1944, Lam and Yen Tu commune Party Committee jointly led many struggles against forced conscript and forced labour in digging a new river a transport waterway for the French colonists.

In 1945, Pham Van Lam with the alias Pham Phong Lam was assigned by the Central Party Committee to secretly enter Saigon to assume the task of the Secretary of the Saigon - Cho Lon Party Committee. At the end of 1945, comrade Lam was afflicted with a serious disease. He was sent by the organisation into a private hospital in Cho Lon and was treated by Doctor Denier, a member of the French Communist Party. But, as soon as he was discharged from the hospital, he was captured by the enemies in Saigon with revolutionist Huynh Tan Phat. After a period of detention and interrogation, due to insufficient evidence, comrade Lam was released. After leaving prison, he made contact immediately with the organisation to carry out revolutionary activities. At that time, he was the Secretary General of the Committee for Relief of Political Prisoners.

In 1946, the Party Central Committee arranged Lam to take out his task at the operational base. In 1951, he worked at the Southern Department of Culture. In 1954, after the Geneva Accord, comrade Nguyen Van Linh (Muoi Cuc), Secretary of the Party Committee of Saigon - Gia Dinh Special Zone, assigned Lam and his wife - Professor Nguyen Thi Dieu to stay in the inner city to operate. Lam was assigned to take charge of the Sai Gon - Gia Dinh Party Committee's Propaganda Department.

During 1955-1959, the Republic of Vietnam increased its anti-communist movements. In the extremely difficult context of the secret operation, although being carefully treated by the revolutionary establishment, due to his serious illness, along with bad news that his wife and children was brutally killed by the enemies, comrade Pham Van Lam passed away on September 12, 1958, when he was 53 years old.

Due to the war, Pham Van Lam's grave was lost. It was not until 1995 that his family found his tomb and held a solemn memorial ceremony at the Hanoi municipal Party Committee’s office on August 28, 1995. Pham Van Lam was awarded the martyr title, along with multiple noble medals by the Party and State.

It would be a mistake to not discuss Pham Van Lam's private life. Due to historical circumstances, Lam had two wives: Mrs. Le Thi Chinh in his hometown in Ninh Binh. In 1945, when Lam received his special assignment, the superiors found that Lam’s wife had a high level of education and decided to send her to China for further study, but Chinh refused, saying very simply: "Lam is far away from home. I want to stay here to take care of my children and work at the locality!" Le Thi Chinh had two children - Pham Minh Hang and Pham Ba Cuong.

The following wife of Pham Van Lam was Professor Nguyen Thi Dieu, the daughter of Minister Nguyen Hien under the former dynasty. Dieu participated in revolutionary activities at a very young age, being a member of the Executive Committee of the Women's Union in the South. She was heroically sacrificed at the age of 30 while three months pregnant, leaving three children (two girls, one boy). In recognition of her merit, Ho Chi Minh City authorities named a street and a high school after martyr Nguyen Thi Dieu.