Professor Dương Quảng Hàm and his family led a silent, devoted life for the liberation of Việt Nam during the resistance against the French invasion in the 1940s.
Now, young people know little about the life of the professor except for his name, as streets are named for him in Hồ Chí Minh City and other cities.
His hometown was Mê Sở Commune, Văn Giang District in northern Hưng Yên Province.
As a professor, he was allowed to evacuate from Hanoi when it was heavily bombarded, but he refused, and remained there to continue working.
He died on December 23, 1946, at the age of 48, while approaching his student combatants on Lê Văn Hưu Street when they were fighting to protect Hà Nội.
“For me, professor Dương Quảng Hàm was my teacher and respected intellectual.”
Said Hoàng Tấn Anh, former head of Artillery Battalion 523 at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ.
“He devoted his life to the nation in a difficult time.
He led a short life, but he was an example for his descendants.”
A patriotic teacher
In the winter of 1946, France mobilized troops to re-occupy Hà Nội, forcing people in the capital city to engage in a resistance to defend the nation.
Those who were not taking part in the fight moved to surrounding areas.
Professor Hàm was among those who were allowed to evacuate, but he refused, saying:
“If I go, how can people look for me when they need me?”
In his lectures, he often included patriotic stories and details about Việt Nam’s rich history of fighting invaders to spur patriotism across generations.
He continued to work at Chu Văn An (Bưởi) School despite the gunfire that could be heard all over the city.
Fighting became fiercer every day, according to Artillery Battalion 523 chief Anh.
Staying to help defend the city was the traditional choice of the professor’s family.
His father, Dương Trọng Phố, and his uncle, Dương Bá Trạc, were among the co-founders of the Tonkin (Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục) Movement, which aimed at modernizing Vietnamese society and education by adopting new ideas from Japan and the West.
His students witnessed his death at the corner of Lê Văn Hưu and Hàm Long Streets.
He was shot in a fierce attack by the French using tanks and heavy weaponry.
His body was lost in the burning ruins of the battlefield.
“This was not rare for patriotic soldiers and intellectuals during the war.
But few people who died on the battlefield have graves.”
However, this was not the end for Ham.
After his death, rumors surfaced alleging that the professor was peacefully living in France.
However, this plot to smear the name and prestige of Professor Hàm was stamped out by Anh, the artillery battalion chief, and three comrades – political commissar Đặng Văn Thái of Duy Tân Company, head of sub area No.1 Ngô Hướng, and member of Zone 2’s battle committee Đỗ Đức Kiên.
The four officials signed a letter confirming that they had witnessed the death of the professor.
A person does not always have to carry a gun to become a patriot; a teacher can do it in his own way, Anh recalled.
A family with a rich tradition of patriotism
Ham’s daughter, Dươg Thị Ngân, was the first radio broadcaster in Hà Nội.
She read the appeal of late President Hồ Chí Minh for a national resistance against the French invasion.
The professor’s other daughter, Dương Thị Thoa, was selected to hoist the national flag during the first National Day ceremony on September 2, 1945.
Thoa went to the streets to raise funds to help famine victims in 1945.
She later joined revolutionary forces at military bases in the north.
After the war, she resumed her studies and became a doctor of philosophy.
Professor Hàm has a grandson named Nguyễn Việt Bắc, a doctor at the Institute for Military Sciences and Technology under the Ministry of National Defense.
Source: Tuổi Trẻ News