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Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives.
Posted by
760a631d0dea2ae92cb6e9f7b157b927
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Vladimir Lenin

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Where:
Gorki, Russia
When:
1923-05-15
Summary:
Less than a year before his death (allegedly due to syphilis), Lenin is pictured here in Gorki following a stroke that affected his ability to move and speak.
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Vladimir Lenin


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  Where:
Gorki, Russia

  When:
1923-05-15

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Next Photo
or read more about below

“A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution.” Considered one of the most significant and influential figures of the 20th century, Vladimir Lenin is also among the most controversial as the founder of the Russian Communist Party. Embracing revolutionary socialist politics from an early age, Lenin studied law and gradually made his way into politics in his native Russia where he led the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Following the revolution, he took over as the head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924.

Redefining the Russian political arena, Lenin created a new political ideology known as Marxism-Leninism. His radical ideas made him a champion of socialism and the working class while also earning him harsh criticism for his role in mass killings and political repression. Regardless, Lenin is regarded as the greatest revolutionary leader and thinker since Marx and truly set the stage for his successor, Joseph Stalin, and what would become the Soviet Union.

Life and Career

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov came into this world on April 22, 1870, in Simbirsk, Russia as the third of six children born to Ilya and Maria Ulyanov. Raised in a prosperous middle-class family who placed great importance on education, Lenin’s life took a tragic turn in 1887 when his older brother, Aleksandr, was arrested and executed while at the university. He was presumed to be part of a group planning to assassinate Emperor Alexander III. With Lenin’s father and older brother both dead, Lenin became the man of the family and embraced revolutionary socialist politics as he enrolled at Kazan Imperial University to study law. However, his time in college was short-lived after he was expelled for taking part in a student demonstration.

Later moving in with his sister, Lenin’s interest in radical politics blossomed as he studied Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and, by 1889, declared himself a Marxist. He eventually earned his law degree in 1892 and served Russian peasants in the city of Samara before he moved to St. Petersburg where he joined other Marxists. His acts of rebellion led to his arrest and exile to Siberia for three years. After his exile, he returned to St. Petersburg where he stepped into a greater leadership role in the revolutionary movement. This time, his efforts didn’t go unnoticed as he led the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party and played a key role in the Bolshevik Revolution in the early 1900s.

With the onslaught of World War I, Lenin went into exile again, this time in Switzerland. “The First World War is being waged for the division of colonies and the robbery of foreign territory,” Lenin said of the war. “Thieves have fallen out—and to refer to the defeats at a given moment of one of the thieves in order to identify the interests of all thieves with the interests of the nation or the fatherland is an unconscionable bourgeois lie.”

While in exile, Lenin wrote and published Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism in 1916 and returned home to Russia a year later. Once in the motherland, he resumed power and led the 1917 February Revolution to oust the tsar and establish a provisional government. Over the next few years, he gained more power and overthrew the existing regime to serve as the head of the Soviet Russian government from 1917 to 1924 and as the head of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924.

As a leader, Lenin established a one-party communist state governed by the Communist Party. During his tenure in office, he engaged in the Russian Civil War (1917-1922) and oversaw the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921). He fueled post-war economic growth and fought against devastation, famine, and rebellion with his New Economic Policy and his championing of the working class. Because of this and his extreme political ideologies, he became a controversial and divisive leader known for his influence in socialism, political repression, and mass killings throughout the Soviet Union

Death and Legacy

Amid his growing power as the head of the Soviet government, Lenin’s health rapidly declined. He remained in office and continued publishing his political ideals in volumes like the Collected Works (1920). By 1921, his health was so severe that he suffered regular migraines and insomnia caused by debilitating hearing loss. During the summer of 1921, he took a month off to recover but his health declined so severely that he contemplated suicide and asked his colleague and future successor, Joseph Stalin, for help ending his life.

Over the next few months, 26 physicians helped treat Lenin as his symptoms worsened. Some physicians argued that the 1918 assassination attempt that left bullets lodged in his body was to blame for his illness. The surgeries to remove the bullets were unsuccessful and left Lenin in even greater decline. In May 1922, he suffered his first stroke and temporarily lost his ability to speak and use his right side. He suffered a second stroke in late 1922 and a third stroke in March 1923, the latter of which took his ability to speak.

Lenin made a slow recovery in 1923 and regained some of his mobility and speech before he turned for the worse. On January 21, 1924, the 53-year-old Lenin fell into a coma and never woke again. His body lay in state at the House of Trade Unions for three days as millions of mourners traveled to pay their respects. His funeral took place on January 27, 1924, in the Red Square where tens of thousands attended despite the freezing temperatures. Lenin’s body was later embalmed to preserve it for long-term public display in the Red Square mausoleum. His body remains on public display in Lenin’s Mausoleum on Red Square today.