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Vladimir Lenin
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Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин), original name Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Улья́нов) (April 10 (April 22, New Style), 1870 - January 21, 1924), a Russian revolutionary, the leader of the Bolshevik party, the first Premier of the Soviet Union and the founder of the ideology of Leninism.

"Lenin" was one of his revolutionary pseudonyms. He is believed to have created it to show his opposition to Georgi Plekhanov who used the pseudonym Volgin, after the Volga River; Ulyanov picked the Lena which is longer and flows in the opposite direction. He is sometimes erroneously referred to in the West as "Nikolai Lenin", though he has never been known as such in Russia.

Table of contents
1 Early life
2 Soviet Union
3 See also
4 Selected works
5 Further reading
6 External links

Early life

Born in Simbirsk, Russia, Lenin was the son of Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov (1831 - 1886), a Russian civil service official who worked for increased democracy and free universal education in Russia, and his liberal wife Maria Alexandrovna Blank (1835 - 1916). Lenin had Jewish ancestry through his maternal grandfather (who later converted to Christianity), although he was himself baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church, and also Volga German ancestry through his mother, who was a Lutheran. He distinguished himself in the study of Latin and Greek. In May of 1887 his eldest brother Alexander Ulyanov was hanged for participation in a plot on the life of Tsar Alexander III. This radicalized Lenin and later that year he was arrested, and expelled from Kazan University for participating in student protests. He continued to study independently and by 1891 had earned a license to practice law.

However, rather than settle into a legal career he became more involved in revolutionary propaganda efforts, and the study of Marxism, much of it in St. Petersburg. On December 7 1895, he was arrested and held by authorities for an entire year, then exiled to the village of Shushenskoye in Siberia.

In July of 1898 he married socialist activist Nadezhda Krupskaya. In April of 1899, he published the book The Development of Capitalism in Russia. In 1900, his exile ended. He travelled in Russia and elsewhere in Europe, and published the paper Iskra, as well as other tracts and books related to the revolutionary movement.

He was active in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), and in 1903 he led the Bolshevik faction after a split with the Mensheviks that was partly inspired by his pamphlet What is to be Done?. In 1906 he was elected to the Presidium of the RSDLP. In 1907 he moved to Finland for security reasons. He continued to travel in Europe and participated in many socialist meetings and activities.

On April 16, 1917 he returned to Petrograd following the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II, and took a leading role within the Bolshevik movement, publishing the April Theses. After a failed workers' uprising in July, Lenin fled to Finland for safety. He returned in October to successfully lead an armed revolution against the Provisional Government led by Kerensky.

Soviet Union

On November 8, Lenin was elected as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars by the Russian Soviet Congress. Faced with the threat of German invasion, Lenin insisted that Russia sign the proposed harsh peace treaty, though the failure of the Russian delegation to do so resulted in the loss of much of the country's western territory in the eventual Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918).

Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, was furious when Lenin shut down the Constituent Assembly and began to suppress non-Bolshevik political groups, including other socialist groups. On August 30, 1918, she approached Lenin after he'd spoken at a meeting and was on his way to his car. She called out to Lenin, and when he turned to answer, fired three shots, two of which struck him, in the shoulder and lung. Lenin was taken to his private apartment in the Kremlin, and refused to venture to a hospital, believing other assassins would be waiting there. Doctors were summoned, but decided that it was too dangerous to remove the bullets. Lenin eventually recovered, though his health declined from this point, and it is believed that the incident contributed to his later strokes.

Lenin's Bolshevik faction overcame the remaining factions and renamed itself into RCP(B), or Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), which eventually became the CPSU.

Lenin was greatly impressed by the Theremin after a demonstration by inventor Lev Sergeivitch Termen. He took lessons on the instrument, commissioned 600 of the devices to be made for distribution throughout the Soviet Union, and sent Termen abroad to demonstrate Soviet musical instrument technology to the world.

After the failures of the policy of War communism introduced during the Russian Civil War, in March 1921, on Lenin's initiative, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was adopted, allowing limited private enterprise, in an attempt to rebuild industry and especially agriculture. But the same month saw the suppression of an uprising among sailors at Kronstadt ("the Kronstadt rebellion").

Lenin's health had already been damaged due to the asassination attempt and the intolerable strains of revolution and war. In May 1922, Lenin had his first stroke. He was left partially paralyzed (on his right side) and his role in government declined. After the second stroke in December the Politburo ordered that he be kept in isolation. The assassination attempt earlier in his life also added to his health problems. In March 1923 he suffered the third stroke and was left bedridden and no longer able to speak. Lenin died of the fourth stroke on January 24, 1924.

The official cause given for Lenin's death was cerebral arteriosclerosis, or a stroke, but out of the 27 physicians who treated him only 8 signed onto that conclusion in his autopsy report. A posthumous diagnosis by two psychiatrists and a neurologist recently published in the European Journal of Neurology was that Lenin died a slow and painful death from syphilis. This diagnosis was based on documents released after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 1991, and including Lenin's medical chart, autopsy results and personal notes from physicians who treated him.

The city of Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honor; this remained the name of the city until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when it reverted to its original name, St Petersburg.

After his first stroke he published a number of papers indicating future directions for the government. Most famous of these is Lenin's Testament which criticised Joseph Stalin, who had been the Communist Party's general secretary since April 1922, claiming that he had "unlimited authority concentrated in his hands" and suggesting that "comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post". Many of these papers were suppressed for decades as Stalin and his supporters gained control. After Lenin's death, Stalin gained full control of the Party and leadership of the Soviet Union following a brief power struggle with Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition.

His embalmed body is on permanent exhibition in the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow.

See also

statue in Vijayawada, India]]
Russian Revolution
  • Communism
  • List of places named after Lenin
  • List of statues of Lenin

  • Selected works

    Further reading

    External links


    Preceded by:
    Aleksandr Kerensky as Head of the Provisional Government of 1917
    Leaders of Russia / Leaders of the Soviet Union Succeeded by:
    Josef Stalin