Almost seventy years have elapsed since the beginning of World War II. This was the bloodiest conflict our global world has ever endured. Almost every country throughout the world lost millions upon millions of its population. There has never been a war fought on such a massive scale as the Second World War. It is doubtful if such a war will ever be fought again. If it ever happens, it will mean the total destruction of our world.
The Lenin Mausoleum is the first of a series of articles that document some of the names, places, catch words, and other items that are now lodged permanently in our vocabulary, History was made some 68 years ago. We dare not forget.
The Lenin Mausoleum
Lenin’s preserved body is on permanent display at the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow. Because of Lenin’s unique role in the creation of the first communist state, and despite his expressed wish shortly before his death that no memorials be created for him, his character was elevated over time to the point of near religious reverence. By the 1980s, every major city in the Soviet Union had a statue of Lenin in its central square. There was either a Lenin street or a Lenin Square near the city center. Often 20 or more smaller statues and busts populated its territory. Collective farms, medals, hybrids of wheat, and even an asteroid were named after Lenin. Children were taught stories about “granddad Lenin” while they were still in nursery school.
The almost religious fervor that surrounded the existence of the Tomb of Lenin is comparable to the religious significance of the Tomb of Mary. Orthodox and Franciscan monks watch over her tomb daily. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was buried in the Kidron Valley. According to writings, the Church of the Assumption was erected upon the tomb that received the mortal remains of the Blessed Virgin. From this tomb she was taken into heaven. The death and assumption of Mary into heaven is described in the apocryphal writing “The transition of the Virgin” or “Dormition” of Mary.
Although the Tomb of Mary contains many of the most sacred religious artifacts of Christianity, the tomb is unoccupied. Because of the multitudes of annual pilgrims to this site, the Israeli Defense Force provides protection to the thousands of visitors to the Tomb of Mary that visit the Holy Land each year.
Just as the Tomb of Mary bore the highest significance to Christianity, so did the Tomb of Lenin become the highest monument of significance to the world of communism. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin (April 22, 1870 – January 21, 1924)was a Russian revolutionary, a communist politician, the main leader of the October Revolution, the first head of the Soviet Union, and the primary theorist of Leninism, a variant of Marxism Lenin was a driving force behind the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became the first great dictator of the Soviet Union. After his brother was executed in 1887 (for plotting to kill the Czar), Lenin gave up studying law and became a full-time revolutionary.
Lenin studied Karl Marx and formed workers’ groups, but was arrested and exiled to Siberia in 1895. In 1900 he went to Europe, and in 1903 he led the Bolsheviks in the split of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ party. When revolution broke out in Russia in 1917, he led the Bolsheviks to control the government. Lenin had complete political control over the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) until his death, and is remembered as the man who put Marx’s ideas to practical use.
For decades after his death, Lenin’s well-preserved body has been put on public display in a special mausoleum in Red Square. It was named The Tomb of Lenin.
Stretching along one side of the Kremlin walls, Red Square has become a part of its overall architectural ensemble, with seven Kremlin towers standing along its western side. The Lenin Mausoleum is at the compositional center of Red Square. Its architect employed a simple and expressive design in the form of a monumental edifice, faced in dark red granite and black labradorite.
Every hour on the hour to the peal of the Kremlin chimes the guards are changed at the entrance to the Mausoleum. It is a solemn ceremony that is comparable to the changing of the guard in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
During national festivities the Mausoleum becomes a focal point of military parades. On both sides of the Mausoleum there are stands of light-grey granite for the guests. Behind the Mausoleum along the Kremlin wall the revolutionary necropolis is located. Here lie buried figures of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the former Soviet State.
We cannot overlook the significance the Lenin Mausoleum has played in the growth and rise of world communism. The communist regimes that followed the death of Lenin have propagated this into a shrine. Because of world communism in the 1930s and early 1940, the origin of nazism in Germany and other countries took root. Here indeed began a chain of events which led to the start of World War II.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the level of reverence for Lenin in post-Soviet republics has gone down considerably. However, generations who grew up during the Soviet period still consider Lenin an important figure. Most statues of Lenin have been torn down in Eastern Europe, but many still remain in Russia. The city of Leningrad reverted to St Petersburg, which was its original name, The surrounding Leningrad Oblast still carries his name. The citizens of Ulyanovsk, Lenin’s birthplace, have so far resisted all attempts to revert its name to Simbirsk.
The subject of interring Lenin’s body has been a recurring topic for the past several years in Russia. To this day, the body of Lenin lies in perpetual state in the Tomb of Lenin. The elite unit of Russian guards still constantly stands watch round the clock. It is a living icon that despite democratization within the Russian Federation, the spirit of communism has not gone away.
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