TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  Vladimir Lenin

part I
Vladimir Ilich Lenin


part II
October Revolution
Cheka
Red Terror
White Terror
Russian Civil War
Russian famine of 1921
  Joseph Stalin

part I
Joseph Stalin 1879-1938

part II
Joseph Stalin 1939-1953

part III

Great Purge
Moscow Trials
Holodomor
Stalin and anti-Semitism
Stalin and Socialist Realism
 
     
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
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Vladimir Lenin
 
 

Lenin
 
 
Vladimir Ilich Lenin, original name Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov (born April 10 [April 22, New Style], 1870, Simbirsk, Russia—died January 21, 1924, Gorki [later Gorki Leninskiye], near Moscow), founder of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), inspirer and leader of the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), and the architect, builder, and first head (1917–24) of the Soviet state. He was the founder of the organization known as Comintern (Communist International) and the posthumous source of “Leninism,” the doctrine codified and conjoined with Marx’s works by Lenin’s successors to form Marxism-Leninism, which became the Communist worldview.

If the Bolshevik Revolution is—as some people have called it—the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be regarded as the century’s most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx.



Lenin, c. 1887.

 

Early life
The making of a revolutionary

It is difficult to identify any particular events in his childhood that might prefigure his turn onto the path of a professional revolutionary. Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov was born in Simbirsk, which was renamed Ulyanovsk in his honour. (He adopted the pseudonym Lenin in 1901 during his clandestine party work after exile in Siberia.) He was the third of six children born into a close-knit, happy family of highly educated and cultured parents. His mother was the daughter of a physician, while his father, though the son of a serf, became a schoolteacher and rose to the position of inspector of schools. Lenin, intellectually gifted, physically strong, and reared in a warm, loving home, early displayed a voracious passion for learning. He was graduated from high school ranking first in his class. He distinguished himself in Latin and Greek and seemed destined for the life of a classical scholar. When he was 16, nothing in Lenin indicated a future rebel, still less a professional revolutionary—except, perhaps, his turn to atheism. But, despite the comfortable circumstances of their upbringing, all five of the Ulyanov children who reached maturity joined the revolutionary movement. This was not an uncommon phenomenon in tsarist Russia, where even the highly educated and cultured intelligentsia were denied elementary civil and political rights.

As an adolescent Lenin suffered two blows that unquestionably influenced his subsequent decision to take the path of revolution. First, his father was threatened shortly before his untimely death with premature retirement by a reactionary government that had grown fearful of the spread of public education. Second, in 1887 his beloved eldest brother, Aleksandr, a student at the University of St. Petersburg (later renamed Leningrad State University), was hanged for conspiring with a revolutionary terrorist group that plotted to assassinate Emperor Alexander III. Suddenly, at age 17, Lenin became the male head of the family, which was now stigmatized as having reared a “state criminal.”

Fortunately the income from his mother’s pension and inheritance kept the family in comfortable circumstances, although it could not prevent the frequent imprisonment or exile of her children. Moreover, Lenin’s high school principal (the father of Aleksandr Kerensky, who was later to lead the Provisional government deposed by Lenin’s Bolsheviks in November [October, O.S.] 1917) did not turn his back on the “criminal’s” family. He courageously wrote a character reference that smoothed Lenin’s admission to a university.

In autumn 1887 Lenin enrolled in the faculty of law of the imperial Kazan University (later renamed Kazan [V.I. Lenin] State University), but within three months he was expelled from the school, having been accused of participating in an illegal student assembly. He was arrested and banished from Kazan to his grandfather’s estate in the village of Kokushkino, where his older sister Anna had already been ordered by the police to reside. In the autumn of 1888, the authorities permitted him to return to Kazan but denied him readmission to the university. During this period of enforced idleness, he met exiled revolutionaries of the older generation and avidly read revolutionary political literature, especially Marx’s Das Kapital. He became a Marxist in January 1889.



V. I. Ulyanov among the members of the Petersburg
"League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class".
In group from left to right: standing — A.L. Malchenko, P. K. Zaporozhets, A. A. Vaneyev;
sitting — V. V. Starkov, G. M. Krzhizhanovsky, V. I. Ulyanov, Y. O. Martov - Tsederbaum.
1896

Formation of a revolutionary party
In May 1889 the Ulyanov family moved to Samara (known as Kuybyshev from 1935 to 1991). After much petitioning, Lenin was granted permission to take his law examinations. In November 1891 he passed his examinations, taking a first in all subjects, and was graduated with a first-class degree. After the police finally waived their political objections, Lenin was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Samara in 1892–93, his clients being mainly poor peasants and artisans. In his experience practicing law, he acquired an intense loathing for the class bias of the legal system and a lifelong revulsion for lawyers, even those who claimed to be Social-Democrats.

Law proved to be an extremely useful cover for a revolutionary activist. He moved to St. Petersburg (from 1914 to 1924 known as Petrograd; from 1924 to 1991 known as Leningrad) in August 1893 and, while working as a public defender, associated with revolutionary Marxist circles. In 1895 his comrades sent him abroad to make contact with Russian exiles in western Europe, especially with Russia’s most commanding Marxist thinker, Georgy Plekhanov. Upon his return to Russia in 1895, Lenin and other Marxists, including L. Martov, the future leader of the Mensheviks, succeeded in unifying the Marxist groups of the capital in an organization known as the Union for the Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class. The Union issued leaflets and proclamations on the workers’ behalf, supported workers’ strikes, and infiltrated workers’ education classes to impart to them the rudiments of Marxism. In December 1895, the leaders of the Union were arrested. Lenin was jailed for 15 months and thereafter was sent into exile to Shushenskoye, in Siberia, for a term of three years. He was joined there in exile by his fiancée, Nadezhda Krupskaya, a Union member, whom he had met in the capital. They were married in Siberia, and she became Lenin’s indispensable secretary and comrade. In exile they conducted clandestine party correspondence and collaborated (legally) on a Russian translation of Sidney and Beatrice Webb’s Industrial Democracy.

Upon completing his term of Siberian exile in January 1900, Lenin left the country and was joined later by Krupskaya in Munich. His first major task abroad was to join Plekhanov, Martov, and three other editors in bringing out the newspaper Iskra (“The Spark”), which they hoped would unify the Russian Marxist groups that were scattered throughout Russia and western Europe into a cohesive Social-Democratic party.

Up to the point at which Lenin began working on Iskra, his writings had taken as their focus three problems: first, he had written a number of leaflets that aimed to shake the workers’ traditional veneration of the tsar by showing them that their harsh life was caused, in part, by the support tsarism rendered the capitalists; second, he attacked those self-styled Marxists who urged Social-Democrats and workers to concentrate on wage and hour issues, leaving the political struggle for the present to the bourgeoisie; third, and ultimately most important, he addressed himself to the peasant question.



His wife Nadezhda.Nadezhda.

 

The principal obstacle to the acceptance of Marxism by many of the Russian intelligentsia was their adherence to the widespread belief of the Populists (Russian pre-Marxist radicals) that Marxism was inapplicable to peasant Russia, in which a proletariat (an industrial working class) was almost nonexistent. Russia, they believed, was immune to capitalism, owing to the circumstances of joint ownership of peasant land by the village commune. This view had been first attacked by Plekhanov in the 1880s. Plekhanov had argued that Russia had already entered the capitalist stage, looking for evidence to the rapid growth of industry. Despite the denials of the Populists, he claimed, the man of the future in Russia was indeed the proletarian, not the peasant. While attempting to apply the Marxist scheme of social development to Russia, Plekhanov had come to the conclusion that the revolution in Russia would have to pass through two discrete stages: first, a bourgeois revolution that would establish a democratic republic and full-blown capitalism; and second, a proletarian revolution after mature capitalism had generated a numerous proletariat that had attained a high level of political organization, socialist consciousness, and culture, enabling them to usher in full Socialism.

It was this set of principles that Lenin adhered to after he read Plekhanov’s work in the late 1880s. But, almost immediately, Lenin went a step beyond his former mentor, especially with regard to the peasant question. In an attack on the Populists published in 1894, Lenin charged that, even if they realized their fondest dream and divided all the land among the peasant communes, the result would not be Socialism but rather capitalism spawned by a free market in agricultural produce. The “Socialism” put forth by the Populists would in practice favour the development of small-scale capitalism; hence the Populists were not Socialists but “petty bourgeois democrats.” Lenin came to the conclusion that outside of Marxism, which aimed ultimately to abolish the market system as well as the private ownership of the means of production, there could be no Socialism.

Even while in exile in Siberia, Lenin had begun research on his investigation of the peasant question, which culminated in his magisterial Development of Capitalism in Russia (published legally in 1899). In this work, a study of Russian economics, he argued that capitalism was rapidly destroying the peasant commune. The peasantry constituted for the Populists a homogeneous social class, but Lenin claimed that the peasantry was in actuality rapidly stratifying into a well-off rural bourgeoisie, a middling peasantry, and an impoverished rural “proletariat and semi-proletariat.” In this last group, which comprised half the peasant population, Lenin found an ally for the extremely small industrial proletariat in Russia.

Iskra’s success in recruiting Russian intellectuals to Marxism led Lenin and his comrades to believe that the time was ripe to found a revolutionary Marxist party that would weld together all the disparate Marxist groups at home and abroad. An abortive First Congress, held in 1898 in Minsk, had failed to achieve this objective, for most of the delegates were arrested shortly after the congress. The organizing committee of the Second Congress decided to convene the congress in Brussels in 1903, but police pressure forced it to transfer to London.

The congressional sessions wore on for nearly three weeks, for no point appeared too trivial to debate. The main issues, nevertheless, quickly became plain: eligibility for membership and the character of party discipline; but, above all, the key questions centred around the relation between the party and the proletariat, for whom the party claimed to speak.

In his What Is To Be Done? (1902), Lenin totally rejected the standpoint that the proletariat was being driven spontaneously to revolutionary Socialism by capitalism and that the party’s role should be to merely coordinate the struggle of the proletariat’s diverse sections on a national and international scale. Capitalism, he contended, predisposed the workers to the acceptance of Socialism but did not spontaneously make them conscious Socialists. The proletariat by its own efforts in the everyday struggle against the capitalist could go so far as to achieve “trade-union consciousness.” But the proletariat could not by its own efforts grasp that it would be possible to win complete emancipation only by overthrowing capitalism and building Socialism, unless the party from without infused it with Socialist consciousness.

In his What Is To Be Done? and in his other works dealing with party organization, Lenin articulated one of his most momentous political innovations, his theory of the party as the “vanguard of the proletariat.” He conceived of the vanguard as a highly disciplined, centralized party that would work unremittingly to suffuse the proletariat with Socialist consciousness and serve as mentor, leader, and guide, constantly showing the proletariat where its true class interests lie.

At the Second Congress the Iskra group split, and Lenin found himself in a minority of opinion on this very issue. Nevertheless, he continued to develop his view of “the party of a new type,” which was to be guided by “democratic centralism,” or absolute party discipline. According to Lenin the party had to be a highly centralized body organized around a small, ideologically homogeneous, hardened core of experienced professional revolutionaries, who would be elected to the central committee by the party congress and who would lead a ramified hierarchy of lower party organizations that would enjoy the support and sympathy of the proletariat and all groups opposed to tsarism. “Give us an organization of revolutionaries,” Lenin exclaimed, “and we will overturn Russia!”

Lenin spared no effort to build just this kind of party over the next 20 years, despite fierce attacks on his position by some of his closest comrades of the Iskra days, Plekhanov, Martov, and Leon Trotsky. They charged that his scheme of party organization and discipline tended toward “Jacobinism,” suppression of free intraparty discussion, a dictatorship over the proletariat, not of the proletariat, and, finally, establishment of a one-man dictatorship.

Lenin found himself in the minority in the early sessions of the Second Congress of what was then proclaimed to be the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDWP). But a walkout by a disgruntled group of Jewish Social-Democrats, the Bund, left Lenin with a slight majority. Consequently, the members of Lenin’s adventitious majority were called Bolsheviks (majoritarians), and Martov’s group were dubbed Mensheviks (minoritarians). The two groups fought each other ceaselessly within the same RSDWP and professed the same program until 1912, when Lenin made the split final at the Prague Conference of the Bolshevik Party.



Lenin

 

Challenges of the Revolution of 1905 and World War I
The differences between Lenin and the Mensheviks became sharper in the Revolution of 1905 and its aftermath, when Lenin moved to a distinctly original view on two issues: class alignments in the revolution and the character of the post-revolutionary regime.

The outbreak of the revolution, in January 1905, found Lenin abroad in Switzerland, and he did not return to Russia until November. Immediately Lenin set down a novel strategy. Both wings of the RSDWP, Bolshevik and Menshevik, adhered to Plekhanov’s view of the revolution in two stages: first, a bourgeois revolution; second, a proletarian revolution (see above). But the Mensheviks argued that the bourgeois revolution must be led by the bourgeoisie, with whom the proletariat must ally itself in order to make the democratic revolution. This would bring the liberal bourgeoisie to full power, whereupon the RSDWP would act as the party of opposition. Lenin defiantly rejected this kind of alliance and post-revolutionary regime. Hitherto he had spoken of the need for the proletariat to win “hegemony” in the democratic revolution. Now he flatly declared that the proletariat was the driving force of the revolution and that its only reliable ally was the peasantry. The bourgeoisie he branded as hopelessly counterrevolutionary and too cowardly to make its own revolution. Thus, unlike the Mensheviks, Lenin henceforth banked on an alliance that would establish a “revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.”

Nor would the revolution necessarily stop at the first stage, the bourgeois revolution. If the Russian revolution should inspire the western European proletariat to make the Socialist revolution, for which industrial Europe was ripe, the Russian revolution might well pass over directly to the second stage, the Socialist revolution. Then, the Russian proletariat, supported by the rural proletariat and semi-proletariat at home and assisted by the triumphant industrial proletariat of the West, which had established its “dictatorship of the proletariat,” could cut short the life-span of Russian capitalism.

After the defeat of the Revolution of 1905, the issue between Lenin and the Mensheviks was more clearly drawn than ever, despite efforts at reunion. But, forced again into exile from 1907 to 1917, Lenin found serious challenges to his policies not only from the Mensheviks but within his own faction as well. The combination of repression and modest reform effected by the tsarist regime led to a decline of party membership. Disillusionment and despair in the chances of successful revolution swept the dwindled party ranks, rent by controversies over tactics and philosophy. Attempts to unite the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions came to naught, all breaking on Lenin’s intransigent insistence that his conditions for reunification be adopted. As one Menshevik opponent described Lenin: “There is no other man who is absorbed by the revolution twenty-four hours a day, who has no other thoughts but the thought of revolution, and who even when he sleeps, dreams of nothing but revolution.” Placing revolution above party unity, Lenin would accept no unity compromise if he thought it might delay, not accelerate, revolution.

Desperately fighting to maintain the cohesion of the Bolsheviks against internal differences and the Mensheviks’ growing strength at home, Lenin convened the Bolshevik Party Conference at Prague, in 1912, which split the RSDWP forever. Lenin proclaimed that the Bolsheviks were the RSDWP and that the Mensheviks were schismatics. Thereafter, each faction maintained its separate central committee, party apparatus, and press.

When war broke out, in August 1914, Socialist parties throughout Europe rallied behind their governments despite the resolutions of prewar congresses of the Second International obliging them to resist or even overthrow their respective governments if they plunged their countries into an imperialist war.

After Lenin recovered from his initial disbelief in this “betrayal” of the International, he proclaimed a policy whose audacity stunned his own Bolshevik comrades. He denounced the pro-war Socialists as “social-chauvinists” who had betrayed the international working-class cause by support of a war that was imperialist on both sides. He pronounced the Second International as dead and appealed for the creation of a new, Third International composed of genuinely revolutionary Socialist parties. More immediately, revolutionary Socialists must work to “transform the imperialist war into civil war.” The real enemy of the worker was not the worker in the opposite trench but the capitalist at home. Workers and soldiers should therefore turn their guns on their rulers and destroy the system that had plunged them into imperialist carnage.

Lenin’s policy found few advocates in Russia or elsewhere in the first months of the war. Indeed, in the first flush of patriotic fervour, not a few Bolsheviks supported the war effort. Lenin and his closest comrades were left an isolated band swimming against the current.

Lenin succeeded in reaching neutral Switzerland in September 1914, there joining a small group of anti-war Bolshevik and Menshevik émigrés. The war virtually cut them off from all contact with Russia and with like-minded Socialists in other countries. Nevertheless, in 1915 and 1916, anti-war Socialists in various countries managed to hold two anti-war conferences in Zimmerwald and Kienthal, Switzerland. Lenin failed at both meetings to persuade his comrades to adopt his slogan: “transform the imperialist war into civil war!” They adopted instead the more moderate formula: “An immediate peace without annexations or indemnities and the right of the peoples to self-determination.” Lenin consequently found his party a minority within the group of anti-war Socialists, who, in turn, constituted a small minority of the international Socialist movement compared with the pro-war Socialists.

Undaunted, Lenin continued to hammer home his views on the war, confident that eventually he would win decisive support. In his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917), he set out to explain, first, the real causes of the war; second, why Socialists had abandoned internationalism for patriotism and supported the war; and third, why revolution alone could bring about a just, democratic peace.

War erupted, he wrote, because of the insatiable, expansionist character of imperialism, itself a product of monopoly finance capitalism. At the end of the 19th century, a handful of banks had come to dominate the advanced countries, which, by 1914, had in their respective empires brought the rest of the world under their direct or indirect controls. Amassing vast quantities of “surplus” capital, the giant banks found they could garner superprofits on investments in colonies and semi-colonies, and this intensified the race for empire among the great powers. By 1914, dissatisfied with the way the world had been shared out, rival coalitions of imperialists launched the war to bring about a redivision of the world at the expense of the other coalition. The war was therefore imperialist in its origins and aims and deserved the condemnation of genuine Socialists.

Socialist Party and trade-union leaders had rallied to support their respective imperialist governments because they represented the “labour aristocracy,” the better paid workers who received a small share of the colonial “superprofits” the imperialists proffered them. “Bribed” by the imperialists, the “labour aristocracy” took the side of their paymasters in the imperialist war and betrayed the most exploited workers at home and the super-exploited in the colonies. The imperialists, Lenin contended, driven by an annexationist dynamic, could not conclude a just, lasting peace. Future wars were inevitable so long as imperialism existed; imperialism was inevitable so long as capitalism existed; only the overthrow of capitalism everywhere could end the imperialist war and prevent such wars in the future. First published in Russia in 1917, Imperialism to this day provides the instrument that Communists everywhere employ to evaluate major trends in the non-Communist world.



The first issue of Iskra ("Spark"), official organ of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Edited by Lenin from his base in Geneva, Switzerland, copies would be smuggled into Russia, where it would prove successful in winning support for the Marxist revolutionary cause.

 

Leadership in the Russian Revolution
By 1917 it seemed to Lenin that the war would never end and that the prospect of revolution was rapidly receding. But in the week of March 8–15, the starving, freezing, war-weary workers and soldiers of Petrograd (until 1914, St. Petersburg) succeeded in deposing the Tsar. Lenin and his closest lieutenants hastened home after the German authorities agreed to permit their passage through Germany to neutral Sweden. Berlin hoped that the return of anti-war Socialists to Russia would undermine the Russian war effort.

First return to Petrograd
Lenin arrived in Petrograd on April 16, 1917, one month after the Tsar had been forced to abdicate. Out of the revolution was born the Provisional Government, formed by a group of leaders of the bourgeois liberal parties. This government’s accession to power was made possible only by the assent of the Petrograd Soviet, a council of workers’ deputies elected in the factories of the capital. Similar soviets of workers’ deputies sprang up in all the major cities and towns throughout the country, as did soviets of soldiers’ deputies and of peasants’ deputies. Although the Petrograd Soviet had been the sole political power recognized by the revolutionary workers and soldiers in March 1917, its leaders had hastily turned full power over to the Provisional Government. The Petrograd Soviet was headed by a majority composed of Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary (SR), or peasant party, leaders who regarded the March (February, O.S.) Revolution as bourgeois; hence, they believed that the new regime should be headed by leaders of the bourgeois parties.

On his return to Russia, Lenin electrified his own comrades, most of whom accepted the authority of the Provisional Government. Lenin called this government, despite its democratic pretensions, thoroughly imperialist and undeserving of support by Socialists. It was incapable of satisfying the most profound desires of the workers, soldiers, and peasants for immediate peace and division of landed estates among the peasants.

Only a soviet government—that is, direct rule by workers, soldiers, and peasants—could fulfill these demands. Therefore, he raised the battle cry, “All power to the Soviets!”—although the Bolsheviks still constituted a minority within the soviets and despite the manifest unwillingness of the Menshevik–SR majority to exercise such power. This introduced what Lenin called the period of “dual power.” Under the leadership of “opportunist” Socialists, the soviets, the real power, had relinquished power to the Provisional Government, the nominal power in the land. The Bolsheviks, Lenin exhorted, must persuade the workers, peasants, and soldiers, temporarily deceived by the “opportunists,” to retrieve state power for the soviets from the Provisional Government. This would constitute a second revolution. But, so long as the government did not suppress the revolutionary parties, this revolution could be achieved peacefully, since the Provisional Government existed only by the sufferance of the soviets.

Initially, Lenin’s fellow Bolsheviks thought that he was temporarily disoriented by the complexity of the situation; moderate Socialists thought him mad. It required several weeks of sedulous persuasion by Lenin before he won the Bolshevik Party Central Committee to his view. The April Party Conference endorsed his program: the party must withhold support from the Provisional Government and win a majority in the soviets in favour of soviet power. A soviet government, once established, should begin immediate negotiations for a general peace on all fronts. The soviets should forthwith confiscate landlords’ estates without compensation, nationalize all land, and divide it among the peasants. And the government should establish tight controls over privately owned industry to the benefit of labour.

From March to September 1917, the Bolsheviks remained a minority in the soviets. By autumn, however, the Provisional Government (since July headed by the moderate Socialist Aleksandr Kerensky, who was supported by the moderate Socialist leadership of the soviets) had lost popular support. Increasing war-weariness and the breakdown of the economy overtaxed the patience of the workers, peasants, and soldiers, who demanded immediate and fundamental change. Lenin capitalized on the growing disillusionment of the people with Kerensky’s ability and willingness to complete the revolution. Kerensky, in turn, claimed that only a freely elected constituent assembly would have the power to decide Russia’s political future—but that must await the return of order. Meanwhile, Lenin and the party demanded peace, land, and bread—immediately, without further delay. The Bolshevik line won increasing support among the workers, soldiers, and peasants. By September they voted in a Bolshevik majority in the Petrograd Soviet and in the soviets of the major cities and towns throughout the country.



Lenin in disguise, Finland, August 1917
 

Decision to seize power
Lenin, who had gone underground in July after he had been accused as a “German agent” by Kerensky’s government, now decided that the time was ripe to seize power. The party must immediately begin preparations for an armed uprising to depose the Provisional Government and transfer state power to the soviets, now headed by a Bolshevik majority.

Lenin’s decision to establish soviet power derived from his belief that the proletarian revolution must smash the existing state machinery and introduce a “dictatorship of the proletariat”; that is, direct rule by the armed workers and peasants which would eventually “wither away” into a non-coercive, classless, stateless, Communist society. He expounded this view most trenchantly in his brochure The State and Revolution, written while he was still in hiding. The brochure, though never completed and often dismissed as Lenin’s most “Utopian” work, nevertheless served as Lenin’s doctrinal springboard to power.

Until 1917 all revolutionary Socialists rightly believed, Lenin wrote, that a parliamentary republic could serve a Socialist system as well as a capitalist. But the Russian Revolution had brought forth something new, the soviets. Created by workers, soldiers, and peasants and excluding the propertied classes, the soviets infinitely surpassed the most democratic of parliaments in democracy, because parliaments everywhere virtually excluded workers and peasants. The choice before Russia in early September 1917, as Lenin saw it, was either a soviet republic—a dictatorship of the propertyless majority—or a parliamentary republic—as he saw it, a dictatorship of the propertied minority.

Lenin therefore raised the slogan, “All power to the Soviets!”, even though he had willingly conceded in the spring of 1917 that revolutionary Russia was the “freest of all the belligerent countries.” To Lenin, however, the Provisional Government was merely a “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” that kept Russia in the imperialist war. What is more, it had turned openly counterrevolutionary in the month of July when it accused the Bolshevik leaders of treason.

From late September, Lenin, a fugitive in Finland, sent a stream of articles and letters to Petrograd feverishly exhorting the Party Central Committee to organize an armed uprising without delay. The opportune moment might be lost. But for nearly a month Lenin’s forceful urgings from afar were unsuccessful. As in April, Lenin again found himself in the party minority. He resorted to a desperate stratagem.

Around October 20, Lenin, in disguise and at considerable personal risk, slipped into Petrograd and attended a secret meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee held on the evening of October 23. Not until after a heated 10-hour debate did he finally win a majority in favour of preparing an armed takeover. Now steps to enlist the support of soldiers and sailors and to train the Red Guards, the Bolshevik-led workers’ militia, for an armed takeover proceeded openly under the guise of self-defense of the Petrograd Soviet. But preparations moved haltingly, because serious opposition to the fateful decision persisted in the Central Committee. Enthusiastically in accord with Lenin on the timeliness of an armed uprising, Trotsky led its preparation from his strategic position as newly elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. Lenin, now hiding in Petrograd and fearful of further procrastination, desperately pressed the Central Committee to fix an early date for the uprising. On the evening of November 6, he wrote a letter to the members of the Central Committee exhorting them to proceed that very evening to arrest the members of the Provisional Government. To delay would be “fatal.” The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, scheduled to convene the next evening, should be placed before a fait accompli.

On November 7 and 8, the Bolshevik-led Red Guards and revolutionary soldiers and sailors, meeting only slight resistance, deposed the Provisional Government and proclaimed that state power had passed into the hands of the Soviets. By this time the Bolsheviks, with their allies among the Left SR’s (dissidents who broke with the pro-Kerensky SR leaders), constituted an absolute majority of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. The delegates therefore voted overwhelmingly to accept full power and elected Lenin as chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, the new Soviet Government, and approved his Peace Decree and Land Decree. Overnight, Lenin had vaulted from his hideout as a fugitive to head the Revolutionary government of the largest country in the world. Since his youth he had spent his life building a party that would win such a victory, and now at the age of 47 he and his party had triumphed. “It makes one’s head spin,” he confessed. But power neither intoxicated nor frightened Lenin; it cleared his head. Soberly, he steered the Soviet government toward the consolidation of its power and negotiations for peace.




Fotografía original: En 1920, frente al Bolshoi de Moscú, Lenin arenga a los soldados que van a combatir contra Polonia. Trotsky está a su lado. En la fotografía trucada hecha a partir de esta, tras la caída en desgracia de Trotsky, su figura se eliminaría de las fotografías.
 

Saving the Revolution
In both spheres, Lenin was plagued by breaks within the ranks of Bolshevik leaders. He reluctantly agreed with the right-wingers that it would be desirable to include the Menshevik and Right SR parties in a coalition government—but on Lenin’s terms. They must above all accept the soviet form of government, not a parliamentary one; they refused. Only the Left SR’s agreed, and several were included in the Soviet government. Likewise, when the freely elected Constituent Assembly met in January 1918, the Mensheviks and Right SR majority flatly rejected sovietism. Lenin without hesitation ordered the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly.

The Allies refused to recognize the Soviet government; consequently it entered alone into peace negotiations with the Central Powers (Germany and her allies Austro-Hungary and Turkey) at the town of Brest-Litovsk. They imposed ruinous conditions that would strip away from Soviet Russia the western tier of non-Russian nations of the old Russian Empire. Left Communists fanatically opposed acceptance and preached a revolutionary war, even if it imperilled the Soviet government. Lenin insisted that the terms, however ruinous and humiliating, must be accepted or he would resign from the government. He sensed that peace was the deepest yearning of the people; in any case, the shattered army could not raise effective resistance to the invader. Finally, in March 1918, after a still larger part had been carved out of old Russia by the enemy, Lenin succeeded in winning the Central Committee’s acceptance of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. At last Russia was at peace.

But Brest-Litovsk only intensified the determination of counterrevolutionary forces and the Allies who supported them to bring about the overthrow of the Soviet government. That determination hardened when, in 1918, Lenin’s government repudiated repayments of all foreign loans obtained by the tsarist and Provisional governments and nationalized foreign properties in Russia without compensation. From 1918 to 1920 Russia was torn by a Civil War, which cost millions of lives and untold destruction. One of the earliest victims was Lenin himself. In August 1918 an assassin fired two bullets into Lenin as he left a factory in which he had just delivered a speech. Because of his robust constitution, he recovered rapidly.

The Soviet government faced tremendous odds. The anti-Soviet forces, or Whites, headed mainly by former tsarist generals and admirals, fought desperately to overthrow the Red regime. Moreover, the Whites were lavishly supplied by the Allies with materiel, money, and support troops that secured White bases. Yet, the Whites failed.

It was largely because of Lenin’s inspired leadership that the Soviet government managed to survive against such military odds. He caused the formation and guided the strategy of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, commanded by Trotsky. Although the economy had collapsed, he managed to mobilize sufficient resources to sustain the Red Army and the industrial workers. But above all it was his political leadership that saved the day for the Soviets. By proclaiming the right of the peoples to self-determination, including the right to secession, he won the active sympathy, or at least the benevolent neutrality, of the non-Russian nationalities within Russia, because the Whites did not recognize that right. Indeed, his perceptive, skillful policy on the national question enabled Soviet Russia to avoid total disintegration and to remain a huge multinational state. By making the industrial workers the new privileged class, favoured in the distribution of rations, housing, and political power, he retained the loyalty of the proletariat. His championing of the peasants’ demand that they take all the land from the gentry, church, and crown without compensation won over the peasants, without whose support the government could not survive.

Because of the breakdown of the economy, however, Lenin adopted a policy toward the peasant that threatened to destroy the Soviet government. Lacking funds or goods to exchange against grain needed to feed the Red Army and the towns, Lenin instituted a system of requisitioning grain surpluses without compensation. Many peasants resisted—at least until they experienced White “liberation.” On the territories that the Whites won, they restored landed property to the previous owners and savagely punished the peasants who had dared seize the land. Despite the peasants’ detestation of the Soviet’s grain requisitioning, the peasants, when forced to choose between Reds and Whites, chose the Reds.

After the defeat of the Whites, the peasants no longer had to make that choice. They now totally refused to surrender their grain to the government. Threatened by mass peasant rebellion, Lenin called a retreat. In March 1921 the government introduced the New Economic Policy, which ended the system of grain requisitioning and permitted the peasant to sell his harvest on an open market. This constituted a partial retreat to capitalism.

From the moment Lenin came to power, his abiding aims in international relations were twofold: to prevent the formation of an imperialist united front against Soviet Russia; but, even more important, to stimulate proletarian revolutions abroad.

In his first aim he largely succeeded. In 1924, shortly after his death, Soviet Russia had won de jure recognition of all the major world powers except the United States. But his greater hope of the formation of a world republic of soviets failed to materialize, and Soviet Russia was left isolated in hostile capitalist encirclement.




Lenin in 1920
 

Formation of the Third International
To break this encirclement, he had called on revolutionaries to form Communist parties that would emulate the example of the Bolshevik Revolution in all countries. Dramatizing his break with the reformist Second International, in 1918 he had changed the name of the RSDWP to the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), and in March 1919 he founded the Communist, or Third, International. This International accepted the affiliation only of parties that accepted its decisions as binding, imposed iron discipline, and made a clean break with the Second International. In sum, Lenin now held up the Russian Communist Party, the only party that had made a successful revolution, as the model for Communist parties in all countries. One result of this policy was to engender a split in the world labour movement between the adherents of the two internationals.

The Communist International scored its greatest success in the colonial world. By championing the rights of the peoples in the colonies and semi-colonies to self-determination and independence, the International won considerable sympathy for Communism. Lenin’s policy in this question still reverberates through the world today. And it offers another example of Lenin’s unique ability to find allies where revolutionaries had not found them before. By taking the side of the national liberation movements, Lenin could claim that the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, then living under imperialist rule, as well as the European proletariat, were the natural allies of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Thus Lenin’s revolutionary genius was not confined to his ability to divide his enemies; more important was his skill in finding allies and friends for the exiguous proletariat of Russia. First, he won the Russian peasants to the side of the proletariat. Second, while he did not win the workers to make successful Communist revolutions in the West, they did compel their governments to curtail armed intervention against the Bolshevik Revolution. Third, while the Asian revolutions barely stirred in his lifetime, they did strengthen the Soviet Communists in the belief that they were not alone in a hostile world.

By 1921 Lenin’s government had crushed all opposition parties on the grounds that they had opposed or failed to support sufficiently the Soviet cause in the Civil War. Now that peace had come, Lenin believed that their opposition was more dangerous than ever, since the peasantry and even a large section of the working class had become disaffected with the Soviet regime. To repress opponents of Bolshevism, Lenin demanded the harshest measures, including “show” trials and frequent resort to the death penalty. Moreover, he insisted on even tighter control over dissent within the party. Lenin’s insistence on merciless destruction of the opposition to the Bolshevik dictatorship subsequently led many observers to conclude that Lenin, though personally opposed to one-man rule, nevertheless unwittingly cleared the way for the rise of Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship.

By 1922 Lenin had become keenly aware that degeneration of the Soviet system and party was the greatest danger to the cause of Socialism in Russia. He found the party and Soviet state apparatus hopelessly entangled in red tape and incompetence. Even the agency headed by Stalin that was responsible for streamlining administration was, in fact, less efficient than the rest of the government. The Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies had been drained of all power, which had flowed to the centre. Most disturbing was the Great Russian chauvinism that leading Bolsheviks manifested toward the non-Russian nationalities in the reorganization of the state in which Stalin was playing a key role. Moreover, in April 1922 Stalin won appointment as general secretary of the party, in which post he was rapidly concentrating immense power in his hands. Soviet Russia in Lenin’s last years could not have been more remote from the picture of Socialism he had portrayed in State and Revolution. Lenin strained every nerve to reverse these trends, which he regarded as antithetical to Socialism, and to replace Stalin.

Illness and death
In the spring of 1922, however, Lenin fell seriously ill. In April his doctors extracted from his neck one of the bullets he had received from the assassin’s gun in August 1918. He recovered rapidly from the operation, but a month later he fell ill, partially paralyzed and unable to speak. In June he made a partial recovery and threw himself into the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the federal system of reorganization he favoured against Stalin’s unitary scheme. However, in December he was again incapacitated by semiparalysis. Although no longer the active leader of the state and party, he did muster the strength to dictate several prescient articles and what is called his political “Testament,” dictated to his secretary between Dec. 23, 1922, and Jan. 4, 1923, in which he expressed a great fear for the stability of the party under the leadership of disparate, forceful personalities such as Stalin and Trotsky. On March 10, 1923, another stroke deprived him of speech. His political activity came to an end. He suffered yet another stroke on the morning of Jan. 21, 1924, and died that evening in the village of Gorki (now known as Gorki Leninskiye).

The last year of Lenin’s political life, when he fought to eradicate abuses of his Socialist ideals and the corruption of power, may well have been his greatest. Whether the history of the Soviet Union would have been fundamentally different had he survived beyond his 54th birthday, no one can say with certainty.

Albert Resis

Encyclopædia Britannica
 
 
 

Картина В. Серова «Ленин провозглашает Советскую власть». 1962 год
 
 

Painting of Lenin in front of the Smolny Institute by Isaak Brodsky
 
 

Lenin in his office, 1918
 
 

Josef Stalin, Lenin and Mikhail Kalinin (detail of a photo from the 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, March 1919). Part of much larger photo showing other Congress members.
 
 

Lenin and Sverdlov looking over Marx and Engels monument, 1918
 
 

Bolshevik political cartoon poster from 1920, showing Lenin sweeping away monarchists and capitalists; the caption reads, "Comrade Lenin Cleanses the Earth of Filth"
 
 

Trotsky, Lenin and Kamenev at the II Party Congress in 1919
 
 

Wladimir Serow
Lenin
 
 

Lenin in 1923
 


photograph of Lenin and Stalin in Gorki in September 1922, supposedly taken by Maria Ulyanova the authenticity of the photograph is debatable
 
 

Lenin's funeral by I.Brodsky
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, prime minister of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1918
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1919
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1920
 

Lenin and wife Nadezhda Krupskaya
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1921
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1923
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1923
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1923
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1924. Death and burial
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1924. Death and burial
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1924. Death and burial
 
 

V.Lenin and I.Stalin
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, 1924. Death and burial
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin. Posters
 
 

Vladimir Ilich Lenin. Posters
 
 
 
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov-Lenin
 
 
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Улья́нов; (22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia became a one-party socialist state; all land, natural resources, and industry were socialized into public property. Ideologically a Marxist, his political theories are known as Leninism.

Born to a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Lenin gained an interest in revolutionary leftist politics following the execution of his brother in 1887. Expelled from Kazan State University for participating in protests against the Russian Empire's Tsarist regime, he devoted the following years to a law degree and embraced Marxism. In 1893 he moved to Saint Petersburg and became a senior figure in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Arrested for sedition and exiled to Shushenskoye for three years, there he married Nadezhda Krupskaya. After his exile he moved to Western Europe, where he became a prominent party theorist through his publications. In 1903, he took a key role in a RSDLP schism over ideological differences, leading the Bolshevik faction against Julius Martov's Mensheviks. Encouraging insurrection during Russia's failed Revolution of 1905, he later campaigned for the First World War to be transformed into a Europe-wide proletarian revolution, which as a Marxist he believed would result in the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement with socialism. After the 1917 February Revolution ousted the Tsar and established a Provisional Government, he returned to Russia to campaign for the new regime's removal by a Bolshevik-led government of the soviets.

Lenin played a leading role in the October Revolution of 1917, which overthrew the Provisional Government and established a Bolshevik administration, the Council of People's Commissars, with Lenin as its Chairman. Suppressing rival parties, they established a one-party state under the new Russian Communist Party. This administration withdrew Russia from the First World War by signing a punitive treaty with the Central Powers, granted temporary independence to non-Russian nations under Russian control, oversaw radical land redistribution, and initiated violent campaigns against kulaks and clergy. Fierce opposition to Bolshevik rule resulted in the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1922, in which Lenin's government proved victorious, partly through the use of the Cheka, Red Terror, and labor camps. In 1921 Lenin proposed the New Economic Policy, a mixed economic system of state capitalism that started the process of industrialisation and recovery from the Civil War. Surviving several failed assassination attempts, Lenin sought to promote world revolution, thereby creating the Communist International. In 1922, Russia joined former territories of the Empire in becoming the Soviet Union, with Lenin as its head of government. In increasingly poor health, Lenin expressed concern regarding the bureaucratisation of the regime and the growing power of his successor, Joseph Stalin, before dying at his home in Gorki.

Recognised as one of the most significant and influential historical figures of the 20th century, Lenin remains a controversial and highly divisive world figure. Admirers view him as a champion of working people's rights and welfare whilst critics see him as the founder of a totalitarian dictatorship responsible for civil war and mass human rights abuses. Held in high esteem as a founding father of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, he remains an ideological figurehead behind Marxism–Leninism and a prominent influence over the international communist movement.


Early life
Childhood: 1870–87

Lenin's father, Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov, was a former serf's son but studied physics and mathematics at Kazan State University, later teaching at the Penza Institute for the Nobility. Ilya married Maria Alexandrovna Blank in the summer of 1863. Hailing from a relatively prosperous background, she was the daughter of an apostate Russian Jewish physician, Alexander Dmitrievich Blank, and his German-Swedish wife, Anna Ivanovna Grosschopf. Dr. Blank had insisted on providing his children with a good education, ensuring that Maria learned Russian, German, English and French, and that she was well versed in Russian literature. Soon after their wedding, Ilya obtained a job in Nizhny Novgorod, rising to become Director of Primary Schools in the Simbirsk district six years later. Five years after that, he was promoted to Director of Public Schools for the province, overseeing the foundation of over 450 schools as a part of the government's plans for modernisation. Awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, he became a hereditary nobleman.

The couple, now nobility, had two children, Anna (born 1864) and Alexander (born 1868), before Vladimir "Volodya" Ilyich was born on 10 April 1870, and baptised in St. Nicholas Cathedral several days later. They would be followed by three more children, Olga (born 1871), Dmitry (born 1874) and Maria (born 1878). Another brother, Nikolai, had died in infancy in 1873. Ilya was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church and baptised his children into it, although Maria – a Lutheran – was largely indifferent to Christianity, a view that influenced her children. Both parents were monarchists and liberal conservatives, being committed to the emancipation reform of 1861 introduced by the reformist Tsar Alexander II; they avoided political radicals and there is no evidence that the police ever put them under surveillance for subversive thought. Every summer they holidayed at a rural manor in Kokushkino. Among his siblings, Vladimir was closest to his sister Olga, whom he bossed around, having an extremely competitive nature; he could be destructive, but usually admitted his misbehaviour. A keen sportsman, he spent much of his free time outdoors or playing chess, and excelled at school, the disciplinarian and conservative Simbirsk Classical Gimnazia.

Ilya Ulyanov died of a brain haemorrhage in January 1886, when Vladimir was 16. Vladimir's behaviour became erratic and confrontational, and shortly thereafter he renounced his belief in God. At the time, Vladimir's elder brother Aleksandr (Sacha) Ulyanov was studying at Saint Petersburg University. Involved in political agitation against the absolute monarchy of reactionary Tsar Alexander III which governed the Russian Empire, he studied the writings of banned leftists like Dmitry Pisarev, Nikolay Dobrolyubov, Nikolay Chernyshevsky and Karl Marx. Organising protests against the government, he joined a socialist revolutionary cell bent on assassinating the Tsar and was selected to construct a bomb. Before the attack commenced, the conspirators were arrested and tried. On 25 April 1887, Sacha was sentenced to death by hanging, and executed on 8 May. Despite the emotional trauma brought on by his father and brother's deaths, Vladimir continued studying, leaving school with a gold medal for his exceptional performance, and decided to study law at Kazan University.

University and political radicalism: 1887–93
Upon his entering Kazan University in August 1887, Vladimir and his mother moved into a flat, renting out their Simbirsk home.[16] Interested in his late brother's radical ideas, he joined an agrarian-socialist revolutionary cell intent on reviving the People's Freedom Party (Narodnaya Volya). Joining the university's illegal Samara-Simbirsk zemlyachestvo, he was elected as its representative for the university's zemlyachestvo council. In December he took part in a demonstration demanding the abolition of the 1884 statute and the re-legalisation of student societies. He was arrested by the police. Accused of being a ringleader, he was expelled by the university, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs placed him under surveillance, exiling him to his Kokushkino estate. There, he read voraciously, becoming enamoured with Chernyshevsky's 1863 novel What is to be Done? Disliking his radicalism, his mother persuaded him to write in September 1888 to the Interior Ministry for permission to study abroad. The request was refused, but the Ministry allowed him to return to Kazan, where he settled on the Pervaya Gora with his mother and his brother Dmitry.

In Kazan, he joined another revolutionary circle, through which he discovered Karl Marx's Das Kapital (1867). It exerted a strong influence on him, and he grew increasingly interested in Marxism. Wary of his political views, his mother bought an estate in Alakaevka village, Samara Oblast – made famous in the work of poet Gleb Uspensky, of whom Lenin was a great fan – in the hope that her son would turn his attention to agriculture. However, he had little interest in farming or farm management, and his mother soon sold the land, keeping the house as a summer home.

In September 1889, the Ulyanovs moved to Samara for the winter, where Vladimir contacted exiled dissidents and joined Alexei P. Skliarenko's discussion circle. Both Vladimir and Skliarenko adopted Marxism, with Vladimir translating Marx and Friedrich Engels' 1848 political pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto, into Russian. He began to read the works of the Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov, a founder of the Black Repartition movement, concurring with Plekhanov's argument that Russia was moving from feudalism to capitalism. Becoming increasingly sceptical of the effectiveness of militant attacks and assassinations, he argued against such tactics in a December 1889 debate with M.V. Sabunaev, an advocate of the People's Freedom Party. Despite disagreeing on tactics, he made friends among Party members, in particular Apollon Shukht, who asked Vladimir to be his daughter's godfather in 1893.

In May 1890, Mariya convinced the authorities to allow Vladimir to undertake his exams externally at a university of his choice. He chose the University of St Petersburg, and obtained the equivalent of a first-class degree with honours. The graduation celebrations were marred when his sister Olga died of typhoid. Vladimir remained in Samara for several years, in January 1892 being employed as a legal assistant for a regional court, before gaining a job with a local lawyer. His work focused primarily on disputes between peasants and artisans. He devoted much time to radical politics, remaining active in Skylarenko's group and formulating ideas about Marxism's applicability to Russia. Inspired by Plekhanov's work, Vladimir collected data on Russian society, using it to support a Marxist interpretation of societal development and increasingly rejecting the claims of the People's Freedom Party. In the spring of 1893, Lenin submitted his paper on "New Economic Developments in Peasant Life" to the liberal journal Russian Thought, but it was rejected and appeared in print only much later.

Revolutionary activity
Early activism and imprisonment: 1893–1900

In autumn 1893, Lenin moved to Saint Petersburg. There, he worked as a barrister's assistant and rose to a senior position in a Marxist revolutionary cell calling themselves the "Social Democrats" after the Marxist Social Democratic Party of Germany. Publicly championing Marxism among the socialist movement, he encouraged the foundation of revolutionary cells in Russia's industrial centres. He befriended Russian Jewish Marxist Julius Martov, and began a relationship with Marxist schoolteacher Nadezhda "Nadya" Krupskaya. By autumn 1894 he was leading a Marxist workers' circle, and was meticulous in covering his tracks, knowing that police spies were trying to infiltrate the revolutionary movement. Although he was influenced by agrarian-socialist Pëtr Tkachëvi, Lenin's Social-Democrats clashed with the Narodnik agrarian-socialist platform of the Socialist–Revolutionary Party (SR). The SR saw the peasantry as the main force of revolutionary change, whereas the Marxists believed peasants to be sympathetic to private ownership, instead emphasising the revolutionary role of the proletariat, or urban workers. He dealt with some of these issues in his first political tract, What the "Friends of the People" Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats; based largely on his experiences in Samara, around 200 copies were illegally printed.

Lenin hoped to cement connections between his Social-Democrats and Emancipation of Labour, a group of Russian Marxist emigres based in Switzerland, soon visiting Switzerland to meet group members Plackhanov and Pavel Axelrod. He proceeded to Paris to meet Paul Lafargue and to research the Paris Commune of 1871, which he saw as an early prototype for a proletarian government. Financed by his mother, he stayed in a Swiss health spa before traveling to Berlin, where he studied for six weeks at the Staatsbibliothek and met Wilhelm Liebknecht. Returning to Russia with a stash of illegal revolutionary publications, he traveled to various cities distributing literature to striking workers. Involved in producing a news sheet, The Workers' Cause, he was among 40 activists arrested and charged with sedition.

Refused legal representation or bail, Lenin denied all charges against him but remained imprisoned for a year before sentencing. He spent this time theorising and writing, focusing his attention on the revolutionary potential of the working-class; acknowledging that the rise of industrial capitalism in Russia had led large numbers of peasants to move to the cities, where they became proletariat, from a Marxist perspective he argued that they would gain class consciousness and then violently overthrow Tsarism, the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie to establish a proletariat state that would move toward socialism.

In February 1897, he was sentenced without trial to 3 years exile in eastern Siberia, although granted a few days in Saint Petersburg to put his affairs in order; he used this time to meet with the Social-Democrats, who had renamed themselves the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. His journey to eastern Siberia took 11 weeks, for much of which he was accompanied by his mother and sisters. Deemed only a minor threat to the government, he was exiled to a peasant's hut in Shushenskoye, Minusinsky District, where he was kept under police surveillance; he was nevertheless able to correspond with other subversives, many of whom visited him, and permitted to go on trips to hunt duck and snipe and to swim in the Yenisei River.

In May 1898, Nadya joined him in exile, having been arrested in August 1896 for organising a strike. Although initially posted to Ufa, she convinced the authorities to move her to Shushenskoye, claiming that she and Ulyanov were engaged; they married in a church on 10 July 1898. Settling into a family life with Nadya's mother Elizaveta Vasilyevna, the couple translated English socialist literature into Russian. Keen to keep abreast of the developments in German Marxism – where there had been an ideological split, with revisionists like Eduard Bernstein advocating a peaceful, electoral path to socialism – Ulyanov remained devoted to violent revolution, attacking revisionist arguments in A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats. He also finished The Development of Capitalism in Russia (1899), his longest book to date, which offered a well-researched and polemical attack on the Social-Revolutionaries and promoted a Marxist analysis of Russian economic development. Published under the pseudonym of "Vladimir Ilin", upon publication it received predominantly poor reviews.

Munich, London and Geneva: 1900–05
His exile over, Ulyanov settled in Pskov. There, he began raising funds for a newspaper, Iskra (The Spark), a new organ of the Russian Marxist party, now calling itself the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). In July 1900, Ulyanov left Russia for Western Europe; in Switzerland he met other Russian Marxists, and at a Corsier conference they agreed to launch the paper from Munich, where Lenin relocated in September. Containing contributions from prominent European Marxists Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, and Leon Trotsky, Iskra was smuggled into Russia illegally, becoming the country's most successful underground publication for 50 years. Ulyanov adopted the pseudonym "Lenin" in December 1901, possibly taking the River Lena as a basis. Under this pseudonym, he published the political pamphlet What Is to Be Done? in 1902; his most influential publication to date, it dealt with Lenin's thoughts on the need for a vanguard party to lead the proletariat to revolution.

Nadya joined Lenin in Munich, becoming his personal secretary. They continued their political agitation, with Lenin writing for Iskra and drafting the RSDLP program, attacking ideological dissenters and external critics, particularly the SR. Despite remaining an orthodox Marxist, he came to accept the SR's views on the revolutionary power of the Russian peasantry, accordingly penning the 1903 pamphlet To the Village Poor. To evade Bavarian police, Lenin relocated to London with Iskra in April 1902, there becoming good friends with Trotsky. While in London, Lenin fell ill with erysipelas and was unable to take such a leading role on the Iskra editorial board; in his absence the board moved its base of operations to Switzerland.

The 2nd RSDLP Congress was held in London in July. At the conference, a schism emerged between Lenin's supporters and those of Julius Martov. Martov argued that party members should be able to express themselves independently of the party leadership; Lenin disagreed, emphasising the need for a strong leadership with complete control over the party. Lenin's supporters were in the majority, and Lenin termed them the "majoritarians" (bol'sheviki in Russian; thus Bolsheviks); in response, Martov termed his followers the minoritarians (men'sheviki in Russian; thus Mensheviks). Arguments between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks continued after the conference; the Bolsheviks accused their rivals of being opportunists and reformists who lacked any discipline, while the Mensheviks accused Lenin of being a despot and autocrat. Enraged at the Mensheviks, Lenin resigned from the Iskra editorial board and in May 1904 published the anti-Menshevik tract One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. The stress made Lenin ill, and to recuperate he went on a rural holiday. The Bolshevik faction grew in strength; by the spring, the whole RSDLP Central Committee was Bolshevik, and in December they founded the newspaper Vperëd (Forward).

The 1905 Revolution and its aftermath: 1905–14
"The uprising has begun. Force against Force. Street fighting is raging, barricades are being thrown up, rifles are cracking, guns are booming. Rivers of blood are flowing, the civil war for freedom is blazing up. Moscow and the South, the Caucasus and Poland are ready to join the proletariat of St. Petersburg. The slogan of the workers has become: Death or Freedom!"

In January 1905, the Bloody Sunday massacre of protesters in St. Petersburg sparked a spate of civil unrest known as the Revolution of 1905. Lenin urged Bolsheviks to take a greater role in the events, encouraging violent insurrection. In doing so he adopted SR slogans regarding "armed insurrection", "mass terror", and "the expropriation of gentry land", resulting in Menshevik accusations that he had deviated from orthodox Marxism. In turn he insisted that the Bolsheviks split completely with the Mensheviks, although many Bolsheviks refused and both groups attended the 3rd RSDLP Congress, held in London in April 1905. Lenin presented many of his ideas in the pamphlet Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, published in August 1905. Here, he predicted that Russia's liberal bourgeoisie would be sated by a transition to constitutional monarchy and thus betray the revolution; instead he argued that the proletariat would have to build an alliance with the peasantry to overthrow the Tsarist regime and establish the "provisional revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry".

In response to the Revolution of 1905, Tsar Nicholas II accepted a series of liberal reforms in his October Manifesto, at which Lenin felt it safe to return to St. Petersburg. Joining the editorial board of Novaya Zhizn (New Life), a radical legal newspaper run by Maria Andreyeva, he used it to discuss issues facing the RSDLP. He encouraged the party to seek out a much wider membership, and advocated the continual escalation of violent confrontation, believing both to be necessary for a successful revolution. Although he briefly supported the idea of reconciliation between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, at the 4th Party Congress in Stockholm, Sweden in April 1906 the Mensheviks condemned Lenin for supporting bank robberies and violence. A Bolshevik Centre was set up in Kuokkala, Grand Duchy of Finland, which was then a semi-autonomous part of the Empire, before the Bolsheviks regained dominance of the RSDLP at its 5th Congress, held in London in May 1907. However, as the Tsarist government disbanded the Second Duma and its secret police, the Okhrana, cracked down on revolutionaries, Lenin fled Finland for Switzerland.

Alexander Bogdanov and other prominent Bolsheviks decided to relocate the Bolshevik Centre to Paris, France; although Lenin disagreed, he moved to the city in December 1908. Lenin disliked Paris, lambasting it as "a foul hole", and while there he sued a motorist who knocked him off his bike. Here, Lenin revived his polemics against the Mensheviks, who objected to his advocacy of violent expropriations and thefts such as the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery, which the Bolsheviks were using to fund their activities. Lenin also became heavily critical of Bogdanov and his supporters; Bogdanov believed that a socialist-oriented culture had to be developed among Russia's proletariat for them to become a successful revolutionary vehicle, whereas Lenin favoured a vanguard of socialist intelligentsia who could lead the working-classes in revolution. Furthermore, Bogdanov – influenced by Ernest Mach – believed that all concepts of the world were relative, whereas Lenin stuck to the orthodox Marxist view that there was an objective reality to the world, independent of human observation. Although Bogdanov and Lenin holidayed together at Maxim Gorky's villa in Capri, Italy, in April 1908, on returning to Paris, Lenin encouraged a split within the Bolshevik faction between his and Bogdanov's followers, accusing the latter of deviating from Marxism.

In May 1908, Lenin lived briefly in London, where he used the British Museum library to write Materialism and Empirio-criticism, an attack on Bogdanov's relativist perspective, which he lambasted as a "bourgeois-reactionary falsehood". Lenin's factionalism began to alienate increasing numbers of Bolsheviks, including close Lenin supporters Alexei Rykov and Lev Kamenev. The Okhrana decided to exploit his factionalist attitude by sending a spy, Roman Malinovsky, to become a vocal supporter and ally of Lenin within the party. Various Bolsheviks expressed their suspicions regarding Malinovsky to Lenin, although it is unclear if the latter was aware of the spy's duplicity; it is possible that he used Malinovsky to feed false information to the Okhrana.

In August 1910, Lenin attended the 8th Congress of the Second International – an international meeting of socialists – in Copenhagen as the RSDLP's representative, following this with a holiday in Stockholm with his mother. With his wife and sisters he then moved to France, settling first in Bombon and then Paris. Here, he became a close friend to the French Bolshevik Inessa Armand; their friendship continued until 1912, with some biographers suggesting that they had an extra-marital affair. Meanwhile, at a Paris meeting in June 1911 the RSDLP Central Committee decided to move their focus of operations back to Russia, ordering the closure of the Bolshevik Centre and its newspaper, Proletari. Seeking to rebuild his influence in the party, Lenin arranged for a party conference to be held in Prague in January 1912, and although 16 of the 18 attendants were Bolsheviks, he was heavily criticised for his factionalist tendencies and failed to boost his status within the party. Then moving to Krakow in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, a culturally Polish part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he made use of Jagellonian University's library to conduct his ongoing research. There, he was able to stay in close contact with the RSDLP operating in the Russian Empire, convincing the Duma's Bolshevik members to split from their parliamentary alliance with the Mensheviks. In January 1913, the Bolshevik Joseph Stalin – whom Lenin referred to as the "wonderful Georgian" – visited him, with the pair discussing the future of non-Russian ethnic groups in the Empire.[100] Due to the ailing health of both Lenin and his wife, they moved to the rural area of Biały Dunajec, before heading to Bern, Switzerland for Nadya to have surgery on her goiter.

First World War: 1914–17
"The [First World] war is being waged for the division of colonies and the robbery of foreign territory; 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."

Lenin was in Galicia when the First World War broke out. The war pitted the Russian Empire against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and due to his Russian citizenship, Lenin was arrested and briefly imprisoned until his anti-Tsarist credentials were explained. Lenin and his wife returned to Bern, before relocating to Zurich in February 1916. Lenin was angry that the German Social-Democratic Party was supporting the German war effort – a direct contravention of the Second International's Stuttgart resolution that socialist parties would oppose the conflict – and thus saw the Second International as defunct. He attended the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915 and the Kiental conference in April 1916, urging socialists across the continent to convert the "imperialist war" into a continent-wide "civil war" with the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and aristocracy.

In September 1917, Lenin published Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, in which he argued that imperialism was a product of monopoly capitalism, as capitalists sought to increase their profits by extending into new territories where wages were lower and raw materials cheaper. He believed that competition and conflict would increase and that war between the imperialist powers would continue until they were overthrown by proletariat revolution and socialism established. At this time, he devoted much time to reading the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Aristotle, all of whom had been key influences on Marx. In doing so he rejected his earlier interpretations of Marxism; whereas he had once believed that policies could be developed on the basis of predetermined scientific principles, he now believed that the only test of whether a policy was right or not was through practice. Although still perceiving himself as an orthodox Marxist, he began to divert from some of Marx's predictions regarding societal development; whereas Marx had believed that a "bourgeoisie-democratic revolution" of the middle-classes had to take place before a "socialist revolution" of the proletariat, Lenin believed that in Russia, the proletariat could overthrow the Tsarist regime without the intermediate revolution. In July 1916, Lenin's mother died, but he was unable to attend her funeral. Her death deeply affected him, and he became depressed, fearing that he would not live long enough to witness the proletariat revolution.

The February Revolution and the July Days: 1917
In February 1917, the February Revolution broke out in St. Petersburg – recently renamed Petrograd – as industrial workers went on strike over food shortages and deteriorating factory conditions. The unrest spread to other parts of Russia, and fearing that he would be violently overthrown, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated. The State Duma took over control of the country, establishing a Provisional Government and converting the Empire into a new Russian Republic. When Lenin learned of this from his base in Switzerland, he celebrated with other dissidents. He decided to return to Russia to take charge of the Bolsheviks, but found that most passages in to the country were blocked due to the ongoing conflict. He organised a plan with other dissidents to negotiate a passage for them through Germany, with whom Russia was then at war. Recognising that these dissidents could cause problems for their Russian enemies, the German government agreed to permit 32 Russian citizens to travel in a train carriage through their territory, among them Lenin and his wife. The group traveled by train from Zurich to Sassnitz, proceeding by ferry to Trelleborg, Sweden, and from there to Helsinki, Finland, before taking the final train to Petrograd.

On arriving at Petrograd's Finland Station, Lenin gave a speech to Bolshevik supporters condemning the Provisional Government and again calling for a Europe-wide proletariat revolution. Over the following days he spoke at Bolshevik meetings, lambasting those who wanted reconciliation with the Mensheviks and revealing his April Theses, an outline of his plans for the Bolsheviks which he had written on the journey from Switzerland. He publicly condemned both the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries – who dominated the influential Petrograd Soviet – for supporting the Provisional Government, denouncing them as traitors to socialism. Considering the government to be as equally imperialist as the Tsarist regime, he advocated immediate peace with Germany and Austria-Hungary, rule by soviets, the nationalisation of industry and banks, and the state expropriation of land, all with the intention of establishing proletariat government and pushing toward a socialist society. The Mensheviks conversely believed Russia to be insufficiently developed to transition to socialism and accused Lenin of trying to plunge the new Republic into civil war. Over the coming months he campaigned for his policies, attending the meetings of the Bolshevik Central Committee, prolifically writing for the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, and giving public speeches in Petrograd aimed at converting workers, soldiers, sailors, and peasants to his cause.

Sensing growing frustration among Bolshevik supporters, Lenin suggested an armed political demonstration in Petrograd to test the government's response. However, amid deteriorating health, he left the city to recuperate in the Finnish village of Neivola. The Bolsheviks' armed demonstration, the July Days, took place while Lenin was away, but upon learning that demonstrators had violently clashed with government forces he returned to Petrograd, there calling upon Bolshevik supporters for calm. Responding to the violence, the government ordered the arrest of Lenin and other prominent members of the Bolsheviks, raiding their offices, and publicly alleging that he was a German agent provocateur. Evading arrest, Lenin hid in a series of Petrograd safe houses. Fearing that he would be killed, Lenin and fellow senior Bolshevik Grigory Zinoviev then escaped Petrograd in disguise, relocating to Razliv. It was here that Lenin began work on the book that became The State and Revolution, an exposition on how he believed the socialist state would develop following the proletariat revolution, and how from that point on the state would gradually wither away leaving a pure communist society. He began arguing for a Bolshevik-led armed insurrection to topple the government, although at a clandestine meeting of the party's central committee this idea was rejected. Lenin then headed by train and by foot to Finland, arriving at Helsinki on 10 August, where he hid away in safe houses belonging to Bolshevik sympathisers.

The October Revolution: 1917
In August 1917, while Lenin was in Finland, General Lavr Kornilov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, sent troops to Petrograd in what appeared to be a military coup attempt against the Provisional Government. Premier Alexander Kerensky turned to the Petrograd Soviet – including its Bolshevik members – for help, allowing the revolutionaries to organise workers as Red Guards to defend the city. The coup petered out before it reached Petrograd, however the events had allowed the Bolsheviks to return to the open political arena. Fearing a counter-revolution from right-wing forces hostile to socialism, the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries who then dominated the Petrograd Soviet had been instrumental in pressurising the government to normalise relations with the Bolsheviks. However, both the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries had lost much popular support because of their affiliation with the Provisional Government and its unpopular continuation of the war, with the Bolsheviks capitalising on this, and soon the pro-Bolshevik Marxist Trotsky was elected leader of the Petrograd Soviet. In September, the Bolsheviks gained a majority in the workers' sections of both the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets.

Recognising that the situation was safer for him, Lenin returned to Petrograd. There, he attended a meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee on 10 October, where he again argued his case that the party should lead an armed insurrection to topple the Provisional Government. This time, he was successful in his argument, and the motion was ratified with ten votes against two. Those critical of the plan, Zinoviev and Kamenev, expressed the view that Russian workers would not support a violent coup against the existing regime and that there was no clear evidence for Lenin's assertion that all of Europe was on the verge of proletarian revolution. The party began plans to organise the offensive, holding a final meeting at the Smolny Institute on 24 October. This was the base of the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC), an armed militia largely loyal to the Bolsheviks that had been established by the Petrograd Soviet during Kornilov's alleged coup.

In October, the MRC were ordered to seize control of Petrograd's key transport, communication, printing and utilities hubs, doing so without bloodshed. Bolsheviks had laid siege to the government in the Winter Palace, succeeding in overcoming it and arresting its ministers after the Bolshevik ship Aurora opened fire on the building. While the insurrection was taking place, Lenin gave a speech to the Petrograd Soviet announcing that the Provisional Government had been overthrown. The Bolsheviks declared the formation of a new government, the Council of People's Commissars or "Sovnarkom"; although Lenin initially turned down the leading position of Chairman, suggesting Trotsky for the job, the other Bolsheviks refused to accept this and ultimately Lenin relented. Lenin and other Bolsheviks then attended the Second Congress of Soviets, held over 26 and 27 October; there they announced the creation of the new government, but were condemned by Menshevik attendees, who lambasted the Bolshevik seizure of power as illegitimate and warned of civil war. In these early days of the new regime, Lenin avoided talking in explicitly Marxist and socialist phraseology, fearing that in doing so he might alienate much of Russia's population, instead focusing on the idea of a country controlled by the workers. At this point, Lenin and many other Bolsheviks were expecting proletariat revolution to sweep across Europe, either in the coming days or, at most, in the coming months.[150]

Lenin's Government
Consolidating power: 1917–18

"To All Workers, Soldiers and Peasants. The Soviet authority will at once propose a democratic peace to all nations and an immediate armistice on all fronts. It will safeguard the transfer without compensation of all land – landlord, imperial, and monastery – to the peasants' committees; it will defend the soldiers' rights, introducing a complete democratisation of the army; it will establish workers' control over industry; it will ensure the convocation of the Constituent Assembly on the date set; it will supply the cities with bread and the villages with articles of first necessity; and it will secure to all nationalities inhabiting Russia the right of self-determination... Long live the revolution!"

Lenin's political program, October 1918
Lenin had argued in a newspaper article in September 1917:

The peaceful development of any revolution is, generally speaking, extremely rare and difficult ... but ... a peaceful development of the revolution is possible and probable if all power is transferred to the Soviets. The struggle of parties for power within the Soviets may proceed peacefully, if the Soviets are made fully democratic.

The October Revolution had been relatively peaceful. The revolutionary forces already had de facto control of the capital thanks to the defection of the city garrison. Few troops had stayed to defend the Provisional Government in the Winter Palace. Most citizens had simply continued about their daily business while the Provisional Government was actually overthrown.

It thus appeared that all power had been transferred to the Soviets relatively peacefully. On the evening of the October Revolution, the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets met, with a Bolshevik-Left SR majority, in the Smolny Institute in Petrograd. When the left-wing Menshevik Martov proposed an all-party Soviet government, the Bolshevik Lunacharsky stated that his party did not oppose the idea. The Bolshevik delegates voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.

However, not all Russian socialists supported transferring all power to the Soviets. The Right SRs and Mensheviks walked out of this very first session of the Congress of Soviets in protest at the overthrow of the Provisional Government, of which their parties had been members.

The next day, on the evening of 26 October O.S., Lenin attended the Congress of Soviets: undisguised in public for the first time since the July Days, although not yet having regrown his trademark beard. The American journalist John Reed described the man who appeared at about 8:40 pm to "a thundering wave of cheers":

A short, stocky figure, with a big head set down in his shoulders, bald and bulging. Little eyes, a snubbish nose, wide, generous mouth, and heavy chin; clean-shaven now, but already beginning to bristle with the well-known beard of his past and future. Dressed in shabby clothes, his trousers much too long for him. Unimpressive, to be the idol of a mob, loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in history have been. A strange popular leader—a leader purely by virtue of intellect; colourless, humourless, uncompromising and detached, without picturesque idiosyncrasies—but with the power of explaining profound ideas in simple terms, of analysing a concrete situation. And combined with shrewdness, the greatest intellectual audacity.

According to Reed, Lenin waited for the applause to subside before declaring simply: "We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order!" Lenin proceeded to propose to the Congress a Decree on Peace, calling on "all the belligerent peoples and to their Governments to begin immediately negotiations for a just and democratic peace", and a Decree on Land, transferring ownership of all "land-owners' estates, and all lands belonging to the Crown, [and] to monasteries" to the Peasants' Soviets. The Congress passed the Decree on Peace unanimously, and the Decree on Land faced only one vote in opposition.

Having approved these key Bolshevik policies, the Congress of Soviets proceeded to elect the Bolsheviks into power as the Council of People's Commissars by "an enormous majority". The Bolsheviks offered posts in the Council to the Left SRs: an offer that the Left SRs at first refused, but later accepted, joining the Bolsheviks in coalition on 12 December O.S. Lenin had suggested that Trotsky take the position of Chairman of the Council—the head of the Soviet government—but Trotsky refused on the grounds that his Jewishness would be controversial, and he took the post of Commissar for Foreign Affairs instead. Thus, Lenin became the head of government in Russia.

Trotsky announced the composition of the new Soviet Central Executive Committee: with a Bolshevik majority, but with places reserved for the representatives of the other parties, including the seceded Right SRs and Mensheviks. Trotsky concluded the Congress: "We welcome into the Government all parties and groups which will adopt our programme."

Lenin declared in 1920 that "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country" in modernising Russia into a 20th-century country:

We must show the peasants that the organisation of industry on the basis of modern, advanced technology, on electrification, which will provide a link between town and country, will put an end to the division between town and country, will make it possible to raise the level of culture in the countryside and to overcome, even in the most remote corners of land, backwardness, ignorance, poverty, disease, and barbarism.

Yet the Bolshevik Government had to first withdraw Russia from the First World War (1914–18). Facing continuing Imperial German eastward advance, Lenin proposed immediate Russian withdrawal from the West European war; yet, other, doctrinaire Bolshevik leaders (e.g. Nikolai Bukharin) advocated continuing in the war to foment revolution in Germany. Lead peace treaty negotiator Leon Trotsky proposed No War, No Peace, an intermediate-stance Russo–German treaty conditional upon neither belligerent annexing conquered lands; the negotiations collapsed, and the Germans renewed their attack, conquering much of the (agricultural) territory of west Russia. As a result, Lenin's withdrawal proposal then gained majority support, and, on 3 March 1918, Russia withdrew from the First World War via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, losing much of its European territory. Because of the German threat, Lenin moved the Soviet Government from Petrograd to Moscow on 10–11 March 1918.

On 19 January 1918, relying upon the soviets, the Bolsheviks, allied with anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries, dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly thereby consolidating the Bolshevik Government's political power. Yet, that left-wing coalition collapsed consequent to the Social Revolutionaries opposing the territorially expensive Brest-Litovsk treaty the Bolsheviks reached an accord with Imperial Germany. The anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries then joined other political parties in attempting to depose the Bolshevik Government, who defended themselves with persecution and jail for the anti-Bolsheviks.

To initiate the Russian economic recovery, on 21 February 1920, he launched the GOELRO plan, the State Commission for Electrification of Russia (Государственная комиссия по электрификации России), and also established free universal health care, free education systems, promulgated the politico-civil rights of women.

Homosexuality and abortion were legalized. No-fault divorce was also legalized, along with universal free healthcare and free education being established.

Establishing the Cheka
On 20 December 1917, "The Whole-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage", the Cheka (Chrezvychaynaya Komissiya – Extraordinary Commission) was created by a decree issued by Lenin to defend the Russian Revolution. The establishment of the Cheka, secret service, headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, formally consolidated the censorship established earlier, when on "17 November, the Central Executive Committee passed a decree giving the Bolsheviks control over all newsprint and wide powers of closing down newspapers critical of the régime. . . ."; non-Bolshevik soviets were disbanded; anti-soviet newspapers were closed until Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (The News) established their communications monopoly. According to Leonard Schapiro the Bolshevik "refusal to come to terms with the [Revolutionary] socialists, and the dispersal of the Constituent assembly, led to the logical result that revolutionary terror would now be directed, not only against traditional enemies, such as the bourgeoisie or right-wing opponents, but against anyone, be he socialist, worker, or peasant, who opposed Bolshevik rule". On 19 December 1918, a year after its creation, a resolution was adopted at Lenin's behest that forbade the Bolshevik's own press from publishing "defamatory articles" about the Cheka. As Lenin put it: "A Good Communist is also a good Chekist."

Failed assassinations
Lenin survived two serious assassination attempts. The first occasion was on 14 January 1918 in Petrograd, when assassins ambushed Lenin in his automobile after a speech. He and Fritz Platten were in the back seat when assassins began shooting, and "Platten grabbed Lenin by the head and pushed him down... Platten's hand was covered in blood, having been grazed by a bullet as he was shielding Lenin".

The second event was on 30 August 1918, when the Socialist Revolutionary Fanya Kaplan approached Lenin at his automobile after a speech; he was resting a foot on the running board as he spoke with a woman. Kaplan called to Lenin, and when he turned to face her she shot at him three times. The first bullet struck his arm, the second bullet his jaw and neck, and the third missed him, wounding the woman with whom he was speaking; the wounds felled him and he became unconscious. Kaplan said during her interrogation that she considered Lenin to be "a traitor to the Revolution" for dissolving the Constituent Assembly and for outlawing other leftist parties.

Pravda publicly ridiculed Fanya Kaplan as a failed assassin, a latter-day Charlotte Corday (the murderess of Jean-Paul Marat) who could not derail the Russian Revolution, reassuring readers that, immediately after surviving the assassination: "Lenin, shot through twice, with pierced lungs spilling blood, refuses help and goes on his own. The next morning, still threatened with death, he reads papers, listens, learns, and observes to see that the engine of the locomotive that carries us towards global revolution has not stopped working..."; despite unharmed lungs, the neck wound did spill blood into a lung.

Historian Richard Pipes reports that "the impression one gains ... is that the Bolsheviks deliberately underplayed the event to convince the public that, whatever happened to Lenin, they were firmly in control".[citation needed] Moreover, in a letter to his wife (7 September 1918), Leonid Borisovich Krasin, a Tsarist and Soviet régime diplomat, describes the public atmosphere and social response to the failed assassination attempt on 30 August and to Lenin's survival:

As it happens, the attempt to kill Lenin has made him much more popular than he was. One hears a great many people, who are far from having any sympathy with the Bolsheviks, saying that it would be an absolute disaster if Lenin had succumbed to his wounds, as it was first thought he would. And they are quite right, for, in the midst of all this chaos and confusion, he is the backbone of the new body politic, the main support on which everything rests.

Red Terror"
The Bolsheviks instructed Felix Dzerzhinsky to commence a Red Terror, an organized program of arrests, imprisonments, and killings. At Moscow, execution lists signed by Lenin authorised the shooting of 25 former ministers, civil servants, and 765 White Guards in September 1918.

Earlier, in October, Lev Kamenev and cohort, had warned the Party that terrorist rule was inevitable In late 1918, when he and Nikolai Bukharin tried curbing Chekist excesses, Lenin overruled them; in 1921, via the Politburo, he expanded the Cheka's discretionary death-penalty powers.

The White Russian counter-revolution failed for want of popular support and bad coordination among its disparate units. Meanwhile, Lenin put the Terror under a centralized secret police ("Cheka") in summer 1918. By May 1919, there were some 16,000 "enemies of the people" imprisoned in the Cheka's katorga labour camps; by September 1921 the prisoner populace exceeded 70,000.

During the Civil War both the Red and White Russians committed "atrocities against each other" as well by attacking their supporters. The Red Terror was Lenin's policy (e.g. Decossackisation i.e. repressions against the Kuban and Don Cossacks) against given social classes, while the counter-revolutionary White Terror was racial and political, against Jews, anti-monarchists, and Communists, (cf. White Movement). Such numbers are recorded in cities controlled by the Bolsheviks:

In Kharkov there were between 2,000 and 3,000 executions in February–June 1919, and another 1,000–2,000 when the town was taken again in December of that year; in Rostov-on-Don, approximately 1,000 in January 1920; in Odessa, 2,200 in May–August 1919, then 1,500–3,000 between February 1920 and February 1921; in Kiev, at least 3,000 in February–August 1919; in Ekaterinodar, at least 3,000 between August 1920 and February 1921; In Armavir, a small town in Kuban, between 2,000 and 3,000 in August–October 1920. The list could go on and on.

Professor Christopher Read states that though terror was employed at the height of the Civil War fighting, "from 1920 onwards the resort to terror was much reduced and disappeared from Lenin's mainstream discourses and practices".

While the Russian famine of 1921, which left six million dead, was going on, the Bolsheviks planned to capture church property and use its value to relieve the victims. About the resistance to this, Lenin said: "we must precisely now smash the Black Hundreds clergy most decisively and ruthlessly and put down all resistance with such brutality that they will not forget it for several decades." He also said: "At this meeting pass a secret resolution of the congress that the removal of property of value, especially from the very richest lauras, monasteries, and churches, must be carried out with ruthless resolution, leaving nothing in doubt, and in the very shortest time. The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and the reactionary bourgeoisie that we succeed in shooting on this occasion, the better" Historian Orlando Figes has cited an estimate of perhaps 8,000 priests and laymen being executed as a result of this letter.

According to historian Michael Kort, "During 1919 and 1920, out of a population of approximately 1.5 million Don Cossacks, the Bolshevik regime killed or deported an estimated 300,000 to 500,000". And the crushing of the revolts in Kronstadt and Tambov in southern Russia in 1921 resulted in large scale executions. Estimates for the total number of people killed in the Red Terror range from 50,000 to over a million.

Civil War

In 1917, as an anti-imperialist, Lenin said that oppressed peoples had the unconditional right to secede from the Russian Empire; however, at end of the Civil War, the USSR annexed Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Lenin defended the annexations as, "geopolitical protection against capitalist imperial depredations."

To maintain the war-isolated cities, keep the armies fed, and to avoid economic collapse, the Bolshevik government established war communism, via prodrazvyorstka, food requisitioning from the peasantry, for little payment, which peasants resisted with reduced harvests. The Bolsheviks blamed the kulaks' withholding grain to increase profits; but statistics indicate most such business occurred in the black market economy. Nonetheless, the prodrazvyorstka resulted in armed confrontations, which the Cheka and Red Army suppressed with shooting hostages, poison gas, and labour-camp deportation; yet Lenin increased the requisitioning.

1920–22
After the March 1921 left-wing Kronstadt Rebellion mutiny, Lenin abolished war communism with its food requisitioning, and tight control over industry with a much more liberal New Economic Policy (NEP), which allowed private enterprise. The NEP successfully stabilised the economy and stimulated industry and agriculture by means of a market economy where the government did not set prices and wages. The NEP was his pragmatic recognition of the political and economic realities, despite being a tactical, ideological retreat from the socialist ideal. Politically, Robert Service claims that Lenin "advocated the final eradication of all remaining threats, real or potential, to his state. For Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks he demanded the staging of show trials followed by exemplary severe punishment."

In international terms Lenin spoke of world revolution. The stalemate in the war with Poland and the failures of Communist uprisings in Central Europe brought the realisation that the revolution would come slowly. To get it on track Lenin in 1919 set up the Third International, or Comintern.

Decline and death
Lenin suffered a degree of physical debilitation consequent to the wounds from the attempted assassinations; he retained a bullet in his neck, until a German surgeon removed it on 24 April 1922. He also reported fatigue and headaches; in March 1922 physicians prescribed rest, as it was felt that his demanding schedule contributed to a decline in health.

Upon returning to Petrograd in May 1922, Lenin suffered the first of three strokes, which left him unable to speak for weeks, and severely hampered motion in his right side. By June, he had substantially recovered; by August he resumed limited duties, delivering three long speeches in November. In December 1922, he suffered the second stroke that partly paralysed his right side, he then withdrew from active politics. In March 1923, he suffered a third stroke; it ended his career. Lenin was mute and bed-ridden until his death but officially remained the leader of the Communist Party.

Persistent stories mark syphilis as the cause of Lenin's death. A "retrospective diagnosis" published in The European Journal of Neurology in 2004 strengthens these suspicions.

After the first stroke, Lenin dictated government papers to Nadezhda; among them was Lenin's Testament (changing the structure of the soviets), a document partly inspired by the 1922 Georgian Affair, which was a conflict about the way in which social and political transformation within a constituent republic was to be achieved. It criticised high-rank Communists, including Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, and Trotsky. About the Communist Party's General Secretary (since 1922), Stalin, Lenin reported that the "unlimited authority" concentrated in him was unacceptable, and suggested that "comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post." His phrasing, "Сталин слишком груб", implies "personal rudeness, unnecessary roughness, lack of finesse", flaws "intolerable in a Secretary-General".

At Lenin's death, Nadezhda mailed his testament to the central committee, to be read aloud to the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. However, to remain in power, the ruling troika—Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev—suppressed Lenin's Testament; it was not published until 1925, in the United States, by the American intellectual Max Eastman. In that year, Trotsky published an article minimising the importance of Lenin's Testament, saying that Lenin's notes should not be perceived as a will, that it had been neither concealed, nor violated; yet he did invoke it in later anti-Stalin polemics.

Lenin died at 18.50 hrs, Moscow time, on 21 January 1924, aged 53, at his estate at Gorki settlement (later renamed Gorki Leninskiye). In the four days that the Bolshevik Leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin lay in state, more than 900,000 mourners viewed his body in the Hall of Columns; among the statesmen who expressed condolences to the Soviet Union was Chinese premier Sun Yat-sen, who said:

Through the ages of world history, thousands of leaders and scholars appeared who spoke eloquent words, but these remained words. You, Lenin, were an exception. You not only spoke and taught us, but translated your words into deeds. You created a new country. You showed us the road of joint struggle... You, great man that you are, will live on in the memories of the oppressed people through the centuries.

Winston Churchill, who encouraged British intervention against the Russian Revolution, in league with the White Movement, to destroy the Bolsheviks and Bolshevism, said:

He alone could have led Russia into the enchanted quagmire; he alone could have found the way back to the causeway. He saw; he turned; he perished. The strong illumination that guided him was cut off at the moment when he had turned resolutely for home. The Russian people were left floundering in the bog. Their worst misfortune was his birth: their next worst his death.

Funeral
The Soviet government publicly announced Lenin's death the following day, with head of State Mikhail Kalinin tearfully reading an official statement to delegates of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets at 11am, the same time that a team of physicians began a postmortem of the body. On 23 January, mourners from the Communist Party Central Committee, the Moscow party organisation, the trade unions and the soviets began to assemble at his house, with the body being removed from his home at about 10am the following day, being carried aloft in a red coffin by Kamenev, Zinoviev, Stalin, Bukharin, Bubhov and Krasin. Transported by train to Moscow, mourners gathered at every station along the way, and upon arriving in the city, a funerary procession carried the coffin for five miles to the House of Trade Unions, where the body lay in state.

Over the next three days, around a million mourners from across the Soviet Union came to see the body, many queuing for hours in the freezing conditions, with the events being filmed by the government. On Saturday 26 January, the eleventh All-Union Congress of Soviets met to pay respects to the deceased leader, with speeches being made by Kalinin, Zinoviev and Stalin, but notably not Trotsky, who had been convalescing in the Caucasus. Lenin's funeral took place the following day, when his body was carried to Red Square, accompanied by martial music, where assembled crowds listened to a series of speeches before the corpse was carried into a vault, followed by the singing of the revolutionary hymn, "You fell in sacrifice."

Three days after his death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour, remaining so until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, when its former name Saint Petersburg was restored, yet the administrative area remains Leningrad Oblast. In the early 1920s, the Russian cosmism movement proved so popular that Leonid Krasin and Alexander Bogdanov proposed to cryonically preserve Lenin for future resurrection, yet, despite buying the requisite equipment, that was not done. Instead, the body of V. I. Lenin was embalmed and permanently exhibited in Lenin's Mausoleum, in Moscow, on 27 January 1924.

Despite the official diagnosis of death from stroke consequences, the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov reported that Lenin died of neurosyphilis, according to a publication by V. Lerner and colleagues in the European Journal of Neurology in 2004. The authors also note that "It is possible that future DNA technology applied to Lenin's preserved brain material could ultimately establish or disprove neurosyphilis as the primary cause of Lenin's death."

In a poll conducted in 2012 by a Russian website, 48 per cent of the people that responded voted that the body of the former leader should be buried.

Lenin's funeral train consisting of the locomotive and funeral van still containing the original wreaths is preserved at the Museum of the Moscow Railway, Paveletsky Rail Terminal in Moscow.

Political ideology
"We do not pretend that Marx or Marxists know the road to socialism in all its concreteness. That is nonsense. We know the direction of the road, we know what class forces will lead it, but concretely, practically, this will be shown by the experience of the millions when they undertake the act."

Lenin was a Marxist and principally a revolutionary. His revolutionary theory—the belief in the necessity of a violent overthrow of capitalism through communist revolution, to be followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat as the first stage of moving towards communism, and the need for a vanguard party to lead the proletariat in this effort—developed into Marxism–Leninism, a highly influential ideology. Although a Marxist, Lenin was also influenced by earlier currents of Russian socialist thought such as Narodnichestvo. Conversely, he derided Marxists who adopted from contemporary non-Marxist philosophers and sociologists. He believed that his interpretation of Marxism was the sole authentic one. According to later biographer Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin "deeply and sincerely" believed that the path which he was setting Russia on would ultimately lead to the establishment of a stateless, classless communist society. Robert Service noted that Lenin considered "moral questions" to be "an irrelevance", rejecting the concept of moral absolutism; instead he judged whether an action was justifiable based upon its chances of success for the revolutionary cause.

Lenin was an internationalist and a keen supporter of world revolution, thereby deeming national borders to be an outdated concept and nationalism a distraction from class struggle. He believed that under revolutionary socialism, there would be "the inevitable merging of nations" and the ultimate establishment of "a United States of the World". He opposed federalism, deeming it to be bourgeoisie, instead emphasising the need for a centralised unitary state. Lenin was an anti-imperialist, and believed that all nations deserved "the right of self-determination". He thus supported wars of national liberation, accepting that such conflicts might be necessary for a minority group to break away from a socialist state, asserting that the latter were not "holy or insured against mistakes or weaknesses".

"[Lenin] accepted truth as handed down by Marx and selected data and arguments to bolster that truth. He did not question old Marxist scripture, he merely commented, and the comments have become a new scripture."

Biographer Louis Fischer, 1964
He also staunchly criticised anti-Semitism within the Russian Empire, commenting "It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people. The enemies of the workers are the capitalists of all countries. Among the Jews there are working people, and they form the majority. They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism."

Lenin believed that representative democracy had been used to give the illusion of democracy while maintaining the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; describing the representative democratic system of the United States, he referred to the "spectacular and meaningless duels between two bourgeois parties", both of whom were led by "astute multimillionaires" that exploited the American proletariat.

Writings
Lenin was a prolific political theoretician and philosopher who wrote about the practical aspects of carrying out a proletarian revolution; he wrote pamphlets, articles, and books, without a stenographer or secretary, until prevented by illness. He simultaneously corresponded with comrades, allies, and friends, in Russia and world-wide. His Collected Works comprise 54 volumes, each of about 650 pages, translated into English in 45 volumes by Progress Publishers, Moscow 1960–70.

After Lenin's death, the USSR selectively censored his writings, to establish the dogma of the infallibility of Lenin, Stalin (his successor), and the Central Committee; thus, the Soviet fifth edition (55 vols., 1958–65) of Lenin's œuvre deleted the Lenin–Stalin contradictions, and all that was unfavourable to the founder of the USSR. The historian Richard Pipes published a documentary collection of letters and telegrams excluded from the Soviet fifth edition, proposing that edition as incomplete.

Personal life and characteristics

"[Lenin's collected writings] reveal in detail a man with iron will, self-enslaving self-discipline, scorn for opponents and obstacles, the cold determination of a zealot, the drive of a fanatic, and the ability to convince or browbeat weaker persons by his singleness of purpose, imposing intensity, impersonal approach, personal sacrifice, political astuteness, and complete conviction of the possession of the absolute truth. His life became the history of the Bolshevik movement."

—Biographer Louis Fischer, 1964.

Lenin believed himself to be a man of destiny, having an unshakable belief in the righteousness of his cause, and in his own ability as a revolutionary leader. Historian Richard Pipes noted that he exhibited a great deal of charisma and personal magnetism, and that he had "an extraordinary capacity for disciplined work and total commitment to the revolutionary cause." Volkogonov believed that "by the very force of his personality, [Lenin] had an influence over people." Lenin's friend Gorky described him as "a baldheaded, stocky, sturdy person", being "too ordinary" and not giving "the impression of being a leader". Biographer Louis Fischer described him as "a lover of radical change and maximum upheaval", a man for whom "there was never a middle-ground. He was an either-or, black-or-red exaggerator." Historian and biographer Robert Service asserted that Lenin had been an intensely emotional young man, who had exhibited a strong emotional hatred of the Tsarist authorities. According to Service, Lenin developed an "emotional attachment" to his ideological heroes, such as Marx, Engels and Chernyshevsky; he owned portraits of them, and privately described himself as being "in love" with Marx.

Service stated that Lenin was a man who could be "moody and volatile". According to both Pipes and Fischer, Lenin was intolerant of opposition and often dismissed opinions that differed from his own outright. He ignored facts which did not suit his argument, abhored compromise, and very rarely admitted his own errors. He refused to bend his opinions, until he rejected them completely, at which he would treat the new view as if it was just as unbendable. Although he showed no sign of sadism or of personally desiring to commit violent acts, he endorsed the violent actions of others and exhibited no remorse for those killed by the revolutionary cause.] According to Service, Lenin's "criterion of morality was simple: does a certain action advance or hinder the cause of the Revolution?"

"The Lenin who seemed externally so gentle and good-natured, who enjoyed a laugh, who loved animals and was prone to sentimental reminiscences, was transformed when class or political questions arose. He at once became savagely sharp, uncompromising, remorseless and vengeful. Even in such a state, however, he was capable of black humor."

—Biographer Dmitri Volkogonov, 1994.

Aside from Russian, Lenin spoke and read French, German, and English. Concerned with physical fitness, he took regular exercise, enjoyed cycling, swimming, and hunting, and also developed a passion for mountain walking in the Swiss peaks. He despised untidiness, always keeping his work desk tidy and his pencils sharpened, and insisted on total silence while he was working. According to Fischer, Lenin's "vanity was minimal", and for this reason he disliked the cult of personality that the Soviet administration had begun to build around him; he nevertheless accepted that it might have some benefits in unifying the movement. After an hour's meeting with Lenin, the philosopher Bertrand Russell asserted that Lenin was "very friendly, and apparently simple, entirely without a trace of hauteur... I have never met a personage so destitute of self-importance."

Despite his radical politics, Lenin took a conservative attitude with regard to sex and marriage. Throughout his adult life, he was in a relationship with Nadezhda Krupskaya, a fellow Marxist whom he married. Lenin and Nadya were both sad that they never had children, although they enjoyed entertaining their friends' offspring. Lenin had no lifelong friends, and Armand has been cited as being his only close, intimate friend.

According to Volkogonov, Lenin accepted Marxism as "absolute truth", and accordingly acted like "a religious fanatic". Lenin was an atheist, and believed that socialism was inherently atheistic; he thus deemed Christian socialism to be a contradiction in terms. He expressed an attitude of cultural superiority between different nations; at the top was Germany, followed by Britain and France, and then Finland, with Russia coming beneath them. Privately, he was critical of his Russian homeland, describing it as "one of the most benighted, medieval and shamefully backward of Asian countries". From his youth he had wanted Russia to become more culturally European and Western.

In 1922, according to Robert Service, Lenin "advocated the final eradication of all remaining threats, real or potential, to his state. For Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks he demanded the staging of show trials followed by exemplary severe punishment."

Legacy
Volkogonov claimed that "there can scarcely have been another man in history who managed so profoundly to change so large a society on such a scale". Lenin's influence was global. According to Lenin biographer David Shub, writing in 1966, it was Lenin's ideas and example that "constitutes the basis of the Communist movement today". Following Lenin's death, Stalin's administration established an ideology known as Marxism-Leninism, a movement which came to be interpreted differently by various contending factions in the Communist movement.

When Lenin died on 21 January 1924, he was acclaimed by Communists as "the greatest genius of mankind" and "the leader and teacher of the peoples of the whole world". Historians like Service have characterised Lenin's administration as a "one-party dictatorship", while Volkogonov termed this "Bolshevik dictatorship" a system of "bureaucratic totalitarianism". Pipes described Lenin as a dictator, however Volkogonov believed that whereas Lenin established a "dictatorship of the Party", it would be under Stalin that the Soviet Union became the "dictatorship of one man".

Historian J. Arch Getty has remarked that "Lenin deserves a lot of credit for the notion that the meek can inherit the earth, that there can be a political movement based on social justice and equality", while one of his biographers, Robert Service, says he "laid the foundations of dictatorship and lawlessness. Lenin had consolidated the principle of state penetration of the whole society, its economy and its culture. Lenin had practised terror and advocated revolutionary amoralism." Time magazine named Lenin one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century, and one of their top 25 political icons of all time; remarking that "for decades, Marxist–Leninist rebellions shook the world while Lenin's embalmed corpse lay in repose in Red Square". Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, reverence for Lenin declined among the post-Soviet generations, yet he remains an important historical figure for the Soviet-era generations.

Lenin's reputation inside the Soviet Union and its allies remained high until Communism ended in 1989–91. During the upheavals of the 1960s, Service argues, the reputation of Soviet Communism, and of Lenin himself, started slipping as intellectuals and students on the left turned against dictatorship:

Even the Italian and Spanish communist parties abandoned their ideological fealty to Moscow and formulated doctrines hostile to dictatorship. Especially after the USSR-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the number of admirers of Lenin was getting smaller in states not subject to communist leaderships.
Historian Stephen Lee states:

instead of guiding Russian history on to a new highway, Lenin had simply shoved it up a cul-de-sac. This is also the point that seems to have been reached by many recent Russian historians, especially Volkogonov.

According to the article in Encyclopædia Britannica written by Professor Albert Resis of Northern Illinois University:

“ If the Bolshevik Revolution is—as some people have called it—the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century's most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx. ”

There is little question that Lenin did influence revolutionaries, including successful ones in China, Vietnam, and Cuba.

As influential as he was in life, Lenin may have been more so in death. Over 100 million have lined up to view his mummified body. His memory has been used to support every change in Soviet policy and every new regime since his death. His theories inspired the successful revolutions of Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh; as well as countless other revolutionaries in countries full of oppressed and powerless people.

— Vladimir Lenin: Voice of Revolution, A&E Biography, 2005

After Lenin's death, Stalin had all of the deceased leader's writings collated and stored in a secret archive in the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute. Material, such as Lenin's collection of books in Krakow, were also collected from abroad for storage in the Institute, often at great expense.During the Soviet era, these writings would be strictly controlled and very few had access. All of Lenin's writings that proved useful to Stalin would be published, although everything else remained hidden.

Cult of personality
In the Soviet Union, a cult of personality devoted to Lenin was established. Busts or statues of Lenin were erected in almost every village. Libraries, streets, farms, museums, towns, and whole regions were named after him. Places where he had lived or stayed were converted into museums devoted to Lenin.

During the Soviet period, many statues of Lenin were erected across Eastern Europe. Although many of the statues have subsequently been removed, some remain standing, and a few new ones have been erected. During the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, several were damaged or destroyed. In Russia, the ruling United Russia party and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) have indicated a proposal to remove the statues of Lenin from Russian cities; the proposal is strongly opposed by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

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Vladimir Pchelin's depiction of the assassination.
 
 
Fanya Kaplan
 

Fanya Kaplan 1907
 
Fanya Yefimovna Kaplan (Russian: Фа́нни Ефи́мовна Капла́н; real name Feiga Haimovna Roytblat; Фейга Хаимовна Ройтблат; February 10, 1890 – September 3, 1918), was a Russian revolutionary who tried to assassinate Vladimir Lenin.

As a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries (Esers), Kaplan viewed Lenin as a ‘traitor to the revolution’, when his unelected Bolsheviks managed to get the Esers banned. On 30 August 1918, she approached Lenin as he was leaving a Moscow factory, and fired three shots, badly injuring him. Interrogated by the Cheka, she refused to name any accomplices, and was shot on 3 September. The incident did much to provoke the imminent civil war.

Some historians have cast doubt on Kaplan’s guilt, as she was almost blind, following years of beatings as a prisoner in Siberia.

Biography

There is some confusion as to Kaplan's birth name. Vera Figner, in her memoirs, At Women's Katorga, gives the name Feiga Khaimovna Roytblat-Kaplan (Фейга Хаимовна Ройтблат-Каплан). Other sources give her original family name as Ройтман (transliterated from Russian as Roytman, which corresponds to the common German/Yiddish name Reutemann). She is also sometimes called "Dora."

Kaplan was born into a Jewish family, as one of seven children. She became a political revolutionary at an early age and joined a socialist group, the Socialist Revolutionaries. In 1906, when she was 16 years old, Kaplan was arrested in Kiev over her involvement in a terrorist bomb plot, and committed for life to the katorga (a hard-labor prison camp). She served in the Maltsev and Akatuy prisons of Nerchinsk katorga, Siberia, where she lost her sight (partially restored later). She was kept in the Maltzevskaya prison, where she was severely caned on her bare body as disciplinary corporal punishment. Fully undressed corporal punishment was not usual for political prisoners at that time. She was released on March 3, 1917, after the February Revolution overthrew the imperial government. As a result of her imprisonment, Kaplan suffered from continuous headaches and periods of blindness.

Kaplan became disillusioned with Lenin as a result of the conflict between the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik party. The Bolsheviks had strong support in the soviets; however, in elections to a competing body, the Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks failed to win a majority in the November 1917 elections and a Socialist Revolutionary was elected President in January 1918. The Bolsheviks, favoring soviets, ordered the Constituent Assembly to be dissolved. By August 1918 conflicts between the Bolsheviks and their political opponents had led to the banning of most other influential parties - most recently, of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, who had been the Bolsheviks' principal coalition partner for some time, but had organized a revolt in July because of their opposition to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Kaplan decided to assassinate Lenin because she considered him "a traitor to the Revolution".

Assassination attempt
On 30 August 1918, Lenin spoke at the Hammer and Sickle, a factory in Moscow. As Lenin left the building and before he entered his car, Kaplan called out to him. When Lenin turned towards her, she fired three shots with a Browning pistol. One bullet passed through Lenin's coat, the other two struck him: one passing through his neck, puncturing part of his left lung, and stopping near his right collarbone; the other lodging in his left shoulder.

Lenin was taken back to his living quarters at the Kremlin. He feared there might be other plotters planning to kill him and refused to leave the security of the Kremlin to seek medical attention. Doctors were brought in to treat him but were unable to remove the bullets outside of a hospital. Despite the severity of his injuries, Lenin survived. However, Lenin's health never fully recovered from the attack and it is believed the shooting contributed to the strokes that incapacitated and later killed him in 1924.

Kaplan was taken into custody and interrogated by the Cheka. She made the following statement:

My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say from whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent 11 years at hard labour. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.

When it became clear that Kaplan would not implicate any accomplices, she was executed on September 3, 1918 with a bullet to the back of the head.

Culpability
Some historians such as Arkadi Vaksberg and Donald Rayfield have questioned the actual role of Kaplan in the assassination attempt. Vaksberg states that Lidia Konopleva, another SR, was the culprit; believing it would be all too comforting that Lenin narrowly avoided being assassinated by a woman whose personality is so far from the stereotype of a national hero. In particular, it is suggested that she was working on behalf of others and after her arrest assumed sole responsibility. The main argument put forth in this and other versions is her near-blindness. Another argument points to the contradiction between the official Soviet account (which states that angry workers who witnessed the event immediately seized Kaplan) and official documents, in particular a radiogram by Yakov Peters, which mentions the arrest of several suspects.

Legacy
In the official announcement, Kaplan was declared a Right Eser (Right SR). On the same day, Moisei Uritsky, People's Commissar for Internal Affairs in the Northern Region and head of the Cheka in Petrograd, was assassinated. While the Cheka did not find any evidence linking the two events, their co-occurrence appeared significant in the overall context of the intensifying civil war. The Bolshevik reaction was an abrupt escalation in the persecution of their opponents.

An official decree on Red Terror was issued only hours after the Kaplan shooting, calling for all-out struggle against enemies of the revolution. In the next few months, about 800 Right SRs and other political opponents of Bolsheviks were executed. During the first year, the scope of the Red Terror expanded significantly; the number of executions grew rapidly from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

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executions grew rapidly from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

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