VLADIMIR ILYICH ULYANOV
(April 22, 1870 – January 24, 1924), was a Russian revolutionary, a communist politician, the main Lenin was the leader of the October Revolution, the first head of Soviet Russia, and the primary theorist of the ideology that has come to be called Leninism, which is a variant of Marxism.--------------Born in Simbirsk, Russian Empire (now Ulyanovsk), Lenin was the son of Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov , a Russian official in public education who worked for progressive democracy and free universal education in Russia, and Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova. The family was of mixed ethnic ancestry. "Lenin's antecedents were Russian, Kalmyk, Jewish, German and Swedish, and possibly others". Lenin was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church.--------Lenin worked for some years in Samara, Russia, then in 1893 moved to St Petersburg. Rather than settling into a legal career, he became more involved in revolutionary propaganda efforts and the study of Marxism. On December 7, 1895, he was arrested and held by authorities for 14 months, then exiled to the village of Shushenskoye in Siberia.-------------In July 1898, he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, who was a socialist activist. In April 1899, he published the book The Development of Capitalism in Russia. In 1900 his exile ended and he travelled in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. He lived in Zurich, Geneva (where he lectured and studied at Geneva State Munich, Prague, Vienna, Manchester and London, and during his exile co-founded the newspaper Iskra with Julius Martov, later a leading opponent. He also wrote several articles and books related to the revolutionary movement. At this period, he started using various aliases, finally settling upon Lenin.-----------After the 1917 February Revolution in Russia and the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II, Lenin knew he needed to travel back to Russia as soon as possible. But he was isolated in neutral Switzerland as the First World War was raging. The Swiss communist Fritz Platten, however, managed to negotiate with the German government for Lenin and his company to travel through Germany by train. The German government hoped Lenin would cause political unrest back in Russia, which would help to end the war on the Eastern front. Once through Germany, Lenin continued by ferry to Sweden, and the rest of the trip through Scandinavia was arranged by the Swedish communists Otto Grimlund and Ture Nerman. On April 16, 1917 Lenin arrived in Petrograd and took a leading role within the Bolshevik movement, publishing the April Theses, which called for an uncompromising opposition to the provisional government. Initially, Lenin isolated his party through this lurch to the left. However, this uncompromising stand meant that the Bolsheviks were to become the obvious home for all those who became disillusioned with the provisional government, and with the "luxury of opposition" the Bolsheviks did not have to assume responsibility for any policies implemented by the government. Lenin disguised as "Vilén" wearing a wig and with his beard shaved off in Finland August 11, 1917 Enlarge Lenin disguised as "Vilén" wearing a wig and with his beard shaved off in Finland August 11, 1917 Meanwhile, Aleksandr Kerensky and other opponents of the Bolsheviks accused Lenin of being a paid German agent. In response Leon Trotsky, formerly a Menshevik, but now moving closer to the Bolshevik position, made a defensive speech on July 17, saying: "An intolerable atmosphere has been created, in which you as well as we are choking. They are throwing dirty accusations at Lenin and Zinoviev. Lenin has fought thirty years for the revolution. I have fought twenty years against the oppression of the people. And we cannot but cherish a hatred for German militarism. ... I have been sentenced by a German court to eight months’ imprisonment for my struggle against German militarism. This everybody knows. Let nobody in this hall say that we are hirelings of Germany." After a failed Bolshevik rising in July, Lenin fled to Finland for safety. Here he wrote "State and Revolution", which called for a new form of government based on workers' councils, or soviets elected and revocable at all moments by the workers. He returned to Petrograd in October, inspiring the October Revolution with the slogan "All Power to the Soviets!" Lenin directed the overthrow of the Provisional Government from the Smolny Institute from the 6th to the 8th of November 1917. The storming and capitulation of the Winter Palace on the night of the 7th to 8th of November marked the beginning of Soviet rule. On November 8, Lenin was elected as the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars by the Russian Soviet Congress. "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country," Lenin said, emphasising the importance of bringing electricity to all corners of Russia and modernising industry and agriculture. "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." He was very concerned about creating a free universal health care system for all, the emancipation of women, and teaching the illiterate Russian people to read and write. But first and foremost, the new Bolshevik government needed to take Russia out of the World War. Faced with the threat of a continuing German advance eastwards, Lenin argued that Russia should immediately sign a peace treaty. Other Bolshevik leaders, such as Bukharin, advocated continuing the war as a means of fomenting revolution in Germany. Trotsky, who led the negotiations, advocated an intermediate position, of "No War, No Peace", calling for a peace treaty only on the conditions that no territorial gains on either side be consolidated. After the negotiations collapsed, the Germans renewed their advance, resulting in the loss of much of Russia's western territory. As a result of this turn of events, Lenin's position consequently gained the support of the majority in the Bolshevik leadership. On March 3, 1918, Lenin removed Russia from World War I by agreeing to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, under which Russia lost significant territories in Europe. After the Bolsheviks lost the elections for the Russian Constituent Assembly, they used the Red Guards to shut down the first session of the Assembly on January 19 and relied on support from the soviets. This marked the beginning of the steady elimination from political life of all factions and parties whose views did not correspond to the position taken by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, especially as further exhibited by the Civil War pattern of repeatedly dissolving not-so-favourable Congresses of Soviets. Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Mikhail Kalinin 1919 Enlarge Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Mikhail Kalinin 1919 The Bolsheviks formed a coalition government with the left wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries. However, their coalition collapsed after the Social Revolutionaries opposed the Brest-Litovsk treaty, and joined other parties in seeking to overthrow the Bolshevik government. Lenin responded to these efforts by a policy of wholesale persecution, which included jailing some of the members of the opposing parties. Lenin campaigned for a single, democratically accountable individual to be put in charge of each enterprise, contrary to most conceptions of workers' self-management, but absolutely essential for efficiency and expertise. As S.A. Smith wrote: "By the end of the civil war, not much was left of the democratic forms of industrial administration promoted by the factory committees in 1917, but the government argued that this did not matter since industry had passed into the ownership of a workers' state." To protect the newly-established Bolshevik government from counterrevolutionaries and other political opponents, the Bolsheviks created a secret police, the Cheka. The Bolsheviks had planned to hold a trial for the former Tsar, but in August 1918, when the White Army was advancing on Yekaterinburg (where the once royal family was being held), Sverdlov acceded to the request of the local Soviet to execute the Tsar right away, rather than having him taken by the Whites. In the event both the Tsar and the rest of his immediate family was executed, though whether this was a decision of the central government or the local Soviet remains the subject of historical dispute. (For the most recent and most extensive investigation into these murky events and into the question of who was ultimately responsible for the killings see The Fate of the Romanovs (2003) by Greg King and Penny Wilson.) Lenin and Fritz Platten in 1919. Enlarge Lenin and Fritz Platten in 1919. Assassination attempt On January 14, 1918, an assassination attempt was made against Lenin’s car in Petrograd by unknown gunmen. Lenin and Fritz Platten were in the back of the car together, after having given a public speech. When the shooting started, "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." On August 30, 1918, Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, approached Lenin after he had spoken at a meeting and was on the way to his car. She called out to Lenin, who turned to answer. She immediately fired three shots, two of which struck him in the shoulder and lung. Lenin was taken to his apartment in the Kremlin, refusing to venture to a hospital since he believed that other assassins would be waiting there. Doctors were summoned but decided that it was too dangerous to remove the bullets. Lenin eventually recovered, though his health declined from this point. It is believed that the incident contributed to his later strokes.-------------------The Communist government responded to the assassination attempt, and to the increasingly mobilising anti-communist offensive of which it was a component, with what they termed the Red Terror. Tens of thousands of real and perceived enemies of the Revolution, many accused of actively conspiring against the Bolshevik government, were executed or put in labour camps. The Red Terror coincided with the escalation of the Civil War and the implementation of a policy known as War Communism. Amongst other things this involved forced grain requisitions from the peasantry, and became a cause of widespread famine.------------Lenin's health had already been severely damaged by the strains of revolution and war. The assassination attempt earlier in his life also added to his health problems. The bullet was still lodged in his neck, too close to his spine for medical techniques of the time to remove. In May 1922, Lenin had his first stroke. He was left partially paralysed on his right side, and his role in government declined. After the second stroke in December of the same year, he resigned from active politics. In March 1923, he suffered his third stroke and was left bedridden for the remainder of his life, no longer able to speak.------------After his first stroke, Lenin dictated several papers regarding the government to his wife. Most famous of these is Lenin's Testament, which among other things criticised top-ranking communists, especially Joseph Stalin. Of Stalin, who had been the Communist Party's general secretary since April 1922, Lenin said that he had "unlimited authority concentrated in his hands" and suggested that "comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post." Upon Lenin's death, his wife mailed his Testament to the central committee, to be read at the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. However, because the will criticised all of the most prominent figures in the central committee: Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and Stalin, the committee had a vested interest in not releasing the will to the wider public. The central committee justified this by stating that Lenin had been mentally ill in his final years and, as such, his final judgments were not to be trusted. Lenin's Testament was first officially published in 1926 in the United States by Max Eastman.-----------------Lenin died on January 24, 1924 (not January 21), aged 53. Rumours of Lenin having syphilis sprang up shortly after his death. The official cause given for Lenin's death was cerebral arteriosclerosis, or a fourth stroke. But out of the 27 physicians who treated him, only eight signed onto that conclusion in his autopsy report. Therefore, several other theories regarding his death have been put forward. Documents released after the fall of the U.S.S.R., along with memoirs of Lenin's physicians, suggest that Lenin was treated for syphilis as early as 1895. Documents suggest that Alexei Abrikosov, the pathologist in charge of the autopsy, was ordered to prove that Lenin did not die of syphilis. Abrikosov did not mention syphilis in the autopsy; however, the blood-vessel damage, the paralysis and other handicaps he cited are typical of syphilis. Upon a second release of the autopsy report, none of the organs, major arteries, or brain areas usually affected by syphilis were cited.