February 2, 2014

1001 RUSSIA - Lenin (1870-1924)

If Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most luminous personalities of the 20th century, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) was one of the darkest. Born as Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov to a middle-class family in Simbirsk (renamed Ulyanovsk after his death), Lenin was attracted by the revolutionary leftist politics following the execution of his brother in 1887. Expelled from Kazan State University for his radical attitude, he completed his law degree as an external student in 1891. In 1893 he moved to Saint Petersburg, where he began his career of professional revolutionary as cofounder of the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. Arrested and exiled to Siberia for three years, he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, and fled to Western Europe, where he emerged as a prominent figure in the international revolutionary movement and became the leader of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party.

After the February Revolution of 1917 he returned home with the help of the Germans, interested in destabilizing Russia, and took a senior role in orchestrating the October Revolution, actually a coup d'etat which established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR). Followed the transfer of estates and crown lands to workers' soviets, and forced nationalization of the private enterprises, bank system, and agrarian sector. Lenin created immediately the Cheka, the military and security arm of the Bolshevik government, which instituted total censorship, and triggered Red Terror. After almost five years of civil war, one of the most devastating and bloody in history, the Bolsheviks were victorious and assumed total control of the country. During all this period of revolution, war and famine, Lenin demonstrated a chilling disregard for the sufferings of his fellow countrymen and mercilessly crushed any opposition. In 1922, the RSFSR attached former territories of the Russian Empire in becoming the Soviet Union, with Lenin as Premier. After a series of strokes, Lenin died on January 21, 1924, at the age of 53. Probably ten days ago some celebrated 90 years since his death. I hope not too many.

His dictatorial policy, subsequently continued and developed by all the Communist leaders, was based on demagoguery, false propaganda, terror, assassination, deportations and purges, the only law, with the power of life and death, being the will of the Party, in fact the will of its leaders. The result was millions of lives lost and many other millions destroyed in Russia only during Lenin's life, and hundreds of millions in coming decades, in Russia and in other countries from all continents, where communist ideology caught clot. For communists never mattered the individual, but only the masses and their so-called "historical mission", so the elimination, by any means, of "the enemies of the people" was not only justified, but even mandatory. Beyond the terror and strong repressive system established in Russia and countries of the former Tsarist Empire, Lenin provided the ideological basis (Leninism) for the birth of Stalinism, Maoism, Castrism etc, and the establishment of the dictatorships that have promoted them.

Within the Party, Lenin was revered  even during his life almost as a Christ-like figure, but after his death, he was raised to almost mythical status nationwide. His cult was based on a single theme: Lenin lives! The declaration that he is eternal and omnipresent, present again and again in many slogans, poems and eulogies, was a political act, in that was implied the desire to perpetuate the system of rule personified by Lenin, in fact a pledge of faith to the Party and government. The best known poem about this theme is Komsomolskaia, by Vladimir Maiakovsky, published in 1924:

"Lenin" and "Death"
          these words are enemies.
"Lenin" and "Life"
          are comrades . . .
          will live.

Is the slogan which appears on the postcard, a reproduction of a propaganda poster made by the prominent Soviet artist Viktor Ivanov (1909-1968) in 1967. Ivanov started producing posters in 1931 while still a student of the Leningrad VKHUTEIN / State Arts Academ, and continued to produce posters through the period when he worked as a film artist at Mezhrabpom, and Mosfilm studios. He went on to become one of the leading Soviet posterists (two Stalin Prizes, gold medals at a number of international exhibition, awarded the title of the People's Artist of the Soviet Union).

About the stamps
The first three stamps - depicting Zaraisk Kremlin (1.50R), Kazan Kremlin (2.00R), and Kolomna Kremlin (2.50R) - are part of a series dedicated to Russian Kremlins, bout which I wrote here. The following six are part of a definitives series, about which I wrote here.

The last, the triangular one, is part of the series Arts and crafts of Russia - Shawls, issued on July 5, 2013 and comprising four stamps with the same face values (15 RUB):
• The Troitsko-Aleksandrovskaya Cotton Mill of Baranovs - Karabanovo - it's on the postcard
• The Trekhgornaya Textile Mill - Moscow
• The Orenburg shawl
• The shawl of wool - Pavlovsky Posad

Vladimir Lenin - Wikipedia
Vladimir Lenin (1870 - 1924) - BBC, History
Lenin Lives!: The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia, by  Nina Tumarkin

sender: Alyona Panteleyeva (direct swap)
sent from Saint Petersburg (Saint Petersburg / Russia), on 15.01.2014


  1. I initially thought how much this image looks like a movie poster. And then you noted the artist worked as a film artist! Makes sense.

  2. This info you provided in the blog that was really unique I love it!!

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