Vladimir Lenin: Quick Facts
Birth Name: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Later known as Vladimir Lenin during Russian Revolution)
Birth Date: 22 April 1870
Birth Place: Simbirsk, Russia (Later named Ulyanovsk)
Parents: Ilya Niolayevich Ulyanov (Father); Maria Alexandrovna Blank (Mother)
Spouse: Nadezhda Krupskaya (Married in 1898)
Siblings: Aleksandr Ulyanov; Dmitry Ilyich Ulyanov; Anna Ulyanova; Maria Ilynichna Ulyanova
Alma Mater: Saint Petersburg Imperial University
Political Affiliation(s): League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class; Russian Social Democratic Labour Party; Russian Communist Party
Death: 21 January 1924
Occupation: Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union
Fact #1: Lenin was born into a middle-class family in the 1870s. He quickly became politically radicalized after witnessing the execution of his older brother (March 1887), who was arrested for an assassination plot against Tsar Alexander III. In the years that followed, Lenin took part in numerous student protests across western Russia, and began following the teachings of Karl Marx. After finishing a law degree, Lenin was arrested for “engaging in Marxist activities;” a crime that resulted in his exile to Siberia (www.history.com). Soon after, Lenin managed to escape to Germany and Switzerland, where he helped to create (with the help of other Marxists) the Bolshevik Party.
Fact #2: The term “Lenin” served as a pseudonym. Lenin’s real name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. Ulyanov also went by other pseudonyms, including: “K. Tulin,” “and “Petrov.” It remains unclear what the term “Lenin” refers to; however, many speculate that it refers to the Lena River in Siberia.
Fact #3: Originally, Lenin favored a democratic form of government in Russia. However, after the Bolsheviks secured only a fourth of the Constituent Assembly’s seats in November 1917, Lenin quickly dissolved the assembly, banned all political parties (except for the Bolsheviks), and set strong restrictions on the press (www.history.com).
Fact #4: It is believed by many historians that Lenin personally ordered the execution (and murder) of the Russian Royal family. Because Russia was facing civil war during this time, Lenin feared that the Royal family would “leave the Whites a banner to rally around” against the Bolsheviks (www.history.com). As a result, Nicholas II and his family were brutally murdered on 16 July 1918 in a basement around the Urals.
Fact #5: Soon after appointing Joseph Stalin as General Secretary of the Communist Party (April 1922), Lenin deeply regretted his decision; referring to the later dictator as rude, disloyal, and capricious in his work, Testament. Due to multiple strokes that left him paralyzed and incapable of speech, however, Lenin was unable to prevent Stalin from securing power for himself.
Fact #6: Following Lenin’s death, his body was placed on display in St. Petersburg (later renamed Leningrad in his honor). The Communist Party then ordered a “months-long embalming process,” as well as the construction of a mausoleum in Red Square. To this day, Lenin’s body remains on display for onlookers.
Fact #7: In the latter years of the First World War, Germany personally helped Lenin return to Russia. The German government, facing a costly two-front war, hoped that the return of Lenin would create social unrest across Russia and expedite the removal of the Provisional Government (allowing the German army to focus its attention on the western front). In 1917, the Germans delivered Lenin to Russia in an armored train car. Within months the plan proved highly successful as Lenin and the Bolshevik Party took control of Russia, ended hostilities against Germany, and established the Soviet Republic.
"A lie told often enough becomes the truth."— Vladimir Lenin
Quote #1: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”
Quote #2: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Quote #3: “One man with a gun can control 100 without one.”
Quote #4: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them in parliament.”
Quote #5: “Politics begin where the masses are, not where there are thousands, but where there are millions. That is where serious politics begin.”
Quote #6: “It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”
Quote #7: “If socialism can only be realized when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see socialism for at least five hundred years.”
To this day, Lenin remains one of the most important and influential leaders of the twentieth century. His political ideas helped shape Russian politics for nearly a century, and continue to remain an integral part of Russian history in the present.
Although there is a great deal of information that can still be learned about Lenin’s life, the large array of primary documents and sources available to historians have helped the scholarly community to develop an clear portrait of the Russian revolutionary. Only time will tell what new information can be gleaned about Lenin’s life.
Were you surprised by any of these facts?
Suggestions for Further Reading on Lenin:
Sebestyen, Victor. Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror. New York: Pantheon Books, 2017.
Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Greenspan, Jesse. "9 Things You May Not Know About Vladimir Lenin." History.com. January 21, 2014. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-vladimir-lenin.
"Vladimir Lenin." Biography.com. April 28, 2017. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://www.biography.com/people/vladimir-lenin-9379007.
"Vladimir Lenin." Wikipedia. August 13, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Lenin.
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© 2018 Larry Slawson