Lenin's Mausoleum (from 1953 to 1961 Lenin's and Stalin's Mausoleum) (Russian: Мавзолей Ленина, tr. Mavzoley Lenina, IPA: [məvzɐˈlʲej ˈlʲenʲɪnə]), also known as Lenin's Tomb, is a mausoleum located at Red Square in Moscow, Russia. It serves as the resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, whose preserved body has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924, with rare exceptions in wartime. The outdoor tribune over the mausoleum's entrance was used by Soviet leaders to observe military parades. The structure, designed by Alexey Shchusev, incorporates some elements from ancient mausoleums such as the Step Pyramid, the Tomb of Cyrus the Great and, to some degree, the Temple of the Inscriptions.

Dima Varvar Mausoleum
Мавзолей Ленина
Mavzoley Lenina
Varvars Mausoleum, 2006
55°45′13″N 37°37′11″E / 55.75361°N 37.61972°E / 55.75361; 37.61972
LocationMoscow, Russia
DesignerAlexey Shchusev
MaterialConcrete and marble
Completion date10 November 1930; 93 years ago (1930-11-10)
Dedicated toVladimir Lenin
Joseph Stalin (formerly)

History edit

The second non-temporary wooden version (1924–1930) of Lenin's Mausoleum
The completed mausoleum on a 1934 stamp.

Two days after Vladimir Lenin's death on 21 January 1924, architect Alexey Shchusev was tasked with building a structure suitable for viewing of the body by mourners. A wooden tomb, built in Red Square close to the Moscow Kremlin Wall, was ready on 27 January, the same day Lenin's coffin was placed inside. More than 100,000 Soviet citizens visited the tomb in the next six weeks.[1] By the end of May, Shchusev had replaced the tomb with a larger, more elaborate mausoleum, and Lenin's body was transferred to a sarcophagus designed by architect Konstantin Melnikov.[2] The new wooden mausoleum was opened to the public on 1 August 1924.[2]

Pathologist Alexei Ivanovich Abrikosov had embalmed Lenin's body shortly after his death, with Boris Zbarsky and Vladimir Vorobiev later being tasked with its ongoing preservation. Zbarsky was soon assisted by his son Ilya Zbarsky, a recent graduate of Moscow University, who likened the work on Lenin's body to that of ancient Egyptian priests. In 1925, Boris Zbarsky and Vorobiev urged the Soviet government to replace the wooden structure after mold was found in the walls and even on the body itself.[3] A new mausoleum of marble, porphyry, granite, and labradorite, designed by Shchusev, was completed in 1930. The mausoleum also served as a viewing stand for Soviet leaders to review military parades on Red Square.

Lenin's body has been on almost continuous public display inside the mausoleum since its completion in 1930. In October 1941, during the Second World War, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, the body was evacuated to Tyumen, in Siberia, when it appeared that Moscow might fall to German troops; the body was returned, and the tomb reopened after the war. Between 1953 and 1961, the embalmed body of Joseph Stalin shared a spot next to Lenin's; Stalin's body was eventually removed as part of de-Stalinization and Khrushchev's Thaw, and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. Soviet sculptor Nikolai Tomsky designed a new sarcophagus for Lenin's body in 1973.

On 26 January 1924, the head of the Moscow Garrison issued an order to place the guard of honour, popularly known as the "Number One Sentry", at the mausoleum.[4] The guard of honour was disbanded following the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, but was restored at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden four years later.

Architectural features edit

Project selection and construction edit

Lenin's and Stalin's Mausoleum, 1957.
Young Pioneers at Lenin's Mausoleum, 1968.

In January 1925, the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee announced an international competition to design a stone tomb for Lenin's body. The commission received 117 suggestions and sketches. Among them, there were offered different variants: a ship with Lenin's figure on board, a round mausoleum in a shape of a globe, an analogue of an Egyptian pyramid and a mausoleum in a shape of the five-pointed star. But after considering the proposed designs, the commission decided to retain the image of a wooden mausoleum. Shchusev created some new drawings based on old sketches and made a model in granite, and his project was approved.[5] It was decided to clad the new building with red granite, as well as black and grey labradorite.

The basement under the sarcophagus weighed twenty tonnes. It was installed on a thick layer of sand, and guarding piles–meant to protect the tomb from vibration–were driven around the slab. Altogether 2900 m2 of polished granite was required for the construction, each square metre of which was processed for three days on average. The upper slab of red Karelian Shoksha quartzite was placed on columns of granite, whose different species were specially brought to Moscow from all the republics of the USSR.[6]

The stone mausoleum was completed October 1930, after sixteen months of construction. Compared to the previous wooden mausoleum, the new building was built three metres higher, the outer volume was increased 4.5 times – 5800 m³, and the inner volume 12 times, up to 2400 m³. Its total weight was about 10,000 tonnes. The mausoleum occupied the highest point on Red Square.[4]

During construction, both the mausoleum and the necropolis were brought to a unified architectural design: differently characterised tombstones and monuments were removed, individual and collective burials at Nikolskaya and Spasskaya Towers were united, and the fence was redesigned and installed. Guest stands for ten thousand seats were installed on either side of the mausoleum.

Interiors edit

The mausoleum contains a vestibule, Mourning Hall and two staircases. Opposite the entrance is a huge granite block bearing the State Emblem of the Soviet Union.[5]

Two stairs are lead down from the vestibule. The left staircase, measuring three meters wide, takes visitors down to the Funeral Hall. The walls of the descent are of grey labradorite. The Funeral Hall is a ten-meter cube with a stepped ceiling. A band of black labradorite runs across the entire room, on which pilasters of red porphyry are placed. Next to the pilasters are bands of bright red smalt, to the right of which are bands of black labradorite. This combination creates the effect of flames and banners flying in the wind. In the centre of the hall is a black pedestal with a sarcophagus.[5]

The upper stepped slab of the sarcophagus is supported by four inconspicuous metal columns, which gives the impression that the slab is hanging in the air. The lower slab is covered in reddish jasper. The sarcophagus is made up of two inclined conical glasses, which are held together by a bronze frame. Illuminators and light filters are embedded in the upper part of the frame, giving an animating pink coloring and reducing heat. On either side of the sarcophagus are the battle and labour bronze banners, which appear satiny due to the special illumination. In the headboard is the Soviet State Emblem framed by oak and laurel branches. At the foot, there are branches twisted with ribbon.

Exit from the Funeral Hall to the right-hand staircase leads back to Red Square.

Preserving the body edit

Lenin's preserved body inside the mausoleum

One of the main problems the embalmers faced was the appearance of dark spots on Lenin's body, especially on the face and hands. They managed to solve the problem by the use of a variety of different reagents. While working on ways to preserve the body, Boris Zbarsky invented a new way to purify medical chloroform used for preservation.[3] For example, if a patch of wrinkling or discoloration occurred, it was treated with a solution of acetic acid and ethyl alcohol diluted with water. Hydrogen peroxide could be used to restore the tissues' original coloring. Damp spots were removed by means of disinfectants such as quinine or phenol.[7] Lenin's remains are soaked in a solution of glycerol and potassium acetate on a yearly basis.[8] Synthetic eyeballs were placed in Lenin's orbital cavities to prevent his eye sockets from collapsing.[9]

Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the continued preservation work was funded by the Soviet government. After 1991 the government discontinued financial support, after which the mausoleum was funded by private donations.[10] In 2016 the Russian government reversed its earlier decision and announced it would spend 13 million rubles to preserve Lenin's body.[11]

Contemporary edit

Vladimir Putin in front of Lenin's Mausoleum in 2001.
Russian Communists at Lenin's Mausoleum, 2009.
The Band of the 154th Preobrazhensky Regiment at Lenin's Mausoleum in 2018.

Lenin's Mausoleum is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00–13:00.[12] Visitors still queue to see Lenin's body, although queues are not as long as they once were. Entrance is free of charge. Before visitors are allowed to enter the mausoleum, they are searched by armed police or military guards. Visitors are required to show respect whilst inside the tomb: photography and filming inside the mausoleum are forbidden, as is talking, smoking, keeping hands in pockets or (unless female) wearing hats.[13]

Since 1991 there has been discussion about moving Lenin's body to the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, with the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, intended to close the mausoleum and bury Lenin next to his mother, Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova, at the Volkov Cemetery in St. Petersburg. Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin, opposed this, stating that a reburial of Lenin would imply that generations of citizens had observed false values during seventy years of Soviet rule.[14]

Lenin's Mausoleum has undergone several changes in appearance since the collapse of the Soviet Union. One of the first noticeable was the placement of gates at the staircases leading to the tribune. After the removal of the guard, this was necessary to prevent unauthorised usage of the tribune. Beginning in 2012, the mausoleum underwent foundation reconstruction, necessitated by the construction of a building attached to the mausoleum in 1983. The new building housed an escalator used by members of the Politburo to ascend the tribune.[15] In 1995–96, when Yeltsin used the tribune, he used the staircase and not the escalator. The escalator was removed after the tribune became disused.

Following renovations, the mausoleum was reopened on 30 April 2013, in time for the 1 May celebration of "The Day of Spring and Labour". In 2018, RIA Novosti reported that Vladimir Petrov, a member of the legislative assembly of Leningrad Oblast, proposed creating a special commission in order to examine the question of the removal of Lenin's body from the mausoleum. Petrov seemed to be willing to replace the corpse with a copy made of synthetic resin.[16] Dmitry Novikov, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, has strongly opposed Petrov's proposition.

Honours edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Gwendolyn Leick (2013). Tombs of the Great Leaders: A Contemporary Guide. Reaktion Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-1780232263.
  2. ^ a b Tumarkin, Nina (1997). Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia (enlarged ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 180, 191–194. ISBN 978-0674524316.
  3. ^ a b Slezkine, Yuri (2017). The House of Government. Princeton University Press. pp. 409–410. doi:10.2307/j.ctvc77htw. ISBN 978-1400888177.
  4. ^ a b "Усыпальница вождя: Мавзолей Ленина в архивных кадрах" [The tomb of the leader: Lenin's mausoleum in archival footage]. РИА Новости (in Russian). 2 November 2017. RIA Novosti: State-owned news agency. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Abramov, A.; Абрамов, Алексей Сергеевич. (2005). Pravda i vymysly o kremlevskom nekropole i Mavzolee. Moskva. ISBN 569910822X. OCLC 61137505. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Romani︠u︡k, Sergeĭ; Романюк, Сергей (2013). Serdt︠s︡e Moskvy : ot Kremli︠a︡ do Belogo goroda. Moskva. ISBN 978-5227047786. OCLC 900164001.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ Zbarsky, Ilya; Hutchinson, Samuel (1999). Lenin's Embalmers. Harvill Press. p. 215. ISBN 1860465153.
  8. ^ Milton 2015, p. 8  "...the corpse was immersed for many weeks in a special solution that contained glycerol and acetate..."
  9. ^ Milton, Giles (2015). When Lenin Lost His Brain: Fascinating Footnotes from History. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 8. ISBN 978-1473608900.
  10. ^ Mark McDonald (1 March 2004). "Lenin Undergoes Extreme Makeover". Associated Press. Retrieved 19 April 2010.[dead link] (alternative url Archived 4 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine)
  11. ^ "На сохранение тела Ленина в 2016 году истратят более 13 млн рублей" [More than 13 million rubles will be spent on preserving Lenin's body in 2016]. News Ru (in Russian). 6 December 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Visiting the Diamond Fund, the Grand Kremlin Palace and Lenin's Mausoleum". www.kreml.ru. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Расписание работы Мавзолея В.И. Ленина" [Opening hours of the Mausoleum of V.I. Lenin] (in Russian). Federal Protective Service (Russia). Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  14. ^ See, e.g., a statement by President Putin in Sankt-Peterburgsky Vedomosty, 19 July 2001.
  15. ^ Yelkov, Ígor (9 January 2013). "Lenin's Mausoleum Closed for Renovation". Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
  16. ^ "Депутат предложил заменить тело Ленина в Мавзолее копией". 14 November 2018.

External links edit