1870-1924
1870-1924
Vladimir Ilyich UlyanovВлади́мир Ильи́ч Улья́нов"One man with a gun can control 100 without one."

A documentary on Vladimir Lenin


Vladimir Lenin was a Russian revolutionary and political theoretician, who was the creator of the Soviet Union and headed its first government.


Early Life




A portrait of Lenin at around age 4
A portrait of Lenin at around age 4

Simbirsk coloured in red
Simbirsk coloured in red




Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born on April 22, 1870, in Simbirsk, Russia. He was the third of six children. He was born into a warm close-knit family of educated and cultured parents who lived a comfortable but not wealthy life. His mother, Maria Alexandrovna was the daughter of a successful German physician, while his father, Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov, was the son of a serf. His father was a schoolteacher who rose to the position of inspector of provincial schools. His sister described him as a boy who loved to run and play and said he would often tease other children. Early in his life Vladimir displayed a voracious passion for learning. He learned German and French from his mother and got his passion for chess from his father. Lenin was an aggressive debater who loved to read classical works. He was graduated from high school ranking first in his class





Interest in Politics


Aleksandr Ulyanov (1866-1887)
Aleksandr Ulyanov (1866-1887)



Lenin's older brother Aleksandr was shy and introspective. His passion was science particularly chemistry. He graduated from his class with honours and left for St. Petersburg to attend university because there was little opportunity in the town of Simbirsk. While in university Aleksandr joined a student terrorist group, in his senior year he had built a bomb that was meant for tsar Alexander III. He was arrested after is was discovered hidden in a medical encyclopaedia. In court he did not ask for mercy and was hanged along with his four co-conspirators at age 21. A year before the incident Lenin’s father had died and now at 17 Lenin was forced to be the head of the house. Lenin was watched by the Tsarist police because of the fact that his brother was a convicted terrorist. Lenin attended Kazan university law school, and two months into his first semester Lenin participated in a demonstration protesting the university's regulations. It was a small demonstration but as a brother of a terrorist he was expelled. He had been singled out by the repressive system that executed his brother so he began to study the works that influenced his brother.






Influences

After being expelled Lenin read the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Georgi Plekhanov, and Nikolai Chernyshevsky, a Russian radical novelist who preached violent revolution.
Karl Marx
Karl Marx

“What is to be done?” was a work by Chernyshevsky that stated that young people that are dedicated to helping Russia need to improve themselves making themselves so strong that they could take control of Russia, Lenin adapted this idea. Lenin was influenced by the political writings of Karl Marx the most. Marx had taught that capitalism was doomed to fail. Those who owned factories, mines, and other production facilities were paying their workers less and less. Eventually, he predicted, the workers would not have enough money to buy the goods and services that the bosses were selling. This would lead to a revolution, and the workers would control the factories and equally share the wealth. Marx called his philosophy "communism”. Marx also predicted that Russia was too rural for communism to work because there were too many farms and not enough factories. Lenin would eventually adapt Marxist ideas and create his own unique form of communism. Lenin believed that the worse things got the better things are, and if you start helping people you are only prolonging the suffering which means it will take longer for a revolution. Lenin believed that a group of elite should lead the peasantry in revolution.













Arrest and Exile



Lenin Joined a Clandestine Marxist study group in 1893, where he met his future wife Nadezhda Krupskaya. The members of this group met with workers and distributed leaflets. Lenin was very distracted with Krupskaya and the group allowed a police informant to join. At 26 years old Lenin was arrested and sentenced to 14 months in prison. He was allowed to have regular visitors, food, clothing, and books. In prison he continued to write revolutionary pamphlets. After serving his time in prison he was exiled to Siberia for three years. There he hunted, fished, and lived on a government pension. Krupskaya and Lenin were married so that she would be able to live with him. While in exile he came up with his theory of revolution which stated that revolution had to be sparked by leadership, organization, propaganda and had to be done consciously. He continued to write and signed under many pseudonyms when finally deciding to stay with Lenin in 1901. After serving his three year sentence in exile he moved out of Russia to Munich where he knew that he would not be watched. There he wrote the underground paper Iskra which meant spark. The paper was smuggled into Russia one of the smugglers being Joseph Stalin.



Lenin's Works



Lenin wrote many essays, pamphlets, and books in his lifetime. He saw his writings as plans of action. His principal writings include What Is To Be Done? (1902), Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) and The State and Revolution (1917). In What Is To Be Done? Lenin argued for his idea of a revolutionary party that would be small and highly centralized, have a network of agents, and be made up of professional dedicated revolutionaries. Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism claimed that capitalism was a bankrupt system and would collapse in a series of wars between capitalist countries over resources and territory which would lead to a civil war, class conflict and eventually a socialist revolution. The State and Revolution discussed what the state would be like after the revolution and dismissed the need for a constitutional government. It also stated that the transformation of the economy and society would be relatively easy.
What is to Be Done?
What is to Be Done?
Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism
Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism
State and Revolution
State and Revolution


February Revolution


A revolution had broken out in Russia. The people were tired of the tsars actions and Russia was faced with many economic disruptions due to the war. In February 1917 Nicholas was forced to abdicate his rule. The Russian people celebrated and Lenin was in Switzerland at the time. The Provisional Government and the Soviets were now fighting for power. Lenin supported the Soviets which were representatives of the workers, soldiers and peasants who were elected by the trade unions. From Switzerland Lenin sent a wire to the Bolsheviks in Russia which said that their tactics were to not support nor trust the provisional government. German officials saw that getting Lenin back to Russia would be in their benefit so they sent him back along with other Bolsheviks on a train. Lenin arrived in Petrograd and immediately states that the revolution has just began. He says that they need to keep the revolution alive and overthrow the provisional government. His plan set out in the April Theses was so extreme and seemed to be pro-German that the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda refused to print it. The provisional government labelled Lenin as a spy, and put out arrest warrants for every member in the Bolshevik party. Lenin disguised himself as a farmer and fled to Finland.
Lenin shortly after arriving in Petrograd
Lenin shortly after arriving in Petrograd


October Revolution


In August 1917 General Kornilov threatened to march into Petrograd and takeover the government by force. In efforts to appease him the provisional government released Bolsheviks from prison and distributed rifles to the workers to defend Petrograd from Kornilovs threat. Kornilov never acted on his threat and now Lenin's supporters were out of prison and armed. Lenin still in hiding, called for the armed overthrow of the Provisional Government. In October Lenin returned to Russia and on October 24th he wrapped his face as if had just had his tooth pulled and made his way to the Bolshevik headquarters in Petrograd. He sent out the red army to across Petrograd where they were able to take control of certain key places. There was almost no shots fired. Then the armed men broke into the winter palace where the Provisional Government was and arrested its members. Now the Bolsheviks were in power and Vladimir Lenin was the leader.

A short summary on the Russian Revolution

Changes Brought to Russia


After the Bolsheviks were able to seize power Vladimir Lenin was designated to be the leader of the party. Once he was in power he abolished the democratic gains won by the February revolution, he dissolved the democratically elected constituent assembly, he shut down all opposition newspapers that he saw as a threat, outlawed all political parties except the Bolshevik party which he renamed to the Communist party. In addition he pulled Russia out of world war I and gave Germany one fourth of Russia’s land. This made the people very happy because they were done with the war that had gone on for far too long. While in power a famine gripped Russia. Lenin allowed for farmers to sell their crops for their own profit.


Illness and Death



In the spring of 1922 Lenin fell extremely ill. In April Lenin had surgery and his physicians extracted from his neck one of the bullets that he had received from an assassin’s gun in August 1918. He quickly recovered from the operation, but a month later he fell ill once again and he was partially paralysed and unable to speak. In June he made a minor recovery and began to organize the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He had to stop because in December he had semi paralysis and was incapacitated. On March 10, 1923, he had another stroke which deprived him of speech causing his political activity to come to an end. On the morning of Jan. 21, 1924 he suffered another stroke, and died that evening in the village of Gorki which was renamed to Gorki Leninskiye in his honour.


Vladimir Lenin in Wheechair
Vladimir Lenin in Wheechair
Lenin's preserved body in Moscow
Lenin's preserved body in Moscow









Vladimir Illyich Lenin Signature
Vladimir Illyich Lenin Signature