Death and state funeral of Vladimir Lenin

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Lenin's Funeral
Lenin's funerals by I.Brodsky (1925) detail 01.jpg
Lenin's funeral (1925), by Isaak Brodsky (detail).
Date27 January 1924
LocationRed Square, Moscow, Soviet Union
ParticipantsRCP(b) leaders, relatives and followers.

On 21 January 1924, at 18:50 EET, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the October Revolution and the first leader and founder of the Soviet Union, died in Gorki aged 53 after falling into a coma.[1] The official cause of death was recorded as an incurable disease of the blood vessels.[2] Lenin was given a state funeral and then buried in a specially erected mausoleum on 27 January. A commission of the Central Committee of the RCP(b) was in charge of organising the funeral.

Funeral service[edit]

On 23 January, the coffin with Lenin's body was transported by train from Gorki to Moscow and displayed at the Hall of Columns in the House of the Unions, and it stayed there for three days.[3][4] On 27 January, the body of Lenin was delivered to Red Square, accompanied by martial music. There assembled crowds listened to a series of speeches delivered by Mikhail Kalinin, Grigory Zinoviev and Joseph Stalin, but notably not Leon Trotsky, who had been convalescing in the Caucasus.[4] Trotsky would later claim that Stalin had given him the wrong date for the funeral. Afterwards the body was placed into the vault of a temporary wooden mausoleum (soon to be replaced with present-day Lenin's Mausoleum), by the Kremlin Wall.[5] Despite the freezing temperatures, tens of thousands attended.[6]

Against the protestations of Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin's widow, Lenin's body was embalmed to preserve it for long-term public display in the Red Square mausoleum.[7] The commander of the Moscow Garrison issued an order to place the guard of honour at the mausoleum; whereby it was colloquially referred to as the "Number One Sentry".[8] During the embalming process, Lenin's brain had been removed; in 1925 an institute was established to dissect it, revealing that Lenin had suffered from severe sclerosis.[9]

Post USSR[edit]

After the events of the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, the guard of honour was disbanded. In 2018, Russian MP Vladimir Petrov suggested that Lenin’s body be buried in 2024, the 100th anniversary of his death, because it was costing the state too much money to house the body in the mausoleum and proposed it be replaced with a wax or rubber model.[10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fischer 1964, pp. 673–674; Shub 1966, p. 438; Rice 1990, p. 194; Volkogonov 1994, p. 435; Service 2000, pp. 478–479; White 2001, p. 176; Read 2005, p. 269.
  2. ^ Volkogonov 1994, p. 435; Lerner, Finkelstein & Witztum 2004, p. 372.
  3. ^ Fischer 1964, p. 674; Shub 1966, p. 439; Rice 1990, pp. 7–8; Service 2000, p. 479.
  4. ^ a b Rice 1990, p. 9.
  5. ^ Shub 1966, p. 439; Rice 1990, p. 9; Service 2000, pp. 479–480.
  6. ^ Volkogonov 1994, p. 440.
  7. ^ Fischer 1964, p. 674; Shub 1966, p. 438; Volkogonov 1994, pp. 437–438; Service 2000, p. 481.
  8. ^ "STRUGGLE IN RUSSIA; Yeltsin Cancels Guards at Lenin's Tomb". The New York Times. 7 October 1993. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  9. ^ Fischer 1964, pp. 625–626; Volkogonov 1994, p. 446.
  10. ^ "MP suggests replacing Lenin's mummy with rubber figure". Pravda. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.