The mental strains of leading a revolution, governing, and fighting a civil war
aggravated the physical debilitation consequent to the wounds from the attempted
assassinations; Lenin still retained a bullet in his neck, until a German
surgeon removed it on 24 April 1922. Among his comrades, Lenin was notable for
working almost ceaselessly, fourteen to sixteen hours daily, occupied with
minor, major, and routine matters. About the man at his life’s end, Volkogonov said:
Lenin was involved in the challenges of delivering fuel into Ivanovo-Vosnesensk...
the provision of clothing for miners, he was solving the question
of dynamo construction, drafted dozens of routine documents, orders, trade
agreements, was engaged in the allocation of rations, edited books and
pamphlets at the request of his comrades, held hearings on the applications
of peat, assisted in improving the workings at the ‘Novii Lessner’ factory,
clarified in correspondence with the engineer P. A. Kozmin the feasibility of
using wind turbines for the electrification of villages... all the while
serving as an adviser to party functionaries almost continuously.
When already sick, Lenin remembered that, since 1917, he had only rested twice:
once, whilst hiding from the Kerensky Provisional Government (when he wrote The
State and Revolution), and whilst recovering from Fanya Kaplan’s failed
assassination. In March 1922, when physicians examined him, they found
evidence of neither nervous nor organic pathology, but, given his fatigue and
the headaches he suffered, they prescribed rest. Upon returning to St.
Petersburg in May 1922, Lenin suffered the first of three strokes, which left
him dumb for weeks, and severely hampered motion in his right side; by June, he
had substantially recovered. By August he resumed limited duties, delivering
three long speeches in November. In December 1922, he suffered the second stroke
that partly paralyzed his right side, he then withdrew from active politics. In
March 1923, he suffered the third stroke that rendered him mute and bed-ridden
until his death.
After the first stroke, Lenin dictated government papers to Nadezhda; among them
was Lenin's Testament (changing the structure of the soviets), partly inspired
by the 1922 Georgian Affair (Russian cultural assimilation of constituent USSR
republics), and it criticized high-rank Communists, including Josef Stalin, Grigory
Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin, and Leon Trotsky. About the Communist
Party's General Secretary (since 1922), Josef Stalin, Lenin reported that the
"unlimited authority" concentrated in him was unacceptable, and suggested that
"comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post." His phrasing, "Сталин
слишком груб", implies “personal rudeness, unnecessary roughness, lack of
finesse”, flaws "intolerable in a Secretary-General".
At Lenin's death, Nadezhda mailed his testament to the central committee, to be
read aloud to the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. However, to remain in power,
the ruling troika — Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev — suppressed Lenin's Testament; it
was not published until 1925, in the United States, by the
American intellectual Max Eastman. In that year, Trotsky published an article
minimizing the importance of Lenin's Testament, saying that Lenin's notes should
not be perceived as a will, that it had been neither concealed, nor violated;
yet he did invoke it in later anti-Stalin polemics.
Lenin died at 18.50 hrs, Moscow time, on 21 January 1924, aged 53, at his estate
in Gorki Leninskiye. In the four days that the Bolshevik Leader Vladimir Ilyich
Lenin lay in state, more than 900,000 mourners viewed his body in the Hall of
Columns; among the statesmen who expressed condolences to Russia (the USSR) was
Chinese premier Sun Yat-sen, who said:
Through the ages of world history, thousands of leaders and scholars appeared
who spoke eloquent words, but these remained words. You, Lenin, were an
exception. You not only spoke and taught us, but translated your words into
deeds. You created a new country. You showed us the road of joint struggle...
You, great man that you are, will live on in the memories of the oppressed
people through the centuries.
Winston Churchill, who encouraged British intervention against the Russian
Revolution, in league with the White Movement, to destroy the Bolsheviks and
He alone could have found the way back to the causeway... The Russian people
were left floundering in the bog. Their worst misfortune was his birth...
their next worst his death.
Three days after his death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour, so
remaining until 1991, when the USSR dissolved, yet the administrative area
remains "Leningrad Oblast". In the early 1920s, the Russian cosmism movement
proved so popular that Leonid Krasin and Alexander Bogdanov proposed to cryonically
preserve Lenin for future resurrection, yet, despite buying the requisite
equipment, that was not done. Instead, the body of V. I. Lenin was embalmed and
permanently exhibited in the Lenin Mausoleum, in Moscow, on 27 January 1924.
Despite the official diagnosis of death from stroke consequences, the Russian
scientist Ivan Pavlov reported that Lenin died of neurosyphilis, according to a
publication by V.Lerner and colleagues in the European Journal of Neurology in
2004. The authors also note that 'It is possible that future DNA technology
applied to preserved Lenin's brain material ultimately could establish or
disprove neurosyphilis as the primary cause of Lenin's death'.
According to Leon Trotsky, who knew
Lenin's outward appearance was distinguished by simplicity and strength. He
was below the middle height, with the plebeian features of the Slavonic type
of face, brightened by piercing eyes; and his powerful forehead and still more
powerful head gave him a marked distinction.
According to most reports, in his personal life Lenin was a modest and
unassuming man. He liked children and cats and his enthusiasms included
bicycling, amateur photography, chess, skating, swimming, hunting, music and
hiking.When in exile in Switzerland, Lenin, accompanied by his wife Krupskaya,
developed a considerable passion for mountain walking in the Swiss peaks. Lenin's
personal life is documented in detail in his wife's book Memories
Lenin was a prolific political theoretician and philosopher who wrote about the
practical aspects of carrying out a proletarian revolution; he wrote pamphlets,
articles, and books, without a stenographer or secretary, until prevented by
illness. He simultaneously corresponded with comrades, allies, and friends, in
Russia and world-wide. His Collected Works comprise 54 volumes, each of about
650 pages, translated into English in 45 volumes by Progress Publishers, Moscow
1960-70. The most influential include: