How Long Will Lenin's Corpse Last?

V.I. Lenin’s dusty old corpse has been hanging around since 1924, which maks it as old as my house. Given expert attention, and care (is he in a vacuum sealed coffin?), is it reasonable to suppose that he will last for several thousand years?
Do people still visit him? I don’t quite understand the Lenin worship-Russia is now a quasi-capitalist country-why is the patron saint of communism still around?:confused:

He’s not vacuum-sealed; he’s pickled. As I understand it, he gets a bath every one to three years and the embalming fluid is replaced. I don’t think it’ll mean he’ll last for an incredibly long time, however.

Lenin’s mausoleum being in Red Square next to the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral makes it absurdly easy for tourists to visit, and I’m sure there are still die-hard Stalinists around able and willing to make the pilgrimage. (I visited once, but it was closed for the day so I didn’t get in.)

The Kemal Atatürk-like cult of personality built up around him during the Stalin and post-Stalin era is going to be hard to shake, so for a while yet it’ll be unpopular to move him out, I think.

IMHO, the damn thing should never have been made permanent, and Lenin should be buried next to his mother in St. Petersburg according to his wishes.

As Olentzero said, there is so little left of Lenin’s corps in that Mausoleum on Red Square, that you can hardly call it his anymore. I believe it gets treated on a weekly basis and then every year or so it gets a big overhaul to make it look all shiny and spiffy again. The Israeli guys who invented and perfected the process came out after 1991, and now run a private business embalming people for posterity :smiley:

I’ve been to visit Lenin twice, and it is my distinct impression that no one visits him anymore in a pilgrimage sort of way. Rather, it’s mostly tourists (most of them Russian) who come to visit as part of a visit to Moscow. This is not to say that Lenin is not revered across Russia - he is, many people see him as the driving factor behind making Russia great during the 20th century (and of course he obviously did contribute to that) and are willing to overlook his crimes, or simply do not know about them.

That said, the legacy of Lenin’s mausoleum is far from uncontested and uncontroversial, not in the last place because we know that Lenin himself never wanted any of this - he wanted to be buried next to his mother in St. Petersburg (which was only named after him three days after he died). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin had to fight the communists and part of the strategy that he used in doing so and in trying to de-sovietize newly independent Russia was by removing some of the symbolic capital of the communists. He had streets, squares, cities, bridges and what have you renamed, statues removed. In this context, many argued that Lenin, too, should finally be laid to rest. Broad segments of society supported this - as a political gesture, but also in order to restore dignity to Lenin. As a result of some nostalgia, however, as well as (it is said) a keen interest on the part of tour operators, Lenin never did get moved and remains in his central spot on Red Square until this day, 75 years after his death.

It seems to me we’ll get better action on this in General Questions

Ellen Cherry
MPIMS Moderator

Until Prince Charming comes along, lifts him from his Crystal Casket, and gives him the Kiss of True Love.

Must. Smash. Kepitelizm.

  1. 86 next January.


d’oh. I knew that …

Considering how plasticized his corpse looked in 1999, I think it could well last forever. I don’t know how much is still really him at this point.

As for how revered he still is, I visited in January 1999 and I had a knit cap on (it was a little brisk outside). An armed guard started yelling at me in Russian until I took it off. (Well, he stopped shouting when I took it off. I assume that was why.) This was during the Yeltsin era, and I was surprised that anyone cared.

“This is my grandfather’s axe. My father replaced the head, and I replaced the handle…but it’s my grandfather’s axe.”

I wonder how much of Lenin is literally left?

Dictatorship of Theseus?

Lenin’s tomb is a Communist plot.

I don’t wonder that his tomb is still a draw. If state Historical Societies have such huge business devoted to the state’s capital, surely a man that helped create the world’s 2nd largest superpower for over 70 years, not too long ago, can be popular.

Considering that visiting Lincoln’s tomb doesn’t even show something representing to be his corpse, I’d say that Lenin’s tomb outdoes him on the showmanship aspect alone!


:smack: Where did you dig that joke up from?

He would have had to dig. It’s pretty old. :stuck_out_tongue:

(I may have read it in Mad when I was a kid.)

Photos of the yearly 'Spiffy-ing" here.

(not graphic, but do show a mostly naked corpse)


I have seen the corpses of Lenin (Moscow), Mao (Beijing) and Kim Il Sung (Pyongyang). All three look like they are plastic/wax due to the amount of preservation fluid. Kim looks best, probably because he died most recently… and his tomb is certainly the most impressive.

Lenin’s tomb is small, so I am not sure what they’d do with it if Lenin no longer occupied it. I’d guess he’ll be there for a very long time.

Thats extremely interesting that you got to see all of that. How did you get into North Korea though?

As far as the OP this doesn’t help much but about 10 years ago I read parts of a book written by someone close to Stalin (I believe a nephew, the book may have been My Uncle Joseph Stalin) and he had a chapter about a secret involving how Lenin was preserved. I think it had to do with soap.

OK, I just spent about 5 minutes researching it. It was the book ‘my uncle Joseph Stalin’, and the author claims Lenin’s body is a dummy. But apparently the book was a hoax.

Not much help.

For some reason I find the fact that they aren’t wearing any gloves much creepier than the plastic mummy.

DO NOT go exploring the rest that site unless you’re prepared to see very, very, grahpic photos of the results of all kinds of sick torture, murder, accidents, etc. :frowning: I’m not exaggerating; there’s stuff like autopsy photos of rape victims and children killed in car accidents.

Oh dear. I didn’t go poking that far- would a mod care to break the link maybe?
DO NOT go exploring the rest that site unless you’re prepared to see very, very, grahpic photos of the results of all kinds of sick torture, murder, accidents, etc. :frowning: I’m not exaggerating; there’s stuff like autopsy photos of rape victims and children killed in car accidents.