Later in November, the state-run Channel One will also show a docu-drama based on the lives of ordinary Russians caught up in the revolutionary events of In the end, even the communist celebration in St Petersburg was less about glorifying the events of , and more about providing the older generation of Russians with nostalgia for their youth.
Most of the costumed song and dance routines covered victory in the second world war and the achievements of late communism, not the October Revolution itself. Lenin lives! Lenin will live on! Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Russia. Reuse this content. Of those that stayed, many were killed. Many Russians support heavy taxation, or even the expropriation of oligarch-owned property. Revolutionary ideas about giving lands to peasants have been de-emphasized, lest Russians today conclude that they, too, are owed something amid government cuts to health and education budgets.
Some Russian pundits have pointed out that Lenin imported Western political ideas Marxism into Russia, and that he returned to Petrograd in on a German train, as examples of supposed Western meddling in Russian politics. And they provide excuses to those who feel that the revolution is best not celebrated.
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Given all these factors, it is not a surprise that Russia is largely ignoring the th anniversary of the revolution. Soviet nostalgia continues, but it has been purged of everything that made the Soviet Union revolutionary. Russians no longer associate the Soviet Union with Marxism, or with collectivization, or with expropriating the rich. When they look back fondly on the Soviet experience, they remember instead the Brezhnev era, when everything was stagnant but stable. For the Kremlin, idolizing the Brezhnev era is far safer than celebrating I shivered in the Arctic chill as I walked beside the river Lenin had crossed, with the old church steeple reflecting off the placid water in the fading pink light.
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Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born in into a middle-class family in Simbirsk now called Ulyanovsk , on the Volga River, miles east of Moscow. Though Vladimir and his siblings grew up in comfort, the poverty and injustice of imperial Russia weighed heavily upon them. In his older brother, Alexander, was hanged in St.
After an interlude at Kazan University, Ulyanov began reading the works of Marx and Engels, the 19th-century theoreticians of Communism. Petersburg University in , Lenin became a leader of a Marxist group in St. Petersburg, secretly distributing revolutionary pamphlets to factory workers and recruiting new members. As the brother of an executed anti-czarist, he was under surveillance by the police, and in he was arrested, convicted of distributing propaganda and sentenced to three years in Siberian exile.
Nadezhda Krupskaya, the daughter of an impoverished Russian army officer suspected of revolutionary sympathies, joined him there. The two had met at a gathering of leftists in St. Petersburg; she married him in Siberia. Ulyanov later would adopt the nom de guerre Lenin likely derived from the name of a Siberian river, the Lena. Soon after his return from Siberia, Lenin fled into exile in Western Europe. Except for a brief period back in Russia, he remained out of the country until He argued that revolution would come from a coalition of peasants and factory workers, the so-called proletariat—led always by professional revolutionaries.
Soon after the outbreak of the world war in August , Lenin and Krupskaya were in Zurich, living off a small family inheritance. I made my way to the Altstadt, a cluster of medieval alleys that rise from the steep banks of the Limmat River. Here I found Number 14, a five-story building with a gabled rooftop, and a commemorative plaque mounted on the beige facade. Peter, distinguished by the largest clock face in Europe. Enraged over food shortages, corruption and the disastrous war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, thousands of demonstrators had filled the streets of Petrograd, clashing with police; soldiers loyal to the czar switched their support to the protesters, forcing Nicholas II to abdicate.
He and his family were placed under house arrest. The Russian Provisional Government, dominated by members of the bourgeoisie—the caste that Lenin despised—had taken over, sharing power with the Petrograd Soviet, a local governing body. Lenin raced out to buy every newspaper he could find—and began making plans to return home.
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The German government was at war with Russia, but it nonetheless agreed to help Lenin return home. On April 9, Lenin and his 31 comrades gathered at Zurich station. A group of about Russians, enraged that the revolutionaries had arranged passage by negotiating with the German enemy, jeered at the departing company. As the train left the station, Lenin reached out the window to bid farewell to a friend.
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As they rolled toward Berlin, Krupskaya and Lenin took note of the absence of young men in the villages where they stopped—virtually all were at the front or dead. A Deutsche Bahn regional train second-class compartment bore me across Germany to Rostock, a port city on the Baltic Sea. A handful of tourists and dozens of Scandinavian and Russian truck drivers sipped goulash soup and ate bratwurst in the cafeteria as the ferry lurched into motion. Stepping onto the outdoor observation deck on a cold, drizzly night, I felt the sting of sea spray and stared up at a huge orange lifeboat, clamped in its frame high above me.
Leaning over the starboard rail, I could make out the red and green lights of a buoy flashing through the mist. Then we passed the last jetty and headed into the open sea, bound for Trelleborg, Sweden, six hours north.
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While most of his comrades suffered the heaving of the ship below decks, Lenin remained outside, joining a few other stalwarts in singing revolutionary anthems. At one point a wave broke across the bow and smacked Lenin in the face. Plowing through the blackness of the Baltic night, I found it easy to imagine the excitement that Lenin must have felt as his ship moved inexorably toward his homeland. After standing in the drizzle for a half-hour, I headed to my spartan cabin to catch a few hours sleep before the vessel docked in Sweden at in the morning.
In Trelleborg, I caught a train north to Stockholm, as Lenin did, riding past lush meadows and forests. He consented to a new pair of shoes to replace his studded mountain boots, but he drew the line at an overcoat; he was not, he said, opening a tailor shop. Created by Swedish artist Bjorn Lovin and situated in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art, it consists of a backdrop of black granite and a long strip of cobblestones embedded with a piece of iron tram track.
The work pays tribute to an iconic photo of Lenin strolling the Vasagatan, carrying an umbrella and wearing a fedora, joined by Krupskaya and other revolutionaries. Clambering into the horse-drawn sleds on the bank of the frozen Torne in Haparanda on the night of April 15, Lenin and his wife and comrades crossed to Finland, then under Russian control, and fully expected to be turned back at the border or even detained by Russian authorities. Instead they received a hearty welcome.
It was terribly good. I spent the night in Kemi, Finland, a bleak town on Bothnian Bay, walking in the freezing rain through the deserted streets to a concrete-block hotel just up from the waterfront.
When I awoke at the town was still shrouded in darkness. In winter, a receptionist told me, Kemi experiences only a couple of hours of daylight. From there, I took the train south to Tampere, a riverside city where Lenin briefly stopped on his way to Petrograd. Twelve years earlier, Lenin had held a clandestine meeting in the Tampere Workers Hall with a year-old revolutionary and bank robber, Joseph Stalin, to discuss money-raising schemes for the Bolsheviks.