|Vladimir Ilich Lenin|
|Born:||April 10, 1870|
|Died:||January 21, 1924|
|Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars during the years of||8 November 1917 – 21 January 1924|
Early Life Edit
Rise to Power Edit
He moved to St. Petersburg in 1893 where he practiced law. While there he began developing a Marxist underground movement. He grouped members into six member cells. By this means industrial conditions were investigated, statistics compiled and pamphlets written. It was also through these groups that he met his future wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, who he married in 1898.
He travelled to Switzerland to meet like minfded Social Democrats in 1895. While there he talked with Georgi Plekhanov. They argued over the means of bringing about change in Russia. Plekhanov wanted to include the liberal middle class; Lenin favoured the rise of the proletariat. This disagreement led to the eventual split of the Social Democratic party into Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.
When Lenin returned to Russia he carried with him illegal pamphlets, he wanted to start up a revolutionary paper. On the eve of its publication he and other leaders were arrested. He served fifteen months in prison. After this term he was exiled to Siberia and it was there that he and Krupskaya were married. Having finished their period of exile in 1900 they left for Switzerland where they finally managed to establish their paper, Iskra (Spark). During his years in Switzerland he rose to a position of power in the Social Democratic party. His uncompromising views were a core cause for the split in the party.
The 1905 St. Petersburg Massacre spurred Lenin to advocate violent action. The Massacre itself occurred when Cossacks fired on peaceful protesters led by Father Georgi Gapon. This event led to several uprisings in Russia. Lenin returned to Russia for two years but the promised revolution did not happen as the Tsar made enough concessions to mollify the people. Lenin went abroad again.
1917 was to finally see the revolution in Russia. In fact two revolutions occurred in this year. In March steelworkers in St. Petersburg went on strike. It grew until thousands of people lined the streets. The Tsar’s power collapsed and the Duma, led by Alexander Kerensky, took power. Lenin made a deal with the Germans; if they could get him safely back to Russia, he would take power and pull Russia out of the war. Kerensky was to fall over this same issue. He refused to take Russia out a war in which they were suffering severe losses and causing brutal hardship at home. Lenin came to power in October after a nearly bloodless coup.
Lenin in Power Edit
At age forty seven Vladimir Ilich Lenin was named president of the Society of People’s Commissars (Communist Party). The problems of the new government were enormous. The war with Germany was ended immediately (his battle cry had been “Bread not War”). Though Russia lost the bread basket of the Ukraine to Germany this was soon regained when Germany was ultimately defeated in the war. Land was redistributed, some as collective farms. Factories, mines, banks and utilities were all taken over by the state. The Russian Orthodox Church was disestablished.
There was opposition and this led to a civil war in 1918 between the Mensheviks (Whites) and the Bolsheviks (Reds). Despite being supported by Britain and the U.S.A. the whites were defeated after a bitter struggle.
From 1919 to 1921 famine and typhus ravaged Russia and left over 27 million people dead. To counter these disasters Lenin put into effect the New Economic Plan. This plan embraced some capital ideas (limited private industry) in order to revitalize the flagging economy. However he was never to see the full effect of his measures
Decline and Death Edit
In May 1922 Lenin suffered the first of a series of strokes, less than a year later he suffered a second one. In his two remaining years he tried correct some of the excesses of the regime. He saw that it would be necessary to learn coexistence with capitalist countries and eliminate the inefficiency of his bureaucracy. He also tried to ensure that Leon Trotsky and not Stalin succeeded him. In this endeavor he failed. Joesph Stalin was far too clever and astute even for Lenin. 1923 saw him decline further as he had another stroke which left him paralyzed and speechless. He never fully recovered and died of a cerebral hemorrhage on January 21, 1924.
Lenin’s preserved body is on permanent display at the Lenin Mausoleum.