Lenin's Mausoleum - Preserving the Past

Lenin’s Tomb, or better known as Lenin’s Mausoleum, is situated in Red Square in Moscow, and is where Vladimir Lenin’s body can now be found. Since his death in 1924, Vladimir’s body has been embalmed and kept for display.

On January 21st 1924, the day Lenin died, over 10,000 telegrams from around the whole of Russia were received, asking the government to preserve his body for future generations to view. Two days later Professor Alexei Ivanovich Abrikosov, a well-known Russian pathologist and anatomist, embalmed Lenin’s body to keep it from decomposing until the burial.

That very same night Aleksey Shchusev, an architect, was given the assignment to design and build a tomb, in three days, to accommodate all the well-wishers that wanted to say their last goodbyes to Lenin. Five days later it was decided that the tomb should be placed at the Red Square, next to the Kremlin Wall.

By January the 27th, Shchusev built a tomb of wood so that at four p.m. Lenin’s tomb could be placed there. In a month and a half, over 100,000 people went to visit. By August 1924, architect Konstantin Melnikov designed Lenin’s tomb, making it an upgraded and larger version of the first. In 1929 it was realized that Lenin’s body could be preserved for longer than had first been expected. It was then that it was decided that the wooden mausoleum would be replaced with one made of marble, porphyry, granite and labradorite. In October 1930, Aleksey Shchusev, I.A. Frantsuz and G.K. Yakovlev finished off the stone mausoleum and only in 1973 was sculptor Nikolai Tomsky taken on to design a new sarcophagus.

The Head of the Moscow Garrison, in January 1924, ordered that the Guard of Honor be placed outside the mausoleum but after the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, the Guard of Honor was dissolved. Between 1924 and 1972, more then 10 million people visited Lenin’s tomb. At one point many people questioned whether Lenin’s body was still real due to its waxed appearance. His body was supposed to be “rejuvenated” annually by Russian undertakers and although some parts of his body may have been partially fake merely for the sake of presentability on a whole, the body is supposed to be authentic. The Embalmers regularly remove the body to moisturize Lenin’s features and inject preservatives and treat him to keep him in this preserved state.

The tomb can be viewed between 10am and 1pm every day except Monday and Friday. No photos or video’s can be taken and one must expect a long line to see Lenin.

 



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