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Myth and Ritual surrounding the Lenin Mausoleum. Why preserve Lenin’s body? Soviet scientific experiment Orthodox belief that saints’ bodies are incorruptible.

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Presentation on theme: "Myth and Ritual surrounding the Lenin Mausoleum. Why preserve Lenin’s body? Soviet scientific experiment Orthodox belief that saints’ bodies are incorruptible."— Presentation transcript:

1 Myth and Ritual surrounding the Lenin Mausoleum

2 Why preserve Lenin’s body? Soviet scientific experiment Orthodox belief that saints’ bodies are incorruptible after death. Popular requests (10,000 telegrams) to “preserve his body for future generations.” Attempt of political leaders to bring Lenin’s legitimacy to their regimes.

3 More than 100,000 viewed Lenin’s body in the month and a half after his death.

4 History of the Mausoleum It was first a temporary wooden structure, built so that leaders and the people could view the body. By August 1924, the tomb was upgraded to a bigger, more permanent structure. The building went through several reconstructions during the 1920s, ending finally with the stone mausoleum we see today. Its stone blocks invoked images of classical mausoleums.

5 The many faces of Lenin’s Mausoleum

6 Popularity/Pilgrimage to the Mausoleum The location of the Mausoleum on Red Square afforded it a view of the USSR’s most historical events. BUT the Mausoleum itself often served as a focal point. It received thousands of visitors every day. Heroes such as Yuriy Gagarin and veterans of the Spanish Civil War were greeted from the Mausoleum

7 VE-Day parade in Moscow May 9, 1945

8 VE-Day parade in Moscow Stalin (and other party leaders) stood on Lenin’s Mausoleum to watch the parade. Banners of defeated Nazi armies were thrown down at the foot of the mausoleum. Military parades for virtually every state holiday converged here.

9 Stalin’s place in the Mausoleum After Stalin’s death in 1953, his preserved body was placed in the mausoleum next to Lenin’s. It remained there for almost a decade. Stalin was buried 1961 in Khrushchev’s de- Stalinification campaign.

10 Lenin as “God” Symbolic meaning of the Mausoleum

11 Lenin as “God” Lenin is a focal point of the Soviet political religion. Physical, mortal body, and immortal body “politic” that is perfect. “Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live!” The Mausoleum was an important site of Soviet pilgrimage. Mystical union between Party members and Lenin.

12 Lenin as “God” “There is a mass of people for whom the name Lenin is a religion, just like God is a religion for Orthodox Christians,” Communist state Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev, 1999.

13 The Mausoleum Today

14 The Mausoleum today Since breakup of USSR, the status of the Mausoleum has been a hotly debated topic. Bury vs. continue to display Lenin’s body. Question of what constitutes a proper burial. Yeltsin stated that one goal before leaving office was to bury both Tsar Nicholas II’s bones and Lenin’s body.

15 The Mausoleum today The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) consider it one issue of no compromise. The state maintains the building, the Lenin Mausoleum Charitable Foundation maintains the condition of the body. Uneasiness of having an unburied body around, especially for Orthodox believers. Still, it is a top tourist destination.

16 References Forest, Benjamin and Juliet Jonson. “Unraveling the Threads of History: Soviet- Era Monuments and Post-Soviet National Identity in Moscow.” Annals of the Assoication of American Geographers (2002): Lane, Christel. The Rites of Rulers: Ritual in Industrial Society—The Soviet Case. Cambridge UP (1981). Riegel, Klaus-Georg. “Marxism-Leninism as a Political Religion.” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 6.1 (2005): Verdery, Katherine. The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Post- Socialist Change. Columbia UP (1999).


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