The leader of the Revolution and the first head of the Soviet Union died in 1924.But he was not buried in a cemetery. The Soviet Government came up with the most unusual idea. His body was embalmed and a granite mausoleum was constructed for him on Red Square.
Lenin's tomb reminds of ancient pyramids. Thousands of years ago people knew the embalming technique. They believed in afterlife and constructed pyramids to immortalize their rulers. The Soviet government was atheists but they believed in the afterlife of Lenin's ideas. The body with its face uncovered was placed in a glass sarcophagus, and thousands of people came to see it each day. The image of Lenin was immortalized by the Soviet propaganda.
The first mausoleum was wooden. In 1924 no one knew if the embalming process used would preserve the body for a long time. The government wanted to maintain it at least for several months so that people from all over of the country could come and see Lenin. But when the embalming technique was proved reliable it was decided to keep Lenin in the mausoleum forever. A new stone building was constructed by architect Shusev in 1930.
|Castro and Khrushev on mausoleum|
Lenin's mausoleum was used not only as a tomb. A stand was constructed on top of it. During the parades communist party leadership appeared on top of the mausoleum and watched the parades. Ceremonial events were held here. Changing of the guard outside mausoleum became a popular site with visitors.
Lenin is not the only person buried on Red Square. There is a necropolis near Lenin's tomb where the pro-Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution were buried in mass graves in 1917. When Stalin died in 1953 he was also buried inside the mausoleum, his sarcophagus was placed beside Lenin. Later after the denunciating of his crimes by Khrushev he was removed in 1961. Today his grave is behind the mausoleum together with the graves of other Soviet rulers – Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko.
What should be done with Lenin's Mausoleum now? In recent years there have been a lot of debates about it. Isn't it the time to remove Lenin's body and have a proper funeral? Or should we keep the mausoleum as part of our history?
It's very difficult to find the right answer.
By now it's still open. The tomb can be viewed between 10am and 1pm every day except Monday and Friday. The entrance is free, big bags and photography is strictly prohibited.
You can visit the mausoleum with your Moscow tour guide during the tour of Red Square.