- Travel and Places»
- Visiting Europe
Statutes of Vladimir Lenin in Veliky Novgorod
Discovering Two Statutes of the Founer of the Soviet Union
Saturday Aug 13, 2011 - Veliky Novgorod, Russia
In my wanderings around Veliky Novgorod I encountered not one, but two statutes of the founder of the former Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin.
The first was a large one along the side of the city square in front of the entrance to the Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod. This statue looks across the street toward the Central Administration building for the Novgorod Oblast. On close inspection I also noticed a relief of Lenin over the door to that building.
Across the river and along a tree shade street at the edge of the park on the east bank of the Volkhov River that is opposite the Kremlin, I found another, much smaller, statute of Vladimir Lenin.
Cult of Lenin Resulted in His Statute Being Everywhere in the Past
With his successful putsch known as the October Revolution, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks assumed power in Russia in 1917 and created the communist state, known as the Soviet Union or USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) which lasted almost until the end of the Twentieth Century.
Lenin ruled the Soviet Union until the end of his life about a decade later. Upon Lenin's death, Joseph Stalin assumed power. However, since Lenin and the government he created had made no plans for succession, there was a scramble for power upon his death.
Joseph Stalin ended up as the victor in the power struggle but, in an attempt to add legitimacy to his position and establish the communist system started by Lenin on a firmer base, Stalin initiated the cult of Lenin in which Vladimir Lenin was memorialized with monuments, statutes, pictures, etc. everywhere.
Numerous towns, villages and even the city of St. Petersburg, were renamed in honor of Lenin. In other cities, streets and buildings were named after Lenin. Of course, Lenin statutes popped up everywhere in the Soviet Union. As a final touch, Stalin had Lenin's body preserved and put on display in a marble tomb on Red Square in Moscow.
Cult of Lenin was Created by Joseph Stalin
This cult of Lenin was Joseph Stalin's creation as Lenin himself, despite his ambition and lust for power, was a rather modest man in other respects.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and replacement of the communist government by a new democratic government many of the numerous statutes of Lenin were toppled and hauled off to scrap yards to be melted down and put to another use.
Place names were also changed with Leningrad quickly reverting to its original historic name of St. Petersburg.
Capitalism replaced communism and the golden arches of McDonald's became as common as past images of Lenin. When I visited Russia in 2002 I saw numerous tee shirts bearing the image of a bust of Lenin superimposed on the McDonald Golden Arches under the words McLenin.
Of course, given the vast number of statutes of Lenin, a few have survived. On my 2002 trip to Russia, I saw one statute of Lenin in a park in Ryazan as well as one each in St. Petersburg and Moscow and I understand that each of those cities has a few more as well but nowhere near the number that existed in the past.
One Statute Survives in the U.S.A. in Seattle, Washington
Then there is the statute that was rescued from the scrap yard by a wealthy American and taken home to Seattle, Washington where it now sits in front of an ice cream shop and next to a sign advertising the shop's Mini Lenny Scoop.
It also has a for sale sign next it indicating that anyone with a spare $150,000 can buy the statute. This statute is the subject of an earlier Hub by me entitled A Statue of Communist Dictator Vladimir Lenin Saved From Scrap Heap by an American Capitalist.