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The Origins and Intentions of the Lenin Cult

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Part of the International Council for Central and East European Studies book series (ICCEES)

Abstract

The Lenin cult pervaded the public life of the Soviet Union. Today its paraphernalia — plaques, posters and books — are part of the Soviet Union’s ‘remains’, interesting as documents of that system’s history. The Lenin cult was an organic part of the Soviet political system; each leader presented himself as a true Leninist. Students of the cult have, like astounded contemporaries, been intrigued by the paradox of a Bolshevik regime, which, under the banner of Marxism, was committed to a materialist education of the people and a rejection of all forms of religion as metaphysics, nevertheless created a cult centred upon the ‘scared’ body of the dead revolutionary leader.1

Keywords

  • Archival Document
  • Materialist Education
  • Politburo Member
  • Contemporary Report
  • High Political Level

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Notes

  1. Note, for example, Trotsky’s reaction: ‘Apparently we, the party of revolutionary Marxism, are advised to behave in the same way–to preserve the body of Lenin. Earlier there were the relics of Sergius of Radonezh and Serafim of Sarov; now they want to replace these with the relics of Vladimir Ilich’: cited in Nina Tumkarin, Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia (Cambridge, MA, 1983), pp. 174–5.

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  2. Peter Kenez, The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilisation, 1917–1929 (New York, 1985).

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  4. W. Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (Frankfurt, 1963), p. 42.

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  10. G. Zinoviev, ‘Shest’ dnei, kotorykh ne zabudet Rossiya’, Pravda, 30 January 1924, p. 1.

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  11. For Krasin’s biography see T.E. O’Connor, The Engineer of Revolution. L.B. Krasin and the Bolsheviks, 1870–1926 (Oxford, 1992).

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  14. B. Ennker, ‘Sovetskii kul’t vozhdei: mezhdu mifom, kharizmoi, obshchestvennym mneniem’, Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta, series 12, sotsial’no-politicheskie issledovaniya, 1994, no. 5, pp. 13–24.

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© 1999 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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Ennker, B. (1999). The Origins and Intentions of the Lenin Cult. In: Thatcher, I.D. (eds) Regime and Society in Twentieth-Century Russia. International Council for Central and East European Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-27185-6_8

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