Monday, January 21, 2008

Remembering V.I. and the Mausoleum movement


Today is the anniversary of the death of Vladimir Il'ich Lenin near Moscow in l924. Even more important, from the standpoint of Twilight Zone fans, it is the beginning of the Mausoleum Movement, the apparent compulsion that everyone in the Communist world felt about embalming for the long haul and displaying their deceased leaders under glass for permanent public viewing. Lenin's mausoleum made possible the Mao mausoleum in China, Pyongyang's Dear Leader I mausoleum, the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Vietnam, the Dmitrov mausoleum in Bulgaria and several others. For a time, there were TWO corpses in the Moscow mausoleum--during the Lenin/Stalin dual occupancy, l953-61. You can see this incarnation of the mausoleum in the photo above.

Of course, political changes have taken their toll: Stalin was removed unceremoniously in the dead of night in October l961 and buried out back, near the Kremlin wall. The end of Communism in Bulgaria saw Dmitrov's corpse evicted from his place of honor and replaced with a public toilet--a low blow, to be sure. On the other hand, in some places, the corpse's stock has only risen. For example, it was reported in the Russian papers a few years ago that Lenin corpse embalmer specialists are working in Pyongyang by order of Dear Leader II on not just the periodic touching-up of, but the ACTUAL PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of DL I(!).

Putin is renowned for his tough talk, but he hasn't so far summoned the courage to put an end to this spectacle by burying old V.I. I've long thought he should send him on a world tour, a farewell to the world as it were, and then arrange for his interment in St. Petersburg, which is what V.I. wanted in the first place. At that point, Red Square could begin its transition from a graveyard to the vibrant, multi-purpose space it was for hundreds of years before January l924.

3 Comments:

Blogger LaPopessa said...

I remember when I was there on a student tour (Soviet era). There was the standard line around the Kremlin to get in, Russians of all sorts waiting to see the leader. And our group was brought to the head of the line to get in. Nobody complained or moaned. Just one more slice of life - even when waiting to see the greatest leader of the Soviet state, Russians came second.

8:52 AM  
Blogger moville said...

It was ever thus in the bad old days...but in recent years, foreigners have been getting the short end of the stick, stuck with much higher prices at the Kremlin and other desirable museums. Russians typically pay half the foreigner admission price, so I suppose there's some justice in that...

11:48 AM  
Blogger adrian2514 said...

I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming.

The Daily Green just put an article out talking about how the presidential candidates are not being asked where they stand on the issue of the climate change - this is surprising to me considering its such a MAJOR concern to people. I just saw a poll on www.EarthLab.com that says people care a lot what their next leader thinks about global warming (after you take it they show you the results). Does anyone know of another poll or other results about this subject?

If not, go to http://www.earthlab.com/life.aspx and take their poll to see which way the results go. This is a pretty legit website; they are endorsed by Al Gore and the alliance for climate protection and they have a carbon footprint calculator. No matter which political party you vote for this is an important issue for our environment, our economy and for homeland security.

6:23 PM  

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