V. I. Lenin’s Mausoleum (1953-61 the Mausoleum of V. I. Lenin and I. V. Stalin) – monument – burial vault on Red Square of Moscow at the Kremlin wall. Let’s trace the history of this unique object.
The first wooden Mausoleum (project of A. V. Schusev) was erected by the Vladimir Lenin’s funeral day (27 January, 1924), it had a cubic form and was topped with a three-stage pyramid. It had stood only to spring 1924.
To the second wooden Mausoleum erected in 1924 they attached tribunes from both sides. The initial project of the sarcophagus was announced too complicated and an architect K. S. Melnikov offered 8 new variants of the project. One of them was confirmed and soon built to stay there till the end of WWII.
Compact shape of the second Mausoleum was used while designing the third, existing today, monument, made of reinforced concrete with brick walls coated with granite, marble, labradorite and porphyry coating. Inside the building has a vestibule and a hall of honor 100 m2 big. In 1930 new tribunes appeared aside the Mausoleum and trimmed graves at the Kremlin wall.
During WWII, in July, 1941, the body of Lenin was evacuated to Tyumen. It was kept in the building where Tyumen state agricultural academy is located today. In April 1945 the leader’s body came back to Moscow.
In 1945 a central tribune of the Mausoleum was built. The old sarcophagus of Melnikov was replaced by a new one made under the project of A. V. Schusev and a sculptor B. I. Yakovlev. In the period 1953—1961 the body of Stalin was also kept in the Mausoleum.
On the granite slab mounted in 1953 they wrote “Lenin and Stalin” over “Lenin”. The new inscription had remained till they found a unique giant 60 tonned labradorite monolith in the Zhitomir region. They used to say that in severe cold the old inscription became visible with hoarfrost. In 1958 the slab was replaced with a new one with inscriptions “LENIN” and “STALIN” one under another. In 1961 the granite slab with the name of Lenin returned to its original place. Simulteneously with the funeral of Stalin they made a decision to move the sarcophagi of both leaders to pantheon but it was never done.
In 1973 they replaced the old sarcophagus with a bulletproof one.
Honor guard post №1 had been at the Mausoleum till October 1993, it changed every hour at the signal of the Kremlin clock. But during the constitutional crisis in 1993 the post was abolished. Since 12th of December, 1997 it was back there, but at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A biochemist B. I. Zbarsky was responsible for embalming, he had made a recipe of “embalming liquid” in which they soaked Lenin’s body each 18 months. Zbarsky had taken care of Lenin’s remains till his death in 1954. In the end of 1939 they created a scientific research laboratory that had to solve problems connected with Lenin’s body preservation. The government commission created in 1990 stated that the body of the leader could be preserved in the same condition for some dozens of years more.
The workers of the laboratory embalmed bodies of many well-known persons, such as Georgy Dimitrov (1949, Bulgaria), Horlogiyn Choybalsan (1952, Mongolia), Joseph Stalin (1953, the USSR), Klement Gottwald (1953, the Czech Republic), Ho Chi Minh (1969, Vietnam), Agostinho Neto (1979, Angola), president of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana – Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham (1985, Georgetown, Guyana), Kim Ir Sen (1995, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). But not all of them remained till today.
The initian wooden variant of the Mausoleum didn’t have a tribune. But due to the a big amount of visitors and necessity to pronounce mourning speeches it soon became demanded. So the next projects included it.
Then the Mausoleum was used as a tribune for figures from the politburo and the Soviet government, military leaders and honoured guests. There was a special room for them where they could have a bite and drink.
In May, 9, 1996 the Mausoleum was used as the tribune for the last time.
Moscow is the only Russian city where the roads starting point is not the main post office building but the Mausoleum of Lenin. The main post-office is 2 km away from it, in Mysnitskaya Street.
In 1934 one Mitrophan Nikitin tried to shoot at the embalmed leader’s body. But he failed and shot himself right there. By the way he had a remonstrative letter for the party and the government.
On 5th of November, 1957 some A.N. Romanov threw a bottle of ink at the Mausoleum, the sarcophagi didn’t suffer.
In 1959 one of the visitors threw a hammer at the sarcophagi and broke the glass, the bodies of Lenin and Stalin didn’t suffer.
There were other attempts to ruin the sarcophagi or reach the bodies, even by explosions, people around died or were injured but not the body of the leader…
You can visit the Mausoleum on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.