Famous Russian Leader in History Nikolai Lenin Part 1

About the famous Russian leader Nikolai Lenin, early history and personal life including birthdate.


Vital Statistics: Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov (who took the pseudonym Nikolai Lenin as an adult) was born May 4, 1870, in the backwater city of Simbirsk, Russia.

In 1891 he was awarded a law degree. Two years later, he went to St. Petersburg, the capital, to engage in revolutionary activities, for which he was arrested in December, 1895. After serving 15 months in jail, he was exiled for three years to Siberia, where he married Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, a fellow political exile he had met in St. Petersburg. (The marriage was childless.)

From 1900 to 1917 he spent most of his time abroad, writing and working with other expatriate Russian dissidents toward the goal of world revolution.

When the proletariat rose up against the czar in 1917, Lenin returned to Russia and was made president of the Society of People's Commissars, a position he retained until his death in Gorki (near Moscow) on Jan. 21, 1924.

Lenin was short and stocky. Bald before he was 25, he had a large head, small Mongoloid eyes, a high forehead, and a red beard. Bruce Lockhart, a British agent, said he had "a quizzing, half-contemptuous, half-smiling look."

His works fill 35 volumes. Among them are Tasks of the Russian Social Democrats (1897); The Development of Capitalism in Russia (1899); What Is to Be Done? (1902); Materialism and Empiriocriticism (1909); Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916); and The State and Revolution (1917).

Personal Life: Like many revolutionaries, particularly those in turn-of-the-century czarist Russia, Vladimir Ulyanov came from a solid middle-class family. There was little indication during his happy childhood that he would grow up to devote his life to world revolution, to make his brand of communism a reality, and to rule (autocratically) a society of 150 million people under a regime dedicated to economic and social equality. Of course he was bright (alienated because of it) and rebellious (like many bright children). Full of contradictions, he was resentful of authority when applied to him, prone to use it ruthlessly against those who opposed him, gentle with it when dealing with those who accepted his power.

Vladimir's father, the son of a serf, had risen through hard work and the assistance of a selfless brother to become inspector of schools in Simbirsk. His mother was the daughter of a landowning physician.

As a child, Vladimir was noisy and boisterous. Nicknamed Little Barrel because he was fat, he fell down more often than most children while learning to walk. People said it was because his head was too big for his body. Sometimes he was destructive; on one of his birthdays, he twisted the legs off the horses of a papier-mache troika he had been given.

His quick mind and unusual ability to concentrate caused him to excel in school. Already sharp-edged, not quite involved, he was not popular with other students, though he often helped them with their homework. He was a reader; the nihilism of Goethe and Turgenev, whose books he devoured as an adolescent, affected him all his life.

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