Famous Russian Leader in History Nikolai Lenin Part 5

About the famous Russian leader Nikolai Lenin, biography and history of his reign and rule and later life.


That summer Lenin, leaving a factory, was shot by Fanya Kaplan, an intense Socialist Revolutionary, who opposed his dictatorial tendencies. Perhaps because of her poor sight (she was nearly blind), she succeeded only in wounding him. The Cheka, terrorist secret police founded by Lenin earlier that year, executed more than 800 Socialist Revolutionaries in retaliation.

In 1919 famine and a typhus epidemic killed thousands. Bodies were stacked like cordwood in the cemeteries. Unhappy workers carried banners reading, "Down with Lenin and horse flesh. Give us the czar and pork." In 1920 and 1921, there was another famine, which affected nearly 27 million people. To turn the tide against disaster, Lenin put into effect his New Economic Plan, which provided for limited private business.

His health was beginning to fail. In May, 1922, he had a minor stroke; less than a year later, he was further weakened by a second stroke. In the two years before his death, he tried to correct some of the abuses of his regime, asking for coexistence with capitalist countries, recognizing the inefficiency of his bureaucracy. In 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established.

In March, 1923, he was left speechless and paralyzed by a third stroke. Though he made a partial recovery, he never regained his former vitality and strength. On Jan. 21, 1924, at the age of 53, he died in convulsions, possibly from poison ordered by Joseph Stalin, his successor. His body was embalmed and put on display in a mausoleum in Red Square. Millions of people paid their last respects; some put wreaths made of wheat and steel near his coffin.

Lenin, one of the most influential leaders of his time, changed the fabric of Russian society when he took over the government. The masses were, by and large, better off. A massive electrification program was put into operation and transportation was improved. The peasantry was brought out of illiteracy and landlessness. Moreover, the ideals of communism were made a reality--more or less.

Yet the regime was dictatorial; dissent was put down without mercy. Those who opposed him--35,000 Kronstadt sailors and 200,000 rebellious Tambov peasants, for example--were ruthlessly executed. And his regime set the stage for the even more repressive one of Joseph Stalin, a development Lenin had foreseen too late to stop.

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