Vladimir Lenin, born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, was one of the leading revolutionary thinkers and political figures of the 20th century. Head of the Bolshevik party, Lenin led the October Revolution of 1917, becoming the first premier of the USSR.
Then Vladimir Ulyanov, was born and raised in Simbirsk (now called Ulyanovsk in his honor). Privileged to a good education in a middle class family, his parents instilled in him the higher ideals of a free society and human rights. These ideals, which contradicted social realities of late 19th century Russia, caught fire in Vladimir. While this may or may not have been enough to push him to be a revolutionary, several events in 1867 all but sealed his destiny.
In the preceding years Lenin's radical thinking would not only get him kicked out out university, but exiled to Siberia and to Western Europe. During these periods of exile, Lenin emerged a prominent figure in the international revolutionary movement. He wrote numerous articles and books about revolutionary politics and became leader of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party.
In 1917 Lenin finally had the opportunity to make his mark on history. Understanding the weakened state of Russia's Provisional Government (which had overthrown the Czarist regime), Lenin decided to come out of exile. Aided by the Germans (who correctly assumed that he would undermine the Russian war effort), Lenin was allowed to return to Russia unimpeded. Upon arrival he called for the uncompromising opposition to the Provisional Government, a decision which culminated in the Bolshevik's October coup d'etat, better known as the October Revolution.
Once in power his early ideals of free society and human rights seemed to disappear. While the nation entered into a tumultuous period of civil war and famine, Lenin exuded a chilling disregard for hardship and suffering. He established the Cheka (secret service), mercilessly purging all opposition who opposed him. He was also responsible for the implementation of strict censorship rules.
While he may have forgotten his early ideals, Vladimir Lenin remained pragmatic and insightful. When his efforts to transform the Russian economy to a socialist model failed, Lenin introduced a New Economic Policy (1921), where a measure of private enterprise was permitted to return. Lenin also voiced his uneasiness with the growing level of bureaucracy within the regime. Finally, in the aftermath of a 1922 stroke that left his health in a state of decline, Lenin expressed his concern with growing level of power being concentrated in the hands of Communist Party's General Secretary, Joseph Stalin. In hindsight, in the years preceding his death on January 21, 1924, his concerns turned out to be quite justified.
Vladimir Lenin Facts
Russian Name: Владимир Ильич Ленин
Birth Name: Vladimr Ilyich Ulyanov
Date of Birth: April 22, 1870
Place of Birth: Simbirsk, Russian Empire
Date of Death: January 21, 1924
Place of Death: Gorki, USSR
Spouse: Nadezhda Krupskaya
Political Positions Held:
Vladimir Lenin - Revolutionary - Part 1/3
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