Vladimir Llich Lenin
Lenin was born into a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Russia—a town on the Volga river about 850 miles east of Moscow. He became a leftist revolutionary after the OHKRANA (the Czar’s secret police) arrested and executed his brother in 1887. He attending the Kazan State University, but he was suspended for his anti-Tsarist protests. Eventually he earned a law degree, and embraced radical politics and became an avid Marxist.
In 1893, while in St. Petersburg, the OHKRANA arrested Lenin for sedition and exiled him to Siberia for three years. After his release, he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, and lived in Western Europe. In 1909, Lenin published Materialism and Empirio-criticism that set the course for socialist revolution, and became the philosophic foundation of Marxism-Leninism. At the start of World War I in 1914, he was living in Switzerland and in poverty.
The February Revolution of 1917, precipitated by the Russian military disasters on the Eastern Front and the revolutionary chaos forced, Czar Nicholas II to abdicate. Germany seized this opportunity to weaken the Russia war effort by sending the rabble-rouser Lenin to St. Petersburg in a sealed train.
Lenin realized that his Bolshevik party had the advantage and must seize the moment. From the steps of the post and telegraph building, he shouted the mantra of the Marxist revolution: “Workers of the world unite! Throw off your chains. You are the vanguard of the proletariat. Today, the armed revolution has begun, We will have peace, land, and bread.”
This is the locomotive that brought Lenin to St. Petersburg in 1917
Lenin in disguise in 1917: clean-shaven and with wig
Then, much to Lenin’s chagrin, the Petrograd Soviet, with its Menshevik and Socialist majority, elects Alexander Kerensky as minister of justice and commander-in-chief of the army. In effect, Kerensky becomes the premier of the provisional government. He promises democracy, abolition of the death penalty, and a continuation of the war.
Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970)
The provisional government under Kerensky isolated the Czar and his family at the TsarskoeSeloPalace—about thirty miles from St. Petersburg. And, on March 21, Kerensky placed Czar Nicholas and his family under house arrest.
In late October, Lenin’s Bolsheviks launch the second revolution with the goal to overthrow Kerensky’s provisional government. Bolshevik troops invade the Duma of Deputies in Petrograd and arrest the top two hundred leaders, including Kerensky and Leon Trotsky.
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
On November 8, the Bolsheviks’ All-Russian Congress of Soviets elected Lenin chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars—in essence, the head of government. Lenin pronounced, “Communism is Soviet power. “Henceforth the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will be totalitarian Communism.” Bolshevik commissars throughout Russia establish socialist Soviet Councils of Workers’ Deputies to govern provinces and cities. Felix Dzerzhinsky’s Cheka begins the Red Terror.
On March 3, 1918, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ending its participation in World War.
Lenin ruled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the next seven years with an iron-hand dictatorship. His secret police, the Cheka, reigned unchecked and murdered an estimated 2,000,000 people—anyone who opposed him, or his revolutionary policies.
The Royal family was under house arrest in the “House of Special Purpose” in Ekaterinburg, Siberia, On 17 July 1918 Lenin signed the regicide telegram that ordered his Cheka lieutenant to eliminate the Czar, the Empress and their five children and others in their entourage.
Lenin died of a massive stroke on 21st January 1924.
It’s a gloomy day in the Kremlin and Lenin sits at his desk in my historical novel St. Catherine’s Crown. He solicits comments from his revolutionary comrades about the regicide telegram he has just drafted. When he asks for your opinion, try to dissuade him from signing that telegram—the regicide will engender the enmity of the western nations. May I suggest that soon afterward you skedaddle tout de suite to the nearest friendly border and seek asylum. The Cheka has alerted its worldwide network to arrest you: or to “terminate with prejudice.”