What was the significance of Lenin's death?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Lenin died on January 21 in 1924 due to complications from a series of strokes.  The most significant element of Lenin's death was the idea that the inspirational and practical leader of the Russian Revolution was gone.  Lenin had the rare ability to both inspire a revolution as well as articulate life after it.  In this both theoretical and practical capacity, Lenin's death was significant.  It was also significant because it highlighted a real lack of vision as to what political life in the Soviet Union would be after his death.  Lenin's death brings out the fundamental tension between Stalin and Trotsky, something that Orwell evokes perfectly in Animal Farm. It is the challenge and tension that both men bring which comes to define Soviet- style Communism as not something that sought to increase power, but rather consolidated it in the most brutal of manners.  Some of Lenin's last words suggested that a new configuration of power distribution in the Soviet Union was essential, and the disempowerment of party figures like Stalin and Trotsky was essential.  Given how the Soviet political dynamic developed after Lenin's death, one sees how his death was highly significant.  Churchill, who always had a knack on how to frame history, might have summed it up well in his assertion that the Soviet people were cursed with "their worst misfortune" in his birth with their "next worst" residing in his death.  It is to this end that Lenin's death is significant.


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