Time to Bury Lenin

Eighty-eight years after his death, it appears that Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed body may finally be buried. Russian culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky recently stated, “I have always believed that a body should be entrusted to the earth. . . .Many things in our life would change for the better after this [burial].”

There are, however, many who still believe Lenin is a national hero and oppose the closing of the shrine that displays his body in Moscow and also resist the dismantling of scores of Lenin statues and monuments that stand throughout the Russian nation.

Gennady Zyuganov, the 2012 presidential candidate of the Communist Party, has said: “Any attempt to diminish or rewrite the Soviet era or humiliate Lenin is an attempt to undermine the unity of the Russian Federation.”

I am amazed that there still exists a Lenin cult and so many people honor the memory of this godless monster who created the Gulag prison camp system and was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people.

For instance, readers may be surprised to learn that since 1994 an eighteen-foot bronze statue of Lenin (arm extended, gesturing defiantly in the direction of the Mecca of capitalism, Wall Street) has stood atop a luxury high-rise called Red Square on Manhattan’s E. Houston Street. The statue, which was imported from Russia, is considered chic and is listed as a “must see” in many tourist guidebooks. (Imagine the uproar if a statue of Hitler appeared on the roof of an apartment complex called Berchtesgaden!)

Lenin (1870-1924), a ruthless revolutionary who believed Marxist doctrines were scientific and irrefutable, justified any act to achieve a Communist state. Morality was merely “what serves to destroy the old exploiting society and to unite all the working people around the proletariat which is building up a new communist society.”

Lenin had no interest in the common good, family, or friendship. The only thing that mattered was the annihilation of perceived enemies of the state: “We would be deceiving both ourselves and the people if we concealed from the masses the necessity of a desperate, bloody war of extermination, as the immediate task of the coming revolutionary action.”

Lenin despised organized religions. He could not endure their “blasphemous remarks directed at Marx.” Hence, shortly after he assumed power in Russia, he began a campaign to crush Christianity.

Communist youth were ordered to march through streets carrying effigies of God and the Holy Family. Kids dressed as priests, defiled relics and offered to marry couples for a price. They ransacked churches singing “Down with the priests, down with the monks. We will climb to heaven and chase away the gods.”

In 1921, Lenin used the government-induced famine to advance his campaign against the Orthodox Church and to seize its property and valuables. It was his hope that this reign of terror would subdue resistance from the clergy, by inflicting “such brutality that they will not forget it for decades to come.”

            The murderer in Manhattan: Lenin atop the Red Square apartments

Orthodox priests who resisted were tortured and accused of counter-revolutionary conspiracies. Thousands were murdered or sent to prison for life. At show trials, forced confessions were entered as evidence of clerical crimes. “Reformed” priests declared the Russian Revolution was a “Christian creation.”

Clerics who joined the state created Council of the Living Church were forced to declare: “The Church cannot regard Soviet power as the realm of Anti-Christ. On the contrary, the Council draws attention to the fact that the Soviet power is the sole entity in the world that is in a position to realize the Kingdom of God.”

Lenin also persecuted the Catholic Church, whose membership totaled only 1.5 million in the Soviet Union. In 1918, the Bolsheviks decreed that the Church was only a “religious association” entitled to few rights. Property and investments valued at 11 million rubles were confiscated.

Lenin viewed the Catholic Church as a greater threat than the nationalist Orthodox Church because it was as a supranational organization. Catholics were loyal to a universal church headed by a foreign pope who could challenge the mission of the Communist International in any part of the world.

A Bolshevik newspaper announced on March 18, 1923, “A more bitter struggle is being waged against the Catholic Clergy than against the Russian Church, because Catholic organization is more powerful that that of the Orthodox, and Catholic ideology is better adapted to the general conditions of life.”

After the Orthodox show trials were completed, Lenin turned his sights on the Catholics – of both Roman and Eastern rites. Teaching of religion was forbidden, liturgical garb and scared vessels were confiscated, Catholic youth groups were dissolved. Archbishops, bishops, and priests were arrested and charged with having “fostered the counter-revolution by pernicious usages.” Many were executed; others were imprisoned for life in a Christian concentration camp located on the Black Sea.

By 1924, every Catholic episcopal see in Russia was vacant. Pope Pius XI named bishops in secret and sent a French Jesuit, Michel d’Herbigny, undercover to perform episcopal consecrations. Persecution of Catholics continued after Lenin’s death and the total number of clergy, which stood at 963 in 1921, was down to 10 by 1934.

When Soviet thugs were closing a Petrograd Catholic Church in 1922, the faithful refusing to leave dropped to their knees and began singing psalms. After being physically ejected, a defiant parishioner said, “The Soviet government is not everlasting but the Church will abide.”

He was right. Seventy-five years after his death, Lenin’s totalitarian regime was swept into the burial ground of history. And thanks to the sacrifices of tens of thousands of martyrs, the Catholic Church survived and has been growing in the post-Soviet era. The Church in Russia is proof of Christ’s promise that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

As for Lenin’s body, like his victims, his remains should be dumped into an unmarked grave.


George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is the author of The American Catholic Voter and Sons of St. Patrick, written with Brad Miner. His most recent book is Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man.