Vladimir Lenin Biography

Vladimir Lenin was a communist revolutionary who led the famous October revolution in Russia. Find more information on life of Lenin in this brief biography.

Vladimir Lenin
Quick Facts

Birthday: April 22, 1870

Nationality: Russian

Famous: Quotes By Vladimir Lenin Philosophers

Died At Age: 53

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Ulyanovsk

Famous as: Russian Revolutionary & Head of Communist Party

political ideology: Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks)


Spouse/Ex-: Nadezhda Krupskaya (m. 1898–1924)

father: Ilya Ulyanov

mother: Maria Alexandrovna Blank

siblings: Aleksandr Ulyanov, Anna Ilichina Ulianov, Dimitri Ilich Ulianov, Mariya Ilichina Ulianov, Nikolai Ilich Ulianov, Olga Ilichina Ulianov

Died on: January 21, 1924

place of death: Gorki Leninskiye

Ideology: Communists

More Facts

education: Saint Petersburg State University, (1890 – 1891), Kazan Federal University, (1887 – 1888)

awards: 1885 - Gold medal

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A communist philosopher, founder of the Soviet Republic and a devout follower of Marxist views, Vladimir Lenin is remembered as the leader of the Bolshevik Party, who played a pivotal role in reshaping Russia. Considered by some as a saint and others, as a dictator, Lenin proposed state capitalism reforms for Russia, which brought about a radical change in the country. Lenin, one of the most discussed leaders of the 20th century, fuelled the Bolshevik revolution and later, took over as the ‘Premier’ of the newly formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). His ideologies combined with those of Karl Marx, collectively came to be known as ‘Marxism-Leninism’, a doctrine that paved way for a number of radical schools of thought, such as Trotskyism, Maoism and Stalinism. His administration oversaw the execution of many social reformative measures, mechanization and the implementation of the ‘New Economic Policy’. This leader of the Bolshevik bloc was one of the main orchestrators of the infamous October Revolution during World War I, which was basically influenced by one of his best known works, ‘The April Theses’. A controversial leader, Lenin was an extremely hard-working person, blessed with impeccable oratory skills and also had a penchant for humor. Scroll further for more.

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Vladimir Lenin
Family Background & Early Years
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the third of the six children born to Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov and Maria Alexandrovna Blank, both of whom were from affluent backgrounds.
  • His father was a prominent Russian schoolmaster, who received numerous honors for his work in the field of education. His mother, the daughter of a Jewish doctor, was well-versed in Russian literature and insisted that her children receive quality education.
  • Lenin’s elder brother, Alexsandr Sacha was a gold-medalist from St. Petersburg University and later became involved in political agitations against Tsar Alexander III. He organized several protests and was soon arrested and executed on April 25, 1887, on charges of conspiracy against the Tsar.
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Early Radical Activities & Exile
  • Though distraught after the deaths of his father and his elder brother, he continued his studies and received a gold medal for his exceptional performance in school. He started pursuing law at the Kazan University in 1887.
  • At the university, he became interested in his late brother’s ideologies and soon started taking part in student protests and was consequently expelled. Around this time, he became influenced with Karl Marx and joined St. Petersburg University, where he finally completed his law studies and later passed the bar exams.
  • In 1892, he was appointed as a barrister but continued to devote his time to radical political activities, formulating ideas for the application of the Marxist ideology to reform Russia. He soon became a member of the ‘Social Democrats’ group, which was run by cell member, S.I. Radchenko.
  • In a few years, revolutionary cells in Russia grew manifold and by 1894, Lenin, himself was the leader of a cell, and wrote his first political treatise, ‘What the Friends of the People Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats’. Despite being banned, it sold over 200 copies illegally.
  • He was soon arrested, along with his coworkers, for his revolutionary activities and was exiled to Siberia for 3 years, where he met his future wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya.
  • Due to their radical works being constantly monitored by the Russian constabularies, Lenin and Nadezhda moved to Munich, Germany, for a brief period, where they continued their Russian propaganda.
  • In 1900, he launched the newspaper, ‘Iskra’, meaning the ‘Spark’, expediting the prevalent Russian-Marxist movement and bringing the non-Russian Marxists also into the revolution.
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The Russian Revolution, Re-Exile & World War I
  • In 1904, Russia was at war with Japan and it had an intense impact on the Russian society, causing people to object and call for a political reform.
  • Lenin seized the opportunity and returned to St. Petersburg in 1905 to support the Russian Revolution and was soon elected as President of the streamlined Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP).
  • In order to end the Russian Revolution and to pacify the agitated Russian citizens, Tsar Nicholas II formed a legislative assembly known as the ‘Duma’. However, Lenin was far from satisfied with the formation of the new assembly and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1905.
  • During his voluntary exile in Switzerland, he travelled throughout Europe and partook in numerous socialist-Marxist activities. He even authored ‘Materialism and Empirio-criticism’, published in 1909.
  • At the outbreak of World War I, most Social Democratic parties supported the war efforts in their respective homelands but Lenin’s views of the war were far from supportive. In order to get away from the war chaos, he moved back to neutral Switzerland where he joined the Zimmerwald Conference, an anti-war socialist conference group.
  • In 1916, Lenin authored ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, presenting a fusion of ideologies of other revolutionaries like Rudolf Hilferding, Karl Kautsky and John A. Hobson and describing the prevalent capitalist competition of World War I. He believed that the participation of the French and the British in World War I was largely influenced by their imperialistic and capitalistic interests and Russia was being used as a puppet.
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  • In the beginning of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II had to abdicate the throne and amidst growing unrest an interim government came to power. During this time, Lenin was still in Zurich and when he learnt of the new development, he was determined to return to his homeland at once and strengthen the revolution.
  • On April 16, 1917, he returned to Petrograd, Russia and was welcomed by an overwhelming crowd. He turned to the crowd and addressed them on the significance of the impending Russian Revolution. ‘Hail to the Global Socialist Revolution!’, he stated.
  • He called for a new socialist revolution and even though he was met with fierce opposition, with the help of his supporters he spread anarchy all over Russia. Lenin used his oratory abilities to great effect and it worked its magic on the infuriated Russian crowd.
  • After a failed coup against the temporary government in August 1917, fearing imprisonment he fled to Finland with his followers. Some of his oldest supporters were taken aback when he suggested an armed rebellion.
  • In October 1917, Lenin returned to Russia and started October Revolution which ultimately led to de facto transfer of power to the revolutionary forces. After the armed rebellion overthrew the provisional government and successfully established the Bolshevik government, the Soviet Council of People’s Commissaries was created and Lenin was made its leader. It was during this time, he issued one decree after another pertaining to the supply of land to peasants and handing over control of the factories to the workers.
  • After the armed rebellion overthrew the provisional government and successfully established the Bolshevik government, the Soviet Council of People’s Commissaries was created and Lenin was made its leader. It was during this time, he issued one decree after another pertaining to the supply of land to peasants and handing over control of the factories to the workers.
  • He signed a peace treaty with Germany, which caused resentment among his fellow party members. The peace treaty failed and the Germans attacked Russia leaving Lenin no choice but to shift the Soviet Government headquarters from Petrograd to Moscow on March 11, 1918.
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  • The Russian economy was badly affected by the end of the war and to promote its quick recovery, he initiated the GOELRO plan, the first ever national recovery directive. He also established a number of health care and educational institutions and advocated civil rights for women.
  • On December 20, 1917, the ‘Cheka’, an emergency commission was created to defend the Russian Revolution, which Lenin publicized over the radio and gramophone.
  • The same year, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were annexed to Russia and he defended these forceful annexations and called it a geopolitical move which intends to protect these countries from impending attacks.
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'Red Terror�
  • After Lenin was grievously injured in two of his assassination attempts, he signed execution orders of a number of Tsarist ministers and civil guards whom he believed were conspiring against him and his Bolshevik government.
  • Soon a campaign of mass killings, oppression and torture referred to as ‘Red Terror’ ensued which continued through the 1920s. This new campaign was opposed to the-then prevalent ‘White Terror Revolution’, in which anti-monarchists and Jews were targeted.
  • The estimated number of people killed during the ‘Red Terror Revolution’ ranged from over 50,000 to one million. To avoid economic collapse, the Bolshevik government launched ‘war communism’, via ‘prodravyorstka’, a Bolshevik campaign during which agricultural produce from farmers was confiscated. This produce was used to feed the Bolshevik armies and was sent to war-struck cities.
  • This campaign infuriated the white people thus promulgating armed confrontations with the ‘Red Terror’ revolutionaries. However, Lenin did not stop and continued with the implementation of the ‘prodravyorstka’.
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  • The Red-White civil war left Russia in ruins, with an estimated five million dead and millions others homeless.
  • In 1921, he abolished the ‘war communism’ campaign and introduced a more liberal ‘New Economic Policy’, which helped stabilize the Russian economy. To propagate his ideology throughout the world Lenin advocated a world revolution and set up the ‘Comintern’, an international communist organization in Moscow.
  • He also chaired the top government body, the Council of Peoples Commissars, which brought about immense social reforms. He resigned from his position in 1923, after suffering a series of strokes.
Major Works
  • ‘What is to be Done?’ is regarded as one of his most influential works and was published in 1902. Similarly, ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, ‘The State and the Revolution’, the ‘April Theses’ and ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: An Infantile Disorder’ are considered some of his most significant works that promoted ‘Marxism-Leninism’.
  • One of Lenin’s greatest works was the ‘New Economic Policy’, which was established to revive the Russian economy by means of foreign trade, nationalization and agriculture produce requisition.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Vladimir Lenin married Nadezhda Krupskaya on July 10, 1898, whom he met in Siberia.
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  • During his lifetime, he suffered three strokes, which eventually led to his resignation. The strokes severely affected the right side of his body, and he was left mute and bed-ridden in the later part of his life, until his death on January 21, 1924. It was later established that he passed away due to neurosyphilis.
  • Three days after his death, millions of mourners from across the Soviet Union came to see him one last time before he was shifted to the mausoleum. A number of Communist leaders like Stalin, Trotsky and Kalinin were present at the event.
  • Petrograd was renamed ‘Leningrad’ in honor of Vladimir Lenin and remained so, till 1991.
  • Many statues of Lenin were erected across Europe and many places and structure were named after this Russian leader.
  • The ‘852 Wladilena’ asteroid was named in his honor.
  • There have been countless films and television series’ based on the life of Vladimir Lenin such as ‘Three Songs about Lenin’, ‘All my Lenins’ and the miniseries on BBC, ‘Fall of the Eagles’, to name a few.
  • This famous USSR leader worked tirelessly for 14-16 hours a day.
  • Following this leader’s demise, his body was embalmed, mummified and was put on display at Red Square, in Moscow.
  • This prominent revolutionary leader suffered a series of strokes and a year before his death, he asked Stalin to give him poison if his condition deteriorated.
  • He wrote a number of books and articles without the help of a stenographer or secretary.

See the events in life of Vladimir Lenin in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Vladimir Lenin Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- July 21, 2017

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