Disputes about the preservation of the body of the leader of the world proletariat began immediately after his death and have not subsided to this day. Along with ethical aspects, the yellow press has recently often published "sensational facts" that the mummy of Vladimir Ilyich has long been replaced by a wax copy. However, despite the status of secrecy, today scientists do not hide exactly how the unique mummification procedure developed in our country was carried out, and in what condition Lenin's body is today.
On January 21, 1924, a huge country was struck by the news of the death of Vladimir Ilyich. The very next day, scientists performed the first body embalming operations. The question of long-term storage of the mummy did not arise at that time, so a fairly standard operation was performed, thanks to which the remains of the leader had to wait unchanged for an autopsy, establishing the cause of death and a farewell procedure. For this, a mixture of water, formalin, ethyl alcohol, zinc chloride and glycerin was used. The timing was only calculated for 20 days. For this first operation, the Soviet pathologist, academician Alexei Abrikosov was involved.
When carrying out temporary embalming, scientists cut large blood vessels, since there was no talk of any mummification for many years then. Later, academician Abrikosov was very distressed and said that if the plans for long-term storage of the body were announced immediately, the arteries would undoubtedly need to be preserved - through them the embalming fluids would be easily transported to all areas. The body of the leader, prepared in this way, was placed for farewell in the Column Hall of the House of the Unions. The year 1924 was distinguished by an exceptionally cold winter - all days after Lenin's death, the temperature remained at about -28 degrees. However, despite this, a huge queue lined up to the body, crowds of people flocked from everywhere to pay tribute to the memory of the person who radically changed the course of the history of our country.
The funeral was scheduled for January 27, and a wooden mausoleum was prepared for that date. However, on the appointed date, the body was only transferred to the resting place, but they did not close the sarcophagus - despite the fact that about a million people visited Red Square during these days, the flow of people over these days did not dry out, but only became even more. The funeral commission received thousands of letters and telegrams asking to postpone the funeral and save the body of Vladimir Ilyich. All these letters are still in the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Contemporary History (RCKHIDNI):
(Employees of the Putilov plant)
(Peasants of the Sharlyk volost of the Orenburg province)
Stalin at one of the meetings of the Politburo supported the idea of long-term preservation of the body:
However, Lenin's relatives and some members of the leadership were strongly against the mummification of the body for many years:
(Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya)
Despite the opinion of relatives, on March 5, 1924, at a meeting of the Commission for organizing the funeral, discussions began with pathologists and doctors about the fundamental possibility of preserving the body of the leader for an indefinitely long period. There were no analogues in world practice for such an experiment yet - embalming according to the principles of Ancient Egypt was not suitable, since those mummies lost up to 70% moisture and their features were greatly distorted. Freezing was also not a reliable option. At first, scientists could not guarantee that the work on the kind of mummification required for Lenin would be successful. They started experimenting with no confidence of success.
Professor Vladimir Vorobiev from Kharkov and biologist-biochemist Boris Zbarsky have developed and tested a unique method of embalming on a single site, which turned out to be very successful. They worked right inside the temporary mausoleum in a special laboratory for four months. The main embalming "procedure" for the body is baths made of special reagents: formaldehyde, ethyl alcohol, glycerin, potassium acetate and quinine derivatives - thanks to these substances, the decomposition of the remains was prevented.
Such "procedures" with the body are carried out regularly today. Without going into the details of this experiment, we can say that now the body of Vladimir Ilyich is in excellent condition. The flexibility and mobility of all joints have been preserved - when, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a fuss in the press that Lenin's body was supposedly replaced with a wax doll, scientists demonstrated the opposite to journalists by simply turning the mummy's head.
However, the question of who is actually in the Mausoleum is already quite philosophical and controversial. The fact is that in the process of the procedures carried out and the replacement of some tissues and fluids, a little more than 20% of the original body of Lenin remained. Biological materials are more and more replaced with artificial ones every year, but the external shape of the body remains unchanged, so today we undoubtedly face the mummy of the leader of the proletariat, but it has undergone a very serious modification.
When it comes to mummies, Ancient Egypt immediately comes to mind, mummification in the modern world is, of course, incredible exotic, but the XX and XXI centuries can also boast of Amazing cases of mummification