Vladimir IIich Lenin (1870-1924)
His real surname was Ulyanov but he took the name Lenin when taking part in secret political activities in 1901, and stuck to it ever afterwards. He was born on 22 April 1870, at Simbirsk, which was later renamed Ulyanovsk in his honour on the River Volga. His father was an inspector of schools and his mother a doctor’s daughter. In 1887 his elder brother was executed for taking part in a plot to murder the tsar (emperor) of Russia.
At this time there was a lot of unhappiness in Russia, for many of the people had no political rights and many of the peasants were extremely poor, while the nobles and land owners were very rich. Young members of the middle-class families such as Lenin’s began to form political groups to try and bring about changes, some believing in one method of trying to alter things, some in another. Lenin himself made a careful study of the works of the German Karl Marx, who was one of the founders of the political belief known as communism. Marx stated that it was wrong for individual people to own shops, factories, land, and other property, and thought that the working people in each country ought to revolt and take over all these things, making them the common property of everybody. These ideas appealed greatly to the young Lenin and he became determined to bring about a communist revolution in Russia.
In 1891 Lenin earned a degree in law and worked in the courts, representing mainly poor peasants and workers. In 1893 he moved to St. Petersburg (which was renamed Leningrad after him between 1924 and 1991), and soon became a leader of the revolutionaries, those people who wanted to bring about a revolution. Two years later he was arrested because of his political activities, imprisoned, and then exiled to Siberia, in Asia. There he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, a revolutionary colleague from St. Petersburg, who helped in his work until his death.
In 1900 after his exile was over he visited Switzerland,...