Magazine

Five Lenin statues in unexpected places

  • 9 December 2013
  • From the section Magazine
Lenin statue, Kiev

The smashing of a statue of Lenin in Kiev by protesters leaves the city without a monument to the leader of the 1917 Revolution - but there are plenty left elsewhere. Here are five.

1. Seattle, US

The bohemian Seattle suburb of Fremont acquired a Lenin statue in the early 1990s, with the help of an English teacher, Lewis Carpenter, who mortgaged his home to rescue it from Poprad in Slovakia. It stands outside a number of fast food shops, and is decorated on special occasions, with festive lights, occasionally drag, or just fancy dress.

2. Antarctica

In December 1958 Soviet scientists responded to the US's construction of the Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole by building a research station at the Pole of Inaccessibility - the Antarctic's most remote spot. They fixed a plastic Lenin bust to the roof before they left, two weeks later. Today it is the only visible part.

3. Islington, London, UK

Finsbury Council in London commissioned a bust of Lenin during World War Two to celebrate the alliance with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. Cast by the Russian emigre architect Berthold Lubetkin, who worked with the council on housing projects before and after the war, it stood for a while in Holford Square, near one of Lenin's former London homes. It was often vandalised, and eventually removed. It can now be seen in Islington Museum.

4. Tarhankut, Ukraine

Not far from Kiev, but less easy for anti-Soviet protesters to get at, is this bust of Lenin in the "underwater museum" at Tarhankut, Crimea. A number of former Soviet rulers are commemorated in the Alley of the Leaders, their statues and busts standing or lying on underwater shelves of rock.

5. Cavriago, Italy

One of the few Western European towns with a bust of Lenin in a public square is Cavriago, near Bologna. The town council website explains (in Italian) that fierce debates raged in 1918 between moderates and "maximalists" within the local Socialist Party. The maximalists came out on top, and in 1920 Lenin was named "honorary first citizen". Later the town came under attack from Fascists and the administration resigned. The bust is intended to bear testimony, in a non-judgmental way, to the "strong civil and political passions of those years".

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