Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square Not Russian, Christian or Even a Mausoleum, Novik Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 12 – Debates about whether to remove the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin from the mausoleum on Red Square and buy him as Russian Orthodoxy requires typically ignore the fact that the structure is not Russian, Christian or even a mausoleum, Maya Novik says. Instead, it is a Middle Eastern ziggurat and an altar.

            That is striking because the mausoleum was in fact designed by a Russian architect who had made his name building churches before the revolution and might have been expected to keep the structure at least within Russian if not Orthodox traditions, the journalist says (

            According to Novik, the use of a pyramid or ziggurat as a model, however, is not that surprising. On the one hand, the early Soviet state viewed Lenin almost as a new divinity; and on the other, Russia like much of Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century was much influenced by what came to be known as “the Egyptian style.”

            That style emerged as a result of the numerous archaeological discoveries at that time, Novik continues, discoveries that sparked enormous popular interest and affected architecture and other forms of art. The Bolsheviks exploited this interest to signal their break with Christianity.

            The decision to build the mausoleum was made four days after Lenin’s death, she says. The Bolshevik leaders had two proposals before them and chose the one that was then realized first in wood and then several years later in stone.  It is based on the towers of ancient Babylon and on several pyramids in Egypt.

            Soviet commentators sought to integrate the mausoleum by insisting that it repeated the crenellations of the Kremlin wall and the design of the Museum of the Revolution, but those efforts ultimately failed because they were so transparently obviously not the real reasons for the construction.

             According to more recent commentators, she says, there is widespread recognition that “this is not a mausoleum” at all. Rather it is “an altar” for the worship of something other than the Christian God.  It is even possible, Novik suggests, that the Bolsheviks “used or would like to have used [the mausoleum for occult goals.”

            Indeed, some writers have suggested that the mausoleum in fact represents the Throne of Satan referred to in the Book of Revelations (chapter 2, verses 12-13). Others connect it with the cult of Asclepius where the snake symbolizes the devil.  And they point out the strange asymmetry of Lenin’s mausoleum, where leaders stand not at the center but to one side.

            Novik says that the architect because of his Christian background and the Bolshevik leaders with their religious educations would have been aware of all this; and thus, they erected at the walls of the Kremlin “a ziggurat symbolizing the worship of demonic forces and built it specially in the form of a sacrificial altar on which an entire Christian country was brought.”

            She concludes her essay with the observation that some have even suggested that within the mausoleum there was some kind of “’energy antenna’ which controlled the consciousness of the masses.”  But that is obviously “a fiction” given that while the mausoleum still stands, “the USSR has fallen.”

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