Monday, November 6, 2017

What Happened to Stalin’s Brain after His Death?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 6 – At least since the 1966 publication of Stefan Possony’s Lenin: the Compulsive Revolutionary, many around the world have known that after Lenin died, Soviet officials extracted his brain from his body and subjected it to intensify study on the basis of the materialist theory that its structure should tell everyone how and why he acted as he did.

            Today, Russian blogger Timofey Vasilyev tells the much less widely known and far less edifying story of what happened to Stalin’s brain after his death and especially a decade ago, a story that is retold on the pages of today’s Novyye izvestiya newspaper (

            When Stalin died, Vasilyev says, his brain was extracted from his body before the latter was put on display in the mausoleum next to Lenin.  There it was presumably studied as Lenin had been but sometime about a decade ago, the Moscow Institute for the Study of the Brain in which it was housed was largely closed down and its exhibits carried off to who knows where.

            By 2014, the blogger continues, the employees of the remaining portion of the institute were unable to show Stalin’s brain – or Lenin’s for that matter – to an American journalist. They Russian scientists told him that those brains were “located in another building and we do not show them to the public.”

            Now, Vasilyev continues, “I will talk about the fate of this ‘other building’ and why the brain of Stalin will never be seen by anyone.”  The laboratory where scientists studied his and other brains appears to have ceased to function sometime in 2003 or 2004. At least, the blogger says, those are the dates on the last documents about it.

            After that time, it simply closed down; and became the target of curiosity seekers who managed to break in and overcome all the obstacles that the authorities had erected and began to expand after those years to prevent them from doing so. Those who gained entrance stole many of the test objects, including quite possibly Stalin’s brain. Or they may have carried it off.

            The situation deteriorated when poisonous gases were released from some of the samples, and the emergency situations ministry was called in to deal with that, finally closing the site to everyone. “Thus, ended the history of the most secret laboratory of the Scientific Research Institute of the Brain.”

            It is quite possible, Vasiliyev continued, that “the descendants of those repressed [by Stalin] will find it a little easier to live knowing” that perhaps some young Russians had “in the best case scenario” played football with the brain of Stalin or arranged it together with other objects in photographic compositions.

            “It isn’t important whether you love Stalin or hate him,” the blogger concludes. “In any case, it is curious to know how his fact ended the history of his brain.”

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