Lenin’s Trains 1917+1924

leninonthetrainukHere is the cover of Catherine Merridale’s book about Lenin’s famous railway journey from Zurich to St Petersburg-Finlyandski (the Finland station).

It’s a dramatic story…by 1917, the German military leaders could see that fighting on both eastern and western fronts would quickly exhaust the German war-effort. In a desperate effort to capitalise on the abdication of the Russian Tsar and to take advantage of the power-vacuum in Russia, thet hatched a plan to move the revolutionary leader, Lenin, from exile in Switzerland and return him to Russia. The objective of this plan was for Lenin to take power and to remove Russia from the war…

It didn’t play out according to plan…

Lenin was cautious about being moved and understood the dangers beyond Switzerland’s neutrality. Accordingly, he demanded a sealed train. In simple terms this involved the addition of custom seals on the train. However, the addition of the seals added to the intrinsic drama of moving Lenin and effectively mythologised the episode as part of the folklore of 20C history.

Once in Russia, Lenin ruthlessly exploited the historic opportunity given him by Germany.

From our own perspective, it would certainly have been better for Lenin to have stayed in Switzerland.

Lenin died in 1924, an event which created another power-vacuum. This one exploited by the even more ruthless Stalin.

Here’s a picture of the preserved steam loco that moved Lenin’s dead body.1280px-paveletsky_11


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