Lenin’s spectacular comeback

The chronicle of the Lenin-monument in Großenhain in Sachsen resembles the plot of a Hollywood film. After the German reunification, the 4,80-metre-high concrete block weighing over ten tonnes was dismantled and hidden in a secret operation with the intention of preserving it from a possible destruction. For 25 years, the colossal monument was considered „disappeared“ until its surprising comeback in 2017 to be re-erected in front of the local Bunker Museum. Weiterlesen

Werbeanzeigen

Lenin daubed with red ink

Red is known to be the color of the Communist movement and of the Russian Revolution. But the act of vandalism carried out in 1990, in which the bust of Lenin in Sassnitz was daubed with red ink, was certainly not meant as a tribute to the Bolshevik revolutionary, but rather as an attack against him.

The sculpture, a creation of the Soviet artist N. Gaumig, was almost one meter high and stood on top of a two meter high pedestal. It was a gift of the Communist Party of the Lettish Socialist Soviet Republik, inaugurated the 11th of April 1970, on the occasion of Lenin’s 100th anniversary, right in front of the recently built secondary school (which was named after W. I. Lenin the same day).

The city of Sassnitz has an historical link to Lenin, since in April of 1917, heading towards Russia in order to start the revolution, he spent a night inside the train in the station of Sassnitz, before taking a ferry boat in order to get to Sweden and carry on the trip to Saint Petersburg. Due to this episode, the figure of Lenin became omnipresent in this little town: Besides the bust, a memorial stone was placed in the center of the village, while in front of the train station a Lenin-museum was opened. Finally, one of the six reliefs composing the Monument to the Victims of Facism was dedicated to him.

With the German reunification, the public worship to Lenin came to an end. The bust in Sassnitz was removed in January of 1993 and taken to the town depot, where it is still standing today, enrolled in a big plastic tarpaulin. The traces of the attack with red ink are still visible, what turns this monument into a unique relic that reflects the last decades of East-German history, from the foundation of the GDR and the origins of the Lenin cult until the protest against the Socialist government, the reunification and the damage or destruction of most of the symbols of the GDR. Due to its historical value, it could be a good idea to place this monument in a public spot again. It would certainly be a unique opportunity for many people to have a direct contact with the real traces of Eastern-German history.

DEUTSCH

Der rot beschmierte Lenin

Rot ist bekannterweise die Farbe der kommunistischen Bewegung und der von Lenin angeführten Russischen Revolution. Aber die bis heute ungeklärte Nacht-und-Nebel-Aktion, bei der die Sassnitzer Leninbüste im Herbst 1990 mit roter Farbe beschmiert wurde, war vermutlich alles andere als eine Huldigung an den Revolutionsführer. Sie scheint eher ein Angriff auf die Figur Lenins zu sein, die wie keine andere kommunistische Ikone nach der Wende den ostdeutschen Denkmalsturm zu spüren bekam.

Die knapp einen Meter hohe Büste wurde anlässlich seines 100. Geburtstags am 11. April 1970 vor der neuerbauten Oberschule (die an diesem Tag den Namen „W. I. Lenin“ bekam) festlich eingeweiht. Die auf einem über zwei Meter hohen Sockel aufgestellte Skulptur aus Stein war eine Schöpfung des sowjetischen Künstlers N. Gaumig. Sie kam nach Sassnitz als Geschenk von der Kommunistischen Partei der Lettischen Sozialistischen Sowjetrepublik. Schließlich hatte Sassnitz einen historischen Bezug zu Lenin: Er hatte hier im April 1917 auf dem Weg nach Russland eine Nacht im Zug verbracht, bevor er am nächsten Morgen in die Fähre stieg und dann über Schweden und Finnland sein Ziel Sankt Petersburg (damals noch Petrograd) erreichte.

Zu DDR-Zeiten war Lenin in Sassnitz vielerorts vorzufinden. Außer der Büste gab es noch einen Lenin-Gedenkstein,ein kleines Lenin-Museum und am Denkmal für die Opfer des Faschismus war ihm eins der sechs Reliefs gewidmet.

Doch die Wiedervereinigung brachte das Ende der öffentlichen Verehrung Lenins und so wurde im Januar 1993 die Büste in das Stadtdepot gefördert, wo sie noch heute samt roter Farbkleckse von einer Plane bedeckt aufbewahrt ist. Das beschädigte Denkmal spiegelt einen wesentlichen Teil der ostdeutschen Geschichte wider und erinnert uns an die Gründung der DDR und die Entstehung des Leninkults, sowie an die späteren Proteste gegen die SED, die Wiedervereinigung und die Beschädigung bzw. Beseitigung der meisten DDR-Symbole. Angesichts seines historischen Wertes wäre es vielleicht keine schlechte Idee, dieses Geschichtszeugnis wieder in der Öffentlichkeit aufzustellen. Selten bekommt man die Geschichte so unvermittelt zu spüren wie vor diesem Leninkopf…

The „x“ marks the spot of the former monument:

Photos from the town-archive in Sassnitz (so the upper b/w picture):

Special Thanks to: Dieter Holtz and Stadtarchiv Sassnitz

Damnatio memoriae (ENG)

lenin_in_wittstock

The abandoned military area of Wittstock has turned into a ghost town. Entire apartment buildings, schools, office-blocks and hangars are falling apart. In front of the former cultural center we find an image, which is rich in contrasts: Lenin is standing there with his typical statesmanlike pose, but he is mutilated and completely covered with lichen. It was not possible to get more information about this act of vandalism, but the view of this half-destroyed statue seems like an exemplary representation of the neglect of the East-German monumental landscape. Weiterlesen

Visiting Karl Marx

Lenin_in_Chemnitz

In June 1990 the city of Chemnitz, which had been renamed to Karl-Marx-Stadt in the 50s, got back its former name. Nevertheless, Karl Marx is still nowadays one of the biggest icons in the city’s landscape, especially because of the 7,10 meter high bust standing in front of a giant panel where translations into different languages of the famous sentence from the Communist Manifest: “Workers of the world, unite!” are placed. It is the second biggest bust in the world, only surpassed by the sculpture of Lenin’s head in the Russian city of Ulan-Ude. Besides this, in Chemnitz there are still some other Socialist monuments to see: Walking through the streets, one can meet Engels, Thälmann, German antifascist soldiers, who fought in the Spanish Civil War, and also Lenin. Weiterlesen

Thorns

Dornen

Next to the national road B96 before entering Fürstenberg you can find two big relief walls, a free accessible remnant from the Soviet presence in Germany. It is an historical testimony to see, read and touch, that shows the glorious portrait of the Red Army as the big winner of World War II and also the ideal Communist projection for the post-war period. The monument is abandoned and falling apart, what in turn reflects the current dealing with the East-German past: Nobody wants to know anything about the Soviet heroism, not even about the liberation of Berlin from National Socialism accomplished by the Red Army in 1945. At least this memorial wasn’t demolished, so that even nowadays historians, strollers and curious persons still have the chance to get delighted by this relic. Weiterlesen

The Tank Division in Bernau

Mausuleum

ENGLISH

HauptgebaudeNow that he was relegated from the central spots of the capital, Lenin has got to hang around in remote ruins. In Bernau there are two parcels with big building blocks, which were the headquarter of the Heeresbekleidungsamts – something like a national clothing agency – during the Third Reich. After the war, the Red Army took over the place. The 90. Armoured Division was the last group to use the installations, before they were abandoned in the year of 1993: Where once was a direct train track, in order to deliver asap the new fancy uniforms or the most modern weapons, trees and bushes are growing now completely unwound. And in the buildings, in which generals were discussing the posible development of a third world war, now prevails the decay and a grave silence, which is only interrupted by some distant footsteps and you ask yourself if it’s only the echo of your own ones or maybe the ones of a soldier, which was left behind… Weiterlesen

The red star over the city of Halle

Star

ENGLISH

The risingFrom behind star of Lenin’s socialism is still scintillating in the city of Halle: In the Pestalozzi Park you can find an old monument, which shows Lenin’s head on a star, floating over the earth. Our planet is placed at the top of three books, which contain a formula developed by the Soviet revolutionary: „Soviet power + Electrification = Communism”. It refers to the importance of the process of electrification in the beginning of the 20th century or the economic growth of the entire country. In 1920 the government created the „State Commission for Electrification of Russia“ and in 10 years the production of electricity increased tenfold. Weiterlesen

Lights in the dusk

31

ENGLISH

Between colorful balloons, big advertisements and shrill flashing neon lights a commemorative plaque of Lenin is hanging inconspicuously on a wall of Frankfurter Allee. Surrounded by so many stores, fast food restaurants and even a shopping center, the communist hero seems to be a little bit out of place here. And in fact Lenin doesn’t get a lot of affection around this place: On the plaque one can still recognize the traces of the last vandalism action, a mosaic of ink and cleaning agents. Weiterlesen