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1961

Stalin’s body removed from Lenin’s tomb

Five years after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalinism and the “personality cult” of Soviet rulers at the 20th Party Congress, Joseph Stalin’s embalmed body is removed from Lenin’s tomb in Moscow’s Red Square.

When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, the leader of Russia’s Bolshevik revolution was embalmed and placed in a special mausoleum before the Kremlin wall. Featuring glass casing, the tomb made the father of Soviet Russia visible for all posterity.

Lenin was succeeded as Soviet leader by Joseph Stalin, who ruled over the USSR with an iron fist for three decades, executing or working to death millions of Soviets who stood in the way of his ruthless political and economic plans. However, Stalin also led his country to a hard-won victory over German invaders during World War II, and when died in 1953 he joined Lenin in his tomb. Within a few years of Stalin’s death, however, Soviet authorities uniformly condemned the brutal leader. In October 1961, his body was removed from public display in Red Square and shunted off to a nearby tomb.

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