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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Remembering Uncle Lenin

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

A sketch of Lenin with children

A remembrance of Lenin by his nephew, Victor Ulyanov published in English by the Soviet magazine USSR in 1958. Victor went on to become an aircraft engineer who was involved in high-level (and secret) research projects for Soviet defense. He died in 1984 at age 67. He was the son of Lenin's brother Dmitri.

It is interesting for its perspective of Lenin from childhood memories.


IN THE WINTER of 1921, my aunt Anna Elizarova and I came from the countryside to Moscow. We lived in Manezhnaya Street and Vladimir Ilyich, my uncle. was a frequent guest.

I remember the first time I met him. I was timid as a child and when I saw a stranger come into the house I ran to hide under the sofa, my customary refuge.

I knew a good many folk songs, and Vladimir llyich asked me to sing them. At first I refused, and then, relenting, I sang a few lines from under the sofa. When Vladimir Ilyich laughed heartily in approve!, I was encouraged to crawl out. He put me on his knee, and then, quite bold, I sang my entire repertory for him.

In 1922 we spent the summer in the village of Gorki. Vladimir Ilyich used to take me berry picking. During one of our picnics the other people there tried to persuade me to give the berries I had picked to Uncle Vladimir but I said no and ate them all. Vladimir Ilyich was more generous. He gave me a handful of his.

Lenin and Victor in Gorki, summer 1922

I liked him, as any small boy would, because he was always so kind. I remember the time he was sick and living at Gorki. We were having supper there once, and there was a bottle of lemonade on the table. I was not permitted to have any, for what reason I no longer remember. Vladimir Ilyich pushed the bottle toward me without saying a word.

Another time, together with some other children I was modeling boats out of sand along one of the park walks. That was in 1923 when Lenin was quite ill and was taken out for air in a wheel chair. We knew he was wheeled along that walk and were sure that the wheel chair would roll our boats flat. But it didn't, for some reason.

Then we modeled our boats across the whole width of the walk. But this time, too, they remained undamaged. We couldn't understand how the wheel chair got by until we learned, some time later, that Vladimir Ilyich thought it might disturb our game. So he had his chair wheeled to bypass that particular walk.

Those days I loved to drop in to see Uncle Vladimir in his room. I think he enjoyed my visits too. Sometimes when I came in he would be sitting at the window, and with Nadezhda Krupskaya's help be teaching himself to write with his left hand. He would stop when I came in and look at me, I remember, with his slow, kind smile.

In December 1923 a New Year tree was set up for the children of the family. Children of the farmers living in the neighborhood and others whose parents worked in the local state farm and vacation resort came as guests to the New Year party.

It was a gay and happy party for both children and grownups. Lenin must have enjoyed our company - he spent almost the whole evening with the children and stayed through until after all the presents were handed out.

It's a picture I will never forget - Vladimir Ilyich sitting there and smiling at the noisy lot of us -children whom he loved so much and for whom he had done so much. That was the last time I saw him.

(Lenin would die not long after this, January 21, 1924 - Editor)

Sketch of Lenin at a New Year's party for children

This article has been corrected to note that this reminiscence was originally published in 1958, not 1957 as originally stated.



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