Wilhelm Pieck

At Lenin’s Funeral

Source: We Have Met Lenin, pp. 73-75
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, U.S.S.R., 1939
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

January 22, 1924. Moscow. A room in the Lux. 11 a.m. The telephone rings. A comrade is asking: Is it true that Lenin died? People say that he died last night.

No, it cannot be true! I heard only the day before that Lenin’s health was improving. Rashly I call up Clara Zetkin in the Kremlin, to find out whether the report is true. Clara has heard nothing. They were afraid to break the news to her. A few minutes later Clara, sobbing, confirms that the report is true.

Lenin is dead. In a short while the streets are crowded with people. All are in the grip of a great sorrow. Workers—men and women—stream from the factories to the centre of the city, Here they stand silent, as if crushed beneath the weight of a heavy load.

* * *

January 23, 1924. The house in Gorki where Lenin died. An hour and a half’s ride from Moscow.

The earth is covered with a thick layer of snow. It is a cold and bright winter day, Lenin lies in the room. His face is a pale yellow, but the skin is smooth—there is practically not a wrinkle left. How hard it is to become reconciled to the thought that he is no longer! Silent, with tears in their eyes, veterans of the Civil War carry him out of the room. The mournful cortège, carrying the dead leader, wend their way along a narrow path across an open snow-covered field to the railway station. Crowds of people—old and young—have assembled near the station. The heartrending strains of the funeral march float in the air.

Moscow. Hundreds of thousands of people line the streets. An endless procession is moving to the House of Trade Unions where Lenin lies in his bier. Old Bolsheviks—Lenin’s closest friends and associates—stand in the first guard of honour. Comrade Stalin and other members of the Political Bureau are among them. Comrade Krupskaya stands by the side of her dead husband.

It is bitterly cold outside. Thirty degrees and more below zero. Day and night masses of people flock to the centre of the city. They stand in the street for hours on end. Bonfires are burning. And in endless lines the people march past the bier holding the remains of the dead Lenin. For four days and four nights they never stop marching. It is something unsurpassed and awe-inspiring!

* * *

January 26, 1924. The Second Congress of Soviets. The Bolshoi Theatre with its immense parterre and five tiers of boxes and galleries is filled to overflowing. Here are the representatives of the Soviets. On the large stage sit the members of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Comrade Krupskaya speaks. Her few simple words produce a soul-stirring impression—tragic and at the same time elevating. Stalin delivers his historical speech—the oath. Kalinin speaks. Followed by representatives of the Soviets—workers, peasants, men, and women. Then the congress files past Lenin’s bier, weighed down by heavy sorrow and the burthens of the morrow.

* * *

January 27, 1924. Red Square. In its centre, close to the Kremlin wall, stands Lenin’s tomb. 4 p.m. The guns fire a salute. The bells in the Kremlin tower chime. Factory sirens whistle. The whole Land of Soviets holds its breath.

Lenin is carried to his final resting place. Workers, peasants, Red Army men from Moscow and environs stand in close ranks on the vast square. The strains of the mournful funeral march sung by a mighty chorus of voices hover over the square. It kept ringing in my ears when I was sitting in the train that night on the way to Germany.

* * *

Lenin’s mausoleum on the Red Square in Moscow. There Lenin sleeps his eternal sleep. But his cause lives. Lenin’s great Party lives and, led by the continuator of Lenin’s cause—the brilliant and beloved Stalin—it carries on the victorious fight.