How Did Vladimir Lenin Really Die?

An annual conference on famous dead people reopens Lenin's autopsy report.

Brodskiy's_Lenin-615.jpg
Wikimedia Commons

Adolf Hitler isn't the only historical dictator whose medical records are being reopened this week, it seems. As part of an annual conference on the deaths of famous people at the University of Maryland (yes, really) researchers are cracking open the closed case of Vladimir Lenin, the former Soviet leader who is commonly thought to have been done in by a case of syphilis.

In fact, the sexually-transmitted disease may not have killed Lenin after all, the Associated Press reports:

The Soviet leader's father also died at 54 and both may have been predisposed to hardening of the arteries. Stress also is a risk factor for strokes, and there's no question the communist revolutionary was under plenty of that, the neurologist said.

"People were always trying to assassinate him, for example." Vinters said.

Among those would-be assassins? Joseph Stalin, Lenin's successor. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Lenin might actually have died from poisoning, administered under Stalin's orders. No toxicology assessment was conducted on Lenin's body -- which happens to reside still in Moscow's Red Square -- and just before his death, Lenin appeared to undergo a set of serious convulsions despite functioning normally hours earlier.

Presented by

Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In