Lenin's Mausoleum (Мавзолей Ленина Mavzoley Lenina) also known as Lenin's Tomb, situated in Red Square in Moscow, is the mausoleum that serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since the year he died in 1924 (with rare exceptions in wartime). Aleksey Shchusev's diminutive but monumental granite structure incorporates some elements from ancient mausoleums, such as the Step Pyramid and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great.
In 1929, it was established that it would be possible to preserve Lenin’s body for a much longer period of time. Therefore, it was decided to exchange the wooden mausoleum with the one made of stone (architects Aleksey Shchusev, I.A. Frantsuz, and G.K. Yakovlev). They used marble, porphyry, granite, labradorite, and other construction materials. In October 1930, the construction of the stone tomb was finished. In 1973, sculptor Nikolai Tomsky designed a new sarcophagus.
On January 26, 1924 the Head of the Moscow Garrison issued an order to place the Guard of Honour at the mausoleum. Russians call it the "Number One Sentry". After the events of the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, the Guard of Honor was disbanded. In 1997 the "Number One Sentry" was restored at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden.
More than 10 million people visited Lenin's tomb between 1924 and 1972.
Though supposedly "rejuvenated" annually by Russian undertakers, Lenin's body currently gives off a waxed appearance, prompting many to wonder if it is still real. Some parts might be fake, or partially fake for the needs of predictability. Neither the former Soviet government nor the current Russian authorities would comment on the topic of the body's authenticity. The family of Lenin's embalmers states that the corpse is real and requires daily work to moisturize the features and inject preservatives under the clothes. Lenin's sarcophagus is kept at a temperature of 61 degrees and kept at a humidity of 80 - 90 percent. The chemical used was referred to by the caretakers as "balsam", which was glycerine and potassium acetate. Every eighteen months the corpse is removed and goes under a special chemical bath. The chemicals that were unknown until after the fall of the Soviet Union were kept secret by authorities. The bath consists of placing the corpse in a glass bath with potassium acetate, alcohol, glycerol, distilled water, and as a disinfectant, quinine. This was the process used for all subsequent treatments of Lenin's body and continues to be used even now.
One of the main problems the embalmers faced was the appearance of dark spots on the skin, especially on the face and hands. They managed to solve the problem: in between baths the spots were eliminated by the use of a variety of different reagents. For example, if a patch of wrinkling or discoloration occurred it was treated with an acetic acid diluted with water. Hydrogen peroxide could be used to restore the tissues' original coloring. Damp spots were removed by means of disinfectants like quinine or carbolic acid.
The body was removed in October 1941 and evacuated to Tyumen, in Siberia, when it appeared that Moscow might be in imminent danger of falling to invading Nazi troops. After the war, it was returned and the tomb reopened.
Joseph Stalin's embalmed body shared a spot next to Vladimir Lenin, from the time of his death in 1953 until October 31, 1961, when Stalin was removed as part of de-Stalinization and Khrushchev's Thaw, and buried outside the walls of the Kremlin.
The tomb is open every day except Mondays and Fridays from 10:00 to 13:00. There is normally a long line to see Lenin. No photos or video are allowed.
The preservation and public display of Lenin's body provided the inspiration for the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, and a similar one for Ho Chi Minh and Kim Il Sung, all of them whose wishes to be cremated after death were violated.