Pinpointing and showcasing some of the intriguing people, stories, facts, and controversies tied to Lenin's ancestry. And the quest to find new ones! —
- Lenin on Geni: Владимир Ленин / Vladimir Lenin
- Lenin on Wikipedia: ru en de es fr zh
- Lenin Internet Archive
- Project cover by Andy Warhol, 1987 — Red Lenin — Museum of Modern Art, N.Y. City, New York, U.S.A.
Why research Lenin's roots? Being interested in Eastern European affairs, you might already be familiar with the many shifting tides of politics, opinions, the shaping of power and the will to influence minds and often alter life itself. The theories, methods and actions of Lenin are connected both directly and indirectly to consequences that were, and continue to be, relevant for a multitude of people and their lives. Whether we like it or not, our understanding of history will continue to influence our perceptions in the present.
Surely all of this should serve a fascinating backdrop for reasearch: it’s challenging. It's intellectual, It's emotional. Lenin’s ancestry might just be a small component in the grand context of it all, but nevertheless an interesting and captivating one.
Some 140 years after his birth, Lenin is a hot potato even by todays standards, his roots and genealogy manages to fire up some infected debates from time to time. As expected, there is idolization as well as contempt. Fairytales and hero-villain perspectives stick to Lenin like glue, possibly reflecting the needs of such in contemporary society in an even greater detail than actually uncovering anything real about the person behind the layers of iconization.
Historical method and source criticism are therefore as vital as ever. Depending on the specific area within the pedigree, quality materials — not even mentioning the politicized literature — are few and far between. Evidence is also known to have been removed by authorities, raids have been conducted, scanning for the genealogical data of Lenin in particular. Manipulation of physical evidence, documents, imagery is also common. A lot is probably lost forever.
Behind a lot of the Lenin-materials publicly available, there are often implicit ‘needs’ and ‘truths’ expressed through communities, think-tanks that push an agenda with a tailored discourse — objectively, from their point of view of course — which puts accuracy in doubt and data difficult to trust. The fog is thick, but all of the potential traps can of course be considered as the extra spice that gives flavor to research and keeps stuff interesting.
Currently there are about 240 of Lenin’s blood relatives charted on Geni.com—there is an in-law connection—but no bloodlines running into the Big Tree aka World Family Tree.
If you’re up for a challenge: become the first person to find and present a solid bloodline. A good starting point for such a hunt might for instance be located in Lenin’s German lines where chances to find links should be high considering several fairly well known families. Some examples:
- The hanseatic family and descendents of Jordan I Pleskow, Mayor of Lübeck, long-distance trader, member of the Zirkelgesellschaft.
- The pastor, evangelist and author Johann Cyriacus Höfer.
- The Froriep's: Bertha Froriep who was a portrait and genre painter.
- Lenin's Dossier documents - facts - evidence, by Akim Arutyunov
- Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866), poet, translator and a co-founder of German Orientalism.
- Walter Model (1891-1945), general and field marshal during WWII.
... and many, many more.
TBD. Prolific people, fleshed out profiles, surnames etc.
TBD. A collection of various Lenin-trees from all over the world in different shapes and sizes.
In 1847, Alexander retired from the practice of medicine and bought the estate of Kokushkino or Yañasala (now Lenino-Kokushkino) in Tatarstan with 39 male serfs, where he lived until his death in 1870. In 1887-1888, Vladimir Lenin was exiled to his grandfather's estate.
Alexander Blank married twice.
His first wife was Anna Großschopf (Анна Ивановна Гроссшопф). They had one son, Dmitry, who committed suicide at the age of 19 because of a gambling debt and five daughters--the fourth daughter, Maria married Ilya Ulyanov and became mother of Vladimir Lenin.
Anna Großschopf's ancestors came from Northern Germany and that branch of family produced many notable Germans that were discovered to be blood relatives of Vladimir Lenin. Among them are Nazi field marshal Walter Model, German archeologist Ernst Curtius, President of Germany Richard von Weizsäcker and many others.
In 1838, Anna Großschopf died and Alexander Blank married the widow of a government official of XII class, Yekaterina Ivanovna Essen (1842). The second marriage was childless.
TBD. In the meantime, a listing—that is far from exhaustive—can be found at the bottom of Lenin’s Overview Tab.
Lenin's Family Background
Lenin's Early Life ---Born in Simbirsk, Russian Empire (now Ulyanovsk), Lenin was the son of Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov , a Russian official in public education who worked for progressive democracy and free universal education in Russia, and Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova (Blank). The family was of mixed ethnic ancestry. "Lenin's antecedents were Russian, Kalmyk, Jewish, German and Swedish, and possibly others". Lenin was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church.
Lenin himself was of mostly Russian and Kalmuck ancestry, but he was also one-quarter Jewish.
His maternal grandfather, Israel (Alexander) Blank was a Ukrainian Jew who was later baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church.
Lenin's mother, Maria (Mariya) Blank Alexandrova, was the fourth daughter of Alexander Dmitrievich Blank, a doctor and a baptized Jew from Zhitomir. He had taken as his patronymic the name of his godfather at his baptism, Dmitri Baranov, dropped his original patronymic of Moishevich, and adopted the Christian name of Alexander in place of his original name, Srul, the Yiddish form of Israel.
Alexander Blank married Anna Johannovna Groschopf, the daughter of a prosperous German father and Swedish mother. In 1847, Alexander attained the civil service rank of State Counsellor, he retired and registered himself as a member of the nobility in Kazan, a major city on the Volga and the centre of Tatar culture in the region. There he bought the estate of Kokushkino.
Here, Anna raised five daughters: Anna, Lyubov, Sofia, Maria (Lenin's mother), and Yekaterina. Anna Groschopf died young, and after her death her sister, Yekaterina von Essen, raised the five daughters. She was an educated woman and it was from her that Lenin's mother acquired her ability to play piano, to sing and to speak German, English and French.
The seriousness of which these studies were undertaken is indicated by the fact that in 1863, Maria was able to pass the examinations which qualified her as a teacher of Russian, French and German.
The manner in which both Ilya and Maria met gives credence to the saying “everything happens for a reason.”
The year after his wife died, Alexander Blank took up the post of inspector of a medical board in Perm and moved there with his family. For a short time he acted as the doctor for the Perm high school, where he befriended its Latin teacher Ivan Dmitrievich Veretennikov, who married his eldest daughter Anna. Veretennikov became inspector at Perm Nobles’ Institute. It was on a visit to her married sister’s home in Perm that Maria Blank met the mathematics teacher at the Institute, Ilya Ulyanov, her future husband.
MOSCOW -- For the first time ever, ordinary Russians can now see documents that appear to confirm long-standing rumors that Vladimir Lenin had Jewish heritage.
In a country long plagued by anti-Semitism, such heritage can be a significant taint, especially for the founder of the Soviet Union who is still revered by many elderly Russians.
Among dozens of newly released documents on display at the State History Museum is a letter written by Lenin's eldest sister, Anna Ulyanova, saying that their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew who converted to Christianity to escape the Pale of Settlement and gain access to higher education.
"He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of (the western Ukrainian city of) Zhitomir," Ulyanova wrote in a 1932 letter to Josef Stalin, who succeeded Lenin after his death in 1924.
"Vladimir Ilych had always thought of Jews highly," she wrote. "I am very sorry that the fact of our origin – which I had suspected before – was not known during his lifetime."
Under czarist rule, most Jews were allowed permanent residence only in a restricted area that became known as the Pale of Settlement which included much of present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, Ukraine and parts of western Russia.
Many Jews joined the Bolsheviks to fight rampant anti-Semitism in czarist Russia and some were among the leaders of the Communist Party when it took power after the 1917 Revolution. Most prominent among them was Leon Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein.
But Lenin, who was born Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov in 1870, identified himself only as Russian. He took Lenin as his nom de guerre in 1901 while in Siberian exile near the Lena River.
A brief period of promotion of Jewish culture that began under Lenin ended in the early 1930s when Stalin orchestrated anti-Semitic purges among Communists and hatched a plan to relocate all Soviet Jews to a region on the Chinese border.
Ulyanova asked Stalin to make Lenin's Jewish heritage known to counter the rise of anti-Semitism. "I hear that in recent years anti-Semitism has been growing stronger again, even among Communists," she wrote. "It would be wrong to hide the fact from the masses."
Stalin ignored the plea and ordered her to "keep absolute silence" about her letter, according to the exhibition's curator, Tatyana Koloskova.
Lenin's official biography, written by his niece Olga Ulyanova, said his family had only Russian, German and Swedish roots.
The letter from Lenin's sister became available to Russian historians in the early 1990s, but its authenticity was fiercely disputed. It was chosen for inclusion in the exhibit by Koloskova, who as director of the State History Museum's branch dedicated to Lenin is one of the most authoritative scholars on his life.
The exhibition in the museum on Red Square, near the mausoleum where Lenin's body still lies, also discloses that he was in such misery after suffering a stroke in 1922 that he asked Stalin to bring him poison.
"He did not incidentally pick Stalin to fulfill this request," Lenin's youngest sister, Maria Ulyanova, wrote in a 1922 diary entry. "He knew Comrade Stalin as a steadfast Bolshevik, straight and devoid of any sentimentality. Who else would dare to end Lenin's life?"
Initially, Stalin promised to help Lenin, but other Politburo members decided to turn down his request, the letter says. Trotsky, whom Stalin forced out of the Soviet Union, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin had poisoned Lenin.
The 111 documents on display, many of them only recently declassified and all of them open to the public for the first time, give surprising insights into top figures of the Soviet Union. Men usually portrayed as stern and fearless are seen as sometimes whimsical, frightened and even despairing.
One of the documents contains a desperate plea that Stalin received in 1934 from an arrested Communist leader, Lev Kamenev, whose real name was Rosenfeld.
"At a time when my soul is filled with nothing but love for the party and its leadership, when, having lived through hesitations and doubts, I can boldly say that I learned to highly trust the Central Committee's every step and every decision you, Comrade Stalin, make," Kamenev wrote. "I have been arrested for my ties to people that are strange and disgusting to me."
Stalin ignored this letter, too, and Kamenev was executed in 1936. A slightly more humorous – but no less macabre – aspect of the exhibition is caricatures drawn by Politburo members.
Nikolai Bukharin, a leading Communist ideologue, depicts Stalin with a giant, exaggerated nose and his trademark pipe. His portrayal of other Communists is also unflattering – one is shown as a White Army officer. The anti-Communist White Army, which was backed by Western powers, unsuccessfully fought Lenin's Red Army in a civil war from 1917-23.
Prominent economist Valery Mezhlauk ridicules Trotsky as a Wandering Jew and depicts a finance minister hanging in an awkward position. In a handwritten note under the latter caricature, Stalin recommends that the minister be hanged by his testicles.
The minister and both cartoonists were arrested and executed in 1938.
All the Best!