That time they took Lenin’s mummified corpse to Tyumen and didn’t tell anyone
28 July, 2015
Regardless of weather and season one can always see the change of guards in front of Lenin’s Mausoleum, accompanied by the Kremlin chimes. This daily ceremony was maintained during the time of The Second World War, except then very few people knew that between 1941and 1945 the “inhabitant” of the Mausoleum was over 2 thousand kilometers away from the capital.
In July 1941, soon after Nazi Germany has attacked the Soviet Union, professor B. Zbarsky was urgently called into Kremlin. Boris Zbarsky (Борис Збaрский, 1885-1954) was a soviet biochemist who played an important role in accomplishing the preservation of Lenin’s body. This time, after years of directing the Mausoleums laboratory, he was presented with a challenge comparable to the initial task of embalming – transport the body from Moscow to Tyumen, which are more than 2 100 km apart, in order to protect it from the dangers of war. On top of that, Zbarsky and a team of scientists had only 24 hours to prepare for the move, and it all had to be done in absolute secrecy.
Of course, the government did not come up with the whole idea overnight – the plan of Lenin’s body evacuation was developed in advance, it was only missing the destination. Zbarsky had some suggestions – cities with universities, where it would be easier to find the proper equipment to maintain the body – for example Sverdlovsk. Tyumen, on the other hand, was chosen exactly for being a small faraway town without any industrial or military facilities, which made it unlikely to become a target for Nazis. Needless to say, this was a big surprise for Zbarsky, whose evacuation plan suddenly had to be urgently modified and executed. But then, it’s not like he had a choice, did he – with the order coming directly from Stalin. Oh well.
Lenin’s body was transported on a special train accompanied by two other trains filled with security staff. For the most part, people who were sending the “precious cargo”, delivering and receiving it did not know what was transported. The body has stayed in Tyumen for almost four years, until March 1945, and all this time Zbarsky, who moved to the town with his family, was taking care of it. Think of that man’s job next time you wanna complain about yours.
This story was a state secret until the 1990s. Even now in the building in Tyumen where Lenin was kept – currently the Tyumen State Agriculture Academy – nothing shows what purpose it has once served.
Oh, and Lenin’s brain has stayed in Moscow the whole time, preserved in paraffin. Don’t ask me why.