Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, April 16, 2017

100 Years Ago Today: Lenin Arrives at Finland Station

On 16 April 16 1917 Vladimir Lenin returned to Petrograd (now, again, St. Petersburg) from exile after the tsar’s abdication. Lenin had departed Zurich, his latest place of exile, a week earlier and with the help of the German government and army, made his way back to Russia in the now famous "sealed train."

Lenin's Favorite Haunt in Zurich

He was met by his followers at Finland Station and climbed onto an armored car where he made his famous impassioned speech. With searchlights pointed at him and his followers standing to attention Lenin pronounced on his arrival:

“I greet you without knowing yet whether or not you have believed in all the promises of the Provisional Government. But I am convinced that when they talk to you sweetly, when they promise you a lot, they are deceiving you and the whole Russian people. The people need peace; the people need bread; the people need land. And they give you war, hunger, no bread—leave the landlords still on the land...We must fight for the social revolution, fight to the end, until the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the worldwide socialist revolution!"

This was probably the most important moment in Lenin’s career, after which he took into his own hands the direction of the revolution.

By the time Lenin returned to his homeland the government had been weakened. Russia’s involvement in World War One led to the February Revolution. Tsar Nicholas II was eventually forced to hand over his power to the Provisional Government. Almost immediately after his arrival, Lenin published the April Theses, in which he argued that the Bolshevik Party must fight to overthrow the Provisional Government. Lenin’s objective was to seize power by force and he demanded for an armed uprising.

He was successful in convincing the Bolshevik Party. In October that same year, armed workers and soldiers stormed the headquarters of the Provisional Government, arresting its members. This became known as the October Revolution. Lenin came to power as the head of the new Soviet government and became the leader of the USSR in 1922 and ruled until his death in 1924.

In memory of the speech he made on this day, a statue outside Finland Station was erected in 1926 depicting him in the midst of his address. The monument that became one of the most famous statues of Lenin was bombed by vandals on 1 April 2009, leaving a huge hole in the lower part of Lenin’s bronze coat. No one was hurt in the blast, and it is not known who was responsible. 

Source: Content from Russiapedia, Photos by Steve Miller


  1. A young Patrick Stewart brought Lenin to life in the 1974 British series The Fall of Eagles, still a favorite of mine. Barry Foster chewed the scenery as an increasingly eccentric Kaiser Wilhelm and Kurt Juergens played Bismarck exactly as you can imagine.

    1. Thanks Diane for your input; I ordered this dvd.

    2. FYI, the series is pretty epic in scope, begins in late 19th century and goes forward from there.

  2. Would the Provisional have survived, or developed into something more durable, had Lenin not successfully destroyed it?

    1. An interesting historical what if. If the Germans had crystal balls and saw what wouold become of their neigbor to the east I think they would have kept Lenin under wraps in Switzerland.

    2. Depends on their timeframe. If you look in a 5 year stretch, Lenin did succeed in taking the former Russian empire out of the way, handing the Germans a spectacular and badly needed victory.
      Looking ahead 30 years... a different picture.

  3. Edmund c c genet of the Lafayette escadrille was killed 100 years ago today

  4. Wow this must be a highlighted day in the calendars of history, Vladimir Lenin, what an amazingly strong personality, love reading about history keep writing and sharing!