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"So that's what you're like, Grandpa Lenin!"

 

For many years Lenin (1870-1924), the revered leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917, had remained an "untouchable" subject for joke-tellers. Most of the jokes about him were told in retrospect, after Nikita Khrushchev condemned Stalin's crimes and the cult of personality around him and declared the need to cleanse Leninism of Stalinist distortions.

But the real proliferation of jokes about Lenin did not begin until  Brezhnev's time and coincided with the marking of the one hundred anniversary of Lenin's birth in 1970. To a great extent, the jokes reflected the revulsion many people felt toward the overdose of the Lenin propaganda and the desire to debunk the one-dimensional sugary image of Lenin created by countless films produced to mark his jubilee.   

The jokes about Lenin typically made fun of the features of his character popularized by propaganda: kindness, love of children (Lenin never had children of his own), sharing nature, kind eyes, etc. Accordingly, the jokes often debunk the myth of Lenin as a kindly man presenting him as sneaky and hypocritical. Lenin jokes also make fun of his accent: the joke-teller would take care to imitate his characteristic pronunciation.

A popular joke set-up is Lenin interacting with the head of the secret police, Dzerzhinsky in the Smolny Institute, seat of the revolutionary communist government in Petrograd, or with khodoki, peasants that came to see Lenin.

 
During the famine of the civil war, a delegation of starving peasants comes to the Smolny, wishing to file a petition.
"We have even started eating the grass like horses," says one peasant.
"Soon we will start neighing like horses!"
"Come on! Don't worry!" says Lenin reassuringly. "We are drinking tea with honey here, and we are not buzzing like bees, are we?"
 

 
  (Concerning the omnipresent Lenin propaganda and the cult of personality that was built up around him.)

A station announcement in Moscow underground: 'This is Lenin station. Proceed to Lenin line and line of Lenin. Cross over to Lenin line. Next station is Lenin station.'

 

 
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