Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924), born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, was a Russian revolutionary and leader of the Soviet Union (later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) until 1924. Lenin seized power during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, following the ousting of Russia’s tsar. He soon began negotiating peace with Germany, which was achieved with the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The same year, Lenin led the Bolsheviks in becoming the Russian Communist Party. At the same time, deposed leaders of the imperialist government were forming forces to oppose revolutionary leadership. Lenin formed the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army to combat the threat, leading to three years of civil war. Though the Red Army quashed opposition forces, agricultural and industrial declines caused by war policies created unrest in the country. Lenin began looking toward silencing dissent and transforming Soviet communism. In 1922, however, he was incapacitated by a series of strokes. Before his death, he dictated his “Testament” declaring regrets about the past, and fears for the future, of Soviet Communism. In particular, he condemned the dictatorial behavior of Joseph Stalin, the Communist Party’s general secretary who would succeed Lenin after his death in January 1924.

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