A long-buried 3.5-ton head of Russian communist icon Vladimir Lenin has been unearthed from its burial place in a Berlin forest to be featured in a new exhibit on German sculptures, decades after Berlin’s residents toppled the statue following the fall of the Cold War.
The Local reports of the years-long search to find bits of the statue, which once graced communist East Berlin and became a casualty of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The head alone is five feet long; the rest of Lenin’s body has long been destroyed, broken into as many as 120 parts to take it down on orders of the then-mayor of Berlin. The Local notes that this particular Lenin statue rose over East Berlin in 1970 to commemorate Lenin’s 100th birthday and stood for 31 years before finally being toppled in 1991.
Lenin’s return to Berlin will be a part of an exhibition called “Unveiled: Berlin and its Monuments,” which seeks to provide a space for Germans to revisit old statues, monuments, and other historical sculptures that have fallen out of the spotlight or have been removed from their original locations of display. Organizers have worked for more than a year to find the Lenin statue head, noting that, while controversial, Lenin was a part of the history of East Berlin.
“Lenin was always set to be part of the exhibition because it’s a special statue, given its size alone,” Andrea Theissen, curator of the Citadel Spandau, which is hosting the exhibition, reportedly said.
The statue’s head was found years ago by American Rick Minnich, who used it in a YouTube mockumentary. Officials had declared it too expensive to find the statue with no leads until Minnich heard of the attempts to rescue it and helped lead Berlin officials to its resting place. He explains that the head was eventually buried after people began chopping pieces off to take home as souvenirs.
Lenin, the mind behind the rise of the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union, became the subject of hundreds of statues across Eastern Europe while the Soviet empire existed. The fall of the USSR brought with it the toppling of many of these statues, as Lenin often called for mass violence in the name of communist revolution, writing that “more blood, as much as possible,” was necessary to purge societies of the working middle class.
The Berlin rescue of Lenin’s head bulks the trend of destruction that has befallen Lenin’s likeness. Most recently, Lenin statues in Ukraine have become popular targets following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of that country. In 2014, photos and videos began surfacing throughout Ukraine of crowds destroying statues of Lenin, both in newly re-colonized East Ukraine and the free west. Lithuania followed suit, taking down its last Soviet-era statues this year.
In the one place where a Lenin statue arose again, Estonia, a comical neon green Lenin depicted urinating replaced a large, imposing statue of the communist thinker from the Soviet era.