For the past few years, medical experts have gathered at the University of Maryland to discuss the deaths of famous figures, such as Florence Nightingale, Alexander the Great, and Mozart.This year, the aim was to understand what had happened to Vladimir Lenin, the father of Communism in Russia, and two attendees, Dr. Harry Vinters, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Lev Lurie, a Russian historian in St. Petersburg, Russia, think they’ve cracked it.
The pair told Gina Kolata of the New York Times that Lenin’s premature death at the age of 53 was probably caused by a lethal combination of family medical history — and perhaps poison from a once-trusted ally.
Lenin had already suffered three debilitating strokes before the fatal one in January 1924, despite his young age. At the time, Syphilis was one of the diagnoses put forth, but, crucially, tests came back negative. Dr. Vinters argues that like his siblings and father, Lenin had a tendency to develop high cholesterol, which could have caused the strokes. Stress on the job only made matters worse, the AP says.
But the cause of the seizures he suffered hours before his death is much less complicated: may have been poisoned by his rival, Joseph Stalin. Lenin had apparently begun planning a political attack on Stalin — and Stalin knew it. Lurie says that Stalin sent a top-secret note to the Politburo in 1923 claiming that Lenin himself asked to be put out of his misery, but later said he couldn’t go through with it — apparently both lies.
Unfortunately, no toxicology tests were ever performed on Lenin — so we’ll never know…
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