Images from Lenin's Brain by Paul Gregory

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Site of Katyn massacre, located in the vicinity of Smolensk.In a forty-day period beginning April 3, 1940, special troops of the Soviet NKVD under the command of “commissar general” Lavrenty Beria systematically executed some twenty-two thousand Poles who had been held in occupied territory and in the western provinces of Belorussia and Ukraine. Of those, 4,421 were shot in the Katyn forest, a short distance from the city of Smolensk. Jan Karski Collection, photographs, envelope S, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
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Stalin with hunting comrades. Nestor Apollonovich Lakoba Collection, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Sketch of Lenin showing his prominent forehead, presumably a sign of genius
Sketch of Lenin showing his prominent forehead, presumably a sign of genius. The Brain Institute had done thorough work (153 pages, fifteen albums, and 30,953 brain slices) comparing Lenin’s brain with the brains of ten “average people” and with the brains of leading figures. Its comparative analysis with the brains of prominent persons showed that Lenin had large pyramidal cells in the third layer of the cerebral cortex: renowned German scientist, Oskar Vogt's initial finding and his “proof” of Lenin’s genius. Artsybushev, IU. K. “Diktatura proletariata” v Rossii. Nabroski's natury IU. K. Artsybusheva. Politicheskie dieiatelina zasiedlniiakh Sovietov rab., sold. i krest. deputatov, Uchreditel’nago sobraniia, krest’ianskikh s”iezdov i proch. V dekabrie 1917 i v ianvarie 1918 gg. Moskva: Izd. T-va I. Knebel, [1918?], Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Painting by Vladimirov of a former person
The language of Bolshevism also refers to “former people” (byvshie liudi), who, through their offenses against the state, are no longer be regarded as human beings. Among the ranks such “former people” were supporters of the old regime, religious persons, merchants, landowners, members of banned political parties, rich peasants, professors, teachers, and persons who had traveled abroad or who had relatives abroad. Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov Collection, Box 3, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Photograph of Yakov Dzhugashvili (Stalin’s son) in German captivity
Yakov Dzhugashvili (Stalin’s son) in German captivity. At war’s end, POW Yakov Dzhugashvili's fate remained unclear, although there were rumors that he had been sent to a concentration camp and died there. But surely the Nazis would have wanted to keep such a high-profile captive alive, even if his father had refused offers of an exchange. World War II Pictorial Collection, Envelope FO, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Photograph of poet Anna Akhmatova and family, including repressed son (Lev) as a boy.
Photograph of poet Anna Akhmatova and family, including repressed son (Lev) as a boy. Gleb Struve Collection, Envelope F, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem (English translation), describing her efforts to learn the fate of her repressed son.
Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem (English translation), describing her efforts to learn the fate of her repressed son. Akhmatova, Anna. The Akhmatova Journals, volume I, 1938–41. Edited by Lydia Chukovskaya; poetry translated by Peter Norman. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994.
Poster of Lenin sweeping away marginals and former people, entitled “Lenin purges the land of the unclean.”
What began as an operation against “non- communist” physicians broadened into a general witch hunt against intellectuals and professionals. Deni, V. N. “Tov. Lenin ochishchaet zemliu ot nechisti,” poster, Hoover Institution Library and Archives (reprint, original poster, 1920).
Poster of Stalin with a happy group of collective farmers (many of whom were punished for petty thefts from the fields under his anti-theft campaigns).
The 1937 anti-theft law was draconian, and Stalin’s criminal justice system defeated local pressures for leniency by making the mandatory sentences unequivocal, by monitoring judges and prosecutors (even punishing soft justice officials), and by making nonreporting a crime in itself. Poster identification number RU/SU 1898, Poster Collection, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Handwritten document with Politburo Member signatures of authorization of Afghan war.
Handwritten document with Politburo members' signatures authorizating the Afghan war. The Politburo was composed of fifteen members, but the decision was made, presumably in the strictest of secrecy, by only six of them, including, of course, Party general secretary Brezhnev. Not until the day before the invasion was the plan to invade presented to the full Politburo (on December 26, 1979). Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
Photographic portrait of the “Great and Generous Leader,” Joseph Stalin.
Photographic portrait of the “Great and Generous Leader,” Joseph Stalin. Noe Herrera Collection, Box 1, Hoover Institution Library and Archives.