The embalmed body of Joseph Stalin spent seven years in the Mausoleum alongside Lenin. However, in the midst of de-Stalinization, on October 31, 1961, it was decided to bury him under the Moscow Kremlin wall.
This wasn’t a pompous and grim ceremony that involved blocking entire streets of Moscow. The decision was made quickly, in just one day, and then arranged as “the request of the workers”. In the morning of the same day, a hole in the ground near the Kremlin wall was dug up, immediately concealed from the eyes of passersby with plywood.
The body was taken out during the night (they were afraid there would be riots). First, it was taken to the laboratory under the Mausoleum, then out of the building. About 30 of the most loyal (and silent) KGB officers and military personnel participated in the operation. Stalin’s relatives were not invited. “It was carried [the casket with the body] not even horizontally, but at a 45-degree angle. It seemed he was about to open his eyes and ask: ‘What are you, bastards, doing to me?’,” Alexander Shelepin, the impressionable head of the KGB, remembered.
All of Stalin’s medals and awards were taken off his french and even golden buttons and shoulder straps were removed. His body was put in a wooden coffin, the lid was secured with nails and the grave was covered by a concrete slab. Stalin is the only man who was buried at the Kremlin wall without a memorial service, an orchestra or fireworks.
Why did it happen on Halloween? A coincidence, no more than that. However, a day before, the so-called ‘Tsar Bomba’ was tested on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever designed. So, the following day, newspaper headlines were dedicated to this bomb and the re-burial of Stalin went almost undetected.
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