Once Buried in a Sandpit, Head of Lenin Statue to Go on View at Berlin Museum

The head was finally exhumed after lengthy bureaucratic delays. Photo: W Kumm via Deutsche Welle

Workers in Berlin have exhumed the head of a 62-foot granite sculpture of Vladimir Lenin that was buried in a sandpit 24 years ago.

The complete Lenin statue, built by Soviet artist Nikolai Tomski, once stood in East Berlin, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification, the communist monument was broken into over 100 pieces and buried in a forest on the outskirts of the city.

The head is due to go on display this month in an exhibition about the city’s monuments at the Spandau Citadel Museum.

According to the Telegraph, the recovery of the show’s centerpiece was the culmination of months of arduous research and negotiations, as organizers learned that when Germany confronts its post-World War II divide, nothing is easy or straightforward.

Before its destruction and burial the statue stood in East Berlin. Photo: AFP via the Telegraph

Before its destruction and burial, the statue stood in East Berlin.
Photo: AFP via the Telegraph

“We had assumed people would see the story with different eyes after all this time,” Andrea Theissen, the Spandau Citadel Museum curator told Deutsche Welle. “But it was not as simple as we expected.”

The first challenge was finding the statue. City officials had no record of the monument’s exact location. Fortunately, American filmmaker Rick Minnich, who filmed the head before its burial in 1991, was able to pinpoint its exact spot.

But after the head’s location had been determined, city officials refused to issue an excavation permit due to the high costs. And when the museum finally convinced local politicians to allow the exhumation, there was another unexpected difficulty.

The symbol of East Germany was buried after the fall of the collapse of communism.  Photo: Peter Turnley / CORBIS via NBC News

The symbol of East Germany was buried after the fall of the collapse of communism.
Photo: Peter Turnley / CORBIS via NBC News

After 24 years, the sandy patch over the buried statue had become a breeding ground for endangered lizards.

The museum and conservationists agreed on a compromise whereby the lizards would be transferred but only after the reptiles awoke from their hibernation.

Now that the head has been successfully dug up, the city can perhaps look at this chapter of its past directly in the eye.

Related stories:

Patriotic Ukrainians Tear Down Lenin Statue

Russian Teens Increase Lenin’s Appeal One Selfie at a Time

New Polish Fountain Portrays a Peeing Vladimir Lenin


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