WI: Fanny Kaplan Doesn't Shoot Lenin

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today.
CountLimbourg
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WI: Fanny Kaplan Doesn't Shoot Lenin

Post by CountLimbourg » 22 Jul 2019 02:41

August 30, 1918. Czar Nicholas II has been dead for six weeks. His former empire is awash in a state of civil war between the Bolshevik Red Army struggling to hold on to the shrinking Russian industrial heartland, while the Allied-backed White Movement advances.


On this day, Communist leader Vladimir Lenin visits Moscow’s Hammer-and-Sickle Munitions Plant to give a speech to raise the morale to the staff. Also there is former Social Revolutionary Fanny Kaplan. Since the October Revolution the previous year, it has become clearer and clearer to her associates that Lenin’s cry of “All power to the Soviets” really means “All power to the Bolshevik Party”. From shutting down the Constituent Assembly when his ticket didn’t win a majority to the failed Left-SR Uprising the previous month, the Simbirsk-born radical was, to her, an enemy of the Russian Revolution.


As the Bolshevik leader returns to the car that brought him to the factory, Kaplan makes her move. In her pocket is a Browning pistol. She charges toward him, but is a little slow on the draw. It’s enough time for a factory worker to come between her and Lenin. He tackles the SR activist, whose gun fires a single bullet into the man, killing him.


Kaplan is immediately arrested and interrogated by the Cheka. She is killed by a bullet to the head three days later. The man who saved Lenin’s life, identified as Sergei Vladimirovich Braskinev, is commemorated in years to come as a martyr by the Soviet government.


This is the stage set: a world in which Fanny Kaplan’s botched assassination of Lenin is even less successful than in OTL. From my studies of the man’s life and early Soviet history, I’ve been able to amass several ideas of what most likely would happen, based on my own insight, and accrue a number of questions to go alongside them.


1. Lenin lives longer.


In OTL, Kaplan shot at Lenin three times: one bullet passed through his coat, one punctured a lung, and one was lodged in his throat. Even though the man survived, historians agree that the wounds accelerated his decline in health, eventually forcing him to retire from the Party in 1922 and finally die early in 1924. This factor is thrown out of the picture now that not a single bullet hits him.


· Recently it was discovered that Lenin had syphilis. He was also known to have poor sleeping habits, too. What effect would this have had on his longevity?


2. The New Economic Policy continues.


After two revolutions the same year and a civil war that followed, the ruble had been devalued to the point of uselessness. Many Communists at the time argued that money was, indeed, useless in a socialist society and had a bartering system called War Communism set up. It proved to be unsustainable, causing riots in places like the Tambov region and the Volga Famine of 1921-22, in which 5,000,000 died from hunger. While Lenin used the latter to confiscate church property, the American Relief Administration was feeding millions of Russians in the area a day; Lenin would accuse the Americans of spying on them and attempting to foment anti-Communist sentiment. In response, War Communism was replaced with the New Economic Policy: a form of state capitalism serving as a “temporary retreat” in order to allow the economy to recover. The NEP allowed for private businesses to be formed and attracted badly-needed foreign money to the country. In OTL, the NEP would eventually be replaced by Stalin’s first Five-Year Plans. In 1932-33, this push to overhaul Soviet agriculture and industry would result in the Holodomor in Ukraine, an artificial famine with a death toll double that of 1921-22. With a healthier Lenin still in power after 1924, the NEP would continue.


· If the small-scale capitalism of NEP continues and one could own a small business until it grew big enough for the government to take control of, what incentives could be used for NEPmen to give up their businesses? Would a sort of rebellion among NEPmen be possible?

· Considering that the NEP was intended as a breathing spell before the next phase of the revolution, how long would this “temporary fix” be in effect for? Until the Great Depression, perhaps? It could be seen that Black Tuesday would be used by this alternate Lenin as proof that capitalism was dead and suspend NEP?


3. Stalin is removed from the CPSU


In OTL, following Lenin’s retirement from the Party in 1922, a triumvirate consisting of Lev Kamenev, Grigoriy Zinoviev, and Joseph Stalin was formed to replace him. The people, meanwhile, viewed Red Army founder Leon Trotsky as the ideal successor to Lenin. Few suspected the boring "Comrade Card-Index" to amount to go anywhere, but through brilliant planning, Stalin outmaneuvered his rivals and emerge as the unquestioned leader of the USSR by at least 1927. What followed was a personality cult the likes of which the world had never seen, purges of the Party and the military (which almost led to Soviet defeat during Operation Barbarossa), and a push to modernize Soviet industry and agriculture. Lenin, toward the end of his life, didn’t like Stalin and actually tried to get him kicked out of the Party, a fact that wasn’t made public to the USSR until the Khrushchev era. In this reality, Stalin does get sacked.


· What would happen to Stalin if he is removed? What about his OTL cronies like Molotov and Beria? Bear in mind that at the Tenth Party Congress, in OTL, Lenin announced a ban on all official opposition groups within the Communist Party, slashing membership to about 50% and rendering the remainder subservient to the decisions of the central committee. Is it too much of a stretch to say that a saner, small-scale purge of some kind could occur?

· Would there still be a push to industrialize the USSR, though not to the same extent? The Five-Year Plans were believed, by some to have been originally Trotsky’s idea before being stolen by Stalin. George Orwell seemed to hold to his theory with Snowball versus Napoleon over the windmill in Animal Farm. If NEP were to be thrown out after the Crash of 1929 (see above), would that replace it?


(And since we’re on the subject of Stalin…)


4. No “Socialism In One Country”


Karl Marx predicted that the Revolution would have started in a heavily-industrialized country like France or Britain, discarding agrarian Russia as having any merit in that regard. Lenin argued that peasants counted as the proletariat, too, a move that contemporary Communists scoffed at. After the Revolution of 1905, though, Lenin was convinced that a socialist revolution could occur in Russia under the right circumstances; he would go on to describe 1905 as a “dress rehearsal” for his putsch in November 1917. It seemed as if something was about to happen. In addition to the turmoil in 1917 Russia, the Irish rebelled against the British the year before and half the French army had mutinied that April. After he took over Russia, Lenin sought to spread socialism around the world. His government backed the Finnish Red Guards in their civil war, attempted to conquer Poland, and set up a satellite nation in Mongolia. In 1919, he’d founded the terrorist organization Third International, or Comintern, with the goal of spreading Communist revolution across the globe and establishing the worldwide Communist state Marx envisioned. All of this was turned on its head in OTL by Stalin’s “Socialism In One Country” doctrine, stressing that socialism should be consolidated within Soviet borders and foreign nations would follow based on their example. Nothing much happened, and the chief gains to the Second World occurred through the aftermath of World War II. With Lenin around longer, the stance of “Perpetual Revolution” would be retained.


· How would a prolonged Lenin administration affect Soviet attempts to foment revolution outside Russia? Let’s say that he wanted to take advantage of the post-WWI economic hardship in Germany. Would instigating a civil war or revolution be possible? It could potentially lead to an early rise of Hitler, considering he used "Jew-Bolshevism" as the boogeyman to promote the bulk of the Nazi agenda. The question of a Polish victory occurring as it had in OTL leads me to question the validity of such an idea over land, but by ship through the Baltic is also a possibility.

· What effects would it have on relations between the USSR and foreign nations if they kept doing this?

paulrward
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Re: WI: Fanny Kaplan Doesn't Shoot Lenin

Post by paulrward » 22 Jul 2019 04:59

Hello All :

Mr. CountLimbourge posted :
Recently it was discovered that Lenin had syphilis. He was also known to have poor sleeping habits, too. What effect would this have had on his longevity?
By the end of WW1, the use of Neo-Salvarsan ( the developed form of Salvarsan or 606 ), the organoarsenide anti-syphilitic, in combination with Mercuric Sulfides, was becoming very wide spread, and could effect a cure in the vast majority of cases, and, when properly administered, could even to some extent reverse some of the psycho-neurological symptoms of tertiary syphilitic infections.
In addition, by the early 1920s, the newer form of Silver-Salvarsan was available, and would have allowed treatment with fewer side
effects.

Had Lenin continued in good health, it is likely that he would have been attended by physicians who would have recognized his symptoms, and performed the appropriate treatment protocols, resulting in a cure of Lenin's infection.

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward


Addendum : It turns out that Lenin was in fact treated with Salvarsan, which, if it was administered properly, probably means that his death from cerbral arterial disease was the result of damage caused prior to his treatment. So, even if he had not been shot, he might still have died a premature death in the 1922-1926 timeframe.

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Lars
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Re: WI: Fanny Kaplan Doesn't Shoot Lenin

Post by Lars » 25 Jul 2019 08:34

We have tried Socialism for 101 years and it almost always ends in poverty, mass-surveillance of the citizens (KGB, Stasi, etc.), all the power of the state in the hands of the few (i.e. no independent courts), and destruction of mutual trust among citizens as a result of citizens spying on each other.

We ran a 1:1 test in real time twice in the last century. We took one part of a nation and gave it a capitalist system and the other part a socialist system. In the case of Germany, the GDR was 4 times poorer in 1989 than West Germany, the GDR had a wall and Stasi, West Germany none of these. In the case of Korea, North Korea is now 14 times poorer than South Korea, the surveillance is oppressive and for all intents and purposes the country is an open air prison.

This DESPITE both parts of the country having the same climate, culture, language, geography, you name it. By far the most important determinant of how a country fares is whether it has a capitalist system or not. No matter what Jared Diamond tries to tell you.

So unless USSR goes the Chinese way it will not go well in the long run. However, the main point for me is how scary Lenin's USSR will look for to German elites in the early 1930s. I know this is controversial, but the only thing that tipped the scales in the end for Hitler was the German elite’s scare of the German Communists. So will the German Communists be more or less scary for the German elites with Lenin at the helm in Moscow, thereby ensuring that Hitler gets elected? I think so.

If they do elect Hitler then the USSR is toast. Stalin was incredibly brutal, but I also think that he was a more effective modernizer than Lenin. Especially when it comes to a ruthless drive for the built up of a large mechanized army and air force.

So, with Lenin at the helm on the 22nd June 1941 USSR will crumble.

This is all else equal until 22nd June 1941. All else will not be equal of course. There are soo many variables that is boggles the mind. What I'm trying to say is:

1/ Hitler could still get elected with Lenin at power in Moscow in 1933.
2/ Lenin's USSR will be less up to the task of defeating Germany if Germany invades on 22nd June 1941 with its OTL allies and with OTL borders.

James A Pratt III
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Re: WI: Fanny Kaplan Doesn't Shoot Lenin

Post by James A Pratt III » 13 Aug 2019 22:43

Lenin would not have been stupid enough to purge his military right before WW II. He also would not have been stupid enough to sign a non-agression pact with Hitler like Stalin did. No Molotov-Ribbentrop pact might mean no WW II and no Soviet Oil food ect means Hitler is going to have problems finding the things he needs to fight his war.

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Lars
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Re: WI: Fanny Kaplan Doesn't Shoot Lenin

Post by Lars » 14 Aug 2019 05:08

Only in hindsigt was the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact a mistake. At the time it look very smart.

Stalin got all he wanted in Eastern Europe and he had propped up the weaker part in the Capitalists fight (Germany) ensuring that they would bleed each other to death WWI style.

Post war the USSR could "liberate" the opressed proletariat of the West with ease complete with gulags, NKVD, etc. This was Stalin's thinking and it was quite reasonable. Hard to fault him.

It sure looked like a master stroke in August 1939 and perhaps Lenin was incapable at that. Lenin might have been too ideological.

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