Death and state funeral of Joseph Stalin

Stalin's Funeral
Stalin's funeral procession on Okhotny Ryad.jpg
Stalin's funeral procession on Okhotny Ryad [ru].
Date9 March 1953
LocationRed Square, Moscow, Soviet Union
ParticipantsNikita Khrushchev, Georgy Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lavrentiy Beria and other Soviet and foreign dignitaries

Joseph Stalin, the second leader of the Soviet Union, died on 5 March 1953 at the Kuntsevo Dacha aged 74 after suffering a stroke. After four days of national mourning, Stalin was given a state funeral and then buried in Lenin's Mausoleum on 9 March. Nikita Khrushchev, Georgy Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov and Lavrentiy Beria were in charge of organizing the funeral.

Illness and death

Stalin's health deteriorated towards the end of World War II. He suffered from atherosclerosis from his heavy smoking, a mild stroke around the time of the Victory Parade, and a severe heart attack in October 1945.[1]

In the early morning hours of 1 March 1953, after an all-night dinner and a movie, Stalin arrived at his Kuntsevo residence and went to his bedroom to rest. The next day, he did not emerge from bed.[2] Although his guards thought that it was strange not to see him awake at his usual time, they were strictly instructed not to bother him and left him alone the entire day. At around 10 p.m., he was discovered by Peter Lozgachev, the Deputy Commandant of Kuntsevo, who entered his bedroom to check on him and recalled the scene of Stalin's lying on his back on the floor of his room beside his bed, wearing pyjama bottoms and an undershirt, his clothes soaked in stale urine. A frightened Lozgachev asked Stalin what happened to him, but all he could get out of him was unintelligible responses that sounded like "Dzhhhhh." Lozgachev used the bedroom telephone to frantically call a few party officials; he told them that Stalin may have had a stroke and asked them to send good doctors to the Kuntsevo residence immediately.[3][4] Lavrentiy Beria was informed and arrived a few hours afterwards. The doctors arrived in the early morning of 2 March when they changed Stalin's bedclothes and tended to him. They diagnosed him with a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), with stomach hemorrhage facilitating.[5] He was treated in his dacha with leeches, as was customary at the time.[6] On 3 March, his double Felix Dadaev was recalled from vacation to Moscow "to be ready to stand in for Stalin if needed", which was never needed. On 4 March, Stalin's illness was covered in the media in surprising detail such as pulse, blood pressure and urinalysis; for convenience the time of his stroke was said to be 2 March and his location as Moscow. The bedridden Stalin died on 5 March, at 21:50 EET. According to his daughter Svetlana, it had been "a difficult and terrible death".[7] An autopsy revealed that he had died of a cerebral haemorrhage and that he also suffered from severe damage to his cerebral arteries due to atherosclerosis. It is possible that Stalin was murdered.[8] Beria has been suspected of murder, although no firm evidence has ever appeared.[9]