Accounts of the early process of preserving Lenin’s body – which was initially done for a short while so that more of the hundreds of thousands of people could pay their respects – usually speak of the duplicate ‘refrigeration’ units constructed. What they fail to note is that in the bitter Moscow winter weather of early 1924, the temperature hovered around minus 40 degrees Celsius. So the purpose of those units was to keep his body warm. It would not do for Vladimir to turn into a frozen block.

It’s a bit like the function of fridges on cold nights: the idea is to keep the stuff in there warm enough to eat. I remember when I was a child, living in country Australia. On cold winter mornings, I would put my hands in the fridge for a minute or two to warm them up.

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