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  • Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica October 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    It was a dull weekend and so Beachcombing is going to give himself a pick-me-up this Monday morning with one of his favourite sports – making fun of the Soviet Union. And what better way to do it than with this fabulous photograph of the southern pole of inaccessibility, the point in Antarctica furthest from the sea.

    Beachcombing vaguely remembered references to Soviet scientists setting up base here in 1958 in a vain attempt at polar imperialism: not that the Stars and the Stripes flying on the airless moon made much more sense.

    However, he hadn’t known that this temporary base was re-inhabited by a second Soviet group in 1967, while the decadent west was listening to Sgt Peppers and getting ready to drop out and grow their hair intolerably long.

    Here Beachcombing’s sources aren’t the best, but one of these two groups – probably the 1958 group – also left a bust of Lenin, a little less than a metre high, on top of their station chimney facing towards Moscow.

    Beachcombing loves this almost monotheistic detail: Orthodox Christians are buried facing east, Muslims pray towards Mecca and Lenin has to watch the horizon for the glittering domes of the Kremlin through all eternity.

    In early 2007 a party crossed half of Antarctica on sleigh and was able to see the bust of Lenin from miles off as they made their way towards the southern pole of inaccessibility.

    They reported that the Soviet polar station is now buried under snow. Indeed, Lenin alone, attached to the chimney, reminds any passer-by [sic] of the reach of the Soviet Union in its silver age: ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

    And what is Antarctic Lenin made of, good reader? Marble, granite, alabaster…

    Well, actually plastic.

    Beachcombing has a large blue file on Antarctica but incredibly there are only five or six pages in it. Any other stories would be gratefully received: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    Thanks to Ricardo R for this story that passed Beachcombing and his blue folder by.