This Europe: Berlin considers resurrecting Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov

The granite body of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) is lying chopped into 125 pieces in a forest somewhere south-east of Berlin but its exact whereabouts is being kept a close secret by the city's post-Communist rulers.

The pieces are the remains of a 60ft-high statue of the former Soviet leader that dominated the city's grim, tower-block-flanked Lenin Square for 21 years until it was torn down in a fit of ideological cleansing after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Lenin statue's remains have been kept under wraps ever since for fear that souvenir hunters might raid the tomb and sell its parts on the black market.

Had it not been for the runaway success of the film Good bye Lenin!, which is showing to packed houses in Germany, that might have been the end of Berlin's association with the first hero of the Soviet Union. However, the city is now considering resurrecting his statue.

Good bye Lenin!, directed by Wolfgang Becker, takes a nostalgic yet satirical look at the collapse of East Germany. It attracted 3.44 million cinemagoers during the first month of its release, making it one of the most successful German films on record.

A central leitmotiv in the film is the Lenin monument's removal. The statue is first shown at its East Berlin location standing next to a huge Coca-Cola sign - to demonstrate that the Wall has fallen. Then the giant edifice is uprooted and spirited away by helicopter.

The powerful image, a symbol of the West's wilful destruction of East Germany's identity, has sparked a debate in Berlin over whether to restore it to its former position in what is now called United Nations Square.

The controversy spilt on to the pages of Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel last week: "Lenin has been lying in the woods far too long. If we are going to keep him then let's have him standing up and visible to everyone," wrote one reader. Another suggested that the brutality of the system initiated by Lenin, made the proposition morally indefensible.

The idea would have been unthinkable only two years ago, when Berlin was still governed by Christian Democrats with a deep antipathy to Communist relics. With the city now in the hands of the Social Democrats and the heirs to the former East German Communist Party, the Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS), Berlin's Communist past has become more fashionable.

Wolfgang Brauer, the PDS cultural spokesman, has said his party will consider resurrecting the statue, although he has admittedpersonal reservations. "Putting the statue back is worth thinking about," he said, "But it would reflect reality better if it stood next to a Coca-Cola advert, like in the film."

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