"Get Lenin out of the money": the story of one poem.

[11.05.2020 15:53:37]

Lenin's portrait was invariably depicted on Soviet banknotes for over half a century. Calls to remove Lenin's image from the banknotes appeared from time to time, but one day such an offer was particularly loud - in the poem "Get Lenin out of Money" by the young poet Andrey Voznesensky published in 1967. Following the ideas of the futurists, the poet-sixties Voznesensky boldly suggested replacing the portrait of Lenin: the sacred symbol of the Soviet power, in his opinion, should not be "littered" in the gastronomes. Party figures saw in these lines criticism of the Central Committee and the opposition of the party line to Lenin's covenants.

On the Soviet banknotes of 1961 sample for the third time, after the issues of 1937 and 1947,  the portrait of Lenin was placed. In 1967, it first appeared on the Soviet coin - the jubilee ruble, issued to the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. In the same year, the issue of the magazine "The Star of the East" with a poem by Voznesensky caused a scandal on an all-Union scale. A year earlier, there had been an earthquake in Tashkent, and all fees for publications in the magazine should have been for a good cause - to restore the destroyed city and build a new library. However, after the publication of Voznesensky's poem, all editorial staff was dismissed. Here is the text of the  poem :

I do not know how to do it,
But, comrades from the Central Committee,
get Lenin out of the money,
his price is so high!

I understand that money is a measure
of human labor.
But, comrades, how much  disgusting
sticks to them sometimes...

I've seen a scoundrel
littering on Vladimir Ilyich.
Fingers were crawling with little salt.
in his face, in his face!

In the gastronomic grocery store...
he was wheezing, from  vodka:
"Sweetheart, give it to Lenin.
two half-liters and pickles."

Lenin is the purest act,
it shouldn't be clouded.
Get Lenin off the money,
it's for the heart and the signs.

The reaction was immediate, although the poem was reprinted even in the capital's "Literary Russia" and performed from the stage several times. In particular, it was read by Valery Zolotukhin at the Taganka Theater. Chairman of the State Bank of the USSR A.Poskonov sent a complaint to the CPSU Central Committee. He wrote: "These poems, given their highly questionable artistic value by their content are ideologically harmful. Speaking in appearance to defend the greatness of Lenin, the author uses unworthy ambiguous expressions that are insulting to the memory of Lenin. The portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin on money tickets shows people's memory of him as the founder of great transformations and achievements of the Soviet people in building socialism and communism. On money tickets and coins portraits of prominent statesmen, national heroes and figures of science and art are depicted from ancient times in all countries of the world".

The Department of Culture of the Central Committee, however, replied that "there is no reason to treat the poet's lyrical poem as a concrete business proposal for the establishment of new monetary symbols". But the poem was still banned.
In 1970, Joseph Brodsky sarcastically parodied Voznesensky and his call to remove Lenin from the money.

The banknotes that were in circulation in 1967 - state treasury tickets and 1961 USSR State Bank tickets of 1961 - can be seen in the Museum of Money History. The State Bank's tickets in denominations of 10, 25, 50 and 100 rubles have portraits of Lenin.