De Minnares van Lenin: Inessa Armand
Armand's work was instrumental in the Bolsheviks' feminist achievements reforms on marriage, divorce, education, employment and abortion which were far in advance of any capitalist country at that time. She dedicated herself to Bolshevik attempts to socialise housework and child-raising by organising communal dining, laundry and child care to ease women's double burden of paid and domestic labour.
The effects of Armand's 16-hour working day and tuberculosis had exhausted her, however. A solicitous Lenin, shrugging off her support for the "left-wing" Communists who opposed his practical survival measures for the revolution, persuaded Armand to holiday at a spa town in the Caucasus in the south of Russia where she died in 1920, a victim of cholera.
At her funeral, Lenin was emotionally distraught, "unrecognisable, plunged in despair". His immense grief was evidence, to all those Bolsheviks who had gossiped about Lenin and Armand, that they had indeed been lovers. Perhaps Lenin blamed himself for the decision to send her south, and, as it turned out, put her in harm's way. Perhaps Lenin blamed himself for breaking off their relationship seven years earlier. He certainly felt an overwhelming personal loss, as the demands of revolution, and Lenin's marriage, had conspired to deny them a happiness they could not physically share.