On August 30, 1918, the leader of the Russian revolution and the head of the Soviet government, Vladimir Lenin, was severely wounded in a failed assassination attempt.
After making a speech at a workers rally in Moscow, the Soviet leader was proceeding to his car when a woman fired three pistol shots at close range, hitting Lenin with two of them. By the time he was brought back to the Kremlin, he appeared to be close to death, but survived despite his injuries. As a result of the assassination attempt, Lenin was sick for the rest of his life and probably died several years earlier than he otherwise would have.
The woman shooter was immediately captured by angry workers who witnessed the event. Her name was Fanny Kaplan, a young member of the Socialist Revolutionary party. Kaplan became a political revolutionary at an early age. In 1906, she took part in a plot to kill a Tsarist official but she was caught, and sentenced to spend the rest of her life in a Siberian hard labor camp.
Kaplan was released in 1917, after the February Revolution forced Tsar Nicholas II to hand over his power to the Provisional Government. She had served eleven years of hard labor and lost her eyesight, which was later partially restored.
In a statement following her arrest she explained that she had attempted to kill Lenin because he had closed down the Constituent Assembly and considered him “a traitor to the revolution” and that “his continued existence will destroy the belief in socialism." She was executed in a yard of the Moscow Kremlin several days later. Then petrol was poured over her body and it was set on fire.
Following this event, the Bolsheviks released a decree launching a wave of bloody persecutions known as the Red Terror against Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. According to this decree “terror was absolutely essential” and that it was necessary to “shield the Soviet Republic from its class enemies by means of isolating them”. All those involved, or suspected to be involved, with the White Guard organization, conspiracies and uprisings were executed.
In 1922, a small memorial stone for a future monument to Lenin was placed near the scene of the shooting. Nowadays, a large monument to Lenin stands nearby, and the memorial stone has remained in place. Many jokingly call this stone a monument to Fanny Kaplan, the woman who could have changed the world had she been a better shooter.