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Falling Down: The Last Lenins Of Ukraine

A project to find and photograph Ukraine's toppled Lenin statues has gained new relevance as America tears down its own monuments to a divisive past. Photos by: Niels Ackermann / Lundi13.
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When media outlets recently reported that Ukraine's last Lenin statue had been removed as part of Ukraine's decommunization drive, photographer Niels Ackermann was skeptical of the timing. "There had actually been announcements in December [2016] that the last Lenin statue had been removed, so I think they published this news now to connect it to what's happening in the U.S."
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When media outlets recently reported that Ukraine's last Lenin statue had been removed as part of Ukraine's decommunization drive, photographer Niels Ackermann was skeptical of the timing. "There had actually been announcements in December [2016] that the last Lenin statue had been removed, so I think they published this news now to connect it to what's happening in the U.S."

Swiss photographer Niels Ackermann (right) with French journalist Sebastien Gobert. For their book, Looking For Lenin, the pair hunted down and photographed the remains of Ukraine's toppled Lenin statues. The book was published this year to coincide with the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, but unexpectedly has taken on new relevance amid debate in the United States over Civil War monuments. 
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Swiss photographer Niels Ackermann (right) with French journalist Sebastien Gobert. For their book, Looking For Lenin, the pair hunted down and photographed the remains of Ukraine's toppled Lenin statues. The book was published this year to coincide with the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, but unexpectedly has taken on new relevance amid debate in the United States over Civil War monuments. 

A dissected Lenin in eastern Ukraine After his experiences documenting the fallen Lenin monuments of Ukraine, Ackermann has followed news about Confederate statues in the U.S. closely. "These monuments are a bit like scars -- when you have a bike accident and you get a big scar on your leg, you can't pretend it didn't happen. You look at it every day and remember that you weren't careful on your bike."
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A dissected Lenin in eastern Ukraine

After his experiences documenting the fallen Lenin monuments of Ukraine, Ackermann has followed news about Confederate statues in the U.S. closely. "These monuments are a bit like scars -- when you have a bike accident and you get a big scar on your leg, you can't pretend it didn't happen. You look at it every day and remember that you weren't careful on your bike."

A bronze Lenin dumped out of reach of potential thieves in Kamianske Ackermann says he also understands people who want to tear down monuments highlighting a painful past. "These statues, whether it's Lenin or Confederate generals, were made with a propaganda role -- they were put on a pedestal to promote a certain message. If you leave them as is, you keep that propaganda running." 
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A bronze Lenin dumped out of reach of potential thieves in Kamianske

Ackermann says he also understands people who want to tear down monuments highlighting a painful past. "These statues, whether it's Lenin or Confederate generals, were made with a propaganda role -- they were put on a pedestal to promote a certain message. If you leave them as is, you keep that propaganda running." 

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