• Tweeter
  • republish

Armed soldiers guard day and night the mausoleum that encloses the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. Hanoi, August 28, 2019. Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

Nguyen Sinh Cung, better known as Ho Chi Minh, died 50 years ago on Monday. Since 1975, his embalmed body is exposed under a glass sarcophagus in a state mausoleum in Hanoi, visited each year by millions of people. Yet the revolutionary leader had expressed his desire to be cremated. Gigantic crowds flocked to his monumental grave on Monday to mark the anniversary of his death, which is also Vietnam's national holiday. Other personalities in the world have also been preserved after their death.

♦ Lenin

Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilich Lenin is the first communist leader to be embalmed, launching a trend taken by other communist regimes in the world. Lenin died in 1924 at age 53 and wanted to be buried with his mother in the former imperial capital St. Petersburg, but he was kept in a mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square, where he remains today, attracting curious visitors to see the Bolshevik founder of the Soviet Union. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, debates over the withdrawal of its emerging body but the Russian Communist Party is pushing for Lenin not to be displaced.

The mausoleum of Lenin (d) on the Red Square in Moscow, leaning against the walls of the Kremlin. Wikipedia / NVO

♦ Mao Zedong

The Chinese revolutionary leader, who died on September 9, 1976, is embalmed and exposed since 1977 in a glass booth at Memorial Hall dedicated to him on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Mao's body was placed in preservation fluids including formaldehyde (formaldehyde), according to a report from the People's Daily . Today, unexposed body parts are kept in liquid. When the mausoleum is closed, the corpse is lowered into a low-temperature container, the newspaper says.

Tian'anmen Square, where the Forbidden City and the mausoleum of Mao Zedong are located on June 4, 2018. Fred DUFOUR / AFP

♦ Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh had provided specific instructions for his funeral: a cremation, and ashes scattered in the privacy, in the north, in the center, and in the south of Vietnam, as a sign of unity. Just after his death on 1 September 1969, and against his will, his close associates asked the Soviet ally how they had done to preserve the body of their own founding father, Vladimir Lenin, whose embalmed body is still today. on the Red Square in Moscow. Vietnam had then reached an agreement with the USSR providing the country with the equipment to carry out the embalming and supervision of its experts. With the fall of the USSR in 1991, Vietnam had the greatest difficulty in finding an agreement - commercial this time - with Russia. This agreement still in place is considered a secret state, can not be shared with either North Korea or China, two communist allies who have also preserved their leaders for posterity. It was to capitalize on his popularity that the successors of "Uncle Ho" built him an immense tomb, inspired by both the mausoleum of Lenin, the pyramids of Egypt and the Washington Monument in the American capital!

The Mausoleum of Hồ Chi Minh in Hanoi, 2006. CC 3.0 / Rungbachduong

♦ Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il

The bodies of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il are permanently on display at the Kumsusan Sun Palace Mausoleum in Pyongyang. Their embalmed bodies rest on glass coffins on stretchers in two separate halls bathed in a dim red light and protected by guards at each corner of the room. Visitors in crowds, including strangers, must adhere to a strict dress code and make three references in front of them, slipping silently on the marble floors of the cavernous complex in a suburb of the capital, where one can also see possessions, cars and rewards of both men. Kim Il Sung died in 1994 but remains the eternal president of the People's Democracy of Korea, the country's official name, and Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011, is the eternal secretary-general of the ruling Workers Party. Both men succumbed to heart attacks. Russian scientists helped embalming their bodies and assisting with their maintenance. Current leader Kim Jong-un is the third generation of the ruling family and his advisors visit the mausoleum during the most important national days, such as their birthdays, to pay tribute to them.

Honoring Kim Il-Sung on his way to his mausoleum is a must for tourists ... as for North Koreans. Trips are organized regularly by worker cooperatives. Jean Conor / RFI

♦ Eva Perón

Eva Perón, the emblematic first lady of Argentina in the 1940s and 1950s, was embalmed when she died of cancer in 1952, at age 33. "Evita" was worshiped by the supporters of her husband Juan Perón - president of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and from 1973 to 1974 - from poor and working-class backgrounds, while the Argentine military and elite disapproved of her. When Juan Perón was overthrown by a coup in 1955, the army secretly withdrew Evita's body from his burial on a pro-Peron labor exchange and concealed it. Worried that Peronist militants could find him, the dictator then in power, Pedro Aramburu, had the body sent to Italy where he was buried in Milan under an assumed name. Juan Perón's third wife, Isabel, succeeded her and finally reached an agreement: Evita's body was returned to Argentina in 1974 and she has since remained in her family's mausoleum in Buenos Aires, a place of pilgrimage for her admirers and fans of the musical comedy and film inspired by his life.

♦ Egyptian mummies

Any schoolboy who is spoken of ancient Egypt will immediately think of mummies, the remains of important personalities preserved in strips. The British Museum in London houses a collection of 120 human mummies from Egypt and Sudan, highlight of the show for many visitors. The museum also exhibits 300 mummified animals, including dogs, cats and even a crocodile. None of the mummies have been defeated since the 1790s and museum experts used X-rays and scanners to analyze them.

Six mummies, colorful wooden sarcophagi, a thousand funerary figurines: archaeologists have made fabulous discoveries in a tomb of the Pharaonic era in southern Egypt. REUTERS / Sherif Fahmy

♦ Ferdinand Marcos

The controversial Philippine dictator died in exile in 1989 after being overthrown during a "popular resistance" revolt, but his embalmed corpse was returned to his ancestral home where he was exposed for over twenty years. In 2016, the funeral parlor who looked after him told AFP that his face was wax, but stressed that the rest of the body, covered by clothes, was his. He was finally buried in a hero's cemetery the same year, sparking controversy in the Philippines and leaving the very closed club of corpses of embalmed and publicly exposed figures around the world.

Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos, in power between 1965 and 1986, photographed by the US military when he arrived in Washington for an official visit in 1983. Virgil C. Zurbruegg / US Army