Gunter Kruse, from the southern German city of Bayreuth, told a press conference in Ulyanovsk (formerly Simbirsk), Lenin's birthplace in eastern Russia, that he is a second cousin once removed to the revolutionary. He said that since embarking on his genealogical journey in 1970, he had discovered evidence about a further thousand family members, including leaders of the Hanseatic League, which brought together merchant guilds within the cities of northern Germany and the Baltic in the 12th century.
The starting point for Gunter's research was a German translation of Soviet author Marietta Shaginian's novel about Lenin's family, which was drawn from rare archives.
According to the book, Lenin's maternal grandmother, Anna Grosschopf, was the daughter of Johann Gottlieb Grosschopf, a German merchant from Lubeck, who emigrated to St. Petersburg in 1790.
Kruse's own mother's maiden name was Grosschopf, and he decided to find out whether she was a relative to Lenin's German ancestors.
Kruse made his first visit to Lenin's birthplace in 2002, hoping to learn more about the Bolshevik leader's roots at local museums. He is now collaborating with Ulyanovsk museum researchers on an international book project aiming to bring together all the genealogical data collected by himself and other descendants of the Russian revolutionary.
The leader of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and the founder of the Soviet state, Lenin is a controversial figure in modern-day Russia, as the reality of his Communist utopia brought civil war, leading to years of political repression and economic hardship.