Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky

Original Name Lev Davidovich Bronstein
Death 21 Aug 1940 (aged 60)
Coyoacan, Coyoacán Borough, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Burial Coyoacan, Coyoacán Borough, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Memorial ID 4174 · View Source
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Soviet Russian Communist Leader. He was a founder and Commander of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War, and a colleague of Vladimir Lenin. Born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, he was eighteen years old in 1898 while working for the South Russian Worker's Union when he was arrested. It was on his escape from a four-year exile in harsh Siberia that he took the alias of “Trotsky” from a former jailer in the Ukrainian port of Odessa. He fled to London, England to join Lenin, who was managing editor of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party newspaper "Iskra”. The Second Congress of the RSDLP in London in 1903 was attended by both Lenin and Trotsky, and in the internal dispute which cut the party in two, Trotsky sided allegiance with the Mensheviks against Lenin. Although was short-lived, this allegiance damaged the relationship between the two revolutionaries for the next 14 years. Trotsky had returned to Russia by 1905, but his participation in the October general strike and his support for such a rebellion led to a sentence of "Exile for Life" handed down by the Tsarist government. On the route to exile in January of 1907, he again escaped and again fled to London, attending the Fifth Party Congress. He made another move, this time to Vienna in October of 1907. With war approaching, Trotsky moved for safer grounds in neutral Switzerland, before migrating to France and being deported by the government. He was living in New York City when the Russian Revolution overthrew the Tsar, and had returned to Russia by May of 1917, joining Lenin's Bolsheviks in their movements to overthrow the Provisional Government of Prime Minister Aleksandr Kerensky. Once the Bolsheviks held power, Trotsky was appointed Commissar of Foreign Affairs and unsuccessful initiated peace talks with Germany. His withdrawal from the talks resulted in a German invasion, forcing the Soviet government to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918, something that proved to be a great disadvantage politically. The treaty only lasted for eight months. He resigned from his diplomatic position and became Commissar of War. As commander of the Red Army, the success over the White Army and victory in the Russian Civil War can largely be attributed to Trotsky. With the subsequent death of Lenin not long afterwards, the ambitious Josef Stalin was able to take control of the Party and the government. Trotsky was in no position, nor was he very willing, to actively oppose Stalin. By not speaking out at the Twelfth Party Congress in 1923, he lost his last real chance to say anything against Stalin, who along with Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev seized control of the Communist Party. Trotsky would later build his theory of "Permanent Revolution", which ideologically shared little in common with Stalin's "Building Socialism in One Country" theory. This lack of shared ideals and resulting political divide came to a head on November 12, 1927, when Stalin expelled Trotsky from the Communist Party, leaving Stalin in complete control of the Soviet Union. Two years later, Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan. Stalin took things further and later deported him from the U.S.S.R. entirely. He could have been executed like so many others. Trotsky moved from Turkey to France to Norway, finally settling in Mexico when invited by the painter Diego Rivera. He founded the Marxist organization the Fourth International in 1938, attempting to provide an alternative to the Stalinist Third International, but instead based on the study of Trotsky's theories and ideas. He and Rivera argued and Trotsky had his own residence built in 1939. Even from across the world, the deeply paranoid Stalin still feared his chief rival and sent his police agents from the NKVD to assassinate Trotsky. An elaborate and excessive assassination attempt failed on May 24, 1940, and Stalin's agents decided to be more simple in their attempts. NKVD agent Ramon Mercader befriended one of Trotsky's secretaries, and disguising as a Canadian supporter of Trotsky's ideals, began meeting Trotsky. Not long after he first met Mercader, Trotsky told his wife that he felt that Mercader was "A bit light-minded." Both men were at the home of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo on August 20, 1940. Ramon persuaded Trotsky to read an article he had written, and while Trotsky's back was turned, the Stalinist Mercader took an ice pick stabbing Leon in the head. Receiving a serious penetrating brain injury, he yelled and his security men rushed to his side prepared to kill Mercader, but a historian to his last moments, Trotsky demanded, "Do not kill him! This man has a story to tell!" Trotsky was taken to the Green Cross Emergency Hospital, and despite extreme brain trauma, he remained conscious for several hours, dying 24 hours after the attack.

Bio by: Mongoose

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 13 Dec 1998
  • Find a Grave Memorial 4174
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Leon Trotsky (7 Nov 1879–21 Aug 1940), Find a Grave Memorial no. 4174, citing Museo Casa de León Trotsky, Coyoacan, Coyoacán Borough, Distrito Federal, Mexico ; Maintained by Find A Grave .