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January 26, 2015


Born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, Leon Trotsky's revolutionary activities as a young man rewarded him with several exiles to Siberia. He returned and helped wage Russia's 1917 revolution alongside comrade Vladimir Lenin. As the Soviet government developed, he engaged in a power struggle against Joseph Stalin (not a good idea), which he lost (an even worse fate), leading to his exile again and, eventually, his murder.

To make a long story short, or at least as short as possible, by 1922, the pressures of revolution and injuries from an earlier assassination attempt had taken their toll on Vladimir Lenin. With Lenin on his way out, the scramble for power began. Leon Trotsky had an excellent record as a military leader and administrator and seemed to be the obvious choice among the rank and file membership of the Communist Party. However, he ran into opposition led by Joseph Stalin. Between 1922 and 1924, Vladimir Lenin tried to neutralize some of Stalin's growing influence and supported Trotsky on several occasions. However Lenin’s health deteriorated further and Stalin was free to strip Trotsky of power. Lenin’s death in 1924 left Trotsky isolated and alone against Stalin. Eventually, Trotsky was pushed out of the country.

Trotsky's role in the Russian Revolution was discredited by Stalin and his cronies. Trotsky was exiled to present-day Kazakhstan. Stalin decided that was not good enough so in February, 1929, Trotsky was kicked out of the Soviet Union. Over the next seven years, he lived in Turkey, France and Norway, before arriving in Mexico City. Trotsky continued to write and criticize Joseph Stalin and the Soviet government. Stalin named Trotsky, in abstention, a major conspirator and enemy of the people. In August 1936, 16 of Trotsky's allies were charged with aiding Trotsky in treason. All 16 were found guilty and executed. Stalin then decided to assassinate Trotsky. In 1937, Trotsky moved to Mexico, eventually settling in Mexico City, where he continued to criticize Soviet leadership.

In the early months of 1940, Leon Trotsky's health was failing and he knew he was a marked man. On August 20, 1940, Trotsky was sitting at his desk in his study in Mexico City when an undercover agent for the Soviet Union's secret police, attacked Trotsky with an ice pick, puncturing his skull. He was taken to the hospital, but died a day later, at the age of 60.