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Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky
On August 20, 1940, a Spanish communist named Ramòn Mercader assassinated Leon Trotsky in Coyoacan, Mexico. Mercader, a suspected agent of Stalin, stabbed Trotsky with an ice pick, a wound that killed him the next day.

Trotsky’s revolutionary tendencies would get him in trouble throughout his life. In 1898 he was first arrested for trying to start the South Russian Worker’s Union. Two years later he was exiled to Siberia for his revolutionary activities. In 1905, during the Russian Revolution, he returned to Russia only to again be exiled and then again escape. Once he heard of the revolution in 1917 he returned once again to Russia, helping the Bolsheviks seize power. Lenin, the Bolshevik leader at the time, appointed Trotsky to be secretary of foreign affairs, and then in 1918 he became commissioner of war and built up the Red Army.

In 1924, Lenin fell ill and died, leaving Joseph Stalin as his heir and leader of the USSR. Trotsky criticized Stalin, saying he suppressed democracy and that a world revolution should take place, dismantling the Soviet Union. The next year, Trotsky was stripped of his war commissioner title and in 1927 he was expelled from the communist party. In 1928 he was banished to the central Asian portion of the USSR, and was then eternally banished from the country.

For the next seven years, Trotsky moved around from place to place, staying in Turkey for a few years before fleeing to France, and then Norway. It wasn’t until 1936 that Trotsky was granted asylum, in Mexico. While living with a family in Mexico City, Trotsky was found guilty of treason during Stalin’s purges. The Soviet government had a plan to shoot Trotsky with a series of machine guns but their plan ultimately failed. With all previous attempts having failed, Mercader, who had taken the time to become close to Trotsky and befriend him, carried out his own attack and succeeded. He stabbed Trotsky in the head with an ice pick. The Soviet Union denied involvement in the assassination, saying Mercader worked alone.

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