Lev Davidodich Bronstein, better known as Trotsky, was one of the leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution.
He played an active role in founding the Soviet Union, which would condition the world balance of power for 70 years.
He founded the Red Army, the new Soviet state’s armed forces. Trotsky was born on November 7, 1879 in Yanovka, Ukraine, one of the countries controlled by Russia. At the end of the 1800’s, the Russian empire experienced a deep crisis. Nicholas II sat on the Russian throne. The people were starving, but every attempt at revolt ended in repression and bloodshed.
Between 1898 and 1905, Trotsky was arrested three times for his opposition to the tsarist empire. In prison he chose his nickname, Trotsky, taking the name of one of his guards. In 1907, while serving his third sentence, he escaped and fled abroad. For 10 years he traveled Europe and the USA, working as a freelance journalist. In 1917 revolution broke out in Russia. Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown and the Bolsheviks took power. The Bolsheviks were a movement inspired by the Socialist principles of freedom and equality, and led by Lenin. Trotsky joined the Bolshevik party, where his charisma and erudition set him apart. In 1918 Lenin made Trotsky his war commissioner, placing the Red Army under his command. Trotsky’s task was to defeat the White Army, which remained loyal to the tsar. For two years Trotsky conducted every stage of the war, traveling by train along an 8,000 Km front.
Under Trotsky’s leadership, the Red Army triumphed over the enemies of the revolution. On December 30, 1922, the Soviet Union was officially born. Lenin died in 1924. His successors were Trotsky and another Bolshevik, Joseph Stalin. Stalin wanted to keep the revolution within Soviet boundaries. But Trotsky dreamed of exporting the Soviet model abroad, freeing victims of oppression all over the world. This was the theory of permanent revolution. This clash of ideas led to a fight for power.
In 1927 Stalin prevailed: Trotsky was expelled from the Party and deported to Kazakhstan. Two years later he was expelled from the Soviet Union. In 1936 he settled in Mexico, a base from which he continued to accuse Stalin and Stalinism of betraying the October revolution. On August 20, 1940, in his home in Mexico City, an assassin sent by Stalin drove an ice pick through Trotsky’s skull, murdering him. He was 61.