Born: 7 November 1879
Died: 21 August 1940 (assassination)
Birthplace: Yanovka, Ukraine
Best known as: V.I. Lenin's right-hand man
Name at birth: Lev Davidovich Bronstein
A key figure in the creation of the Soviet Union, Leon Trotsky was later unseated and expelled by that nation's leader, Joseph Stalin. As a young man Trotsky became a disciple of Karl Marx and a friend of future Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin. A powerful writer and political thinker, Trotsky used his pen to oppose the rule of Czar Nicholas II. As a result, Trotsky spent much of his adult life in prison or in foreign exile, writing for communist newspapers and journals. He was Lenin's right-hand man in the 1917 revolution that deposed the czar, and he became commissar of war (1918-25) and organized the victorious Red Army in the civil war that followed. After the formation of the Soviet Union and then Lenin's death in 1924, Trotsky lost out in a power struggle with Stalin. Trotsky was exiled to Kazakhstan in 1927 and expelled to Turkey in 1929. In 1937 Trotsky settled in Mexico at the behest of artist Diego Rivera. He was assassinated at his villa in 1940 by a probable agent of Stalin, Ramon Mercader, who posed as a friend of Trotsky's and then killed him with the blow of an ice axe to his head.
Extra credit: He used the name Leon Trotsky while escaping from Russian prison in Siberia in 1902, and kept the name for the rest of his life... Trotsky was played by Richard Burton in The Assassination of Leon Trotsky (1972) and by Geoffrey Rush in Frida, the 2002 film about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (she was married to Diego Rivera)... Trotsky was represented by Snowball the pig in George Orwell's allegorical 1945 novel Animal Farm... Trotsky was born on 26 October in the old Julian calendar; the Soviet Union made the switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1918, and Trotsky was born on 7 November in that reckoning.
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