Trotsky with American friends in Mexico, shortly before his assassination in 1940
Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) was an extraordinary speaker and organizer, a popular army leader and a successful revolutionary. He was one of the five members of the original Politburo, and was widely seen in 1920 as Lenin’s natural successor. But he rarely or never attended a party meeting. During the same period, Stalin worked his way up through the nebulous party apparatus until he achieved a central position of power … Lenin died on 21 January, 1924… Stalin went immediately for his former rival Trotsky. Apart from all their political differences, the two men also held each other in immense personal contempt. During the civil war, Trotsky had reprimanded his subordinate Stalin on a number of occasions, and Stalin had never forgiven him for that. In January 1925, Trotsky was discharged as commander of the Red Army… In July 1926 he was dismissed from the Politburo … In November 1927 he was thrown out of the party and was deported to Almaty and from there, in 1929 to Turkey. From there Trotsky, by way of France and Norway, ended up in Mexico in 1936…
On 20 August 1940, 70 years ago, an NKVD agent fatally wounded him with an ice-axe to the head. He died the next day.
Geert Mak [In Europe, 2004]