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Communist Leon Trotsky helped ignite the Russian Revolution of 1917, and built the Red Army afterward. He was exiled and later assassinated by Soviet agents.
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Born in 1879, Leon Trotsky waged Russia's 1917 revolution alongside Vladimir Lenin. As commissar of war, he helped defeat forces opposed to Bolshevik control. He engaged in a power struggle against Joseph Stalin which led to his death.
Born in 1931, near Birán, Cuba, Raul Castro assisted his brother, Fidel Castro, during most of his life. Once Fidel assumed power, Raul became head of the armed forces and served as Cuba's defense minister. Raul became president in 2008.
Born in Argentina on in 1928, Che Guevara traveled to South America during his youth, a trip that spurred his Marxist beliefs. He aided Fidel Castro in overturning the Cuban government.
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As Trotsky dug in and refused to modify his position, the dissention grew and Lenin feared the conflict would splinter the party. At a meeting at the Tenth Party Congress in March 1921, the issue came to a head when several of Trotsky's supporters were replaced by Lenin's lieutenants. Trotsky finally dropped his opposition and, to show his allegiance to Lenin,
ordered the suppression of the Kronstadt Rebellion (an uprising of sailors and longshoremen protesting heavy-handed Bolshevik tactics). But the damage was done, and Trotsky had lost much of his political influence over the dispute.
By 1922, the pressures of revolution and injuries from an earlier assassination attempt had taken their toll on Vladimir Lenin. In May, he suffered his first stroke and questions arose over who would succeed him. Leon Trotsky had a stellar record as a military leader and administrator and seemed the obvious choice among the rank and file membership of the Communist Party. But he had offended many in the Politburo (the Communist Party's executive committee), and a group of Politburo members, led by Joseph Stalin, joined forces to oppose him. The previous month, Lenin had appointed Stalin to the new post of Central Committee General Secretary. Though not a significant post at the time, it gave Stalin control over all party-member appointments. He quickly consolidated his power and started lining up allies against Trotsky.
Between 1922 and 1924, Vladimir Lenin tried to counter some of Stalin's influence and support Trotsky on several occasions. However, a third stroke virtually silenced Lenin and Stalin was free to completely push Trotsky out of power. Lenin died on January 21, 1924, and Trotsky was isolated and alone, outmaneuvered by Stalin. From that point on, Trotsky was steadily pushed out of important roles on Soviet government and, eventually, pushed out of the country.
Between 1925 and 1928, Trotsky was gradually pushed from power and influence by Stalin and his allies, who discredited Trotsky's role in the Russian Revolution and his military record. In October 1927, Trotsky was expelled from the Central Committee and exiled the following January to the very remote Alma-Ata, located in present-day Kazakhstan. Apparently, that was not far enough for Stalin, so in February, 1929, Trotsky was banished entirely from 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. During the 1930s, Stalin conducted political purges and 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 set out 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.
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