This Day In History: Stalin Orders Trotsky Into Internal Exile (1928)

Trotsky
Trotsky
Advertisement

On this day in history, in 1928, Stalin banishes his foe, Leon Trotsky, to Alma Alta in Central Asia. Trotsky had been a long-term rival Stalin. After the death of Lenin, the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party was contested by Stalin and Lenin.  Trotsky was born to affluent Jewish-Russian parents in western Russia. He was a dedicated revolutionary from an early age and he played a part in several conspiracies and was prominent in the 1905 Revolution.  He was imprisoned and exiled for his revolutionary activities, several times.  Trotsky had collaborated with Lenin but he later fell out with him over ideological differences.  After the suppression of the 1905 revolution, Trotsky had been forced into exile abroad. For ten years, he traveled around Europe conspiring with other revolutionaries. He returned to Russia after the February Revolution in 1917 and played a leading role in the Communists seizure of power. Indeed he paved the way for the return of Lenin. Trotsky was the lead negotiator in the Treaty of Brest-Livtosk that ended Russian involvement in WWI. He later played a very important role in the formation of the Red Army, despite having no formal military training.  He was appointed Commissar of War and he directed the army at a crucial time in the war. The ‘Whites’ or the anti-communists armies were threatening the communists hold on power. The army that Trotsky helped to form decisively defeated the White counter-revolutionaries in a savage civil war. Trotsky was instrumental in saving the Revolution and was a hero to many in the Soviet Communist Party and around the world.

To many, it seemed that Trotsky was the heir-apparent when Lenin died. However, Stalin was wily and he build-up a large network of support in the communist party and bureaucracy. The fact that Trotsky was a Jew also made him unpopular in many circles.  Trotsky believed that the Soviets should try to do everything they could to ferment revolution around the world.  Stalin believed that the Soviet Union should build up its strength before supporting a worldwide revolution. The majority of the party backed Stalin and as a result, he was able to marginalize  Trotsky. Indeed by 1928 Trotsky once the darling of the Party was no longer a major player.

Trotsky
Leo Trotsky in 1918

On this day Stalin had Trotsky sent into internal exile and after a year he had him expelled from the Soviet Union. He settled first in Turkey and then after wandering around Europe found a refuge in Mexico. Trotsky finished his autobiography and a history of the Russian Revolution during his exile and these greatly angered Stalin, as Trotsky attacked him in these writings.  In 1940 Stalin sent an agent, A Spanish communist to assassinate Trotsky.  He ingratiated himself into the household of Trotsky and later stabbed Trotsky with an ice-pick. The great revolutionary died the next day.

Advertisement