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Stalin and Trotsky Feud: It Was Revenge at Its Worst

An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.


Genesis of the Feud between Stalin and Trotsky

Leon Trotsky(1879-1940) along with Lenin was the architect of the communist movement in Russia. He was also the favorite of Lenin who from all accounts preferred Trotsky to Stalin. Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein. He was a Jew. He helped to organize the October Revolution with Lenin and built up the Red Army. This was the genesis of the hatred between Stalin and Trotsky. Lenin was incapacitated by a stroke in his last years and thus could not sideline Stalin. He died in 1924 and Stalin who had grass-root support stepped into the shoes of Lenin.

Trotsky was no paragon of virtue and he also had a malevolent streak. He along with Lenin was the architect of the concentration camps. He and Lenin are responsible for the execution of 4 million Russians who were alleged to have taken part in anti-party activities.

The concentration and labor camps were Trotsky's idea and Stalin only refined and implemented them. He was involved in the murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family in Siberia in 1920 and most likely the order to murder the Czar emanated from him.


Trotsky vs Stalin

Trotsky was a die-hard communist who believed in class struggle and execution of the Bourgeoisie. Trotsky invented the concentration camp and the word ‘enemies of the people/state.

One fact that cannot be denied is that Trotsky was an intellectual with a wide horizon and knowledge. This was in sharp contrast to Stalin, who was not an intellectual of any standing. Trotsky also wrote prodigiously and commanded respect in the communist movement.

Stalin was not happy with this and decided to get Trotsky eliminated. Before that, he took some steps. He expelled Trotsky from the Communist Party in 1927 and followed up by sending him into exile in 1929, just 5 years after the death of Lenin. Trotsky left Russia but many countries were not prepared to give him asylum. He was given residence in Mexico after years of moving around like a nomad in 1937. It was here that he was murdered by an assassin specially recruited by the KGB. He was Ramon Mercader who was of Spanish descent but a die-hard believer in Communism. His mother was also a staunch communist. She helped plan the murder but escaped to Moscow. After the killing of Trotsky she was honored by Stalin.

Many will ask why Trotsky did not fight back and face Stalin. One thing going in favor of Stalin is the fact that at a time when Lenin was in Germany and Switzerland, he remained in Russia and built up the communist movement. When the power struggle between Trotsky and Stalin took place. many of the supporters of Trotsky sided with Stalin against him.

This did not save them as almost all of them were executed in the purge of 1936-37 and included prominent men like Christian Rakovsky, Bukharin among others.

the killer

the killer

In Exile

Trotsky left Russia in 1929 and moved to Turkey. The Ottoman empire had been dismantled and the new ruler Kemal Mustafa Ataturk was not very keen to host Trotsky.

He left Turkey and went to France and from there to Norway. But the influence of the Russian Communist Party was pretty strong and he had to leave both these countries. He finally moved to Mexico in 1937. The USA and UK had indicated that would not host him.

Stalin could not forget Trotsky. One of the reasons was that Trotsky continued to write prodigiously against him and this irked Stalin. He sanctioned a plan to get his opponent murdered who still commanded a following in Russia. He wanted to eliminate any threat to his regime.

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murder weapon on display at International Spy Museum, Wahington

murder weapon on display at International Spy Museum, Wahington

The murder

Stalin instructed the secret police, the NKVD to plan the assassination of Trotsky. The NKVD selected a Soviet agent named Ramon Mercader who was born in Spain. Mercader was a committed communist and accepted the task to murder Trotsky. He went to Mexico and befriended Trotsky, before taking his moment and killing him with a pickaxe on 21 August 1940.

Despite being hit with a pickax Trotsky did not die immediately. His guards now came on the scene and thrashed Mercader and would've killed him but Trotsky told them not to kill him and get the truth as to who had sent him. Trotsky survived for two days and then died and Mercader was arrested and tried for the murder of Trotsky.

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail. He was released at the end of the jail term and immediately left for the Soviet Union. The sad part is that at a time when Nikita Khruschev was in power Mercader was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, Order of Lenin, and the Gold Star. He spent his time moving between Cuba and the USSR and died in 1978 in Cuba. He was buried in Moscow.

The pickax had a checkered history and presently is on display in Washington at the International Spy Museum. I have been to this museum and it's worth a visit.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on June 08, 2021:

Thank you, Devika, so nice you commented.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 08, 2021:

emge You write what is of interest and interesting historical hubs. I heard of Stalin but not as informative as your hub. Your knowledge on such topics are thorough and well-researched. This hub has taught me lots about the feud.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on June 07, 2021:

Wonderful comment Tom would like to see the movie with Richard Burton as Trotsky. I have read Khruschev's memoirs. All this is a fascinating era and i love to read and write about it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on June 07, 2021:

Bill, thank you for your comment. Maybe next time you can visit it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on June 07, 2021:

Pamela, thank you for your comment.Yes, Mercader was a hero but the only thing that surprised me was the approach of Khruschev who had in a 1956 secret speech denounced Stalin. Yet he honored Mercader.

tom on June 07, 2021:

trotsky ukranian jew,stalin caused prolongation of russian civil war,1956 kruschev exposed stalin ,lenins last will indicated trotsky as sucessor,lenin exiled by czar to swotzerland,ww1 germans send him to moscow via finland train in revolution,army and navy joined communists,if russia stayed out of ww1,no revolution,war destroyed empire economy ,millions killed,conscription caused shortage of farm labour .bread riots,czar did not kill political prisoners in sibsria, assassination otf trotsky richard burton as trotsky,tsar nicholas the second resmbled his cousin king george 5th,stalin ruined russia,please read dmityy volgokonovand robert service biographies trilogyof stalin ,lenin,trotsky ,robert conquests the great terror,kruschev thrre volume memoirs

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 07, 2021:

This is another very interesting historical article about Russia. I am not surprised that Mercader was a hero at that time in the Soviet Union.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 07, 2021:

Fascinating historical facts, my friend, but I expect nothing less from you. I have been to Washington but I did not go to that particular museum. I'm a bit sorry, now, that I did not. It would have been a great place to spend time at.

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