a virtual exhibition
|Introduction ~ Overview of the Trotsky Collection ~ Chronology of Trotsky's Life ~ Exhibition of Trotsky material|
Chronology of the life of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
November 7 (October 25th, old style): born Lev Davidovich Bronstein in the village of Yanovka in the Ukraine. His father was a farmer of Russified Jewish background.
At the age of eight, Bronstein is sent to school at Odessa, where he shows intellectual brilliance and literary gifts.
In preparation for his final examination (Abitur), he transfers to Nikolayev, where he first encounters socialist ideas and reads illegal pamphlets.
After a brief attendance at Odessa University, he returns to Nikolayev to assist in the organisation of the South Russian Workers Union.
Arrested for revolutionary activity. Spends next four-and-a-half years in prison and in exile in Siberia, during which time he marries his co-conspirator Aleksandra Sokolovskya, with whom he has two daughters.
He escapes from Siberia using a forged passport under the name Trotsky, permanently separating from Sokolovskya. Makes his way to London to join the Russian Social Democrats and works with Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) on the revolutionary newspaper Iskra (The Spark).
At the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, held in London and Brussels, Trotsky sides with the Menshevik faction, rejecting Lenin's methods.
Trotsky returns to Russia to become a leading spokesman of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies. The Soviet (ie council) organises a revolutionary strike against the Tsarist regime, the aftermath of which brings Trotsky and the other leaders of the Soviet to trial in 1906.
While in jail, he writes one of his major theoretical works, Itogi i perspektivy (Results and prospects), expounding the theory of permanent revolution. In his book, Trotsky maintains that the Russian Revolution will lead to a permanent state of revolution internationally, inspiring proletarian revolution in the West, thus ensuring the establishment of socialist governments which will consequently support the revolution in Russia.
Exiled for a second time to Siberia, but again he escapes, settling in Vienna as a journalist.
Serves as a war correspondent in the Balkan Wars.
At outbreak of First World War, joins the majority of the Russian Social Democrats who condemn the war. Moves to France.
Participates in the international conference of anti-war socialists at Zimmerwald in Switzerland.
His anti-war agitation leads to his expulsion from France.
January: Arrives in New York. Joins
the Bolshevik theoretician Nikolai Bukharin in editing the Russian language
paper, Novy-Mir (New
January: Trotsky enters talks personally. Rejects Germany's
annexationist terms. Lenin, however, is willing to pay the price in order to
ensure the continued existence of the new Soviet state.
The Politburo is formed, with Trotsky as one of its initial five members. Plays a leading role in the founding of the Third International (Comintern), writing its first manifesto calling for the overthrow of capitalism throughout the world.
Final defeat of the White forces and the end of the Civil War. Second Congress of the Third International.
Trotsky faces opposition to his policy of war communism and the role
of the trade unions.
Lenin has first stroke. Although Trotsky is the obvious successor,
Politburo supports the informal leadership of Zinoviev and Kamenev. Stalin
now Secretary-General of the Communist Party.
Leads first opposition against Stalin, criticising the bureaucratisation of the Party, the violation of democracy and the failure to develop adequate economic planning. Publishes an open letter, Novyi kurs (The new course).
January 16-18: Trotskyist opposition condemned at the 13th Communist
Trotsky resigns as Commissar of War. During pauses in the faction struggles, he writes on a wide range of topics, producing the following works (among others): Literatura i revolyutska (Literature and revolution), 1923; Voprosy byta (Problems of life), 1923; O Lenine (Lenin), 1924 and Kuda idet Angliya? (Where is Britain going?), 1925.
Forms united left opposition with his old political opponents Zinoviev and Kamenev. They condemn Stalin's doctrine of 'socialism in one
November 15: Trotsky and Zinoviev are expelled from the Party.
Trotsky banished to Alma Ata in Central Asia.
Exiled from the USSR, he is taken to Turkey, where he settles on the island Buyuk Ada , near Istanbul. Issued first number of the Byulletin Oppositsii (Bulletin of the Opposition).
Publishes Moya zhizn (My Life) and Permanentnaya revolyutsiya (Permanent revolution).
Publishes lstoriya Russkoi revolyutsii (History of the Russian Revolution).
Publishes Stalinskaya shkola falsifikatsii (The Stalin school of falsification).
Moves to France. After Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Trotsky urges his followers to form a new, Fourth International.
He is expelled from France and granted entry into Norway.
Under Soviet pressure, he is forced to seek asylum in Mexico. This
is made possible through the agency of the Mexican revolutionary artist,
Diego Rivera. He publishes La revolution trahie (The revolution betrayed).
January: Trotsky arrives in Mexico and takes up residence in the Avenida Londres in Coyoacán, near Mexico City. Evidence of the Moscow trials shown to be false, and the charges are refuted by an investigating committee, headed by the American philosopher John Dewey.
January 16: Trotsky' son Lyova dies in a Paris clinic.
May 24: Trotsky's house is attacked by an armed band, led by the
communist painter, David Alfaro Siqueiros. Trotsky is unharmed.
Return to the introduction or go to the virtual exhibition of Trostkiana from Special Collections.
Top: Trotsky's passport picture, circa 1915, aged 36.