When we think back to the October Revolution and the rise of Bolshevik power in Russia, three names often come to mind: Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. All three men played key roles with Lenin being the clear leader. As the Bolsheviks went on to consolidate their power over the new Soviet Union, there was a struggle between Stalin and Trotsky over who would succeed their great mentor. To make a long story short, Stalin won out over his rival Trotsky, but in the process the two men became increasingly estranged and antagonistic. As a result, after Stalin’s rise to power in 1922, the two titans of Bolshevism butted heads until Trotsky was expelled from the party in 1927 and from the Soviet Union in 1929.
Leon Trotsky and his family, therefore, left the homeland for which they had fought for so long and fled to Mexico City. It was there that Trotsky would live out his life surrounded by body guards in the fear that his nemesis in Moscow would use his long arm to bring more harm on the family. His fears were realized on 24 May 1940 when several gunmen broke in the family’s compound, fighting their way past Trotsky’s guards. While Leon Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, escaped the attack unhurt, their young 13-year-old grandson was hit in the foot by a ricochet. After this attempt on Trotsky’s life, security was heightened even further around the family. In fact, for the last three months of his life, Trotsky rarely left the compound. However, all of these precautions were not enough. On 20 August 1940, a Spanish Stalinist, Ramon Mercader, infiltrated the compound and, using a mountain climber’s ice axe, struck Trotsky in the head once before being wrestled to the ground by the revolutionary’s bodyguards. The damage, however, had been done. Trotsky’s wound bled profusely and resulted in his death the following day. Stalin had had his revenge.