Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronstein in the southern Ukraine, was a Marxist intellectual, revolutionary, and founder of the Red Army. He was also, unfortunately, in disagreement with Lenin over the direction of the Communist Party. Stalin took advantage of this rift to elevate his own position. In the early 1920’s, Lenin, his health deteriorating, was beginning to see the light about Stalin, and tried to ally with Trotsky against him. But Lenin was too sick, and too late. Lenin died in 1924, and Stalin continued to consolidate power. In 1929, Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party and deported.
In exile, Trotsky continued his opposition to Stalin, and denounced Stalin’s “non-aggression” pact with Hitler. But on this day in history, Trotsky was attacked in his home in Mexico with an ice axe by the Stalinist agent Ramón Mercader. Trotsky died the next day.
Mercader served 20 years in Mexican prison for the murder. Stalin presented him with an Order of Lenin in absentia, and Mercader was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union after his release in 1961.