Stalin banishes Trotsky - HISTORY
Year
1928

Stalin banishes Trotsky

Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Bolshevik revolution and early architect of the Soviet state, is deported by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to Alma-Ata in remote Soviet Central Asia. He lived there in internal exile for a year before being banished from the USSR forever by Stalin.

Born in the Ukraine of Russian-Jewish parents in 1879, Trotsky embraced Marxism as a teenager and later dropped out of the University of Odessa to help organize the underground South Russian Workers’ Union. In 1898, he was arrested for his revolutionary activities and sent to prison. In 1900, he was exiled to Siberia.

In 1902, he escaped to England using a forged passport under the name of Leon Trotsky (his original name was Lev Davidovich Bronshtein). In London, he collaborated with Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin but later sided with the Menshevik factions that advocated a democratic approach to socialism. With the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1905, Trotsky returned to Russia and was again exiled to Siberia when the revolution collapsed. In 1907, he again escaped.

During the next decade, he was expelled from a series of countries because of his radicalism, living in Switzerland, Paris, Spain, and New York City before returning to Russia at the outbreak of the revolution in 1917. Trotsky played a leading role in the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power, conquering most of Petrograd before Lenin’s triumphant return in November.

Appointed Lenin’s secretary of foreign affairs, he negotiated with the Germans for an end to Russian involvement in World War I. In 1918, he became war commissioner and set about building up the Red Army, which succeeded in defeating anti-Communist opposition in the Russian Civil War. In the early 1920s, Trotsky seemed the heir apparent of Lenin, but he lost out in the struggle of succession after Lenin fell ill in 1922.

In 1924, Lenin died, and Joseph Stalin emerged as leader of the USSR. Against Stalin’s stated policies, Trotsky called for a continuing world revolution that would inevitably result in the dismantling of the Soviet state. He also criticized the new regime for suppressing democracy in the Communist Party and for failing to develop adequate economic planning. In response, Stalin and his supporters launched a propaganda counterattack against Trotsky. In 1925, he was removed from his post in the war commissariat. One year later, he was expelled from the Politburo and in 1927 from the Communist Party. In January 1928, Trotsky began his internal exile in Alma-Ata and the next January was expelled from the Soviet Union outright.

He was received by the government of Turkey and settled on the island of Prinkipo, where he worked on finishing his autobiography and history of the Russian Revolution. After four years in Turkey, Trotsky lived in France and then Norway and in 1936 was granted asylum in Mexico. Settling with his family in a suburb of Mexico City, he was found guilty of treason in absentia during Stalin’s purges of his political foes. He survived a machine-gun attack on his home but on August 20, 1940, fell prey to a Spanish Communist, Ramon Mercader, who fatally wounded him with an ice-ax. He died from his wounds the next day.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Van der Sloot admits to Peru murder

On this day in 2012, Joran van der Sloot, a longtime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, pleads guilty to the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru. Flores was killed on May 30, 2010, exactly five years to the day ...read more

Miep Gies, who hid Anne Frank, dies at 100

On this day in 2010, Miep Gies, the last survivor of a small group of people who helped hide a Jewish girl, Anne Frank, and her family from the Nazis during World War II, dies at age 100 in the Netherlands. After the Franks were discovered in 1944 and sent to concentration camps, ...read more

French forces occupy Corfu

To provide a safe and stable haven for the growing number of refugees pouring out of the devastated Balkan state of Serbia, French forces take formal military control of the Greek island of Corfu on this day in 1916.The northernmost of a string of islands in the Ionian Sea, Corfu ...read more

Diem issues Ordinance No. 6

South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem issues Ordinance No. 6, allowing the internment of former Viet Minh members and others “considered as dangerous to national defense and common security.”The Viet Minh was a largely communist organization that overthrew French colonial rule ...read more

Demonstrations erupt in Saigon and Hue

Major cities–especially Saigon and Hue–and much of central Vietnam are disrupted by demonstrations and strikes led by Buddhists.Refusing to accept any government headed by Tran Van Huong, who they saw as a puppet of the United States, the Buddhists turned against U.S. ...read more

American League adopts designated hitter rule

On January 11, 1973,the owners of America’s 24 major league baseball teams vote to allow teams in theAmerican League (AL) to use a “designated pinch-hitter” that could bat for the pitcher, while still allowing the pitcher to stay in the game.The idea of adding a 10th man to the ...read more

Grand Canyon National Monument is created

Declaring that “The ages had been at work on it, and man can only mar it,” President Theodore Roosevelt designates the mighty Grand Canyon a national monument.Home to Native Americans for centuries, the first European to see the vast brightly colored spectacle of the Grand Canyon ...read more

Charlie Chaplin’s assets frozen

On January 11, 1927, Charlie Chaplin’s $16 million estate is frozen by court receivers after his second wife, Lita Grey Chaplin, sues for divorce. Lita was a 16-year-old hopeful actress when the 35-year-old Chaplin married her in 1924. The bitter and prolonged divorce ended a ...read more

Flash flood in Rio

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, more than 10 inches of rain falls in 12 hours on this day in 1966, causing a flash flood. Four hundred people were killed and 50,000 needed to be evacuated due to the sudden influx of waterThe rains, which were the heaviest to hit the area in more than ...read more

Reagan gives his farewell address

After eight years as president of the United States, Ronald Reagan gives his farewell address to the American people. In his speech, President Reagan spoke with particular enthusiasm about the foreign policy achievements of his administration.In his speech, Reagan declared that ...read more

Violence erupts at GM plant strike

On this day in 1937, nearly two weeks into a sit-down strike by General Motors (GM) auto workers at the Fisher Body Plant No. 2 in Flint, Michigan, a riot breaks out when police try to prevent the strikers from receiving food deliveries from supporters on the outside. Strikers ...read more

Battle of Arkansas Post

On this day in 1863, Union General John McClernand and Admiral David Porter capture Arkansas Post, a Confederate stronghold on the Arkansas River. The victory secured central Arkansas for the Union and lifted Northern morale just three weeks after the disastrous Battle of ...read more