Leon Trotsky was one of the most important figures of the Russian Revolution, and of the early years of the Soviet Union. Although he fell out of favour within the Soviet elite, and was eventually assassinated, his role was pivotal to the development of the Soviet Union in many ways.
He played a leading role in St Petersburg during the revolution itself, and was instrumental in turning the Red Army into an effective fighting force, allowing the new Soviet government to solidify its position against internal and external opposition.
Unlike contemporaries such as Joseph Stalin, Trotsky was also one of the foremost political thinkers within the Soviet leadership. So important that one of the key Marxist theories – Trotskyism – was named after him.
This article contains a number of Leon Trotsky facts that you may not have known.
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Leon Trotsky was originally called Lev Bronstein
Trotsky’s birth name was Lev Davidovitch Bronstein (sometimes spelled Lev Bronshtein), son of David Leontyevich Bronstein, a farmer in the Western Russian Empire, in what today is Ukraine. He took the name Trotsky in his early twenties, while in exile.
The reason for his choice of name isn’t certain, although Trotsky himself has said that he took the name from a prison warden in Odessa.
Leon Trotsky (probably) wasn’t Pushkin’s Great-Grandson
Alexander Latsis has alleged that Trotsky was the great grandson of Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s most famous and revered poet. Latsis has argued that Pushkin had an affair with a Polish woman called Angelica Dembinska, who bore him an illegitimate son – Trotsky’s grandfather – who was later given up for adoption by the Bronstein family.
Sadly, no convincing evidence has been put forward to support this theory.
Trotsky was an early globetrotter
Trotsky was exiled to Siberia at an early age, and in fact, lived much of his life outside of Russia. He escaped, and lived for many years abroad, meeting Lenin for the first time in London. After being exiled for a second time to Siberia, he escaped again, and fled first to London, and then Vienna, where he spent seven years.
When the First World War started, Trotsky moved again, to Switzerland, then to France (where he worked as a war correspondent). He was deported from France, to Spain in 1915, and was swiftly sent onwards to the United States, where he lived in New York for three months. Once the revolution broke out, he was briefly detained in Canada before returning to Russia.
After falling out of favour in Russia during the late 1920s Trotsky was exiled for a third time – first internally to Kazakhstan, and then to Turkey. In 1933 he returned to France before moving on to Norway in 1935. Two years later he moved to his final country of residence – Mexico.
The Trotsky Film
There have been many cinematic portrayals of Trotsky, but few are perhaps as surprising as the ‘The Trotsky’ movie, filmed in 2009. The moved stars Jay Baruchel as Leon Bronstein, a Canadian high school student convinced he is the reincarnated Leon Trotsky. He follows in his namesake’s footsteps, organising union activity at his private high school before being expelled (exiled) into a rougher public school, where he does the same again, and falls in love with a beautiful brunette named Alexandra (co-incidentally the name of the real life Trotsky’s wife)/
You can see The Trotsky trailer below. You can also buy The Trotsky on DVD at Amazon by clicking on the link below the video.
If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested to read our Leon Trotsky biography, which explores his life in greater detail. You might also be interested to read the biographies below.