1940: Leon Trotsky Fatally Wounded

1940: Leon Trotsky Fatally Wounded
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 20 August 1940
  • The assassination took place in Mexico, where Trotsky had been living since he was exiled from the USSR after losing a power struggle to Stalin. The assassin was Spanish communist Ramon Mercader, one of Stalin’s agents. Trotsky died in hospital the very next day, while Mercader was sentenced to 20 years in a Mexican prison.

Famous communist Leon Trotsky was assassinated on this day.

The assassination took place in Mexico, where Trotsky had been living since he was exiled from the USSR after losing a power struggle to Stalin. The assassin was Spanish communist Ramon Mercader, one of Stalin’s agents. It seems Mercader was working for the NKVD, Stalin’s notorious secret police.

The assassination was performed in Trotsky’s house, in the suburbs of Mexico City. Interestingly, Trotsky had previously lived in the same house together with famous artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. However, Rivera and Trotsky had a falling out, possibly due to the latter’s love affair with Kahlo (though there isn’t conclusive evidence of this). Trotsky had then moved to a different house in the same suburb.

Stalin’s agent Mercader managed to approach Trotsky by seducing his secretary. At one point he asked Trotsky whether he could read him some of his works. Mercader was armed with an ice pick, which he had hidden in his coat pocket. When Trotsky started reading, Mercader took out the ice pick and, closing his eyes, buried the pick in the back of his skull.

However, Trotsky didn’t die immediately and even started to fight back. Trotsky’s bodyguards heard the sounds of a struggle. They wanted to kill Mercader, but Trotsky stopped them, since he wanted Mercader to testify in court. Trotsky died in hospital the very next day, while his assassin was sentenced to 20 years in a Mexican prison. Stalin awarded Mercader the Order of Lenin, and was declared a Hero of the Soviet Union when he returned to the USSR in 1961 (despite the fact that Stalin had already died by then).

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