Leon Trotsky Factfile: From Hero to Zero

Connor Austen
Mind Map by Connor Austen, updated more than 1 year ago
Connor Austen
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Quick notes that detail key points in Trotsky's early life and political career.

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Leon Trotsky Factfile: From Hero to Zero
  1. Born Lev Bronstein in 1879. Family of middle-class Jewish farmers but reportedly non-religious.
    1. Political Belief: Marxism
      1. Arrested in January 1898 for revolutionary activity. Exiled to prison in Siberia in 1900. Escaped in 1902 via a forged passport, whose fake ID name was Leon Trotsky. He adopted Leon Trotsky as his new name.
        1. He travelled to London, England, where he joined the Socialist Democratic Party and met Vladimir Lenin.
          1. In 1903, the Social Democrats split. While Lenin led the 'Bolshevik' (majority) faction, Trotsky joined the 'Menshevik' (minority) faction.
        2. Trotsky returned to Russia after the February Revolution (1917), arriving back in May 1917.
          1. He disapproved of the Provisional Government because he felt it was ineffectual. The new prime minister, Alexander Kerensky, saw Trotsky as a major threat to be arrested. While in jail, Trotsky joined the Bolsheviks, and was released soon after. He was elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet in September.
            1. During the October Revolution (1917), Trotsky created the Red Guards, a Bolshevik militia (armed factory workers, soldiers and sailors) that took control of Petrograd. Bolshevik forces entered the Winter Palace and arrested the Provisional Government without bloodshed (no resistance). Lenin and the Bolsheviks were now in charge.
              1. Appointed as Foreign Commissar of Lenin's new government, he negotiated WWI peace terms with Germany (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 1918). Suddenly promoted to War Commissar, he built up the Red Army which defeated the White Russian forces (anti-Bolshevik) in the Civil War (1918 - 1920).
                1. Trotsky was clearly positioned as Lenin's right-hand man/successor. One of the initial five members of the Politburo (Communist Party executive policy-makers) when it was established in 1919.
          2. 1) Whenever Trotsky disagreed with Lenin, Joseph Stalin tried to gain favour from Lenin. Trotsky began to lose political influence in the Politburo and Central Committee.
            1. 3) Between 1922 and 1924, Vladimir Lenin tried to counter some of Stalin's influence and support Trotsky on several occasions. However, further strokes virtually silenced Lenin and he died on January 21, 1924., Trotsky was then easily outmaneuvered by Stalin, who consolidated his power. He was demoted from his previous roles and expelled from the Party in 1927.
              1. 4) Stalin banished him from the Soviet Union in 1929, so Trotsky spent the rest of his life in exile. He continued to write and criticize the Stalinist Government's leadership, whilst Stalin discredited Trotsky's military record and labelled him 'an enemy of the people'.
                1. 5) In 1936, Trotsky finally settled in Mexico City. Stalin now sought to eliminate his old foe,having already conducted the Great Purge (1936 to 1938) back in Russia (against any political opponent deemed 'disloyal', including many of Stalin's former allies). In August 1940, an assassin sent by Stalin stabbed Trotsky with an ice pick. Trotsky died the next day.
              2. 2) When Lenin fell ill (stroke) in May 1922, choosing a successor to lead Soviet Russia became urgent. Many were jealous of Trotsky, the most likely candidate. A group of Politburo members, led by Joseph Stalin, opposed Trotsky by supporting the leadership option of the troika (Stalin, Zinoviev, & Kamenev).
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