Portrait of communist theorist and agitator Leon Trotsky.

Leon Trotsky

(1879 - 1940)

Leon Trotsky, né Bronshtein, was exiled to Siberia in 1898 and 1907. He escaped both times: the first after nearly four years and with the aid of a forged passport bearing the name Trotsky; the second after forty-one days and with the assistance of a doctor, a soldier, a fixer named Goat’s Foot, and a drunken guide who led him out of town.

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In 1937 the Dewey Commission conducted an investigation into the charges against Leon Trotsky made during Joseph Stalin’s Moscow show trials. “Of what country are you a citizen, Mr. Trotsky?” the commission asked. “I am deprived of my citizenship in the Soviet Union. I am not a citizen of any country,” Trostky replied. “What, if anything, did you do when you were informed of the deprivation of your citizenship?” “I wrote an article about it,” he said. “I am a man armed with a pen.”

You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

—Leon Trotsky


Referring to the printers’ strike that began in St. Petersburg in 1905 and helped to inaugurate the October Revolution, Leon Trotsky wrote, “They demanded a shorter working day and a higher piecework rate per thousand letters set, not excluding punctuation marks. This small event set off nothing more nor less than the all-Russian political strike—that is, a strike which started over punctuation marks and ended by felling absolutism.” 

Revolutions are always verbose.

—Leon Trotsky, 1933


In Moscow in 1921, a group of actors formed the Blue Blouses, a theater company that acted out scenarios from the news. Their success inspired the creation of many similar amateur troupes. One joke that emerged from the movement went: Bim and Bom were the most popular clowns in revolutionary Moscow. Bim came out with a picture of Lenin and one of Trotsky. “I’ve got two beautiful portraits,” he announced, “I’m going to take them home with me!” Bom asked, “What will you do with them when you get home?” “Oh, I’ll hang Lenin and put Trotsky against the wall.”

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