The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Trotzky, Leon

Edition of 1920. See also Leon Trotsky on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

TROTZKY, Leon (pseudonym for Leon Bronstein), Russian Socialist: b. Odessa, 1879. In 1900 he was imprisoned at Odessa for participating in a revolutionary labor movement. Since early youth Trotzky has been an ardent advocate of the cause of the Social-Democratic Party, and one of the ablest agitators and orators who have written and spoken in its defense. He had traveled all over Europe before the outbreak of the War in 1914 (for instance, the social complications resulting from the Balkan Wars led him to tour the Balkans in 1912, for the purpose of social study). The outbreak of the war found him in Vienna, which he left on the same day for Switzerland, where he spent a number of months, engaged is Socialistic agitation. He wrote here an interesting pamphlet, in Russian, of which German and English translations appeared later (one under the title ‘The Bolsheviki and World Peace’; New York 1918), attacking the European Socialistic parties for supporting their governments in the war; in Germany he was punished by a sentence to six months' imprisonment, pronounced in his absence. In Paris, where he next settled (1915), he edited, for the Russian colony, a Socialist weekly, Nashe Slovo, but his merciless and uncompromising propaganda soon led to his exile from France to Spain (this period is interestingly covered in his ‘Chapters from My Diary,’ written in Russian for Novy Mir; English trans. in The Revolutionary Age, Boston 1918). From Spain he sailed, by way of Cuba, to New York, where he arrived 14 Jan. 1917. During his short stay in America he worked for several weeks as an editor on the Russian Socialist daily Novy Mir, devoting his evenings to lectures in Russian and German (he knows very little English and is not so good a linguist as Lenine) to New York branches of the Socialist party. Immediately after receiving news of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, he sailed from New York for Europe on the Norwegian steamer Christianafjord 28 March, but was removed 3 April from the ship at Halifax by British authorities and interned in a concentration camp at Amherst, from which he and his family were only released a month later, when they were permitted to continue their journey on the Danish steamer Hellig Olav. Trotzky's own description of these experiences will be found in an article ‘In British Captivity,’ published in The Class Struggle (New York 1918). After his arrival in Petrograd, Trotzky at once became one of the intellectual leaders of the Bolshevik section of the Social-Democratic party, although he had not, like Lenine, been identified with this movement from its inception in 1903. In June 1917 he established a weekly propaganda paper at Petrograd, called Vperiod (Forward), in which a number of articles and speeches in his brilliant and inspiring manner appeared. After the Bolshevik coup d'état of 6 Nov. 1917, Trotzky became Minister (People's Commissaire) for Foreign Affairs, while Lenine (q.v.) became Premier; later the Foreign Affairs portfolio went to Chicherin, while Trotzky headed the Department of the Army and Navy. He was one of the Russian delegates to the Brest-Litovsk conference and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the delegates of the Central Powers on 9 Feb. 1918. A full account of his participation in the Bolshevist coup, as well as in the peace negotiations, will be found in his hook ‘From October 1917 to Brest-Litovsk’ (New York 1919). In September 1918 reports of alleged connection between Trotzky and the German government were circulated in the American press (on these, see Lenine, Nikolai). Rumors of large armies raised and organized by Trotzky, possessing immense military resources, and intended to invade Germany in the support of the revolution in that country (which opened, largely as a result of Russian propaganda, in November 1918), persisted for many months in 1918-19. Consult Williams, A. R., ‘The Bolsheviks and the Soviets’ (New York 1918).