Trotsky’s Grandson Recalls Ice Pick Killing
It’s 75 years since Trotsky, already expelled from the Soviet Communist Party and exiled, went to start a new life in Mexico. But he was hunted down in Mexico City by Stalinist assassins, as his grandson, who was living with him when he died, recalls.
To some people Leon Trotsky was the true hero of the Bolshevik revolution. To others he was one of the most dangerous men of his era.
But to his grandson, Esteban Volkov, he was a father figure who brought the young boy rare moments of happiness and stability at a time of family turmoil and political persecution.
“I was constantly changing father and mother figures,” says Volkov, 86. With “the Old Man”, as he affectionately calls his grandfather, “I finally found something stable, though it did not last very long.”
Speaking from the house in Mexico City where he lived with the exiled revolutionary and his second wife, Natalia, for more than a year before Trotsky’s assassination on 20 August 1940, Volkov recalls his excitement at arriving in the Americas from Europe.
He was just 13 years old and had spent most of his childhood moving from one country to the next with his mother Zinaida, Trotsky’s daughter, seeking refuge from Stalin’s persecution.
“Mexico was an absolute change, it was full of colour, full of sun, so unlike Europe,” he says. “I began going to school by myself, on foot. No-one at school knew who my family was.”
Life in his grandfather’s large and well-guarded home in the leafy Coayacan neighbourhood was “full of excitement,” he says.