Trotsky. The museum

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Lev Davidovitch Bronstein (1879-1940), “nom de guerre” Trotsky, was a Soviet revolutionary, the founder of the Red Army, assassinated by orders of Stalin in 1940. His museum in Mexico city is privately run by his descendants, grandson and great-granddaughters. (Photo: (c)ourtesy the Trostky museum, Mexico city.

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The back of Trostky’s last house is, strangely enough, on Vienna Street. Trotsky must have stopped at Vienna on the way to exile.

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After the Revolution in 1917, Trotsky founded the Red Army, which was soon used in the civil war that tore Russia for years until the Soviets established their power.

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Trotsky’s house to-day. (2019). The house has been preserved very well. As often in similar places, it is a strange feeling to walk in a “normal” property where a major actor of History lived. (Whether one shares his opinions or  not)

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Mexican President Lázaro Cardenas (1895-1970). Cárdenas was President from 1934 to 1940. He welcomed a large number of Spanish Republican exiles, and granted asylum to Trotsky. He also nationalized the oil industry, securing Mexico’s main source of income for many years to come.

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The photo on the left shows Trotsky with (I assume) his daughter, Zinaida Lvovna Bronsteina, born in 1900. There is a wealth of material in the museum, but some lack of captions. Again, the museum is privately funded, probably not enough resources for some detailed curation.

 

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L. to r. Natalia Ivanovna Sedova (1882-1962), Trotsky’s second wife; Trotsky and his grandson, Esteban Volkov, born in 1926. Esteban stayed in Mexico after his grandfather’s assassination and has four daughters. Natalia had had a son with Trotsky, assassinated in Paris (by Stalin orders) in 1938. She left Mexico after Trotsky’s murder for France where she died in 1962.

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On which stairs did they sit, as a “normal” family?

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Esteban, left, Natalia, centre, Trotsky below. I don’t know who the other couple is… (remember to always put the names on the family pictures…) I wonder if Esteban Volkov still speaks or understands Russian. (It seems not)

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Trotsky’s study and desk. With the inevitable copy of Karl Marx:

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The book seems to be written in German. “Schriften”? Writings? Trotsky probably spoke German. And Yiddish… (On a personal note, I did study Marx in College. Always found it near unreadable… But that’s me. 😉)

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Zinaida Trotsky, (eldest daughter) and her husband, Platon Volkov. They are the parents of “Esteban” Volkov. Born in 1900, Zinaida was banned from the Soviet Union and committed suicide in Berlin on January 5th, 1933. Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on the 30th of January 1933. Always remember Hitler was legally elected. Some, or many dictators come into power legally. Platon Volkov was executed or “disappeared” by Stalin in 1936. (Such times.)

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Trotsky, left, with Diego Rivera, right. Rivera and Frida Kahlo were instrumental in convincing President Cardenas to grant asylum to Trotsky. All three remained friends until Trotsky’s assassination. I now wonder whether Trotsky’s spoke Spanish? Rivera, I’m almost sure spoke no Russian.

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Trotsky’s bed in the house in Coyoacán.

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The wall in the North. (Of here). A portrait of Trotsky to the left.

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The Berlin wall crashing down in 1989. Watch the expression of the young East German  military behind the wall, as they see the a big chunk torn down… This picture was part of a great expo at the Trotsky Museum when we went. Walls and frontiers are rising everywhere.  No worry. Walls always crash down… Eventually.

All images (c)ourtesy the Trotsky museum and, unbeknownst to them, the Volkov family. Thank you for keeping alive that part of history.

Captain and crew thank you for traveling the meanders of space and time on Equinoxio’s shuttle. Y’all stay safe, ye hear? 🙏🏻😉😷

 

 

82 thoughts on “Trotsky. The museum

  1. Another interesting read, well-penned by you! I thought the accompanying photos were great to help set Trotsky as a man rather than the “history subject”. Yes, it’s quite alarming how much things change yet stay the same! Plus ca change…

    • Ouaip. C’est les Anglais qui disent ça: “Plous ça change…”
      Trotsky is an interesting case. He was a true Bolshevik. I will not dwell on his role at the head of the Red Army. Interestingly enough, I know one of his great-granddaughters. She’s a renowned doctor and researcher here and internationally. And our eldest daughter’s boss… (Le monde est petit)
      Et plus ça change… j’ai souvenir d’un Séoudien brutalement assassiné dans son consulat en Turquie. Et le commanditaire “est apparent” est en pleine forme… Plus ça change…
      Tout va aussi bien que possible chez toi?

  2. Thanks for this post, I’m fascinated his grandson stayed in Mexico. Makes sense considering his grandfather’s murder. Amazing Esteban is still alive at 94! I’d like to write a Fake Flamenco article about him and his daughters. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Fascinating. I was aware, somewhat, of Trotsky’s Mexican connection, but had no idea that his house was preserved like this. It does give extraordinary insight when such places are maintained into a specific time period and a person’s life, especially seeing personal items there, as if they’ve just left the room a moment.

      • Exactly. I have felt that way visiting Thomas Hardy’s cottage and the Bronte Parsonage, and the Freud museum in London (not the part about the Riveras calling round obviously – though that might be fun.

      • Thomas hardy now? Makes me realize hoa many “holes” I have in my English Lit. selection. Name did ring a large bell. Of course! far the madding crowd and Tess d’Uberville. Neither of which I have read… I really need to spend some time in England. Walk and read. To visit his cottage must be like MOnet’s house at Giverny. Feeling his presence all around. Thank you.

  4. Can you imagine being assassinated with an ice axe, (some say it was ice pick)? I thought it was a rather interesting weapon to use. Thanks for sharing, having lived in Latvia, under the Soviet Rule, seeing the hammer and sickle, makes me shiver 🙈🙈🙈

    • Ice pick. Easier to hide under a jacket. It was pretty gruesome. And yes. I agree with you the hammer and sickle makes me shiver too. Whether Stalin’s or Trotsky’s. I’ve seen a few examples of that in my life… Not good.

  5. This post is important to me, Trotsky lingers in my mind along with Marx, both were right about many aspects of how capital would lead us to self and natural destruction by maintaining the lie that we were free. Loved the photos.

  6. Had heard of Trotsky but that was all . Your post added substance to the idea, splashed colour and made me curious enough to google the man. To think, from Russia, all the way to Mexico ! Superb post once again .

  7. Thanks for the tour. Atleast his descendants kept his memories alive! Good that they did not handed these things over to Government! I have heard his name before, now I know a bit more about him!

    take care of yourself and stay safe!
    love.

  8. Thanks for your teachings…the piece I knew about was the painting ‘Between the Curtains’ a self-portrait that Frida painted as a gift for Leon Trotsky on his birthday…other pieces are new to me Brian 🤓💫 hoping you’re all well ~ smiles Hedy ☺️🤗

    • “My” teachings? You mean yours, right? I didn’t know about the painting. Just looked it up. Very nice. Frida was young then and not in such ill health as later.
      The illustrations on the post come directly from the museum. I imagine the photos were preserved by the family.
      Stay safe hedy. 🙏🏻😷💕

      • No yours I only knew a bit about Trotsky…I also enjoy museums…makes the past feel real…I would have loved more of these teachings in school…remembering and not erasing our past matters…I know some arty things Brian ☺️…we’re doing well here in etown…phase 1…there are no community hot spots…I listen to Dr. Hinshaw here in Alberta and Dr. Henry in BC…they’re calm and give us facts…we’re making sense of this along the way…best to say little…I’m not looking at covid news|research now…all way beyond my expertise…its also a social justice issue and now humans are suddenly all epidemiologists🤓🙄and the so judgements🥺i look at the numbers…our national Canadian stories…I hear from family over the pond…Trudeau has done a great job with this pandemic…I’m gardening, practicing pranayama, cooking, being outside and resting…2020 so far has been surreal…life…happy to be alive 💫 hugs Brian hope your loved ones are safe too 💛

      • “MIne”? Haha. Don’t believe everything I say. 😉
        i’m glad Canada has been handled well apparently. Applause for Trudeau. (I sometimes have my doubts about him, but only facts matter)
        Yes, all humans are epidemiologist. I don’t listen. We have our own exclusive source, Daughter #1.
        Here has been gorgeous weather since February. Unreal. Hope your family is safe. We are doing ok here.
        Pranayama? I should start the day with an old Yoga posture.
        🙏🏻💕

      • Breathing inhale and exhale…every morning…yes your daughter and I have my brother in-law sending me articles…lots of learning along the way Brian ~ all good 🤓☺️☀️🌷

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating post. I would love to visit the Trotsky museum some day. I also studied Karl Marx in college. I don’t remember the book of his I had to read–which ought to tell you something!

  10. Trotsky was an intellectual in the truest sense of the word, in contrast to many other Bolshevik leaders, was educated, polite and happy to talk about art. Trotsky’s intelligence did not make him a gentler person, however. 🙂 A nice week!

  11. How strange are the machinations of history and the ways in which people and their ideas flow from place to place leaving behind ghosts of themselves for later generations…

    Hope you are doing well.

      • Struggling with the length of quarantine and fearful about post-quarantine restrictions. But, always feeling supported by chatting with fellow blogger friends like you! So happy to hear you are safe. Take care.

      • Our chattings have probably saved the mind of many a blogger on this planet. We have grown fond of those exchanges across the world. Others find it harder. My wife is already climbing up the walls… 😉

  12. Another fab peek into history!
    I wish I lived close to you. I have some LIFE magazines ( I would give you) from the 40’s 50’s, 60’s & 70’s. I had more, but the paper is so musty I chucked many. I kept the best (in plastic).. and there are some fabulous articles and photos.
    There’s 1 issue at least (maybe 2) dedicated to the the defection of Stalins daughter Svetlana. There is one with her drawings in it!
    Anyway… you just got me remembering I had these.

    Take care!

    • I wish we did too. Now the paper of those times was very bad. Too many chemicals already. I have a 1700 book (By Horace) that’s just perfect. Some of my 60’s or worse 90’s books are disintegrating.
      Take a few pics of some of the most interesting issues and do a post. That would be fantastic…
      🙏🏻

      • Good idea! LOL! another project on the pile. There’s some very neat photos of the model Verushka, the 6 foot tall model from the 60’s.
        I’d love to do those!

      • Didn’t know her. But then in the 60’s we were kinda “far away”, in Africa, west and east.
        Look forward to the post. (And it’s relatively easy. Grab your i phone, then crop on Photoshop. I do that all the time as you know.)
        Stay safe “Thérèse”. 😉🙏🏻

  13. Thanks Brian, this really does bring back some memories from Mexico City circa 1988. I seem to recall that Trotsky received a state funeral and huge numbers turned out on the streets to observe his passing. I guess he knew – and his family – that Stalin’s paranoia would mean they’d never be truly safe, even behind those high walls with the watchtowers. Love the old photos.

    • President Cardenas did hang on the left side of the political spectrum. And he had indeed invited Trotsky. Obviously I never asked the great-granddaughter I know how it felt to descend form Trotsky. I guess the answer is in the museum. The photos are grand. But I would hire a history graduate student for the summer to identify all the people in the photos. There are practically no captions whatsoever. The ones I put are basically mine. “Oh! That’s André Breton! And that’s Frida…!” I understand the grandson, though already quite old, 90+ is fine and has all his head….

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