Trotsky Gets the Axe
August 20, 1940 - This was the day that Leon Trotsky was assassinated by a Soviet agent named Ramon Mercader.
An adamant Marxist, Trotsky played a leading role in the Bolshevik Revolution and rose to power alongside Vladimir Lenin. But when Lenin died, Trotsky could only watch as Joseph Stalin took over control of the Soviet Union.
Stalin's bureaucratic policies were in stark contrast to Trotsky's notion of a permanent revolution. After an unsuccessful attempt to muster a viable opposition, Trotsky wound up exiled in Mexico.
Trotsky remained a vocal critic of Stalin, and this would be the death of him. Ramon Mercader befriended Trotsky under the pretense that he was a supporter. During a meeting in Trotsky's home outside Mexico City, Mercader pulled out an ice axe and pounded it into Trotsky's skull.
As his bodyguards rushed in, a mortally wounded Trotsky ordered them to spare Mercader's life:
Do not kill him! This man has a story to tell.
Trotsky died the next day. Mercader was convicted of murder and served 20 years in a Mexican prison. When he was released in 1960 he received a hero's welcome in the Soviet Union. He died in 1978.