Leon Trotsky (Russian, Лейба Давидович Бронштейн; born Leon Davidovich Bronstein) (7 November 1879 - 21 August 1940), was a Ukrainian-born Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist. He was an influential politician in the early days of the Soviet Union, first as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army and People's Commissar of War. He was also among the first members of the Politburo.
After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Trotsky led the ultimately failed opposition to the rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s. Stalin outmaneuvered Trotsky, and in short order, Trotsky was removed from his political offices between 1925 and 1927. He was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927, and finally exiled from the Soviet Union in February, 1929.
He continued to criticize Stalin from abroad while serving as the head of the Fourth International. In response, Stalin initiated an "investigation" into alleged conspiracies between Trotsky and other opponents of Stalin, which in turn led to a series of show trials beginning in 1936, and in turn helped cause the Great Purge. Stalin used Trotsky as a boogeyman even after the trials wound down.
In the end, Stalin deemed Trotsky too dangerous to live. In August, 1940, after a number of inept attempts to kill Trotsky had failed in the previous year, an NKVD operative succeeded in wounding Trotsky in the head with an ice pick. Trotsky survived the initial attack, and fought his attacker, even breaking his assassin's hand. Trotsky's bodyguards intervened. Trotsky did undergo an operation, but died a day later due to shock and blood loss.
Nevertheless, Trotsky's political philosophy, known as "Trotskyism", survived him, and so his memory remained dangerous to Stalin until his own death in 1953. Even Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev did not rehabilitate Trotsky during the 1950s.
Leon Trotsky in The War That Came Early
In late 1939, Spanish Republican political officer La Martellita paraphrased Trotsky when she told Chaim Weinberg that "Every man may be stupid under the Republic, Comrade, but you abuse the privilege," in an attempt to bring his politics in line with the Republic's. When Weinberg innocently pointed out that Trotsky - the "Red Antichrist" - was the source of her comment, she grew less interested in disciplining him.
In late 1942, Ivan Kuchkov and his squad parlayed with a group of Ukrainian nationalists, led by a man who, in Kuchkov's opinion, looked like he could be Leon Trotsky's kid brother. Throughout the parlay, Kuchkov privately thought of the Ukrainian as "Baby Trotsky".
Trotsky's final fate in the series is unclear. Kuchkov in 1942 makes no reference to his death, nor does any other character. Stalin's being busy with other things in August 1940 may have averted Trotsky's OTL assassination. It is even theoretically possible that Trotsky survives at the series' end in mid 1944.
Leon Trotsky in Joe Steele
Leon Trotsky was the leader of the Soviet Union beginning in the mid-1920s. He led his country through World War II (1939-1946) and the Japanese War (1948-9), and oversaw the rise of the USSR as a global superpower.
Trotsky came to power upon the death of Vladimir Lenin. Given the tyranny that Trotsky imposed, the USSR was something of a global pariah throughout the 1930s. Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany and Joe Steele of the United States both publicly hated Trotsky, and the feeling was mutual.
However, as Hitler grew more bold in Europe throughout the 1930s, Trotsky and Steele found some brief common ground. After Germany had annexed Austria, Hitler immediately began making claims on the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. Steele and Trotsky (both of whom feared what Hitler might do unchecked) loudly called for France and Britain to stand and fight Hitler. Instead, Britain and France brokered a deal in which the Sudetenland was granted to Germany in September 1938. Six months later, Germany annexed Bohemia and Moravia and created the independent Republic of Slovakia; Germany was now positioned to move on Poland, a situation the world at large was painfully aware of.
Hitler now turned his attention to the Polish Corridor. Trotsky, realizing that France and Britain could not be counted on, spurned their attempts to create a new alliance. Instead, Trotsky sent his foreign commissar, Maxim Litvinov to Berlin to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Litvinov's German counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop. (Some found it ironic that the Jewish Trotsky had sent the Jewish Litvinov into the "world's capital of anti-Semitism.") Germany invaded Poland a week later, setting off World War II. The Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east a few weeks after that.
After France fell to Germany in 1940, Britain continued fighting under the leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. However, the Soviets remained relatively untouched until June 1941, when Germany broke its agreement and invaded the USSR. Given how ill-prepared the Soviets seemed to be, many predicted that Russia would fall within six weeks. However, the Soviets were still in the war six weeks later, confounding expectations.
As Russia was fighting for its life, President Steele met with Prime Minister Churchill for the first time in Portland, Maine. Churchill's first request was that the U.S. extend aid to Trotsky as it had with the U.K. Steele initially refused Churchill's request, but Churchill boldly reminded Steele that the U.S. was as much a prison state as Trotsky's Soviet Union. He also argued that compared with Hitler, Trotsky was reasonable. After some debate, Steele agreed to supply Trotsky. Steele tried to keep the aid quiet, dealing through the Soviet embassy in Ottawa. While Trotsky was amenable to this plan, Churchill announced the deal to the world. Hitler decried the deal, but did not launch a war with the U.S. Trotsky received aid from another quarter: the weather. While the Germans captured Kiev and Smolensk, the fall rains reduced Russian roads to mud, effectively halting the advance for the winter.
In 1942, Trotsky was finally able to oversee some definitive successes. The Soviets met German forces at Trotskygrad, held them, and were able to cut those forces off in the fall, prompting Steele to commend the Soviets on striking the Nazis a heavy blow. Things were even better in 1943, when the remaining German troops in Trotskygrad surrendered. However, the German military decided to let the Soviet advance exceed its supply line, and launched a counter-attack, again putting the Soviets on the defensive.
As Allied victory seemed more likely, Trotsky agreed to attend a conference with Churchill and Steele in Basra, Iraq. Trotsky's entourage included Litvinov and Marshal Ivan Koniev. This marked the first time Steele and Trotsky met in person. Their interactions were cordial but frosty. They shook hands, and Steele was quite public in praising the sacrifices of the Red Army. During the conference, all parties consumed substantial amounts of alcohol. 
The public statement coming out of the conference declared independence for the captured countries of Europe and the Far East and punishment for the German and Japanese leaders causing the war. It also promised the creation of an international organization strong enough to make a lasting peace. Private agreements were also reached where the Red Army would help the U.S. invade Japan when it became feasible. Trotsky also had wanted hegemony over all of Eastern Europe and the Balkans but Churchill convinced him to yield influence over Greece to Britain, promising to bombard any Red Army positions on Greece if it came to that. This stood in stark contrast to a moment at the beginning of the conference when Churchill, on behalf of King George VI, presented Trotsky with the Sword of Valor in the name of the Russian people.
In 1944, the end of the war was in sight. Omar Bradley oversaw the successful invasion of Normandy, thereby giving Trotsky his second front in Europe. Paris fell to the Allies quickly thereafter. The Soviets' drive prompted Finland and Bulgaria to exit the war, and Romania to change sides. While Germany was able to overrun Slovakia and Hungary, and to hold a line in Italy, the writing was on the wall.
The year 1945 saw the end of the war in Europe. With two armies bearing down from either direction, Hitler committed suicide in April 1945. Germany surrendered a few days later. They attempted to surrender to the Americans and British only, but Steele ordered Bradley to tell them they would do it the Allies way. All remaining German forces surrendered to the Soviets and Marshal Koniev, Trotsky's supreme commander, signed the surrender papers in Berlin on behalf of Trotsky. Trotsky also began to cement his hold in Eastern Europe.In the meantime, U.S. forces continued its island hopping campaign in the Pacific, pushing Japanese forces closer and closer towards the Home Islands. This included a bloody fight for the island of Okinawa, which finally fell in mid-1945.
In November 1945, the U.S. launched Operation: Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu. Concurrently, the Soviet Union finally went to war with Japan, attacking and pushing Japanese forces out of the Asian mainland (taking the time to establish a puppet government in Korea), and invading Hokkaido, the northernmost Home Island.
Despite this pincer attack and months of bloody fighting, Japan's government refused to yield. In March 1946, Operation: Coronet began: the U.S. attacked Shikoku and Honshu from the south, and the USSR attacked Honshu from the north. Prime Minister-General Hideki Tojo died leading Japanese forces trying to drive the Americans off but his death did not lead to a Japanese surrender. Instead, the Japanese, both military and civilian, fought as hard as they had on Kyushu.
Immediately, Trotsky and Steele began establishing new governments in their respective parts of occupied Japan. The Soviets held Hokkaido and northern Honshu, and established the Japanese People's Republic under Fedor Tolbukhin with some Japanese Reds acting as his puppets. Similarly, the U.S. established the Constitutional Monarchy of Japan in southern Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Hirohito's 12-year-old son Akihito became the new emperor, although it was U.S. military who actually ran the country.
In the late summer of 1946, Trotsky and Steele met one last time in Wakamatsu. This conference was purely between Steele and Trotsky; Churchill's successor, Clement Attlee, was not invited to attend. Relations between Steele and Trotsky were no less frosty than they had been at Basra. Nonetheless, each side recognized the new Japanese states created, with a three-mile demilitarized zone along the Agano River. Trotsky was actually more easy going here than in Basra; he'd seen the war in Europe as one of survival. The war against Japan had simply been "a war".
Trotsky's clamping down his new satellites in Europe and Asia caused concern in the U.S., especially as Trotsky continued his call for world revolution. In 1947, Steele gave the "Red Curtain Speech", condemning the USSR's sweeping hold on large parts of the world. Trotsky, however, did not respond verbally. Instead, he ordered the Soviet military to begin building the "People's Liberation Army" in North Japan. In response, the U.S. created the "Constitutional Guard" in South Japan. Throughout 1947 and into 1948, the North Japanese military trained, while the American commanders on the ground were alarmed.
In June 1948, North Japanese forces invaded South Japan in a surprise attack, launching the Japanese War. The course of the war went well for the North Japanese at first. Despite warning signs, the attack was a complete surprise, and the South Japanese Constitutional Guard showed little interest in fighting back. The U.S. attempted to bomb North Japanese cities with B-29s, a strategy used against the Empire of Japan during World War II. However, the air defenses of the North had been re-built with Soviet help and the new jet, the Gurevich 9, proved much more deadly then older propeller fighters. (It was an open secret that the Gu-9s were often piloted by Russians.) As such, the U.S. attempted daylight raids for only a few days but losses were unacceptable so only occasional night raids were continued.
The North Japanese drive were finally halted by the U.S. at Utsunomiya. With the North's advance stalled, the U.S. and South Japanese, over the course of the next year with bloody and hard fighting, forced the invaders back to Sendai, well north of the border.. By the summer of 1949, a group of U.S. scientists had successfully tested an atomic bomb. The test, which took place in New Mexico, was covered up and officially called a munitions dump explosion. On the night of August 6, 1949, a flight of B-29s dropped an atomic bomb on Sendai, destroying it and the North Japanese forces concentrating there.
Steele spoke the next day, announcing the deployment of the atomic bomb, describing its power, and calling on Trotsky to end the Japanese War, concluding his speech by saying "Enough is enough." Trotsky's response came on August 9, 1949; the Soviets had also begun their own atomic bomb program, which ultimately tracked with the U.S. program. The Soviet atom bomb destroyed the South Japanese city of Nagano. Trotsky announced that he had aided his fraternal socialist ally, North Japan, and agreed that enough was enough.  The Japanese War ended with the status quo antebellum restored.
Two months later, in November 1949, in China, Mao Tse-Tung and his Reds pushed the government of Chiang Kai-Shek off of the Chinese mainland. The U.S. had backed Chiang, and refused to recognize Mao. For a time, Joe Steele had considered using atomic bombs to support Chiang, as they'd effectively ended the Japanese War. However, during a meeting in October, the Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Andrei Gromyko, on the orders of Trotsky, suggested that any U.S. atomic attack in China might be met with a Soviet atomic attack in Europe. After further consultation with his aides, Steele opted not to use the bomb.
Steele often bragged that he was going to outlive Trotsky, but Trotsky had the last laugh: Steele died on March 5, 1953. However, Trotsky made no efforts to interfere on the broader world stage, even as the U.S. government nearly fell to chaos.
Trotsky's role is identical in the novel and the short story. The novel is a more detailed account.
- References to Historical Figures in Turtledove's Work, for additional minor references.
- Joseph Stalin, Soviet politician who succeeded Vladimir Lenin in OTL, reigning over the country for nearly 30 years. Trotsky attempted to thwart Stalin, but failed. Stalin succeeded in expelling Trotsky from the Party, forcing him into exile, and ultimately arranging for Trotsky's murder in 1940. In Joe Steele, Stalin's birth as an American "clears the way" for Trotsky to succeed Lenin as the de facto leader of the Soviet Union. Trotsky institutes a tyranny essentially identical to Stalin's OTL one, and both men share a deep hatred for one another throughout the novel.
- Kyot of Unkerlant, a fictional character in the Darkness series who is broadly based on Trotsky.
- West and East, Pg 410
- Two Fronts, pgs. 235-236.
- Joe Steele.
- Ibid., pg. 15.
- See, e.g., pg. 50.
- Ibid. pg. 196.
- Ibid., pg. 202-203.
- Ibid., pgs. 205-207.
- Ibid., pg. 212.
- Ibid., pg. 212.
- Ibid. pg. 214.
- Ibid., pg. 215.
- Ibid., pg. 235.
- Ibid. pg., 236.
- Ibid., pgs. 237-239.
- Ibid., pgs. 239-240.
- Ibid., pg. 242.
- Ibid., pg. 243.
- Ibid., pgs. 244-245.
- Ibid., pgs. 265-267.
- Ibid., pgs. 270-271.
- Ibid. pgs. 276-283.
- Ibid., pgs. 282-283, HC.
- Ibid., pg. 279.
- Ibid., pgs. 290-292.
- Ibid., pg. 295-296.
- Ibid, pg. 299.
- Ibid., pgs. 301-302.
- Ibid., pgs. 307-313.
- Ibid., pg. 314
- Ibid., pg. 315.
- Ibid, pgs. 320-322.
- Ibid., pg. 323-325.
- Ibid., pg. 325.
- Ibid., pg. 326.
- Ibid., pgs. 324-328.
- Ibid., pgs. 333-337.
- Ibid., pgs. 339-340.
- Ibid., pg. 337-339.
- Ibid., pgs. 345-347.
- Ibid., pg. 352.
- Ibid., pgs. 349-354.
- Ibid, pg. 354.
- Ibid, pgs. 355-358.
- Ibid., pg. 364.
- Ibid., pg. 365.
- Ibid., pgs. 366-369.
- Ibid., pgs. 368-369.
- Ibid., pg. 371.
- Ibid., pg. 373.
- Ibid., pg. 376.
- Ibid, pg. 376-377.
- Ibid. pgs. 403-406.
- Ibid., pgs. 424-435.
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