HOME to Lubitz TrotskyanaNet
Leon Trotsky (bronze bust in the Lubitz Trotsky Collection)

– Survey –

Leon Trotsky [or, Lev Davidovich Trotskii, cyrillic: Лев Давидович Троцкий] was born on Friday, October 26, 1879 [according to the pre-1918 old (Julian) calendar style = November 7, 1879 according to the new (Gregorian) calendar style] at 11:11 p.m. (23:11) local time as fifth child into a Jewish farmer family living on the estate "Ianovka", nearby a very small country village of the same name [later named: Bereslavka] 1, situated in the district of Elizavetgrad [later renamed: Kirovohrad], province of Kherson, Southern Ukraine (also called "New Russia"), then part of the Czarist Russian Empire. The boy was named Lev [Yiddish form of first name: Leiba, or Lejba] Davidovich Bronshtein [cyrillic: Лев Давидович Бронштейн], mostly nicknamed Leva. The Bronshteins had altogether eight children, four of which died very early as infants. In Summer 1902, Lev D. Bronshtein adopted the name 'Trotskii' [cyrillic: 'Троцкий'; common Anglo-American transliterated form: 'Trotsky'], under which he eventually should rose to fame and under which most of his major writings were published. Fatally wounded by Stalinist agent Jaime Ramón Mercader del Rio Hernández aka ;"Frank Jacson" (1913-1978) in the late afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 20, 1940, he got brain surgery by Drs Mass, Velasco and Lenero at the hospital Puesto Central de Socorro de la Cruz Verde, México, D.F. At 7:20 p.m. (19:20) he fell into a coma and never recovered consciousness. Given only a 10% chance of survival, Leon Trotsky eventually passed away some 25 hours after the murderer's ice axe attack and was pronounced dead on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 7:25 p.m. (19:25) local time 2. The autopsy showed a brain of extraordinary dimensions and a very large heart. On Aug. 27 Trotsky's body was cremated and his ashes were buried in the grounds of his final domicile (which later became the Trotsky Museum) in Coyoacán near Mexico City.

Abbreviations used:
"b." = born (year of birth if still alive or if year of death is not known)
"m." = married name (family name by marriage)
"r." = remarried name (family name by second marriage)
"?" = unknown or not (yet) clearly verified data
"living in" = refers to the year 1990 (if not otherwise stated)

Trotsky's parents:

Trotsky's siblings:

Please note that the offsprings of Trotsky's brother and of his two sisters are not treated here in detail 4.

Trotsky's life partners:

During his spell in a Moscow prison, in spring of 1900, Leon Trotsky (Bronshstein) and A.L. Sokolovskaia got legally married by a rabbi. However, some two years later the couple parted. In his Paris exile in 1903, Leon Trotsky fell in love with a young exiled Russian revolutionary woman who studied arts history at Sorbonne, N.I. Sedova.

"She [i.e. Sedova] was to remain his companion for the rest of his life and to share with him to the full triumph and defeat. Sokolovskaya [i.e. Sokolovskaia], however, remained his legal wife and bore his name. To all three the legal niceties of their connexion did not matter at all - like other revolutionaries they disregarded on principle the canons of middle-class respectability. [...] As far as we know, the question of a reunion between Trotsky and his first wife never arose. When he and Sedova returned to Russia there was no suggestion of discord. Ties of respect and a high-minded friendship were to bind the three of them to the end; and eventually his political fortunes affected with equal tragedy both the women and the children of both" [Deutscher, I.: The prophet armed, London, 2003, p.59]

For legal or citizen requirements (in order not to oblige his sons who had the name of her mother, i.e. Sedov, to change their names), Trotsky officially took the name of his companion Natal'ia, i.e. according to his passport he became Lev Davidovich Sedov. However, this change of name obviously was a pure technical matter: Trotsky, so far as we know, neither published nor signed any document using "Sedov". Natal'ia Sedova sometimes signed "Sedova-Trotskaia" and in secondary sources sometimes also has been refered to as "Nataliia (or, Natal'ia) Trotskaia-Sedova".

After Trotsky's assassination in August 1940, Natal'ia Sedova lived in his final domicile in Coyoacán, México, until 1960 when she settled in (or, near) Paris, France, where she died on January 23, 1962.

Trotsky's children:

Trotsky's grandchildren:

Trotsky's great-grandchildren:

Trotsky's great-great-grandchildren:

Selective bibliographical notes

 ... about the genealogy of the Trotsky family (and some related topics):

 ... about Aleksandra L'vovna Sokolovskaia:

... about Natal'ia Ivanovna Sedova:

... about Lev L'vovich Sedov

... about Sergei L'vovich Sedov

... about Zinaida L'vovna Bronshtein (m. Moglina, r. Volkova)

... about Vsevolod (Seva, Esteban) Volkov

Besides the above-listed items, there are a lot of biographical details about the members of the Trotsky family in some of the well-known studies about Trotsky's life and personality, as for example:

It goes without saying that some of the archival collections featured in TrotskyanaNet's sections on Archives in America and Archives in Europe are goldmines of information with regard not only to Leon Trotsky but to some of his close relatives, too; see for example the Trotsky-Sedov Papers and the Sergei L'vovich Sedov Letters preserved at Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, Cal.

Some of the genealogical data listed above have been gratefully derived from interviews which Prof. Gabriel García Higueras conducted with Esteban Volkov, Trotsky's grandson, in Mexico, D.F. in 2006.

For relevant sources about Trotsky's family and genealogy as well as about some members of this family you may also consult:
-- the online version of our Lubitz' Leon Trotsky Bibliography within the framework of TrotskyanaNet, particularly chapters 2.8.01 and 9
-- and several short biographical sketches about members of the Trotsky family available online on Wikipedia and other websites


1) With regard to Trotsky's year of birth it should be kept in mind that (very few, of course) sources mention "1878" instead of 1879. Perhaps the simple explanation for this was given by Trotsky himself in his autobiography (written in 1929, first English publication in 1930): "The registration book was not kept very accurately in the colony of Gromokley, and many entries were made after the date of the events recorded. When the time came for me to enter high school, it appeared that I was still too young for admission. The year of my birth was then changed in the birth certificate from 1879 to 1878; so I always had two records, my official age and the one observed by my family" (cited from Trotsky, Leon: My life, New York 1930, p. 3).
It should be mentioned here, that in many biographies and other works about Trotsky his date of birth has wrongly been given as "October 25" (Julian calendar style) instead of October 26.
With regard to Trotsky's exact birthplace, Marilyn Vogt-Downey wrote several years ago: "One of the most exciting presentations of the conference [i.e. the Fifth Conference of the Committee for the Study of Leon Trotsky's Legacy, held in Moscow on Oct. 29-30, 1999, W.L.] was made by a young Ukrainian Trotskyist named Oleh Vernik. He reported on research he and his comrades have been conducting to locate Trotsky's birthplace Yanovka [Ianovka]. [...] Locating Trotsky's birthplace was no easy task because the name of the place had been changed a number of times during the Stalin period. However [...] an expeditionary team was able to ascertain that the 19th century village of Yanovka coincides with the present-day village of Berislavka [recte: Bereslavka]. Venturing a trip to that village, the team made some interesting discoveries". - We have attached the compilation concerning Trotsky's birthplace made by Marilyn Vogt-Downey from Oleh Vernik's report as a PDF file [213 KB]. (Both the quotation and the compilation are taken from Vogt-Downey, Marilyn: Fifth conference on Leon Trotsky highlights the relevance of his work : report from the October 1999 Moscow conference on Trotsky. New York, NY : Committee for the Study of Leon Trotsky's Legacy, [2000]).
Trotsky was born and spent most of his early childhood on the outskirts of Bereslavka (the former Ianovka [or, Yanovka]), today's postal code: 27246), a small village situated at 47°54'0" N, 32°18'0" E, today belonging to the Bobrinetskii raion [Bobrinets district]; Bobrinets (postal code 27200) today (2004) is a town with 12,000 inhabitants, some 20 km north of Bereslavka. Both places are part of the Kirovohradskii oblast' [Kirovograd region]. The city of Kirovohrad is situated some 75 km north of Bereslavka and has some 240,000 inhabitants (as of 2004); at the time of Trotsky's youth, Kirovohrad, however, was called Elizavetgrad (or, Elizabethgrad, or Yelisavetgrad) after empress Elizaveta Petrovna and in 1924 was renamed Zinov'evsk (or, Zinovievsk, or Zinovyevsk) after G.E. Zinov'ev, a prominent Bolshevik leader and then president of the Communist International. After his final downfall in 1934, the city was again renamed: Kirovo (from 1939: Kirovograd) after S. Kirov, a high-ranking member of the Stalinist CPSU Politbureau; Kirovograd is the Russian spelling while the (now official, as at 2004) Ukrainian spelling is Kirovohrad. In the late 19th century, Trotsky's birthplace belonged to the Kherson oblast' [Kherson region]. Other places in the southern Ukraine which played a certain role in Trotsky's childhood and where he got school education were Odessa, the well-known seaport which is more than 300 km from Bereslavka (as mentioned above), and Mykolaiv (or, Mykolayiv) which in Russian is spelled Nikolaev (or, Nikolayev), situated at rivers Bug and Inhul, some 65 km from the Black Sea coast. In the Bobrinets Museum of Local Studies, the town honours its fellow-town man Trotsky by an exposition of material about his life and activity.
Trotsky's birthplace and a number of villages in its vacinity (e.g. Poltava) were part of a colony called Gromoklei which was founded in the 1850s and in which primarily Jewish and other non-Russian settlers earned their living by agricultural work (for more details about this colony see Iakov Pasik's interesting essay Bronshteiny, Gromoklei, Ianovka).
For Trotsky's various pen names, pseudonyms etc. as well as for a more or less complete list of the different spellings and transliterations of his names to be found in publications and in library catalogues, see the section about Trotsky's Pseudonyms plus appendix within the framework of our TrotskyanaNet.

2) Trotsky's brain injury and his death are subject of innumerable accounts, reports etc., thus for example more recently: Soto-Pérez-de-Celis, Enrique: The death of Leon Trotsky, in: Neurosurgery (Hagerstown), 67.2010 (2), pp. 417-423; Parkinson, Nicholas and Ian Greaves: Famous trauma victims - Leon Trotsky, in: Trauma (Los Angeles, Cal.), 14.2012 (3), pp. 257-262. Please note that in some sources the exact time of his death is given as "6:48 p.m. local time."

3) Please note, that the name of Trotsky's mother in various sources is given as "Ana", "Aneta", "Annata", "Anna Leont'evna", or "Annetta", that her maiden name in some sources is given as "Issivovskaia" and that in some sources her year of death is given as "1912" (e.g. Jan. 6, 1912, see Iakov Pasik's Bronshteiny, Gromoklei, Ianovka), whereas most sources (incl. Trotsky's autobiography "Moia zhizn") mention "1910". - The year of birth of Trotsky's father in some sources is given (obviouskly by error) as "1844", or "1850".

4) Aleksandr Davidovich Bronshtein married Elena Iosifovna Berdichevskaia (1876[?]-1943) with whom he had 5 children: Matil'da Aleksandrovna, m. Menkes (1895-1952), Boris Aleksandrovich (1897-1937), Lev Aleksandrovich (1902-1947), Evgeniia Aleksandrovna, m. Uspenskaia (1908-1985), and Anna (Aneta) Aleksandrovna, m. Kasatikova (1912-1996). Elizaveta Davidovna Bronshtein married Naum Isakovich Meil'man with whom she had a son, Lev Naumovich Meil'man (1900-1960); Ol'ga Davidovna Bronshtein married Lev Borisovich Rozenfel'd, better known as Kamenev (1883-1936) with whom she had two sons: Aleksandr L'vovich Kamenev (1908-1936) and Iurii L'vovich Kamenev (1916-1936).
[For further details see particularly Bronshtein, V.B.: Lev Trotskii, ego blizhaishie i dal'nie rodstvenniki, in: Iz glubiny vremen (Moskva), 1995 (4), pp. 90-105]. - Please note, that in some sources different years of birth are given for some of Trotsky's siblings.

5) Date of birth according to Robert Service (Trotsky, a biography, London 2009, p.100) and a few other authors: Nov. 24, 1906, obviously by confusing Arabic and Roman numerals ("24.II" which means February 24, not November 24 !). See for example Wikipedia, Broué's biography of Sedov and Biulleten' oppozitsii 10.1938 (no.64), p.1, as mentioned in the bibliographic compilation above.

6) Wrong date of birth according to Robert Service (Trotsky, a biography, London 2009, p.100): March 20, 1908

7) Please note, that in various sources (e.g. Broué, Pierre: Léon Sedov, fils de Trotsky, victime de Staline, Paris 1993, p.32) Lev Sedov's wife has been referred to as "Anna Metallikova" instead of "Anna Samoilovna Riabukhina-Sedova" (the official form of name she adopted by marriage). However, it is quite likely that this is incorrect. In a genealogical contribution published in Cahiers du mouvement ouvrier (no. 9, 2000, p. 69), Valerii Borisovich Bronshtein (1924-2013, grandson of Trotsky's elder brother Aleksandr) confirmed the version given by us above: "La femme de Léon Sedov, Anna Riaboukhina-Sedova, était resteé à Moscou et fut fusilleé en 1938; le sort de leur fils Lev (Lioulik) est à ce jour resté inconnu".
In 2007, a grandson of a cousin of Anna Riabukhina-Sedova informed us by an e-mail that Anna had two sisters, and the elder one, Asya Samoilovna, changed her name to Metallikova by marriage; this might perhaps explain the confusion.
In 1929, Anna Riabukhina-Sedova remained in the USSR while her husband Lev Sedov left the country together with Leon Trotsky and Nataliia Sedova.
Anna was divorced and in 1932 married another man. When she was arrested in July 1937, she was living in Moscow together with her son Lev (Liulik) whose fate after 1937 is not yet definitively known.
On the website of Memorial (listing victims of the Stalinist purges and liquidations of the 1930s/1940s) we found the following note [accessed Febr. 23, 2007, originally in Cyrillic characters]:

"Rjabukhina-Sedova Anna Samoilovna. Rod. 1899, g. Polotsk Belorusskoi SSR; evreika, b/p, obr. srednee, starshii ekonomist Gordorstroia, prozh. v Moskve: ul. B. Serpuchovskaia, d. 46, kv. 155. Arest. 26.07.1937. Prigovorena VKVS SSSR 8.01.1938 po obv. v uchastii v k.-r. terroristicheskoi organizatsii. Rasstreliana 8.01.1938. Reabilitirovana 20.06.1990"

8) Years of birth according to various Wikipedia articles.

9) Nora Dolores Volkow (or, Volkov) has made a remarkable career in the U.S. After having attended the Modern American School in Mécico City and after having earned a medical degree from the National University of Mexico in México City, her psychiatric residency was at New York University where she earned the Laughlin Fellowship Award as one of the 10 outstanding psychiatric residents in the U.S. After a professional career at renowned research institutions like for example the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Medical School at the State university of New York, she became Director of the famous National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Instuitutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md. in 2003. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and the behavioural changes occuring with aging. She has published more than 300 relevant journal articles and the like in the field of drug abuse research and related psychiatric and bio-medical research. [From NIDA's "Director's page", accessed on July 7, 2009] In 2007 she was listed in The Times 100, a "list of the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moralexample is transforming the world" (see Nora Volkow, by Tom Sizemore, 2007). There is also a Wikipedia article about Nora Volkov (Volkow).

10) Ken McMullen's (b. 1948) ambitious and sensitively made movie on Zina [Zinaida] was produced by TSI Films, London, in 1985 and was awarded the Special Prize of the Jury at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in 1986. The script was written by Ken McMullen and Terry James. The main actors were Domiziana Giordano (as Zina), Ian McKellen (as Dr. Kronfeld) and Philip Madoc (as Trotsky). The film tells the tragic story of Zina, Trotsky's eldest daughter, who committed suicide in Berlin at the age of 32. Most of the story is unfolding during Zina's analytic sessions with Prof. Dr. Arthur Kronfeld (1886-1941), a renowned psychiatrist and pioneering psychoanalyst (recommended to her by Trotsky) who used both hypnosis and psychoanalysis to treat Zina's deteriorated mental health and severe psychological problems (hallucinations, disorientation, nightmares, etc).
For more information about McMullen and his Zina movie see for example the Ken McMullen Zina filmpage and other British and German websites devoted to Zina; in the above-mentioned book of Jacquy Chemouni the McMullen film is dealt within a long footnote (note 21, p. 223). The case of Zina has also been dealt with on a scholarly website created by Ingo-Wolf Kittel and devoted to the life and work of psychiatrist Arthur Kronfeld (1886-1941). For exhaustive biographical sketches about Kronfeld see Ingo-Wolf Kittel's encyclopaedic entry titled Kronfeld, Arthur, in: Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, Bd. 25, Herzberg, 2005, col. 750-760, and the entry about Kronfeld, Arthur, Dr. med. et phil., Prof., Psychiater und Psychotherapeut, in: Lexikon deutsch-jüdischer Autoren, Bd. 14, München, 2006, pp. 369-376.

Wolfgang and Petra Lubitz, Aug. 2004
last (slightly) rev. June 2019

http://www.trotskyana.net © by Wolfgang & Petra Lubitz