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Trotsky, Leon (1879–1940)

LEON TROTSKY, one of the seminal figures in the history of the communist left, was born in the southern part of the Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. Named Lev Davidovich Bronstein, his father was a prosperous farmer, or kulak. It was an era when the Russian government was becoming increasingly oppressive toward the Jews. Often, in order to shift attention from the inequalities of Russian life, regime agents provocateurs (hired by the secret police to foment trouble) would stir up the Russian Orthodox Black Hun-dreds gangs to launch bloody pogroms, or genocidal riots, against the Jewish community. On many occasions, the anti-Semitic Cossacks would join in, using their swords and wicked whips, the knouts. Hence, liberal intellectuals soon said that the Russian tzars ...

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