Trotsky’s day out: How a visit to NYC influenced the Bolshevik revolution

Leon Trotsky in Mexico with some American friends, shortly before his 1940 assassination. (Public domain)
Leon Trotsky in Mexico with some American friends, shortly before his 1940 assassination. (Public domain)
Author Kenneth Ackerman explores the life of the Jewish radical in the weeks leading up to the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government

By JP O’ Malley | The Times of Israel

Between 1881 and 1917, New York was ballooning into the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse metropolis the world had ever seen.

Jews made up over a fifth of the city’s expanding population of 5.5 million. Most came from the Pale of Settlement — a western region of imperial Russia — fleeing pogroms and violent persecution.

The largest Jewish presence in New York was on the Lower East Side, where Yiddish was the language of the streets, cafes, theaters, cinemas, and the Jewish printing press — which was predominately socialist, left wing, and internationalist in outlook.

In January 1917, a strikingly handsome radical-revolutionary, Lev Davidovich Bronstein — otherwise known as Leon Trotsky — arrived into this vast cosmopolitan-cultural-melting-pot.

Kenneth D. Ackerman, a lawyer and historian based in Washington D.C., has recently published “Trotsky in New York 1917: A Radical on the Eve of Revolution.”

The book recalls Trotsky’s controversial 10 weeks spent in New York before he headed back to Russia to lead the Military-Revolutionary Committee which carried out the overthrow of the Provisional Government in the October Revolution.

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