Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) was born in Yanovka, Ukraine. Speaking about his upbringing, Trotsky later said: "We were not deprived, except of life's generosity and tenderness." He was shown no such tenderness by Stalin, who cemented his own rule by ousting Trotsky from the Soviet Union.
Trotsky joined the Social Democrats in 1896. He escaped exile in Siberia in 1902 and reached England using a passport under the name of his former jailer, Trotsky.
In London Trotsky met Lenin and other Russian revolutionaries who collaborated in the publication of Iskra (The Spark). He split from Lenin in 1903 to lead the Menshevik faction, fearing that Lenin's theories would produce a one man dictatorship.
During the failed 1905 revolution Trotsky propounded his theory of permanent revolution: revolution in one country must be followed by revolutions in others and eventually throughout the world. He was exiled again.
Trotsky returned to Russia in 1917 and joined the Bolsheviks in St Petersburg. Although temporarily arrested by Kerenski's provisional government, he played a major role in the October Revolution and led the Russian delegation at Brest-Litovsk in 1918.
He served in the Politburo from 1919-27 and was made Commissar for War during the Russian civil war. Under his leadership the Red Army grew from 800,000 to 3,000,000, and fought simultaneously on sixteen fronts.
Following the debilitation and eventual death of Lenin in 1924, Stalin and Trotsky were the leading figures to succeed him. Although Lenin had rejected Stalin as his successor, Stalin used his position of power within the party structure to strengthen his position.
A division broke in the Communist ranks and Trotsky's Left Opposition tried to mobilise the Moscow proletariat. His failure demonstrated that Trotsky was no longer a charismatic leader and his influence declined. Stalin removed him from the commissariat for war and Trotsky held relatively minor posts before Stalin ousted him from the party.
Trotsky's fall from power continued with his exile to Kazakhstan, and culminated with his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1929. This move left Stalin as the sole and undisputable leader of the Soviet Union.
Trotsky was assassinated by a Soviet agent in 1940.