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Ramon Mercader

Book Review: 'Murder in Mexico - The Assassination of Leon Trotsky'

On August 20th, 1940, in the suburb of Coyoacan on the outskirts of Mexico City, in a house he had transformed into a veritable armed fortress in the vain attempt to escape the long arm of Stalin, Leon Trotsky was assassinated—by a man he had trusted as a friend, and who played the part patiently for three months awaiting an opportunity to be alone with his victim just long enough to drive an ice-pick into his head.

So perished Trotsky, the man who believed that all and every means—lying, treachery, intimidation, violence, and murder—were justified to attain the end. He died, treacherously and horribly, the victim finally of his own violent creed.

So also, after many unsuccessful attempts, did Stalin finally settle accounts with his last and most dangerous enemy—and henceforth could sleep in peace.

Trotsky's Killer

Ramon Mercader, the man who murdered Leon Trotsky, died in Havana on October 18th. Four days later his ashes were flown to Russia, the country whose secret policy, in 1940, recruited Mercader to kill Trotsky in his Russian exile.

"I was a Trotskyist until one day I realised that the leader who claimed to be struggling for the liberation of the working class was in reality just a fanatic thirsty for revenge against Stalin." These were the words Mercader, who afterwards served a 20-year prison sentence, used to explain to the Mexican police his motives for splitting Trotsky's skull with a pickaxe.

The Death of Trotsky

Through the attack of an assassin Leon Trotsky is dead. The Press reports that the attack was made in Trotsky's own home, the assailant having wormed his way into the aged revolutionary's friendship through many visits to his home in Mexico.

Thus the murderer avoided the usual search which the guards of Trotsky's person carry out in the case of all visitors, and so managed to conceal a small axe, with which the attack was made. Trotsky's dying words were to accuse the Russian Secret Police of the crime.

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