JULY 2018

JULY 2018
One Hundred Years Later, Same Message. 1916 - 2017


Sunday, November 23, 2014


I believe the best evidence is that Joseph Stalin had his own father murdered, and watched it done. The cobbler Besarion Vanovis was a known violent drunk who for years beat both his wife and son, before abandoning them. And when, in March of 1906, he was found dead on a back street in Tifil, Georgia, there were few tears shed for his demise, and police wrote it down to just another drunken brawl. But his wound, a huge hole smashed into his skull, was just the sort of injury Stalin now insisted on inflicting on his other old enemy, Leon Trotsky - a single blow delivered with an ax, wrapped in a heavy coat.  Stalin was very specific about the method.  In fact, contemplating such acts of terror were Stalin's favorite pastime, as the drunken ruler shared with comrades in 1923: “To choose the victim,” he told them, “to prepare the blow with care, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed....there is nothing sweeter in life.”.
After the raid of 24 May, the American Socialist Workers Party tried to raise funds to improve the defenses at 19 Avenida Viena (above), but were only able collect $2,250. Trotsky had previously been approached by Harvard University to donate his papers. And he now had two reasons to close the deal quickly, to protect his own life, and to move his papers to where Stalin could not destroy them. In exchange for his communications and notes between 1917 and 1937, Trotsky was paid $6,000 cash.
The money went to see that all windows facing Morelos Street (above) were bricked up, as were the doors in the portico which opened on Viena Street. The windows that remained were now guarded by iron bars. Wooden interior doors, which had proved easily smashed, were replaced with steel.
On 18 June, 1940, , the Mexican Police arrested two dozen members of the Mexican Communist Party, and charged them with taking part in the raid. The leader, David Alaro Siqueiros (above), escaped at first, releasing editorials insisting he was innocent and being framed.  But as more and more members of the raid confessed and named him as the leader, the tone of his press releases changed. Now he claimed he was not trying to kill Trotsky, but just to get him expelled from Mexico. Four months later Sisqueiros was finally captured in Jalisco. A judge was bribed to release the painter on bail, unheard of in an attempted murder case, and within 24 hours Siqueiros was in first Ecuador, and then Cuba, and then central America. Most of the other members of the raid were not so lucky, and ended up serving years in jail.
It was during the confusion and trauma immediately following the 24 May attack that a old friend appeared at the Viena Streeet villa, a young blond named Slyvia Ageloff.  Her sister, Ruth, had once worked for Trotsky as a typist, and the sisters had met the Old Man and Natalia during his Paris exile.  Trotsky had taken an interest in the young socialists because he was,   in the words of a close family friend,  an “experienced philanderer”,  but Natalia also found the girls a pleasant diversion, and now Slyvia was doubly so .
Slyvia  (above left) explained she had come to Mexico to visit her mysterious Canadian boyfriend, Frank Jackson (above right), who had recently started a new job in Mexico. She was welcomed to tea with the Trotskies, although Frank's schedule prevented him from joining them, which added to his mystery. The only time members of the household saw him at first was when his Buick sedan pulled to the curb to pick her up. Eventually Frank became familiar with the guards, and even agreeing to drive the house-bound Leon and Natalia on an outing to Vera Cruz. That kindness, and a gift of chocolates for Natalia,  made it easier when Sylvia asked if Trotsky could offer some advice on a political article Frank was writing
The article which Jackson wanted Trotsky to read was titled “The Third Camp and the Popular Front”, referring to Trotsky's argument that workers must reject both capitalism and the gangster state Stalin had created.  But as he read it in his study,  Trotsky grew uneasy.  Frank Jackson was sitting too close, right behind him, on the edge of his desk, with his coat folded across his lap.  Since the 24 May attack, Trotsky kept a .25 caliber pistol within reach on the desk top. But an alarm switch was blocked by Jackson. Trotsky found the article obvious and dull, and after he had made comments and sent Jackson on his way, The Old Man told Natalia he did not want to see the Canadian again.
But Sylvia begged, and Trotsky agreed to read the rewrites Jackson had made. So about 5:20, on Tuesday afternoon, 20 August, 1940,  Jackson pulled up again in front of the villa. Getting out of his Buick he called up to the guard shack above the foray (above),  asking if Sylvia had arrived yet.  The guards answered no, but opened the front door without question  Again they noted he carried a raincoat. Trotsky was in the garden, feeding his rabbits, so Jackson stepped back to the kitchen, to tell Natalia that he and Sylvia would be leaving Mexico the next day.  But she had grown suspicious of the Canadian, and asked him why he was wearing a hat and coat on such a hot day. Jackson answered, “It might rain.”  Abruptly, Trotsky appeared and invited Jackson back to his study to read the rewrites.
He waited only a few moments, before drawing a cut-down climbers pick ax hanging off the rear of his belt, hidden beneath his jacket.  Nervously, he wrapped his raincoat around it, and raising it over his head, drove it with all his might into the very top of Leon Trotsky's head. 
The steel point smashed through the top of the Old Man's skull, tore through the living soft layer beneath, and was driven three inches into his brain. 
Jackson said in his confession, “I shut my eyes and struck with all my strength ... As long as I live I can never forget his cry ...he screamed very long, infinitely long,Jackson had expected the man to die instantly. But the sound of his cry terrorized the murderer, and everybody else in the villa.
As Jackson pulled the ax back out, to raise it again, Trotsky stood and turned on his assassin. They struggled over the ax, destroying much of the furniture, and spilling Trotsky's blood (above)   The younger man managed to slice Trotsky's cheek, before the 60 year old Russian pulled the ax out of his hands. 
As Natalia and a bodyguard rushed into the room they discovered Trotsky standing over his attacker, the ax in his hand, blood pouring over his eyes. Trotsky said to his wife, “Look what they've done to me!” He told the guard he'd been shot. Then Natalia guided him out to the garden.
The guards fell upon Jackson (above),  beating him while he cried, “They made me do it. They're holding my mother. They have put my mother in jail”  When he tried to pull a pistol out of his pocket, they beat him again. Again he cried out, “They have imprisoned my mother”  Then he added, “Sylvia Ageloff had nothing to do with this.”   Then he insisted “it” was not the NKVD, he had nothing to do with the Soviet secret police.” No one ever believed him.
Trotsky was driven to two miles to Cruz Verde Hospital in Mexico City. A team of neurosurgeons operated to release pressure on his brain. His last words were, “I think Stalin has finished the job he started.” Suffering from shock and blood loss, and severe brain damage, Leon Trotsky never woke up from the surgery, and died half past seven the next evening.  He was buried on the villa's grounds, which have become a museum, dedicated to his memory.
Later, the police, who had arrested Sylvia,  led the bewildered and terrified woman into a hotel room crowded with reporters, where she was surprised to confront Jackson (above). He began yelling, telling her to go away.  
Jackson (above, right)  later re-enacted his crime, and even admitted to being Jacques Mornard. And under that name he was convicted of murder, and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He served every day of it,  if under luxurious conditions, with female companionship, and servants, all paid for by the NKVD.
We know now that Leonid Ettingon told Ramon Mercader just before his final meeting with Trotsky, that if he failed to murder the Old Man, his mother Caridad Mercader (above) , would be sent to a gulag in Siberia.  After Trotsky was dead, Caridad was ordered back to Moscow, where Stalin himself gave her a medal, the Order of Lenin.  The honor was tainted when she realized she would never be free again. Twelve years after the murder, Mexican police finally pierced Ramon's disguises, and his true identity was finally revealed.  Caridad knew that not only  had she turned her own son into a murderer, she would have been arrested and likely executed by Soviet NKVD if he ever talked. She became a drug addict, her heroin supplied by the NKVD.
Joseph Stalin, perhaps the greatest thug of all time,  died in his own bed on 5 March, 1953,  likely poisoned by the head of his NKVD, Lavrentiy Beria.  Beria was arrested and executed on 23 December, 1953,  just another gangster rubbed out.  That left only the flotsam floating behind to record the damage the gangster had done.
Ramon was released from prison in May of 1960, and traveled immediately to the Soviet Union where he was honored and rewarded for his loyalty and silence. He would never reconcile with his mother (above), who said she was “only good for destroying capitalism, but no good for building Communism.”  She hated living in the Soviet Union,  and died in Paris in 1975.   Her son, Ramon, died three years later, in Havana, Cuba.  And Seva, Trotsky's grandson, going by the name Esteban Volkov,  still lives as of 2014, with only an occasional nightmare of the attacks, and his grandfather's brutal murder.
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