Esteban Volkov, the grandson of Leon Trotsky, sadly passed away on 16 June 2023. For many decades, Volkov courageously defended the ideas and historic role of Leon Trotsky.
“Our director, comrade, and friend Esteban Volkov left this world, at the age of 97 years,” the Leon Trotsky House Museum announced. Volkov founded the museum and directed it until a few years ago. The museum is in Mexico City, where Trotsky was forced to live in exile until August 21, 1940, when he was murdered by a secret agent of the Stalinist regime. Volkov said he had made “defending his grandfather’s ideas and career the most important task of his life”. Along with Lenin, Trotsky was a co-leader of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, leader of the Red Army, and after Lenin’s death in 1924, the foremost leader of the struggle against the Stalinist degeneration of the revolution.
Volkov’s formative years were marked by the vengeful Stalinist regime. His mother Zinaida (Trotsky’s daughter) seriously ill and seeking medical treatment outside the Soviet Union, was denied access to her son after the Stalinist regime revoked her Soviet citizenship. She was driven by the cruelty of the Stalinist regime to take her own life. His father, Platon Volkov, was a key figure in the Left Opposition to Stalin and perished in a gulag in the 1930s.
Trotsky and his wife, Natalia Ivanovna Sedova, were eventually able to bring Esteban Volkov to the Coyoacan neighbourhood in Mexico City to live with them. In August 1940, the teenage Volkov, returning home from school saw a police car outside the house and found saw Trotsky on the floor after having been attacked with an ice axe by Stalinist agent Ramon Mercader.
Below we republish an extract from the book, The Rise of Militant, by Peter Taaffe, which describes Esteban Volkov’s stirring speech at a Militant rally, in London, in 1988.
Ally Pally Rally
In 1988 the beginning of a change in the Stalinist states formed the centre-piece of the Militant National Rally, which this time was held at Alexandra Palace. Reflecting the huge growth in support for Militant [forerunner to Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)], this was the biggest rally, with almost 8,000, participating.
For nearly two hours the crowd poured into the vast hall. The speakers appeared on the platform to music, pyrotechnics, the waving of red flags, and a huge portrait of Leon Trotsky which was unfurled behind the stage. An important theme was the struggle to defend the socialist cause to which Trotsky devoted his life.
Speaking at the rally alongside myself, Ted Grant, John Macreadie, left MP Ron Brown, Janice Glennon (for the youth), was Veronika Volkov, the great-granddaughter of Leon Trotsky. She had arrived at the rally in place of her father Esteban Volkov, Trotsky’s grandson, who was not able to be present because of his wife’s illness.
However, in a satellite phone link-up from Mexico, Esteban Volkov spoke to the rally:
“Leon Trotsky was a man of inexhaustible generosity, always well-disposed to share sparse resources with comrades with economic problems. He maintained a close interest in them and in all his close friends…
Even in his last moments of consciousness (following the assassin’s blow)… he was able to make a joke about his hair that was being cut, trying to mitigate the deep suffering of his courageous inseparable wife, Natalya, who stood beside him until the last moment.
A great Marxist theoretician and dauntless revolutionary, his dedication to working-class interests and his faith in the communist future of mankind made him one of the most indomitable heroic revolutionaries in history…
In the ebb of the revolutionary tide, he kept the beacon of Marxism-Leninism brightly lit. Trotsky left an invaluable contribution to the arsenal of Marxist theory and methodology to the working class.”
Esteban Volkov quoted his grandfather’s testament: “Life is beautiful, let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression, and violence and enjoy it to the full.” (6)
The impact of the rally was, once more, recorded widely in the capitalist press.