The first Marriage: Aleksandra SokolovskayaEdit
In 1898, at the age of 22, a young Leon Trotsky was traveling from his hometown of Yanovka to the town Nikolayev. Trotsky stopped for the night at the estate of a wealthy landowner friend. Trotsky carried a briefcase full of illegal manuscripts on his person. These manuscripts identified him as a member of the Communist party, which was illegal in 1898. The morning after his night at the estate, the police came and arrested Trotsky and around 200 of his colleagues. Among those colleagues was Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, a fellow Russian Marxist revolutionary.
Sokolovskaya was a spirited woman. Trotsky recalled her gaiety and affinity for music in his autobiography "My Life." Trotsky and Sokolovskaya were bound by their passion for their work, his admiration for her limitless commitment, and his unwillingness to separate with such a vital partner. His admiration for her commitment and moral compass led to their marriage in 1899. Trotsky and Sokolovskaya were exiled to Siberia shortly after they wed. There, they parented two daughters, Zinaida and Nina. When Nina was merely four months old, Vladimir Lenin’s “What is to be Done?” had been published. This marked the passage of time that made Trotsky’s former writings obsolete; the revolution was moving in a direction that Trotsky couldn’t support. He needed to escape and divert what he thought was systematic political misinformation. Sokolovskaya, according to Trotsky, was the wise voice that silenced all his doubts and inhibitions regarding his escape. As a matter of fact, Trotsky recalls her as being the one to suggest that he escape in the first place. “Life separated us, but nothing could destroy our friendship and our intellectual kinship.”
After Trotsky’s escape, Sokolovskaya continued to live in exile until she was given freedom. Their daughters were raised by their paternal grandparents and Sokolovskaya was last seen in a labor camp at the age of 60, where she probably died.
The Second Marriage: Natalia Ivana SedovaEdit
After his exile, Trotsky married once more. He met his second wife, Natalia Ivanoa Sedova, in Paris in 1902. Sedova was a participant in the so-called ‘Iskra group.’ Iskra, meaning ‘spark’ in Rusian, was the name of a revolutionary newspaper to which Trotsky and his colleagues contributed. Trotsky rented a room from Sedova for 12 Francs a month upon his arrival to Paris. She commented about his frequent whistling and cheerful spirit, which he fondly recalls in his autobiography. The two worked together and their marriage lasted his whole life, although Trotsky had an affair. Sedova and Trotsky had two sons together named Lev and Sergei. Together, Trotsky and Sedova faced arrests and exiles. She followed him to Russia, Constantinople, Geneva, and finally Mexico where they sought political asylum from his rival Josef Stalin’s regime.
Trotsky and Sedova’s son Lev followed in their footsteps and became active in the Bolshevik-Leninist movement. Sergei was not politically active, but was almost certainly murdered at Stalin’s orders.
The Affair with Frida KahloEdit
In 1936, Diego Rivera persuaded the Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas to grant Trotsky asylum in Mexico because Trotsky and Sedova were unable to find asylum elsewhere. In January of 1937, the two moved there and were greeted by Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo. She gave them the use of their Blue House in Coyoacan, where they lived for the next two years. During that time, the two couples spent a lot of time together and developed very close relationships. Around the early summer of 1937 Frida and Leon began a secret and passionate love affair. The affair ended after about two years. At the end of their relationship, Frida painted a self-portrait and gave it to Trotsky. He hung it on the wall in his study in the Blue house. However, in 1939, when he and Sedova moved out into a house of their own, Trotsky left the painting behind.
Trotsky’s political ambitions directed his romantic life, but they didn’t suppress it. To this day he is known as a revolutionary thinker, leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, and an underdog in Russian political history. He was fatally attracted to women with strong presences, but also committed to his cause. Trotsky was assassinated in his home in 1940.