Lev Davidovič Trockij / International Left Opposition Archives

Biographical / Historical Note

Lev Trotsky: true name: Lev Davidovič Bronštejn; born in Janovka, Cherson province, Ukraine, Russia 1879; murdered in Mexico City, Mexico 1940; revolutionary Marxist and theoretician, Bolshevik leader, Soviet official and main rival of Stalin; played an important role in the 1905 Revolution; lived abroad until 1917; returned to Russia after the February Revolution and joined the Bolsheviks; led the peace negotiation team in Brest-Litovsk; served as Commissar of War and reorganized the Red Army; got into conflict with Stalin after Lenin's death in 1924; deprived of his functions in 1927 and expelled from the Communist Party; exiled in 1929 he lived in Turkey, France, Norway and Mexico. International Left Opposition (ILO): origin of the Trotskyist movement can be traced to the Left Opposition within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1923-1927; forbidden in 1927; from 1929 the centre of the opposition moved from Russia to Western Europe; the International Secretariat (IS) of the ILO was founded in Paris 1930; in 1933 the ILO changed its name into International Communist League (ICL); in 1938 the Fourth International was founded in Paris.

Arrangement

Classifying the Trotsky and ILO papers it seemed rather self-evident to maintain within the ILO sub-group the country files. One gets the impression that in the ILO office the communications with the sections were filed per country. Dealing with all the correspondence outside the country files was less self-evident. It was decided to describe them per item ("general correspondence"). This has after all the advantage of being able to mention of each letter not only the exact date, but also whether the letter is a manuscript one, a typescript one, or a carbon copy. When a document is a telegram it is mentioned; when a postal card, or a picture postcard no such mention is made; enclosures are not mentioned.
About half of the general correspondence consists of carbon copies (or, in a few cases, manuscript copies). Many are without sender, some without addressee. If possible, senders/addressees are solved. If not for certain: [ ] and "probably" are used. Both indications are interchangeably used for different degrees of uncertainty. For reasons of easy reference of the general correspondence we have not separated the originals and the copies, but listed them together.
Not only in the general correspondence, but also in other parts of the archive the letters/carbon copies from Trotsky are listed with year, month and day. Please note that outside the general correspondence it is not mentioned whether a letter is an original or a copy. More often than not the letters from the IS and its office workers are copies, the letters from the sections and its workers not.
Pseudonyms are solved, when known, except in instances where a person is generally known by his/her pseudonym. Please note, that quite a few documents are in Russian. In the inventory the international transcription has been used. An exception has been made for "Trotsky", instead of "Trockij". Originally the collection contained a higher amount of printed documents, but they have been incorporated in the IISH library. A small amount of photographs are now in the IISH Audiovisual Department. In the inventory the term "cover" is used for 5-13 items, cover for more than 13 items. The collection measures five meters. The card index system of the collection measures one meter.

Content

Trotsky Papers (mainly carbon copies): correspondence between Lev Trotsky and Natalija Sedova and Lev Sedov 1931-1937; with and between various Trotskyists in Europe, including Eugen Bauer, Jeanne Martin, Raymond Molinier, Alexandra Pfemfert, Lev Sedov; letters from several correspondents in the Soviet Union 1931-1935; correspondence relating to the stay of V.P. Volkov in Austria and Paris 1933-1936; manuscripts of books and articles by Lev Trotsky, including `Istorija Russkoj Revolucii' and `Moja Žizn'; correspondence relating to the publishing of Trotsky's books 1929-1933; correspondence between Lenin and Trotsky published as `The Trotsky Papers 1917-1922'. ILO/ICL, International Secretariat: documents on the International Preconference of the ILO 1933; documents on the plena of the IS 1933, [1936?]; minutes of meetings of the IS 1931-1934; correspondence, circulars and other documents of the IS 1930-1934, with a file on the discussion about a new party in Germany; correspondence, mainly with IS, circular letters, resolutions, reports, leaflets and other documents of the national sections and adhering groups in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Norway, Poland, Rumania, Spain, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Indochina, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the USA; files on the European Antifascist Congress 1933, the International Conference of Left Socialist and Communist organizations 1933, etc. Papers of Emmanuel Loubier: documents 1930-1935.

Correspondence of Trotsky with Hugo Sonnenschein (pseudonym: Sonka) 1929-1939.

NB. Papers of Lev Trotsky are also held at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. and at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA.

Processing Information

Inventory made by Hermien van Veen in 1990. Important contributions to the description of the documents have been made by Karel Hoskens and Emile Schwidder.

Alternative Form of Material

45 security microfilms (1991). Partly published in: The Trotsky Papers 1917-1922. Annotated by Jan M. Meijer. Vol. 1. 1917-1919. Vol. 2. 1920-1922. The Hague, 1964-1971.

Location of Originals

Originals in possesion of the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., USA