Lev Davidovič Trockij / International Left Opposition Archives

The exile period of Lev Trotsky and the foundation of the ILO

Much information concerning life and thought of Lev Trotsky(1879-1940) and - to a lesser extent - of Lev Sedov(1906-1938), can be found in Isaac Deutscher's biography. Here the listing of some events relevant to the collection (from 1 January 1929 onwards) may be sufficient. The events listed not only concern Trotsky, but also the founding and functioning of the International Left Opposition(ILO). On p. XI a short list of publications is given, from which the following data are drawn.



January 20 - Trotsky, in internal exile in Alma Ata, exiled from the Soviet Union.

February 12 - Trotsky, Natalija Sedova(1882-1962) and Lev Sedov arrive in Istanbul.

March 7 or 8 - Trotsky and his family move into a house in Büyük Ada/Prinkipo, Turkey.

July - The Russian Left Opposition outside the Soviet Union publishes in Paris the first issue of Bjulleten' oppozicii, edited by Trotsky.

August 15 - The first issue of La Vérité is published by French Oppositionists.

Summer - Trotsky finishes "Moja Zizn'" ("My Life").


April 6 - Representatives of Left Opposition groups in eight countries meet in Paris and establish the ILO as a faction of the Third International. They appoint its International Secretariat (IS); tasks of the IS are to publish an international bulletin and to prepare an international conference.

November- Trotsky finishes the first volume of "Istorija Russkoj Revoljucii".


February 18 - Lev Sedov leaves his father in Prinkipo and resumes his studies in Berlin, to which publication of Bjulleten' oppozicii is transferred.

March 1 - Trotsky's home at Prinkipo burns to the ground, after which he then moves to Kadiköy.

Autumn - The IS of the ILO moves from Paris to Berlin.


June- Trotsky finishes "Istorija Russkoj Revoljucii".

November 14 - Trotsky leaves Turkey to give a speech in Copenhagen.

December 11 - Trotsky returns to Turkey, and begins to write a report on discussions he held with other Left Oppositionists in Denmark and a programmatic document for an international conference to be held in February.


January 5 - Zinaida Volkova, Trotsky's eldest daughter, commits suicide in Berlin.

February 4-8 - Representatives of eleven European and American sections meet in Paris for the Preconference of the ILO. They decide on the formation of a plenum of one delegate for each of the five main sections. The IS is selected by the plenum, is responsible to the plenum and can be deposed by the plenum. Task of the IS is connection, information, control and political incentive. The Preconference decides on Paris as location for the IS.

March - Lev Sedov escapes Nazi terror by fleeing to Paris.

March 13-16 - The plenum of the ILO endorses Trotsky's proposal for a new German party.

July 17 - Trotsky and Natalija Sedova sail from Prinkipo, arriving at Cassis, France, July 24. On July 25 they take up residence at Saint-Palais, near Royan.

August 19-21 - The plenum of the ILO changes its name to International Communist League(ICL), considering itself no longer a faction of the Third International.

August 26 - The Declaration of Four, a call for a new International, written by Trotsky, is signed by representatives of the ILO, Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei(SAP), Revolutionair-Socialistische Partij(RSP) and Onafhankelijke Socialistische Partij ( OSP).

August 27-28 - A conference of independent socialist and communist organizations meets in Paris; a majority refuses to join the call for a new International.

October 9 - The Trotsky's leave Saint-Palais.

November 1 - The Trotsky's settle in Barbizon.

December 30 - Representatives of the organizations that signed the Declaration of Four in August hold a conference in Paris.


April 15 - Trotsky is forced to leave Barbizon and has to keep moving from place to place until July 10, when he settles in Domène, near Grenoble.

August 25 - The Ligue Communiste de France votes in favor of a proposal (known as "the French turn"), that its members join the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO).


June 14 - The Trotsky's leave France, arriving in Norway June 18. They settle in Weksal, near Hönefoss.


August 19-24 - First Moscow trial.

December 19 - Trotsky is deported from Norway.


January 9 - Trotsky arrives in Mexico; they settle in Coyoacán, Mexico City.

January 23-30 - Second Moscow trial.

April 10-17 - The Commission of Inquiry, headed by John Dewey, starts investigating the Moscow trial's charges against Trotsky and Lev Sedov.

December 12 - The Dewey Commission declares Trotsky(and Sedov) not guilty.


February 16 - Lev Sedov dies under mysterious circumstances in Paris hospital.

September 3 - The Fourth International is founded in France, and its statutes agreed upon.


August 20 - Trotsky is mortally wounded; he dies August 21.

The archive

On December 28, 1935 the IISH bought from Lev Trotsky about 800 documents 1917-1922. The collection was called by Trotsky the Lenin-Trotsky correspondence (Perepiska Lenina s Trockim), although quite a few communications are to and from others. In 1936 negotiations were carried on between IISH and Trotsky/Lev Sedov on other parts of Trotsky's archive. Some parts were already transported to the Paris branch of the IISH, when in the night of 6/7 November 1936 the Paris branch was broken into with the express object of taking possession of Trotsky's archives.

Trotsky then decided to take his archives with him to America. In the summer of 1940 he transferred them to the Harvard College Library. The Boris I. Nicolaevsky Collection, bought in 1963 by the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, was found to contain papers of Trotsky and Sedov too (9 meters).

However, a part of his papers remained behind in Europe. The IISH annual report of 1939 states the acquisition of a collection from Abel, "Abel" being the code word to avoid the name Trotsky(Repeatedly Trotsky referred to Stalin as Cain). It was probably in July 1939 that part of Trotsky's personal archive (manuscripts and correspondence 1929-1937) was acquired, together with papers from Natalija Sedova(including letters from Sedov 1931-1933), from Sedov(including letters from his father 1935-1937) and records of the International Secretariat of the ILO/ICL (1930-1934), or SIBL (Secrétariat international des Bolcheviques-Léninistes) as the collection was called previously. Together with the Trotsky papers and the ILO papers a third group of documents was acquired: records of the Ligue Communiste de France and of the Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste(POI)/ Parti Communiste Internationaliste(PCI), tendance Molinier-Frank, including many papers of Raymond Molinier(1904-). The records of the Ligue-POI/PCI are not listed in the Trotsky/ILO inventory, although documents are related. One should be aware that Raymond Molinier and Pierre Frank(1906-1984), among others, held several positions in the ILO, as well as in the French Opposition. Letters from Lev Trotsky are also to be found in the Ligue Communiste de France archive.

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 4.34 meters. The card index system of the collection was incorporated in the folders and covers during the preparation of the digitzation in the year 2013.


Pseudonym / User

Adolf - Klement, Rudolf

Albert - Jungclas, Georg

Arlen - Vásquez, Frederico

Audouin - Molinier, Henri

*Bauer, Eugen/Erwin - Ackerknecht, Erwin

Blasco - Tresso, Pietro Braun, E./N. - Wolf, Erwin

Camille - Klement, Rudolf

Clart - Rous, Jean

Crux - Trotsky, Lev

D(oud)- Doudain, Maurice

Durand - Sedov, Lev

Erde - Friedberg, Karl

Etienne - Zborowski, Mark

Feroci - Leonetti, Alfonso

Fersen, L. - Sendon, Enrique

Fischer, Oscar - Schüssler, Otto

Fosco - De Bartolomeo, N.

François - Frankel, Jan

Frédéric - Klement, Rudolf

Gebert - Porzsolt, Ladislaus

Giacomi - Bavassano, G.

Gil - Sedov, Lev

Give - Vereecken, Georges

Glenner, John - Frankel, Jan

Graef, Max - Frank, Jakob

Gurov, G. - Trotsky, Lev

*Held, Walter - Epe, Heinz

Islas, E. - Milesi, P.

Jan - Frankel, Jan

Julien - Tresso, Pietro Keller, Werner - Frankel, Jan

Kin - Sedov, Lev

*Lacroix, Henri - Lavid, Francis Garcia

Legrand - Cannon, James Patrick

Lehmann - Rüssbuhldt, O.

Lode, Roelandt - Van Droogenbrock, J.H.

Ludwig - Poretsky, Ignace

Maciel - Milesi, P.

Mark - Sedov, Lev

Markin, N. - Sedov, Lev

Martel - Cannon, James Patrick

Martin - Leonetti, Alfonso

Mèche, J. - Meichler, J.

*Mill, M. - Ohkun, P.

Molinié- Molinier, Henri

*Munis, G. - Grandizo, M.F.

Nejdanoff - Manov, Stéphane

Nelz, Walter - Ost, Walter

Nicole - Wolf, Erwin

Niel, Shi - Liu, Jeng-Ching

Obin, J. - Ohkun, P.

O-r - Schüssler, Otto

*Parijanine, M. - Donzel, M.

Paulsen - Estrin, Lilija

Ray - Molinier, Raymond

*Rosmer, Alfred - Griot, Alfred

*Rosmer, Marguerite - Thevenet, Marguerite

Schmidt, W. - Sobolevicius (Soblen), Roman

Scholze - Neurath, Alois

Schwab - Walcher, Jakob

Schwarz - Sedov, Lev

Senin - Sobolevicius, Abraham

Solce - Neurath, Alois

Sonka - Sonnenschein, Hugo

Souzo - Leonetti, Alfonso

Steen, Walter - Klement, Rudolf

Theodor - Klement, Rudolf

Torino - Leonetti, Alfonso

Trent - Shachtman, Max

Van - Van Heijenoort, Jean

Vercesi - Perrone, Ottorino

Verny, J. - Frankel, Jan

Vitte - Yotopoulos, D.

*Weber, Sara - Jakobs, Sara

Well, Roman - Sobolevicius (Soblen), Roman

Zeman, Anton - Grylewicz, Anton

Zvon - Salfrys, S. * Pseudonym maintained in the inventory.


N.B. For consultation permission is required.

Microfilm / Inv.nos.

1. 1-150.

2. 151-340.

3. 341-510.

4. 511-675.

5. 676-720.

6. 721-722.

7. 723-724.

8. 724-725.

9. 726-727.

10. 728-730.

11. 730-731.

12. 732.

13. 732-733.

14. 734.

15. 735-737.

16. 738-741.

17. 742-745.

18. 746-749.

19. 750-796.

20. 797-799.

21. 800-801.

22. 802-807.

23. 808-839.

24. 840-872.

25. 873-902.

26. 903-934.

27. 935-963.

28. 964-988.

29. 989-1008.

30. 1009-1036.

31. 1037-1069.

32. 1070-1101.

33. 1102-1130.

34. 1131-1153.

35. 1154-1191.

36. 1192-1238.

37. 1239-1254.

38. 1255-1267.

39. 1268-1274.

40. 1275-1280.

41. 1281-1285.

42. 1286-1291.

43. 1292-1300.

44. 1301-1304.

45. Inventory.