The story of the ice ax that killed Trotsky

It was one of those murders that set history. Stalin, jealous of Trotsky’s influence, ordered him to be assassinated. The order traveled the world. It happened on August 20, 1940. León Trotski was injured on the head by Ramón Mercader with an ice ax. The Stalinist agent used a weapon that was later lost … forty years. This is the story of the ice ax that killed Trotsky.

The story of the ice ax that killed Trotsky begins long before Stalin ordered his assassination attempt.
The story of the ice ax that killed Trotsky begins long before Stalin ordered his assassination attempt.
Haunted by death

The attack occurred on Wiener Strasse in Coyoacán, Mexico City. Mercader of Spanish origin was arrested and handed over to the police. The following day Trotsky died from the severity of the wound. The Mexican authorities showed the ice ax as evidence.

“From then on, he was in the dark,” says H. Keith Melton. He is a Florida-based private collector who likes items related to espionage stories. He spent 40 years trying to find the infamous ice ax.

Maybe it’s the political crime of the century. It was well thought out and well executed, ”said Melton. Trotsky was Stalin’s last great opponent. I was in exile. He traveled a lot around the world because the Soviet Union made it difficult for him to stay anywhere. The murder plan was long and complex.

A first attack had failed. Twenty-three men with machine guns entered Trotsky’s house earlier. They shot more than 200 times but miraculously missed, ”Melton explained.

Trotsky died shortly after the attack.
Trotsky died shortly after the attack.

At that point, Mercader’s plan of attack was launched. He was the son of Caridad Mercader, a sympathizer of the Soviet Union. The Soviet secret service noticed her when she was injured in a hospital. She was seduced by a Leonid Eitingon, who would be the commander in charge of the attack. He recruited her for this operation and she gave up on her son, ”Melton said.

Mercader was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico. His mother had to leave the country quickly via Cuba for the USSR.

Under the bed

The weapon was archived as evidence by the Mexican police until 1946. Then she was sent to some kind of crime museum that they created. In the 1960s, when the director of this museum retired, his colleagues presented him with the ice ax. It was her parting present. “He took it home. She kept it under her daughter’s bed for the next 40 years. She received it as part of her heritage, ”Melton said.

Almost a decade ago, the woman announced at a press conference that she had the ice ax in her possession. She was ready to get rid of him. At that moment Melton saw his chance. The story of the ice ax that killed Trotsky would finally come to an end. He traveled to Mexico three times and carried out the appropriate tests to verify that it was the original weapon. When he confirmed it, there was no room for satisfaction.

There is definitely no more important and (tragically) famous ice ax in history.

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