On August 20, 1940, Leon Trotsky was assassinated by an agent of the Soviet secret police, the GPU, in Coyoacán, a suburb of Mexico City, where he was living in exile. Thus ended the life of the great Marxist theoretician of world socialist revolution and one of the towering figures of modern political history.
Trotsky’s assassination ranks among the most politically consequential crimes of the 20th century, with far-reaching implications for the international working class and the world socialist movement. And yet, for decades, the circumstances surrounding the assassination remained shrouded in secrecy. The massive scale of the Stalinist conspiracy against Trotsky was the subject of a carefully orchestrated cover-up.
In 1975, the International Committee of the Fourth International launched the first systematic investigation by the Trotskyist movement into the assassination. This investigation, known as Security and the Fourth International, led to the exposure of the network of GPU agents within the Fourth International that ensured the success of Stalin’s conspiracy against Trotsky’s life. The investigation was bitterly opposed by Pabloite and pseudo-left organizations, which denounced the exposure of spies placed inside the Trotskyist movement as “agent-baiting.” This has remained their position, despite the fact that state intelligence documents released following the dissolution of the Soviet Union confirmed the findings of the International Committee and vindicated Security and the Fourth International.
From the archives
We are republishing a statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International originally published on June 15, 1990 in the Fourth International magazine on the death of Mark Zborowski. Zborowski, a GPU spy against the Trotskyist movement, was responsible for the murder of leading cadre of the Fourth International in the 1930s and for preparing, along with other Stalinist agents, the assassination of Leon Trotsky.
Security and the Fourth International
A new book, Trotskyists on Trial: Free Speech and Political Persecution Since the Age of FDR, by Donna T. Haverty-Stacke, reveals a previously unknown level of FBI surveillance of the Trotskyist movement in the US.
Tom Henehan, a member of the political committee of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party), was murdered by hired gunmen while supervising a party event in Brooklyn, New York, on the night of October 15, 1977. He was the victim of a political assassination.
His death followed warnings by Joseph Hansen, the leader of the Socialist Workers Party who was exposed by Security and the Fourth International as an agent of both the GPU and the FBI, that there would be “deadly consequences” for the Workers League if it did not cease its investigations.