Lev Trotsky's grandson and the steward of his legacy, Esteban Volkov, died on June 17 in Mexico. He was 97. Volkov was the last surviving witness of the murder of his grandfather in 1940.
Born in 1926, in Yalta, Ukraine, Vsevolod Platonovich Volkov became an orphan early due to Stalin's persecution. His father was sent to Siberia. His mother committed suicide. Young Vsevolod attended a boarding school in Vienna and then moved to Paris with his uncle, Trotskyite leader Lev Sedov. After Sedov was poisoned, Volkov was brought to Mexico City on the orders of his maternal grandfather, Lev Trotsky. In Mexico, Vsevolod changed his name to "Esteban." His Abuelo called him "Sieva."
While living with Trotsky in Mexico, "Sieva" was wounded in an attack against Trotsky by Stalinist muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Three months later, when returning from school, Volkov witnessed the aftermath of his grandfather's murder at the hands of Spanish NKVD agent Ramón Mercader, who had infiltrated Trotsky's inner circle. Volkov told El País: "At that moment, I didn't recognize him. His face was bloody, and he emitted strange squeaks and howls."
After the murder, "Sieva" studied chemistry and worked in a lab that helped synthesize the birth control pill. He married Palmira Fernández, who fled the Spanish Civil War, and raised their four daughters where Trotsky died. In 1990, Volkov inaugurated the Museo Casa de León Trotsky (museum of the House of Trotsky), which became a touristic staple of Mexico City. In 2017, Esteban Volkov called out Netflix and the Russian government for reproducing Stalinist rhetoric in a series about his grandfather.
When reflecting on his legacy, Volkov said: "My role is to say what I lived."
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