Leon Trotsky, born November 7th, 1879 in Ukraine under his given name Lev Davidovich Bronstein. The name change occurred after he had been exiled to Siberia in 1898 for being one of the founding members of the South Russia Worker’s Union, an early Russian Marxist party. He remained in exile in Siberia from 1898 to 1902, where he acquired a forged passport with the name Leon Trotsky, and he kept this new name to his death. Trotsky was also one of the political leaders of the Menshevik party during the 1905 Russian Revolution, which would result in another exile to Siberia for Trotsky, but he again left after just a few years and lived in different parts of Europe until he returned to Russia after news of the 1917 Russian Revolution reached him. Trotsky had been a Menshevik, but after learning that the Menshevik party supported the ideals of a constitution and supported the Provisional Government, Trotsky joined the Bolsheviks and was elected to the Bolshevik Central Committee. When the Bolsheviks gained control of Russia, Trotsky would be appointed as the People’s Commissar for the Army and Navy, and the Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
Lenin wanted to tear down all institutions and organizations of the old government, this even include the armed forces of Russia. This meant that Trotsky had to disassemble the old Imperial Russian Army and create a new communist army at the same time. Trotsky was trying to accomplish this in 1918, while Russia was still in the midst of World War I. It soon became evident to the leaders of the Bolshevik party, that this wasn’t feasibly possible, that’s one of the main reasons Russia decided to negotiate with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire) for a cease-fire. With the other main reason being that the Bolsheviks came into power with the promise of peace, bread, and land, and if you’re not able to follow through with one of three simple political promises, you don’t seem like a very competent government. As the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Leon Trotsky was one of the men Russia sent to negotiate in mid-January of 1918, the negotiations lasted until March 3, 1918 for Russia. Throughout January and early February, the terms that the Central Powers were willing to give would result in a large amount of territory being annexed by Germany and Austria-Hungary, Trotsky and other Bolshevik leaders weren’t willing to accept these terms though. So the Germans continued their assaults into Russia on February 10, by February 18 the Bolsheviks pleaded to start peace talks back up. This resulted in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, after the treaty was put into effect Trotsky put his focus back into building up a new army for Russia. An army that would be known as the Red Army, made up of peasants and workers who had to take part in required military training as civilians. They would soon be tested against the Whites in the Russian Civil War.