Trotsky assassination ‘planned from US drug store’

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, February 4, 2011 10:24 EDT
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SANTA FE – The assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City, where he was famously killed with an ice pick to the head, was organized from a drugstore in the US, according to a former CIA agent.

The KGB agent who planned the Bolshevik revolutionary’s 1940 assassination first established a safe house in Santa Fe, 1,200 miles away in New Mexico, says a new book by intelligence expert E.B. Held.

“A Spy’s Guide to Albuquerque and Santa Fe” by Held — who is now director of intelligence at the US Department of Energy — appears to confirm years of speculation about a spy hideaway here.

In a 1994 memoir, “Special Tasks,” KGB spy master Pavel Anatolievich Sudoplatov wrote that a Santa Fe pharmacy served as a safe house for Trotsky’s assassins.

Held’s new book identifies the hideaway as Zook’s Pharmacy, visible in archive photos although it was replaced in 1990 by a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop.

“CIA operations officers just have to be students of local history because we have to know the environment that we’re operating in,” said Held, who began researching New Mexico’s spy history in 2002 after retiring as a CIA agent.

Fifty-eight year-old Held’s book covers atomic spying at Los Alamos, 1943-45; CIA turncoat Edward Lee Howard’s defection in 1985 and accusations against Los Alamos engineer Wen Ho Lee in 2000.

But its most provocative chapter concerns KGB hit man Josef Grigulevich’s hideaway from 1940-41.

Born in Lithuania, Grigulevich immigrated as a child with his family to Argentina where his father founded a chain of pharmacies.

He was recruited by Soviet strongman Josef Stalin’s secret police as a university student in Paris and learned the assassin’s trade during the Spanish civil war.

When he arrived in Santa Fe, he was 27, “cosmopolitan, and a ladies’ man akin to James Bond,” Held wrote.

Katie Zook, 33 and single, was running Zook’s Pharmacy, established by her father, son of Lithuanian immigrants. She had long braids, loved fancy hats and traveled widely.

Held speculates that Grigulevich insinuated himself with the Zooks through their common roots and professions, and told them he was researching Latin American history.

That would explain his trips to Mexico. After he left the KGB, Grigulevich published 58 books on Latin American history.

After establishing himself in Santa Fe, Grigulevich left for Mexico City to implement two separate plans to assassinate Trotsky, a leader of Russia’s 1917 October Revolution forced into exile after falling out with Stalin.

One involved the Mexican painter David Siqueiros, a founder of the Mexican Communist Party. The other relied on Ramon Mercader, a Spanish aristocrat.

In the pre-dawn hours of May 23, 1940, Siqueiros and two dozen armed men stormed Trotsky’s home in the elegant Coyoacan district of the Mexican capital.

They machine-gunned the bedroom where Trotsky and his wife were sleeping, but the two escaped injury.

According to Held, Grigulevich had tricked Sheldon Harte, an idealistic young American serving as Trotsky’s volunteer secretary and bodyguard, into leaving the gate open to the fortified compound.

Harte, who might have identified Grigulevich, was later kidnapped and executed.

Siqueiros was accused of the attempted assassination, but escaped to Chile with the help of the poet Pablo Neruda, who was then Chilean consul general to Mexico.

“Grigulevich disappeared, presumably slipping across the American border and hiding out in Santa Fe with Katie Zook,” Held wrote.

On August 20, 1940, Mercader, posing as a Canadian businessman, plunged an ice pick into Trotsky’s head. He died the next day.

Mercader, who maintained he killed Trotsky because he forbade him from marrying his secretary, spent 20 years in prison. Upon his release, he went to the Soviet Union where he was decorated as a hero.

“Grigulevich laid low in Santa Fe until 1941, then parted company with Katie Zook,” Held wrote.

Held said there is no indication that Katie Zook ever knew what Grigulevich was doing, or even knew his real name. He died in 1988, and she died a decade later.

Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    American Trotskyist leader James P. Cannon, in his 1942 book History of American Trotskyism, wrote that “Trotskyism is not a new movement, a new doctrine, but the restoration, the revival of genuine Marxism as it was expounded and practiced in the Russian revolution and in the early days of the Communist International.” However, Trotskyism can be distinguished from other Marxist theories by four key elements:

    – Support for the strategy of permanent revolution, in opposition to the Two Stage Theory of his opponents (Stalin, etc.);
    – Criticism of the post-1924 leadership of the Soviet Union, analysis of its features and after 1933, support for political revolution in the Soviet Union and in what Trotskyists term the deformed workers’ states;
    – Support for social revolution in the advanced capitalist countries through working class mass action;
    – Support for proletarian internationalism.

    “Marxism found its highest historical expression in Bolshevism. Under the banner of Bolshevism the first victory of the proletariat was achieved and the first workers’ state established. No force can now erase these facts from history. But since the October Revolution has led to the present stage of the triumph of the bureaucracy, with its system of repression, plunder and falsification – the “dictatorship of the lie”, to use Schlamm’s happy expression – many formalistic and superficial minds jump to a summary conclusion: one cannot struggle against Stalinism without renouncing Bolshevism. Schlamm, as we already know, goes further: Bolshevism, which degenerated into Stalinism, itself grew out of Marxism; consequently one cannot fight Stalinism while remaining on the foundation of Marxism. There are others, less consistent but more numerous, who say on the contrary: “We must return Bolshevism to Marxism.” How? To what Marxism? Before Marxism became “bankrupt” in the form of Bolshevism it has already broken down in the form of social democracy, Does the slogan “Back to Marxism” then mean a leap over the periods of the Second and Third Internationals… to the First International? But it too broke down in its time. Thus in the last analysis it is a question of returning to the collected works of Marx and Engels. One can accomplish this historic leap without leaving one’s study and even without taking off one’s slippers. But how are we going to go from our classics (Marx died in 1883, Engels in 1895) to the tasks of a new epoch, omitting several decades of theoretical and political struggles, among them Bolshevism and the October revolution? None of those who propose to renounce Bolshevism as an historically bankrupt tendency has indicated any other course. So the question is reduced to the simple advice to study Capital. ”
    -Leon Trotsky, Stalinism and Bolshevism, 1937 (http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/08/stalinism.htm)

    Read Capital! http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital

  • Anonymous

    Stalinites sure remind me of GOP-ites.

    Same rotten smell.

  • http://twitter.com/moosch Moosch

    Trotsky’s assistant and bodyguard was named Robert Sheldon Harte, not Sheldon Harte. Further, Trotsky never believed for a moment that Bob Harte betrayed him in any way. “Trotsky wrote in the Mexican press that ‘The corpse of Bob Sheldon Harte is a tragic refutation of all the slanders and false denunciations made against him.’ In his account of the attack Trotsky wrote that if Sheldon Harte were an agent of the GPU he could have killed me at night and gotten away without setting in motion 20 people all of whom were subjected to a great risk.”*
    *-Wikipedia entry for Robert Sheldon Harte, http://goo.gl/aKYzy

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    This makes no sense to me.

    Why bother going to a “safe house” in the US, if Trotsky was in Mexico?

  • Anonymous

    Trotsky denounced Communism only because he “lost out” on being a permanent member of the ruling clique.

    He had NO commitment to freedom or individual rights … NO totalitarian does, then or now.

  • Javaman

    No More Heroes – The Strangers.

    Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?
    He got an ice pick
    That made his ears burn

    Whatever happened to dear old Lenny?
    The great Elmyra, and Sancho Panza?
    Whatever happened to the heroes?
    Whatever happened to the heroes?

    Whatever happened to all the heroes?
    All the Shakespearoes?
    They watched their Rome burn
    Whatever happened to the heroes?
    Whatever happened to the heroes?

    No more heroes any more
    No more heroes any more

    Whatever happened to all the heroes?
    All the Shakespearoes?
    They watched their Rome burn
    Whatever happened to the heroes?
    Whatever happened to the heroes?

    No more heroes any more
    No more heroes any more

  • Anonymous

    Song came into my head too when I read the article!


  • Anonymous

    Another person that could have changed history killed by “secret combinations” held in place by the filthy capitalists.

  • Anonymous

    Try reading some h-i-s-t-o-r-y, dude.

    Not the self-justifying garbage he churned out after he was ousted from the Lenin-Stalin Inner Circle masquerading as same. Too bad he okayed the slaughter of dissidents, but he did; and so did Leninpig and Stalinpig. Lenin was a pig, Stalin was a pig, and Trotsky was a pig.

    . . . “one of the greatest thinkers of all time” . . . ROTFLMAO. Lordy, Gladys … you need to get out more.


  • Anonymous

    “Genuine Marxism in practice” is just . . . fascism with different lipstick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Flatt/764419858 Alan Flatt

    did u read Isaac Deutscher’s trilogy like that guy said…you are mis informed

  • mick

    In 1920, Winston Churchill wrote a long newspaper article regarding the recent Bolshevik seizure of Russia. After praising what he called the “national Jews” of Russia, he said:

    “In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish efforts rise the schemes of the International Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxemburg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide revolutionary conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster has ably shown, a definite recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworlds of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of the enormous empire.

    There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creating of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistic Jews. It is certainly the very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders… In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astounding. And the prominent if not the principal part in the system of terrorism applied by the extraordinary Commissions for combating Counter Revolution has been take by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses. The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these countries there are many non Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.

    (“Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People.” Illustrated Sunday Herald, London, February 8, 1920.)


  • Anonymous

    Your concerns are already addressed in the Trotsky quote above. Marxism is not a fixed ideology. It is continuously evolving and being reinvented. If fascism uses Marxian ideas the blame can only be laid on the fascist himself. If you want more evidence that what you understand to be “Marxism” is a misapplication of Marx’s ideas, read on…

    “…no special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed…” – Marx and Engels, Preface to the 1872 edition of the Communist Manifesto (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/preface.htm)

    “If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist” – Karl Marx

    “Marx was aggressive, self-confident and much given to regarding his opponents as fools; he was neither a believer in dogmas nor an expounder of them. (Herein lies a second distinction between him and his followers.) But for all his intellectual caution, for all his dislike of generalities ‘abstracted’ from concrete facts, his leading works between 1845 and 1875 unmistakably — if not unambiguously — embody the set of general propositions and conclusions which Marxists have summarised as the fundamental principles of Marxism and treated as political dogmas.

    There is the ‘materialist interpretation of history’ — the proposition that ‘the mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and intellectual processes of life’. There is his distinction between the forces of production and the relations of production and his belief that social change takes place — violently — when the relations of production cease to correspond with the forces of production and become fetters upon them. There is his allied doctrine that society is divided into competing classes, whose struggle for mastery is reflected in the political institutions and theoretical life of any given period. There is his suggestion that the capitalist state is merely the executive committee of the bourgeoisie. Finally, there is his detailed analysis of the economic processes of capitalism — his belief that the capitalist system must inevitably collapse through the very logic of its own development and give way to a dictatorship of the proletariat to be followed by the unflowering of the rational society of Communism. These are the doctrines most commonly associated with Marx’s name and the chief link between him and his ‘orthodox’ disciples. They formed the basis of the Communist Weltanschauung; they were for many years, and officially are even now, the test of Marxist orthodoxy.

    Apart from the detailed analysis of the economic processes of capitalism, all the propositions outlined above suggest a general philosophy of history and the basis of a universal view. Marxists, indeed, have treated them as such. But virtually every one of the propositions is surrounded by ambiguity and qualified or contradicted by some of the most brilliant of Marx’s specific insights in specific fields. Time and time again, critics who assume quite fairly from these general propositions that Marx could not have foreseen or accounted for the emergence of fascism, the rise of capitalist managers, the existence of a state bureaucracy or the economic effects of law find that Marx did foresee them or mention them, at whatever cost to his general theory. The ‘materialist interpretation of history’ and the materialist reduction of ideologies have become Marxist dogmas, but their precise content has always been, and remains, far from clear.
    To Marx himself, they were not even dogmas to be followed at all costs.”
    - Eugene Kamenka, The Ethical Foundations of Marxism, 1962 (http://www.marxists.org/archive/kamenka/1962/ethical-foundations/introduction.htm)

    Is Marxism Relevant Today?
    Panel Discussion with David Harvey, Duncan Foley and Prabhat Patnaik
    which elaborates on this theme of legitimate “Marxism” a great deal

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PC4M2RVSR7OI3G7LSSKXVAPLTQ Vaughn

    Trotsky? The Butcher of Kronstadt? Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky were all anti-revolutionary and their legacy blights upon Socialism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronstadt_rebellion
    How can a comrade defend Trotsky?

  • Anonymous

    Quick someone tell me how many triangles there are in that picture. I see the big one an the upside down one but then 2 is not an option.
    Please how many are there I just wanna win an iphone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001470620017 Palemoon

    Excuse me? His book, “The Revolution Betrayed”, was all about Stalin’s power grab and installing himself as the totalitarian dictator that he is famous for. Stalin was the totalitarian that systematically purged all of the Bolsheviks in order to secure his place on the throne.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001470620017 Palemoon

    You did it again… do you not realize that Lenin himself was marginalized by Stalin, then placed under house arrest and Lenin himself removed from the so-called “inner circle” as well as all decision making?? I’m not sure that I even believe on which date that Lenin actually died as Stalin was the only person, per Stalin’s own orders, who could even visit him while he was locked away.

    You really need to learn some history!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001470620017 Palemoon

    Why don’t you ask the bank robber why he flees to the countryside rather than to the police station which is in town?

    Seriously, your post did not make sense so I can sympathize with the fact that the article did not make sense to you. Here’s a hint. By hiding out in the US with a very good alibi, he would be well out of the reach of the Mexican authorities who may have decided to arrest him. ;o)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001470620017 Palemoon

    Best… Post… EVER!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001470620017 Palemoon

    Since Marxism does not exist as an ideology, I cannot speak to whether it is akin to fascism or not. But I do not know, Fascism is the far right alongside Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism. Meanwhile, Anarchism, Socialism and even Communism are at the far left in direct opposition to Fascism. It is why Germany and Russia were pre-destined to fight each other from the very first day of WWII.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent observation! (“Emma Goldman criticized Leon Trotsky for his role in the suppression of the rebellion, arguing that it made his later criticism of Stalinism hypocritical.”) I can only respond by insisting that I am not defending the man, his actions and his ideas in their entirety but instead selectively, when they serve the interests the oppressed (usually his later works). The guy wasn’t ALL bad, even if he did some (many) bad things. He made significant contributions to the cause of anti-Stalinist and democratic communism. I would be not at all surprised to learn that he regretted his involvement in Kronstadt, especially given that he advocated revolution against the Stalinist regime after 1933.

  • Anonymous

    b.s. Churchill was a raging bigot. He was worthy of polishing Emma Goldman’s chamber pot.

  • Anonymous

    “Trotsky denounced Communism”
    HA! Quite the opposite, he founded Fourth International in 1938. He denounced Stalinism, a bastardized totalitarian mockery of communism.

  • cannotvote

    Wasn’t Churchill’s mother jewish?!

  • cannotvote

    Again follow the money – who benefitted, the rest is distraction!

  • mick

    lol of course he was …now that your “shot the massager” any comment about the substance of the “message” ?

  • Anonymous

    Anybody have any more information about the role Pablo Neruda played in all this? Is there perhaps a book that explains it? It seems to me that Neruda would have been a supporter of Trotsky as opposed to Stalin, but I don’t know enough about his thinking then or the role he played in this.

  • Anonymous

    Good grief, Winnie must’ve been deep in his cups while writing that, the old sot. What a … masterpiece of bigotry, narrow-mindedness, stupidity, cupidity, and cynicism! Good thing he’s finally dead and gone. What a vile, evil little man.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely, although polishing it would be too great of an honour for him. Nasty little pig was responsible for millions of deaths through sheer pig-headedness. “Fortress Singapore!” he thundered, and all of Europe and America bought it. Until a few lightly armed men on bicycles rode down the back roads and took the “Fortress” without hardly a battle (and a good thing too, since those “little yellow men” were out of ammunition). Churchill single-handedly destroyed colonialism with his stupid wartime blunders. How anyone can idolize that mean-minded racist manipulator is beyond me. OTOH, we should thank him for overthrowing the Brutish Empire.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TF72KWIG5DGSPE3ZXDK6FX4KTQ Robert Burned

    And we are meant to admire this bombastic alcoholic drivel! “Broad, sunlit uplands” my foot.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TF72KWIG5DGSPE3ZXDK6FX4KTQ Robert Burned

    Your serene ignorance is untouched by any fact.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TF72KWIG5DGSPE3ZXDK6FX4KTQ Robert Burned

    Beautiful sentiment. The word “himself” in your second sentence however, can be taken as referring to Trotsky, which unintelligibly reverses the sense of your comment.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TF72KWIG5DGSPE3ZXDK6FX4KTQ Robert Burned

    At least two generally Marxist main points have been vindicated by the Egyptian uprising:

    1) Revolution remains possible no matter how impossible it may seem.
    2) The impetus and fundamental leadership of the revolution lie with the working people.

    This is only the beginning of the story, but there is scarcely a petty-bourgeois “progressive” on the American internet who would not have laughed those propositions out of court without a hearing a mere two weeks ago.

    Contempt for the working class, tempered by a certain patronizing “concern,” is still a fundamental principle among many self-proclaimed American “progressives.”

    Today in Egypt, at any rate, we are seeing where revolutionary terror comes from. It comes from the paid murderers and thugs of counter-revolution: the ruling class, their parasites, and their foreign allies (in this case, Israel and the United States).

    The revolution must organize to fight these horrifying and overwhelming assaults.

    Is it any wonder that people are taking a new look at Trotsky as well as Marx and Lenin?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TF72KWIG5DGSPE3ZXDK6FX4KTQ Robert Burned

    It’s a load of bloated, alcoholic drivel. You should read more carefully.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TF72KWIG5DGSPE3ZXDK6FX4KTQ Robert Burned

    Spoken like a narcissist for whom cosmetics and personal accessories are the ultimate categories of reality.

  • Anonymous

    I am sick and tired of their cloak and dagger lives. If they want to sneak around, fight, and murder each other, please leave the rest of us out of it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4BRFHPORJ5PAYDNBVQNQHM5C6A IRSP74

    Trotsky was a life-long communist–what are you talking about “denounced Communism?” Mind you, he was a Bolshevik and therefore from of the perspective of some of us, turned somewhat away from Marxism, as Stalin and Lenin did, but he never “denounced communism.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4BRFHPORJ5PAYDNBVQNQHM5C6A IRSP74

    Thank youm comrade Vaughn for reminding others that Trotsky was known as the Butcher of Kronstadt. That reputation made the Left Opposition opposed to his joining them and they had to be convinced by Zinoviev to permit Trotsky to join the Left Opposition, for the founding of which, some have sought to credit him. There is a reason why those of the Bolshevik tendency call themselves Marxist-Leninists, while others, like we Coouncil Communists are comfortable simply as Marxists.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4BRFHPORJ5PAYDNBVQNQHM5C6A IRSP74

    They would do themselves a favor if instead they looked to Marx and Engels, of course, but alongside Pannekoek, Gorter, Luxemburg, Mattick, Connolly, and MacLean, rather than returning to the failed model of Bolshevism.