On Sunday 9 July an event was held under the auspices of the Leon Trotsky House Museum in Mexico City to celebrate the memory of Esteban Volkov Bronstein, Trotsky’s grandson, whose tragic death we recently reported.
The day’s proceedings commenced with the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Esteban Volkov, which will now occupy a prominent place at the entrance of the Museum.
The main event was preceded by a short but moving ceremony in which the mortal remains of Esteban Volkov were laid to rest side by side with those of his beloved grandfather in the peaceful surroundings of the Museum’s garden.
The Museum’s director and close collaborator of Esteban Volkov, Gabriela Pérez Noriega, delivered a speech beside the urns that contained the ashes of Trotsky and his grandson. She explained how, on many occasions, Esteban himself “offered to give guided tours to museum visitors, encouraged young people and workers to read Trotsky, gave interviews to organisations or large information chains, and on all occasions one could feel the passion he had when talking about his grandfather, when explaining the falsifications of Stalinism, to preserve the historical truth of one of the most slandered figures of the entire 20th century”.
Towards the end of her speech, overcome with emotion, Gabriela was unable to finish her remarks, but was met with a wave of solidarity and warm applause from all those present. The ceremony was concluded by the singing of the Internationale.
The main event was held in the Museum’s auditorium, which was filled to overflowing, with people sitting on the stairs, standing in the doorway, and listening to the speeches from outside. Among those present were workers and youth, trade union activists and veterans of the movement, including leading figures in the SME electricians union, one of the parents of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students, representatives from the FEDEP Indigenous education university, etc.
The speakers were: Alejandro Encinas, a Mexican politician and government official, Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, spokesperson for the Presidency, and Garbrielle Tolloti a representative of the Brazilian MES-PSOL. A video expressing solidarity was sent from Member of European Parliament, Miguel Urbán.
The main speech was delivered by comrade Alan Woods, the well-known leader of the International Marxist Tendency and lifelong friend and comrade of Esteban Volkov. Alan’s speech was without a doubt the most moving and effective, successfully combining in a short space of time, both the political and personal aspects of the life of Esteban Volkov – or Sieva Volkov as he liked to be called.
Alan started off by recalling his first meeting with Sieva, in Coyoacán, back in 1988. This was the beginning of a close friendship that lasted uninterruptedly for 34 years, right up to the end of Sieva’s life. This friendship, Alan explained, was based on the solid foundations of a warm personal attachment and firm political agreement.
Alan pointed out that anyone who had experienced even a fraction of the terrible suffering endured by Esteban from his earliest childhood would have been destroyed personally and psychologically. But this was not the case with Esteban Volkov, who succeeded despite all the odds in rising above adversity and conquering it. Indeed, Alan explained it was precisely this experience of personal tragedy that acted as a powerful impetus, inspiring him to fight for the rest of his life to defend the historical truth and the political legacy of Leon Trotsky.
He recalled how Esteban had constantly pressed him to take upon himself the responsibility of producing a complete and faithful edition of Trotsky’s final work, his masterpiece ‘Stalin’, which had been left unfinished at the time of his assassination, and has only ever been available since then in a distorted and incomplete version. Alan remembered that when he finally handed the Spanish translation of ‘Stalin’ to Esteban, he was overjoyed, “like a small child when Christmas had arrived”.
To the very end, Esteban Volkov remained faithful to the ideas and the revolutionary aims of his grandfather. His main achievement, however, was the establishment of the Leon Trotsky House Museum, which, from humble beginnings, has become an important symbol for revolutionaries all over the world. The house that saw the brutal murder of the leader of the Bolshevik Party and the Red Army by Stalin has now become a rallying point for all those fighting against oppression and exploitation everywhere.
Alan also paid fulsome tribute to the work done by Gabriela Pérez Noriega, who chaired the whole meeting. “Without Gabriela’s tireless work and sacrifice, this Museum would no longer exist,” he said.
The meeting came to an end with a brief video of Esteban Volkov himself, expressing his undying devotion to the revolutionary cause. The event was brought to a close with a resounding version of the Internationale, which was a faithful expression of the genuine mood of inspiration and enthusiasm in the cause of the world socialist revolution which this magnificent event inspired in everyone present.