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Trotsky in Norway
Oddvar K. Hoidal
"Well written, fascinating story, superior research into an episode that reveals so much when told with Høidal's careful attention to all aspects, human and political." —Lars T. Lih, author of Lenin and Lenin Rediscovered: What Is to Be Done?
“Høidal's study is a very significant contribution to the biography of Trotsky. It is by far the most thorough treatment of his stay in Norway in any language, and fills a gap in the international literature about Trotsky and trotskyism. The book is also an important contribution to Norwegian political history in the 1930s." —Åsmund Egge, Professor of History at the University of Oslo
"This book is long overdue....An accomplished historian...[Hoidal] has written a fair-minded, thorough, and well-documented study which is grounded in a deep knowledge and understanding of Norway's political and cultural history."–Joshua Rubenstein, The Russian Review
"Hoidal covers these 18 months in detail, showing how Trotsky's supporters fought the Communist Party's slander, the ever growing Stalinism and the anti-Semitism of the Norwegian Tories and fascists as the Labour government bowed to pressure from Stalin."-Sarah Ensor, Socialist Review
“Oddvar Hoidal’s meticulously researched study casts intense light on the eighteen months Trotsky spent in Norway: June 1935 to December 1936, the shortest of his exiles.” —Roger D. Markwick, Australian Journal of Politics and History
From the moment of Lev Trotsky's sensational and unannounced arrival in Oslo harbor in June 1935 he became the center of controversy. Although it was to be the shortest of his four exiles, this period of his life was a significant one. From Norway he increased his effort to create a Fourth International, encouraging his international followers to challenge Stalin's dominance over world communism. In Norway Trotsky wrote his last major book, The Revolution Betrayed, in which he presented himself as the true heir to the Bolshevik Revolution, maintaining that Stalin had violated the Revolution's ideals. His efforts to threaten Stalin from outside of Russia created international repercussions.
At first, Trotsky lived peacefully, without a guard and enjoying more freedom in Norway than he experienced in any other country following his expulsion from the USSR Then, at the first Moscow show trial of August 1936 he was accused of being an international terrorist who organized conspiracies from abroad with the intention of murdering Russian leaders and destroying the Soviet state. Wishing to maintain good relations with its powerful neighbor, the Norwegian cabinet placed Trotsky under house arrest. Internment soon followed.
Trotsky became the subject of political dispute between the socialist Labor Party government that had granted him asylum and opposition parties from the extreme right to the extreme left. In the national election of October 1936 the issue appeared to threaten the very existence of Norway's first permanent socialist administration. After the election, the Labor government was determined to expel him. No European country would allow him entry, and when Mexico proved willing to offer a final refuge, Trotsky was involuntarily dispatched under police guard to Tampico on board a Norwegian ship.
Trotsky in Norway presents a fascinating account-the first complete study in English-of Trotsky's asylum in Norway and his deportation to Mexico. Although numerous biographies of Trotsky have been published, their coverage of his Norwegian sojourn has been inadequate, and in some cases erroneous. A revised and updated edition of Høidal's highly regarded Norwegian study, published in 2009, this book incorporates information that has since become available. In lucid prose, Høidal presents new biographical details about a significant period in Trotsky's life and sheds light on an important chapter in the history of international socialism and communism.
Oct. (2013) 430 pp., 10 illus.
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