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Zinaida Volkova (née Bronstein, Russian: Зинаида Волкова) (March 27, 1901, Siberia - January 5, 1933, Berlin) was a Russian Marxist. She was Leon Trotsky's first daughter by his first wife, Aleksandra Sokolovskaya. She and her younger sister Nina were raised by their paternal grandparents after their parents divorced.
She married twice, and had a daughter by her first husband and a son by her second. Both husbands died during the Great Purges. In 1931 Volkova was allowed to leave Russia, taking only her younger child, the son, with her into exile in Berlin. She left her daughter in the care of the girl's father, her first husband. Suffering from tuberculosis, then incurable, and depression, Volkova committed suicide in Berlin.
Zinaida Lvovna Bronstein was born in Siberia, where her parents were living in exile at the time. Her sister Nina was born the next year. As a child, she and her younger sister Nina were raised mostly by her paternal grandparents, David and Anna Bronstein. The girls' parents parted ways in 1902 and as revolutionaries, were often traveling or living in hiding.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Zinaida married Zakhar Borisovich Moglin (1897 - 1937). They had a daughter, Alexandra Moglina (1923 - 1989). They divorced in the mid-20s. Moglin died during the Great Purges.
Bronstein married as her second husband, Platon Ivanovich Volkov (1898 - 1936), a Russian Trotskyite. The couple had a son, Vsevolod (diminutive Seva, later Esteban) Volkov, who was born in 1926. Volkov was exiled to Siberia in 1928, but returned in the early 1930s. Zinaida had already left Russia for Berlin with their son. Volkov was re-arrested in 1935 during the Great Purges and disappeared in the Gulag.
For three months in 1928, Zinaida took care of her younger sister Nina, while the latter was dying of tuberculosis (TB), then incurable. Nina had married a man with the surname of Nevelson.
In 1931 Joseph Stalin allowed Zinaida Volkova to leave the Soviet Union to join her father, Leon Trotsky, in exile. She was allowed to take her son Vsevolod with her, but left her daughter Alexandra in Russia with the girl's father.
Suffering from TB and depression, Volkova committed suicide in Berlin on January 5, 1933. She had been under the care of Arthur Kronfeld, a noted Berlin psychotherapist. She also saw Alexandra Ramm-Pfemfert. She was married to Franz Pfemfert, the founder of Die Aktion, a journal of expressionism, and translator of books by Trotsky.
Ken McMullen, in his film Zina, suggests that the relationship between Volkova and her father Trotsky mirrors the Greek tragedy of Antigone. This idea was first substantially developed by the noted historian Isaac Deutscher in his 1963 book on Trotsky.
Zinaida's daughter Alexandra (born 1923) remained in the USSR and lived for a year with her father, Zakhar Moglin. After Moglin was exiled in 1932, she was cared for by her maternal grandmother, Alexandra Sokolovskaya. The latter was exiled in 1935 during the Great Purges and died in the labor camps. Finally, as an adult, Alexandra was also exiled, to Kazakhstan. She survived, returning to Moscow after Stalin's death. She died of cancer in 1989.
After Zinaida's death, her son, Vsevolod Volkov (born 1926), first lived with his grandfather Trotsky in Turkey. He was next cared for by his half-uncle, Lev Sedov (Trotsky's son by his second wife) in Germany, Austria and finally Paris. After Sedov died in 1938, his girlfriend wanted to keep the 12-year-old boy Vesevolod. Trotsky sued for custody and won the case, but Sedov's girlfriend took Vsevolod into hiding.
Eventually, Trotsky's friends found Vsevolod and sent him to Mexico, where Trotsky had gone into exile. After Trotsky was assassinated by Stalin's agent Ramon Mercader in 1940, the 14-year-old Vsevolod remained in Mexico, living with family friends.
He took the first name of Esteban (the Spanish equivalent of his name) and went to local schools and then to college, becoming an engineer. Esteban Volkov married and had four daughters. He is the current custodian of the Trotsky museum in Mexico City.
One of his daughters, Nora Volkow, went to medical school in Mexico. A physician, she lives in the United States, where she is the director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland near Washington, DC.
- see The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky, 1929-1940 (1963) and Jacquy Chemouni Le Père: son attitude à l'égard des troubles mentaux et la psychanalyse de sa fille Zina (à travers sa correspondance inédite). Cahiers Léon Trotsky 2001: 74, pp. 39-94, repr. in: Trotsky et la psychanalyse. Ed. In Press, Paris 2004, pp. 213-262
- see The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky, 1929-1940 (1963) and Jacquy Chemouni Le Père: son attitude à l'égard des troubles mentaux et la psychanalyse de sa fille Zina (à travers sa correspondance inédite). Cahiers Léon Trotsky 2001: 74, pp. 39-94, repr. in: Trotsky et la psychanalyse. Ed. In Press, Paris 2004, pp. 213-262; some details also in: Julijana Ranc Alexandra Ramm-Pfemfert. Ein Gegenleben. Ed. Nautilus, Hamburg 2003
- Genealogy of Trotsky's Family at TrotskyanaNet
- Trotsky’s Grandson in Moscow: A Conversation with Esteban Volkov, Marxists website
- "My grandfather the revolutionary: A Guardian Interview with Esteban Volkov", The Guardian