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Trotsky, was the son of a prosperous and reportedly non-religious Jewish farmer in Ukraine. Well educated and rebellious, he became a professional revolutionary as a teenager. He was arrested in 1898 and was later exiled to Siberia, where he joined the Social Democratic party.
In 1902, he escaped abroad and met Lenin.
In 1903, while Lenin headed the Bolsheviks, Trotsky joined the rival Mensheviks. Mensheviks did not believe trying to ignite a revolution, expecting that it would happen when the people were ready. By contrast the Bolsheviks who believed that the people needed to be led. From 1904 until 1917 Trotsky had a stormy relationship with Lenin, accusing Lenin of wanting to become a dictator. But the two of them resolved their differences in 1917, and after that point Trotsky was totally loyal to Lenin.
Trotsky was the most powerful orator in the Bolshevik party, and due to his numerous spells in jail and his active role in the failed 1905 revolution he was much more famous than Lenin was to ordinary Russians. He was the actual organizer behind the October Revolution, as Lenin had been in exile in the months leading up to the putsch.
Commissar of Foreign Affairs
After the Bolsheviks secured power, Trotsky became People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Trotsky was the leading advocate of the "neither war nor peace" policy and on January 28, 1918 announced that Soviet Russia considered the war over. This was unacceptable to the Germans who were already transporting troops to the Western Front. The German Chief of Staff, general Max Hoffmann, responded by signing the peace treaty with Ukrainian People's Republic on February 9 and announced an end to the cease-fire with Russia in two-days time on February 17, leading to the resumption of hostilities.
The Germans advanced into the former Russian Empire for eleven days with little resistance.
Most of the leadership still preferred continuing the war, even though Russia was in no position to do so, due to the destruction of its army. At this point Lenin intervened to push the Soviet leadership into acceptance of German terms, which by now had become even harsher. He was backed by other senior communists to include Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Stalin.