"We have no need to introduce Trotsky for our readers - few names are as well known in the world as his."
(Politiken, November 24, 1932. One of the biggest newspapers in Denmark, writing before the visit of Trotsky in Copenhagen)
On Wednesday the 7th of November a big meeting organised by the Danish Marxist tendency, Socialistisk Standpunkt, will take place in Copenhagen to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. However, 2007 marks another anniversary, and one with special importance for Denmark. It is 75 years since Leon Trotsky held his last public speech in November 1932, which was held at a huge meeting in Copenhagen, where Trotsky was invited by the Social-Democratic Students Association.
At that time Trotsky had been forced into exile by the Stalinists, and lived in the island of Prinkipo in Turkey. From that rather isolated location he tried to follow world events closely, and to influence the course of the class struggle through the building of the International Left Opposition. So he seized the invitation to come to Denmark with both hands, and used every opportunity to speak to the press and activists in the Danish labour movement.
In the days before and during the Trotsky's stay in Denmark, the visit of the Great Russian revolutionary was a hotly debated issue and was covered daily by the press. While the Stalinist leaders of the Danish Communist Party tried to organise demonstrations against Trotsky, The Danish Royal Family protested against the decision to permit the visit, because they saw Trotsky as being responsible for the death of the Russian Tsar and his family, who were their relatives.
In spite of all this, the meeting was held in a packed hall with more than 2,500 in attendance and many more standing at the entrance to hear Trotsky's speech. We invite everyone to read the Copenhagen speech (see here) for themselves - a speech that contains a brilliant defense of the October Revolution and the planned economy it established in the USSR.
The meeting on November 7, 2007 thus is historically important: It is being held in order to reclaim the legacy, both of Bolshevism and of Leon Trotsky, the founder of the Red Army and a great Marxist theoretician.
It will take place in the Hall of the Workers' Museum in Copenhagen, a building which was one of the first meeting places of the Danish Labour movement from the 1880s. In the years of the First World War, the first floor of this building hosted the Socialdemokratisk Ungdoms-Forbund, the original youth organization of the Social-Democratic Party, that was won over to support the Russian Revolution and to join the Communist International. So it will not be the first time, that this building has hosted a revolutionary meeting!
The meeting will be featuring two main speakers:
Esteban Volkov, Trotsky's grandson, who lived together with Trotsky during the last years of his life in Mexico. Esteban will speak about the Trotsky's last years and his legacy today.
The other speaker will be Alan Woods, editor of www.marxist.com and author of several books on the Russian Revolution and an authoritative History of the Bolshevik Party. Alan will be speaking about the Russian Revolution.
Two new books that have been published by Socialistisk Standpunkt will be launched at the meeting:
The first is "Lenin and Trotsky - what they really stood for", written by Alan Woods and Ted Grant. It is published for the first time ever in Danish, in order to rediscover the real ideas defended by Lenin and Trotsky. These ideas have been discredited and falsified over decades, both by the reformists and the Stalinists.
The second is a republication of John Reed's classical eye-witness account "Ten Days that Shook the World", which has been out of print and thus unavailable for a long time. This book is a brilliant narrative that gives an inspiring introduction to the events of 1917 and the revolutionary ferment in St. Petersburg in the weeks of the revolution. Lenin said about this work, "Here is a book which I should like to see published in millions of copies and translated into all languages. It gives a truthful and most vivid exposition of the events so significant to the comprehension of what really is the Proletarian Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat."
The publication of these books and the holding of this meeting will serve as the first steps in reclaiming the revolutionary legacy of the Russian October Revolution and of Leon Trotsky. We believe that these ideas are a useful tool for activists in the Danish workers' movement and youth today and we hope that these initiatives will help to make them available to a wider layer of people.
We invite everyone to come along to the meeting on 7th of November 2007 in Copenhagen:
Arbejdermuseet, Rømersgade 22, 1362 København K. 6pm-10pm. Entrance fee: 75 DKK.
More information (in Danish): www.oktober1917.dk