The Red Terror (1918) was an important element of the Russian Revolution that showed the violent character of the Bolshevik regime led by Vladimir Lenin. The terror was carried out by the Soviet secret police: the Cheka (All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage) and was led by Felix Dzerzhinsky. Underlaying causes were the Left-SR uprising and the assassination attempt on Lenin by Fanny Kaplan. Hundreds of thousands of people would die at the hands of the Cheka.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by his alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia, and later the Soviet Union, became a one-partysocialist state governed by the Soviet Communist Party. A Marxist, he developed a variant of this communist ideology known as Leninism.
Lenin’s father Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov was from a family of serfs; his ethnic origins remain unclear, with suggestions being made that he was of Russian, Chuvash, Mordvin, or Kalmyk ancestry. Despite this lower-class background, Ilya had risen to middle-class status, studying physics and mathematics at Kazan Imperial University before teaching at the Penza Institute for the Nobility. Ilya married Maria Alexandrovna Blank in mid-1863. Well educated, she was the daughter of a wealthy German–SwedishLutheran mother, and according to some sources a Russian Jewish father who had converted to Christianity and worked as a physician. According to historian Petrovsky-Shtern, it is likely that Lenin was unaware of his mother’s half-Jewish ancestry, which was only discovered by his sister Anna after his death. Soon after their wedding, Ilya obtained a job in Nizhny Novgorod, rising to become Director of Primary Schools in the Simbirsk district six years later. Five years after that, he was promoted to Director of Public Schools for the province, overseeing the foundation of over 450 schools as a part of the government’s plans for modernisation. His dedication to education earned him the Order of St. Vladimir, which bestowed on him the status of hereditary nobleman.
Kamenev was born as Leo Rosenfeld in Moscow, the son of a Jewish railway worker who was a convert to Russian Christian Orthodoxy and an ethnic Russian Orthodox Christian mother. Both of his parents were active in radical politics. His father used the capital he earned in the construction of the Baku–Batumi railway to pay for Lev’s education. Kamenev attended the boys’ Gymnasium in Tiflis, Georgia (now Tbilisi) and later Moscow University where he became involved in political activity. His arrest in 1902 interrupted his formal education. From that point on, he worked as a professional revolutionary, and was active in the capital St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tiflis. He adopted the surname Kamenev during this period. In the early 1900s, he married Olga Bronstein, a fellow Marxist (and younger sister of Leon Trotsky, who had also adopted a different surname). The couple had two sons together.
Lev Davidovich Bronstein (7 November [O.S. 26 October] 1879 – 21 August 1940), better known as Leon Trotsky (/ˈtrɒtski/), was a Ukrainian-Russian Marxist revolutionary, political theorist and politician. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism which has become known as Trotskyism.
Leon Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein to David Leontyevich Bronstein (1847–1922) and Anna Lvovna (née Zhivotovskaya, 1850–1910) on 7 November 1879, the fifth child of a Ukrainian-Jewish family of wealthy farmers in Yanovka or Yanivka, in the Kherson governorate of the Russian Empire (now Bereslavka, in Ukraine), a small village 24 kilometres (15 mi) from the nearest post office. His father, David Leontyevich, had lived in Poltava, and later moved to Bereslavka, as it had a large Jewish community. The language spoken at home was a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian (known as Surzhyk). Trotsky’s younger sister, Olga, who also grew up to be a Bolshevik and a Soviet politician, married the prominent Bolshevik Lev Kamenev.
Karl Heinrich Marx was born on 5 May 1818 to Heinrich Marx (1777–1838) and Henriette Pressburg (1788–1863). He was born at Brückengasse 664 in Trier, an ancient city then part of the Kingdom of Prussia‘s Province of the Lower Rhine. Marx’ family was originally (non-religious) Jewish, but converted formally to Christianity in his early childhood. His maternal grandfather was a Dutch rabbi, while his paternal line had supplied Trier’s rabbis since 1723, a role taken by his grandfather Meier Halevi Marx. His father, as a child known as Herschel, was the first in the line to receive a secular education. He became a lawyer with a comfortably upper middle class income and the family owned a number of Moselle vineyards, in addition to his income as an attorney. Prior to his son’s birth and after the abrogation of Jewish emancipation in the Rhineland, Herschel converted from Judaism to join the state Evangelical Church of Prussia, taking on the German forename Heinrich over the Yiddish Herschel.