This Week in History

On the same day in 1927, Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, making Joseph Stalin the undisputed leader of Russia. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

This week in history we will see the anniversary of several important events that shaped the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown:

On Nov. 12, 1840, French sculptor Auguste Rodin was born in Paris. A gifted artist, Rodin faced intense criticism during his career. His style was more realistic and focused on the physicality of the subject as opposed to the mythological theme of sculpting at the time. At the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, his works were highly praised and he gradually became more popular as art collectors lined up to buy his work. Some of his most famous pieces include the “Gates of Hell,” “The Kiss” and his most celebrated sculpture “The Thinker.” Rodin passed away in 1917.

On the same day in 1927, Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, making Joseph Stalin the undisputed leader of Russia. Stalin and Trotsky had been vying for power since the death of Lenin, and the fate of the party and country lay in their hands. Once Trotsky had been expelled, Stalin began to consolidate power through his bureaucratic system and political allies. He was able to push Russia toward a communist economic system and solidifed himself as the one true leader. Stalin would lead Russia through World War II as one of the “Big Three” along with Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. During the course of the war, the Soviet Union lost an estimated 16 million people from its population, and some of the fiercest fighting took place in Russian cities like Stalingrad and Leningrad. Trotsky was assassinated on Stalin’s orders in Mexico City in 1940, and Stalin passed away in 1953.

On the same day in 1954, Ellis Island in New York officially closed. It was opened in 1892 as the first Federal Immigration processing center for people coming to America, and more than 12 million immigrants went through its doors. In 1907 alone, close to one million people were processed there. During its tenure, the island also served as a Coast Guard training ground, a hospital for wounded soldiers and a detention and deportation center for illegal immigrants. Today, Ellis Island is a museum under the National Parks and part of the Liberty Statue tour. It is visited by nearly two million people each year. As a testament to its importance, nearly 40 percent of all Americans can trace their family roots through Ellis Island.

On Nov. 15, 1920, the League of Nations General Assembly held its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson and part of his “14 Points” plan, it was founded after World War I as the first international organization whose mission was to maintain world peace. Nations in the League were hesitant to use force or sanctions to prevent conflicts, and it proved unsuccessful at stopping the rise of the Axis powers in the 1930s. The League of Nations ultimately failed in preventing World War II and was disbanded in 1946. In its place rose the United Nations (U.N.), which utilized many of the same principles but with more countries and the capability to enforce its orders. Today the U.N. is headquartered in New York City and has 193 sovereign nations listed as members.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.