THE COLD WAR BEGINS. STALINISM, THE SOVIET-YUGOSLAV BREAK,
KHRUSCHEV'S ANTI-STALIANISM AND REVOLT IN EASTERN EUROPE
The USSR, the USA, Eastern Europe, Germany, 1944-56.
I. The Origins of the Cold War.
1. How It Began.
Until the late 1960s, most Western historians and politicians blamed the Soviet Union for
causing the Cold War, while Soviet bloc historians and politicians blamed the United States.
However, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal led to a loss
of credibility by the U.S government, and some U.S. historians began to blame the United States.
Thus, in attacking U.S. "imperialist" policy in Vietnam, they also claimed this policy was key to the
Cold War. This was called the "revisionist school. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, however,
historians are returning to the view that the USSR was more to blame for the Cold War. (1)
The origins of the Cold War can be traced to the late 1940s.. In fact, almost as soon as World War II ended in Europe, Western opinion was disturbed by Soviet or Soviet-inspired repression in Eastern Europe, especially in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. However, the seemingly democratic governments in Hungary and Czechoslovakia counterbalanced the repression elsewhere. This was, of course, Stalin's intention, so Western opinion did not begin to turn strongly against the Soviet Union until a communist victory seemed possible in the Greek civil war, which led to the Truman Doctrine (March 1947). Also, postwar economic disruption made it seem likely that communist parties would come to power in France and Italy, which led to the Marshall Plan (June 1947).Then the Berlin Blockade, which began in the summer of 1948 (went to May 1949) signalled the threat of Soviet-communist expansion into West Germany and thus Western Europe. We should also bear in mind that a civil war was raging in China between the nationalist forces of Chiang kai-Shek and the communist forces of Mao tse-Tung, who emerged as the victor in October 1949 (see ch. 9).Furthermore, in June 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea (see ch.11) while the French were fighting the North Vietnamese communists in the Indochina War (see ch. 12). Thus, communism seemed to be engulfing the world.
As far as Stalin was concerned, the turning point in his policy both toward the West and,
simultaneously, toward his East European satellites, may not have been the Truman Doctrine
announced in March 1947, which concerned primarily Greece and Turkey. He seems to have felt that
the Soviet hold over Eastern Europe was threatened by the Marshall Plan, proclaimed in June that
year. At about the same time, Stalin perceived Tito of Yugoslavia as too independent. Stalin tried to
use some Yugoslav communists to overthrow Tito, but they failed. This led to the Soviet-Yugoslav
split (see below).
Stalin's Policy in Eastern Europe, 1944/45-1947/48.
At this time, Stalin's policy in East Europe did not follow a single pattern. Thus, in Romania and Bulgaria, which Churchill had recognized as belonging to the Soviet sphere of imfluence in the "Percentage Agreement" of October 1944 (see chapter 5) - which had been recognized as such at the Yalta Conference of February 1945 - Stalin proceeded very quickly to set up communist-dominated and then purely communist governments. Here, the process was virtually complete by 1947.
Meanwhile, in Poland, the communists soon proceeded to repress the legal opposition parties,
and crushed them by late 1947. Nevertheless, a state of civil war between communist security forces
and armed opponents of communism continued in parts of the country until 1948, and in isolated
areas as late as 1952.
At the same time as these activities were going on in Poland, Stalin pursued a "go slow"
policy in Hungary and Czechoslovakia until late 1947 and early 1948 respectively. He also allowed
autonomy to Finland, withdrew Soviet forces from northern Iran, gave up pressure on Turkey, and
sacrificed the Greek communists, who suffered defeat in late 1949.
In all these countries, Stalin's policy seemed carefully calibrated to the amount of British and
U.S. concern with each country. Thus, he retreated in those areas where he met with Western
opposition or/and did not consider vital to the USSR. His liberal policy toward Finland seems to have
been motivated by the desire not to alienate other Scandinavian states, particularly Sweden, and not
to antagonize the U.S. Here, as in the other countries mentioned above, he probably feared that a
clearly repressive communist regime would provoke an American-Soviet confrontation before he
could consolidate his hold over Eastern Europe and East Germany.
Let us now look at Stalin's policy toward Romania and Bulgaria, where Stalin proceeded very
swiftly to establish communist rule. Here, as in Poland, we should note the historical continuity of
Russian policy. In the Balkans, the imperial Russian goal had been to control of all of the Black Sea,
and thus its Romanian and Bulgarian coastlines. The final goal dated back to Catherine the Great: it
was Russian control of the straits leading to the Mediterranean.
(a) Romania (N.B - older spelling: Rumania).
The Romanians claim descent from the Roman colony of Dacia. Indeed, in 120 A.D. this
colony was very similar in shape and size to contemporary Romania, but without Transylvania (now
part of Romania). Also, many Romanian words have Latin roots.
The first recognizably Romanian states were established in Wallachia and Moldavia around
1300, but many Romanians were under Hungarian or Bulgarian rule. The Ottoman Turks conquered
the Balkans in the period 1352-1400. Thus, along with other Balkan peoples, they ruled Romanian
lands for over 400 years. The rulers of Wallachia and Moldavia - today central and eastern Romania -
were Greek "Hospodars" (Governors) appointed by the Sultans. Transylvania, with its preponderantly
Romanian-speaking population, but also with a large Magyar (ethnic Hungarian) minority, was part
of the Kingdom of Hungary from about 1,000 A.D. until the Turkish conquest of that country in
1526. The Turks granted automomy to this region, which was ruled by its Magyar nobles. When the
Austrian Habsburgs pushed the Turks out of old Hungary in 1699 (Treaty of Karlowitz, Serbo-Croatian: Karlovac), Transylvania and Hungary became part of the Austrian Empire. Except for a
brief period from 1849 to 1860, Transylvania was ruled from Budapest until November 1918.
Two years after Russia's defeat in the Crimean War (1854-56), France and Britain established
the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia (1858). In January 1859, the nobles of these two
principalities elected Alexander Cuza as their prince (overthrown in 1866). At this time, Bessarabia
(ruled by Russia since 1812, now Moldova) was included in the Romanian territories, which were still
under Ottoman Turkish sovereignty. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Prussia and Napoleon III of
France then agreed that the ruler should be Prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who
became Carol I of Romania. In July 1878, after another Russo-Turkish war, in which the Romanians
supported Russia, the Congress of Berlin recognized the two principalities of Modavia and Wallachia
as the Kingdom of Romania. However, the latter had to cede Bessarabia to Russia, and was
compensated with northern Dobruja. She gained southern Dobruja from Bulgaria in 1913.
Romania entered World War I in 1915 on the side of the Entente Powers, counting on
Russian aid. However, the Russians were unable to help so the country was overrun by German
armies. Still, Romania emerged on the winning side in late 1918. With the defeat of imperial Germany
and Austria-Hungary, Romania annexed Transylvania from Hungary, almost doubling the size of the
prewar Romanian state. This was greatly resented by the Magyars, who regarded Transylvania as part
of their historic territory. Furthermore, it had a Magyar minority of about 2 million. The defeat of
imperial Russia, the revolutions and the Civil War, allowed Romania to recover Bessarabia, where
the population was predominantly Romanian-speaking in the west and Ukrainian-speaking in the east
. Finally, Romania recovered Southern Dobruja from the Bulgarians who had seized it during World
War I, when they lined up with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
It is no wonder that interwar Romania was concerned above all with retaining the territories
gained as a result of World War I. The two greatest threats to Romanian territorial integrity were
Hungary and the USSR, each claiming a sizable chunk of Romania (Hungary took part of
Transylvania and the USSR took all of Bessarabia). Therefore, Romania concluded a defensive
alliance with Poland against the USSR in 1921, and in 1926 a Friendship Treaty with France. After
Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933, Romania trod t he tightrope between France and Germany,
while keeping a wary eye on the USSR. Romania was also a member of the Little Entente, a regional
alliance system supported by France, but directed principally at containing Hungary. The two other
members were Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. They were also threatened by Hungary, since each
had acquired territories with sizable Hungarian minorities (southern Slovakia in Czechoslovakia and
Backa in Yugoslavia respectively).
An alliance, or at least good Romanian-Soviet relations would have been possible if the USSR
had been willing to recognize Romanian ownership of Bessarabia. However, the most that Stalin
would do was to keep the claim in abeyance. It is true that there was always a pro-German faction
in Romania, but King Carol II and his advisers tried hard to get Franco-British support against Hitler
and Hungary. However, lack of significant Western commitment led to a German-Romanian
economic treaty in late March 1939, which subordinated the Romanian economy to German needs.
The Franco-British guarantee of April 16th that year -- granted to Romania and Greece after
Mussolini's invasion of Albania -- could not counterbalance German influence. When World War II
broke out in September 1939, Romania declared its neutrality and soon cooperated with Germany.
The governments of interwar Romania were generally undemocratic. However, there was
a strong National Peasant Party led by Iuliu Maniu and a National Liberal Party led by Ion Bratianu.
Land reform was particularly extensive in Transylvania, where most of the former landlords were
Magyars, but peasant expectations elsewhere were disappointed. The industrial workers (in oil fields
and refineries) lived in dire poverty. King Carol II established a royal dictatorship in late 1938. In
1940, when Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the USSR, northern Transylvania to Hungary,
and southern Dobrudja to Bulgaria, Carol abdicated in favor of his young son, Michael, and fled the
country. (He stayed in Spain, then Portugal, then Mexico, and finally died in Portugal). General Ion
Antonescu seized dictatorial powers, and lined up with Germany. Thousands of Romanians were
forced to fight alongside the Germans in Russia.
When it was clear that Germany could not win the war, some Romanian politicians established
secret contact in 1943 with British diplomats through Polish diplomats in Lisbon, Portugal. They
offered to abandon Germany if allied troops landed in the Balkans and advanced into Romania.
However, the British were deaf to these appeals for the Allies demanded unconditional surrender
from enemy countries. (Casablanca Jan. 1943). Also, despite Churchill's proposals of an allied
invasion of the Balkans, American military leaders designated this region as a Soviet war theater in
August 1943. (lst Quebec Conference)..
The Soviet-Communist Takeover of Romania.
- As Soviet armies marched into Romania, King Michael overthrew General Antonescu on
Augst 23, 1944, and declared war on Germany. King Michael's coup was an unwelcome surprise to
Stalin, who planned to install his own Moscow-trained Romanian communists in power. In the
meanwhile, the communists in Romania, though only some 1,000 strong in late 1944, managed to
reorganize themselves under the leadership of Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej (1901-65). His second in
command was Nicolae Ceausescu. (1918-1989.He became a brutal dictator and was shot by his own
soldiers in late December 1989; see ch. 8).
As noted earlier (ch. 5), a coalition government called the National Democratic Front was
established in October 1944. In December, it was followed by a new government led by General
Nicolae Radescu. Of course, all key ministries, including the police, were in communist hands.
Western recognition of Soviet dominance over Romania at the Yalta Conference in February 1945
led to the removal of the Radescu government in March. It was replaced by a "popular democratic
regime" headed by a peasant leader from Transylvania, Petru Groza. He opposed Juliu Maniu, the
leader of the National Peasant Party.
This change of government took place with overt Soviet "support." In February, the communists used force to take over local government in many cities and towns. On February 24th, however, a huge demonstration by "National Democratic Front" supporters was fired on by police loyal to the Radescu government. Three days later Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Vyshinsky arrived in Bucharest. Twice he demanded that King Michael secure General Radescu's resignation and the King had to comply. Thus, a new coalition government, headed by Groza and dominated by communists, took power on March 6, 1945.
The British and U.S. representatives on the Allied Control Commission in Romania reported
all these developments to their governments. However, Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav
Molotov, refused to listen to allied protests. Likewise, the Soviet High Commissioner in Romania
refused to listen to his Western colleagues' protests against the confiscation of their countries'
property (mostly oil shares,) and Soviet exploitation of this property through Soviet-Romanian "joint
stock" enterprises. In this way, the USSR took over former German and Western assets in Romania.
(The same methods were used in the two other ex-enemy countries, Bulgaria and Hungary).
The two most prominent opposition leaders, Juliu Maniu, leader of the National Peasant
Party, and Constantin Bratianu, leader of the National Liberal Party, asked the British and U.S.
representatives whether a civil war in Romania might precipitate a conflict between the USSR and
the Western powers. They were strongly advised not to think of it. However, the Western leaders
decided to discuss Romania at the upcoming Potsdam Conference. At Potsdam (July - August 1945),
the Western leaders got nowhere with Stalin on Romania. Nevertheless, the U.S. government
encouraged King Michael to believe that Washington would not recognize an undemocratic
government in Romania. He was, therefore, advised to dismiss the Groza government, while Moscow
inisted that it stay in power.
In late August 1945, a crisis began which lasted four months. During this time, the U.S.
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, James E. Byrnes, sent Mark Ethridge, the publisher of the
Louisville Courier Journal, to visit Romania and Bulgaria to gather information for an independent
report on what was going on in those two countries. Ethridge reported the situation exactly as it was,
but powerful American supporters of friendship with the USSR refused to believe him.
In December 1945, at the Foreign Ministers' Conference in Moscow, Secretary Byrnes gave
a copy of the Ethridge report to Stalin, but he would not budge on Romania. Therefore, in view of
their priorities, the U.S. and British Ministers, Byrnes and Ernest Bevin, accepted Stalin's proposed
"compromise:" i.e., the addition to the Groza government of one representative each from the
National Peasant Party and the National Liberal Party. This "compromise" had a precedent in the
agreement reached on the new Polish government at Yalta, although several non-communist members
were allowed to join the latter due to the importance which Churchill and Roosevelt attached to the
establishment of a "democratic" government in Poland (see ch. 5).
Thus, it was clear that the Western powers would not make a stand over Romania. Indeed,
they recognized the new Romanian government despite the patently rigged elections of November
1946. The opposition leaders were arrested; some were executed and others died in jail. King Michael
was forced to abdicate in November 1947. He was given asylum in the United States. (2)
The Bulgarians were originally a Turkic people which came from Asia. They arrived in what
is Bulgaria by way of south Russia in the 5th century A.D; unlike the Magyars, they were soon
slavicized. With their emperor, Boris, they were converted to Christianity from Constantinople in 865
Bulgaria became a great empire in 1018. Soon, it became part of the Byzantine empire,
though it was an empire again in the 1200s. It was conquered by the Ottoman Turks after the Battle
of the Maritza river, 1371. It remained under Turkish rule until 1878, when the Russian victory over
the Turks led to the creation of a great Bulgaria by the Treaty of San Stefano (January 1878).
However, since the country was clearly to be a satellite of Russia, the other Great Powers - Germany,
Austro-Hungary, France and Gt. Britain (plus Ottoman Empire and Italy) refused to recognize the
treaty. Therefore, with the reluctant consent of Russia and great resentment by the Bulgarians, their
country was considerably reduced in size by the Congress of Berlin (July 1878).
In 1912, Bulgaria allied with Romania, Serbia and Greece in the First Balkan War against the
Ottoman Turks, who were defeated. However, in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria fought Greece
and Serbia in a bid to seize the whole of Macedonia, and lost (1913). In this war, Romania and
Ottoman Turkey came in against Bulgaria. Bulgaria then lost territory to Greece, Serbia and
Romania. Unreconciled to these losses, the Bulgarians came into World War I on the side of the
Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary. They took back some of their lost territories, but lost
them again at the end of the war.
Bulgaria aligned itself with Germany in World War II, joining Hitler in the attack on
Yugoslavia in spring 1941. The Bulgarians annexed part of Macedonia and obtained Dobruja from
the Romanians. In late November 1941, Bulgaria joined the Rome-Berlin Axis and declared war on
the United States - when Hitler did so after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S.
into the war. However, due to traditional, popular feelings of friendship for Russia, Bulgaria
maintained strict neutrality toward the USSR. Indeed, the Soviet embassy functioned in Sofia
throughout the war.
We should also note that public demonstrations against German demands for deporting Bulgarian Jews (only 50,000 out of a total population of some 15,300,000 in 1940) saved most of them from certain death. King Boris III, who had opposed German pressure to come into the war against Russia and to deport the Jews, died suddenly in August 1943 at the age of 49 (coronary thrombosis). His rule had been neither fascist nor totalitarian, but authoritarian. He was popular for making territorial gains and keeping the country out of the war.
A regency concil was formed to rule in the name of the 6 year old King Simeon. The
government continued its attempts to reach a separate peace with the Western Allies. These attempts
were rebuffed. The Allies demanded unconditional surrender, the return of all conquered territory,
and agreement to allied occupation. In late 1942, Sofia became the target of allied bombing raids,
which continued into 1944. These raids disrupted the administration of the country, which was also
plagued by shortages, inflation, and a black market.
There was a minuscule, mostly communist-led resistance movement. While Partisan activity
increased in late 1944, it was never strong enough to threaten the government. Nevertheless, a
political organization came into being known as the Fatherland Front. Established in July 1942, it
was a loose combination of communists; "Zvenari," (a group of politicians belonging to "Zveno"
=Link, critical of the prewar political system); left Agrarians under Nikola Petkov; and some Social
Democrats. Still, as late as August 1944, the Fatherland Front had only some 3,600 members.
The Bulgarian government kept on trying for a separate peace with the Western powers.
However, the approach of Soviet armies and Soviet demands that the government rid Bulgaria of
German troops, led to a crisis in May 1944. The new Premier, Ivan Bagrianov, again sought peace
with the Western Allies, but again, he failed. The Bulgarian government declared strict neutrality on
August 17th; Bagrianov also granted amnesty to all political prisoners and repudiated all anti-Jewish
As we know, on August 20, 1944, the Red Army invaded Romania, which promptly joined
the USSR. Bagrianov assured the Russians on August 26th that all German troops would be
disarmed, all Bulgarian troops would withdraw from Yugoslavia, and all prisoners of war would be
released.Moscow demanded, however, that Bulgaria declare war on Germany. Bagrianov tried
desperately to secure peace with the Western allies, but they would not listen. On August 30th, Stalin
announced he would no longer respect Bulgarian neutrality and Bagrianov resigned. The new
government, headed by the Agrarian leader, Konstantin Muraviev, tried hard to draw in the
Fatherland Front, but its leaders insisted on establishing their own government. They organized
strikes and demonstrations.
On September 5th, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria, which declared war on
Germany three days later. Soviet troops entered the country that day (September 8th). They were
welcomed everywhere by a traditionally pro-Russian population (memories of 1878). A Fatherland
Front government was installed in Sofia, with communists heading the key Ministries of Justice and
The Communist Seizure of Power.
Although the new government was a coalition, Bulgaria was slated to come under Soviet
domination. The Soviet army was to stay until 1947 and the Soviets obtained the permanent
chairmanship of the Allied Control Commission in the country. (In fact, this had been suggested by
the British, who wanted to avoid Soviet interference in Greece). Since Soviet dominance was
obvious, it was not surprising that communist party membership grew from 15,000 in October 1944
to 250,000 a year later, and to 460,000 by 1948.
From the beginning, the communist-dominated Fatherland Front worked to establish complete
communist power. It immediately organized local government committees, using them to attack and
dismantle the old administration. At the same time, priests were deprived of influence and teachers
were replaced on a massive scale; also, school curricula were revised and many prewar books were
burned. (The Nazis had also burned books in Germany when they came to power). Trade unions were
taken over. People's Courts were set up, which really were "Kangaroo" courts. Their victims
numbered at least 30,000 and perhaps as many as 100,000. There was a bloodbath with the killing
of former administrators and army officers. All former ministers and royal advisers were "tried" and
100 were shot in February 1945. With the removal of right and center politicians, the only opposition
to the communists was on the left. It was made up mostly of members of the Radical Agrarian Party,
which, like Mikolajczyk's Peasant Party in Poland, became a bulwark against communist power.
Informed of the situation within the country by U.S. representatives there, the U.S.
government expressed concern about Bulgarian elections shortly after Yalta. Washington proposed
full freedom for all parties in the "Fatherland Front" to present their programs. It also proposed
supervision of the elections by a special Allied Tripartite Commission. However, Soviet Foreign
Minister V. Molotov opposed this, saying it would constitute "foreign intervention" in Bulgarian
The leader of the Bulgarian Radical Agrarian Party, Dr. G. M. Dimitrov (not to be confused
with the long-time Secretary of the Comintern, the Communist Georgii M. Dimitrov), sought refuge
in the British Mission in late May 1945. Next, he was sheltered in the U.S. Mission. This was done
on the initiative of the U.S. Minister in Bulgaria, Maynard B. Barnes, whose action was then
approved by Washington. G. M. Dimitrov's successor as party leader, Nikola Petkov, asked the
Bulgarian Prime Minister for a postponement of the elections, but was forced to resign from the
cabinet. At this point, the U.S. government stated that it would establish diplomatic relations only
with a truly representative provisional government (August 18, 1945). This led to the postponement
of the elections.
In October 1945, State Secretary Byrnes's special envoy, Mark Ethridge, visited Bulgaria and
reported to Byrnes, just as he later did on Romania (see above). However, just as in the case of
Romania, so too in Bulgaria, the U.S. government accepted a token compromise, i.e. the inclusion
of two representatives of non-communist groups in the government. In both cases, U.S. capitulation
was due to other priorities. Moscow was demanding a more active role in the control of occupied
Japan, and the United States did not want the Soviets to have more to say there than Washington had
in Romania and Bulgaria. We should also note that the U.S. foreign policy establishment was divided
between the advocates of compromise and firmness toward the USSR. The leading "compromisers"
were State Secretary Byrnes, his principal assistant, Benjamin V. Cohen, and the former U.S.
ambassador to the USSR, Joseph E. Davies. This group also included the influential journalist,
Walter Lippmann, and Democratic politicians such as Lyndon B. Johnson and Estes Kefauver.
Indeed, when these people, who favored continued good relations with the USSR, read the Ethridge
report, they wondered if the author had become a "Red baiter." The supporters of "firmness" were
led by President Harry S. Truman, the Chief of Combined Staffs, Admiral William D. Leahy, and the
Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Dean Acheson. However, as noted above, the compromisers won
out; this was mainly because of U.S. concerns to keep the Soviets out of Japan.
The Bulgarian elections took place in October 1946, in an atmosphere of terror. Nevertheless,
the opposition parties won 101 out of 465 seats in the Legislature. The peace treaties were signed
in February 1947, and were ratified by the U.S. Senate on June 5th that year. Nikola Petkov was
promptly arrested on the following day. He was tried in August, condemned to death, and executed
on September 23rd. Nevertheless, the U.S. Government formally recognized Bulgaria on October 1st.
In the meanwhile, the U.S. Minister to Bulgaria, Barnes, who was home on leave, was refused
permission to return to his post to try and secure Petkov's release. He then resigned from the service.
We should note that, aside from such considerations as keeping the USSR out of Japan, U.S.
policy reflected the administration's acceptance of George F. Kennan's advice on policy toward the
USSR. He counselled a policy of "containing" the USSR, i.e. accepting Soviet domination over most
of Eastern Europe, but not allowing Soviet expansion into West Germany, Western Europe, and the
The Serbs settled in their homeland in the 7th century a.d. Under Stephen Nemanya (1168-1196), they accepted the Greek Orthodox religion from Constantinople. Serbia became an empire under Stephen Dushan (1333-55), but was conquered by the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Kosovo on June 29, 1389. (The mostly Albanian-populated Kosovo has been sacred to Serbs ever since, as witness Belgrade's repressive policy toward the Albanians there). The Serbs revolted against Turkish domination in the early 1800s and obtained autonomy in 1830. Serbia became an independent state in 1878 after Russia defeated the Ottoman Turks and the Congress of Berlin cut Bulgaria down in size.
Croatia had a brief period of independence before it was joined to Hungary in the early
Middle Ages. Later, along with Dalmatia (part of old Croatia) it was first under Venetian, then
Austrian rule. The Slovenes had become part of the Holy Roman Empire in the 9th century and then
of Austria. These peoples are Roman Catholic, while the Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians
belong to the (Greek) Orthodox Church. Finally in Bosnia-Herzegovina about 38%, the largest
segment in its mixed population (Bosnian Moslems, Serbs and Croats), are the Moslems, a relic of
Turkish rule. Under the latter, the Bosnian Moslems were the landlords in the villages and the
merchants in the towns.
In late 1918, as the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, the Kingdom of the South Slavs
came into being. It was dominated by the Serbs who were the largest single ethnic group, about 33%
of the total populatoin.. In 1929, King Alexander established a royal dictatorship and the country
took the name of Yugoslavia, (South Slavdom). As we know, Hitler attacked it in April 1941. Josip
Broz Tito emerged as the leader of the Partisans who formed his power base at the end of the war.
Elections were held in an atmosphere of terror in November 1945, and the Communists won.
Nonetheless, here too, the United States and Great Britain formally recognized the new government
(see ch. 5).
Poland was a special case in the "inner rim" of Soviet- dominated Eastern Europe. The consolidation of communist power was slower here than in Romania and Bulgaria. This was due to Stalin's regard for British and U.S. opinion which wanted an independent, democratic, Poland. At the same time, however, Polish communists, supported by the Soviet NKVD used terror and repression to crush the opposition. Stalin said this was an internal Polish affair.
In the "outer rim," i.e. Czechoslovakia and Hungary, Stalin allowed a certain amount of democracy in order to balance the repression in Poland. Apparently he decided it was best to proceed cautiously with the Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians, so as to avoid provoking too much local resistance and thus risking a confrontation with the Western powers. Although most American troops had left Europe for home, the U.S. had the monopoly of the atomic bomb until 1949, when the Soviets exploded their own.
The same Soviet caution applied to Finland, which was part of the "inner rim" in the north.
The Finns were popular in the west, especially in the United States, because they had paid off their
World War I debt -- minuscule though it was -- and because of their plucky resistance to the Soviets
in the "Winter War" of 1939-40. There was also a historical precedent, for the Finns had enjoyed
autonomy in the Russian empire between 1809 and19l4, which became more extensive after 1906
In any case, the Soviets controlled the key naval bases. Furthermore, brutal Soviet repression in
Finland was likely to push neutral Sweden into the arms of the Western powers. Finally, unlike
Poland, which was seen by Moscow as the vital access route to East Germany, in the west Finland
bordered on neutral Sweden, and in the north on Norway. For all these reasons, the Finns were
allowed, with time, to develop a genuine form of democracy even though they were in the Soviet
sphere of influence. Indeed, before the collapse of Communist in Eastern Europein 1989, Finland
was the only country in the Soviet bloc to enjoy real democracy. (4).
Thus, Stalin's methods varied from country to country. This can best be seen by citing some
(For the historical background, see ch. I, appendix; for Poland in World War II, see ch. 5).
Mikolajczyk and three other ministers from the former Polish Government in London became
members of the new Polish government, formed in Mosocw in late June 1945 and recognized by the
Western powers in July 1945. However, Polish communist security forces, aided by the Soviet
NKVD hunted down the remnants of the Underground Army. In some parts of the country, there
was a state of civil war until 1948, while in a few isolated areas, armed resistance survived until 1952.
At this time, Poland had a mixed economy: the state owned and controlled heavy industry,
transport and banking, but 90% plus of the land was owned by private farmers (land reform 1944-45).
Limited private enterprise also existed in light industry and services. This state of affairs, resembling
Soviet NEP (1921-28), also prevailed in other East European satellites at this time.
The Polish people worked willingly to rebuild their destroyed cities, especially Warsaw. At first, the press enjoyed relative freedom, though there could be no criticism of the Soviet Union.
At the same time, however, the non-communist parties, i.e. the Polish Socialist Party and
Mikolajczyk's Peasant Party were increasingly harassed and restricted. This process was facilitated
by the fact that, from the outset, the key ministries of the Interior (Police), Information (Propaganda),
Agriculture (Land Reform), Western Territories (settlement of Poles from former eastern Poland and
central Poland in the territories gained from Germany in the West), and the Armed Forces, were in
From the outset, the communists worked to split the socialist and peasant parties into right
and left, and fuse their left splinters with their own party. The same strategy was used in
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and other satellites. The Hungarians called this "the salami method," i.e.
like slicing off bits of salami.
The huge membership of Mikolajczyk's Peasant Party worried the communists, but they found
unexpected help in U.S. policy. It seems that Mikolajczyk was doomed when U.S. Secretary of State
James F. Byrnes' made a fateful speech at Stuttgart on September 6, 1946. Byrnes indicated that the
U.S. did not view Poland's new western frontier, the Oder-Neisse Line, as final. Apparently, Stalin
read the speech to mean that the U.S. and Great Britain were courting the Germans and had lost
interest in Poland. He seems to have decided at this time that the Polish communists should get rid
of Mikolajczyk and destroy his Peasant Party.
As terror against the Peasant Party increased, Mikolajczyk found the British and Americans deaf to his appeals that they at least protest to Moscow. Thus, the Polish Workers' Party, ie. PPR, could avoid holding free elections. First, it organized a Referendum in June 1946. The population was encouraged to "vote three times yes," on the following issues: land reform, the new western frontier, and a one chamber legislature. Mikolajczyk and his party made it clear that a "no" vote on the third issue would represent opposition to the communists. The referendum was preceded by a wave of terror, directed specifically at the Peasant Party. About l00 local leaders and some 100,000 members were in jail when the voting took place. Even so, as Polish communists were to admit years later, the vast majority of the people voted "no" on the one chamber legislature, thus indicating support for Mikolajczyk. But the PPR precinct staffs simply faked the results to say "yes" on all three issues, and thus show a "popular mandate" for the PPR. As the former communist minister, Jerzy Morawski, said some forty years later, the PPR refused to allow a "mere ballot" to stand in the way of its program to build a socialist Poland. After the referendum, terror increased. Also, as mentioned above, Byrnes' Stuttgart speech of September 6, 1946, showed U.S. lack of interest in Poland. The rigged Polish elections, finally held in January 1947, duly returned a majority for the PPR. Mikolajczyk, whose life was threatened, decided to flee in October that year and found refuge in the United States.
In December 1948, after a bitter internal struggle, the PPR was transformed into the Polska
Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (United Polish Workers' Party, Polish acronym: PZPR), which
included those members of the socialist and peasant parties, who opted - or were forced - to join. (5)
By that time, the First Secretary of the PPR, Wladyslaw Gomulka, was out of power. He was forced
to resign on charges of "nationalist deviation," for he had opposed forced collectivization and the
establishment of the Cominform. He was imprisoned, and then put under house arrest. (He was to
re-emerge as the party leader in October 1956, see below). Thus, by December 1948, communist
power in Poland was complete.
The Maygars are related to the Finns. They arrived in the Pannonian Plain by way of Russia
and settled there in 896 A.D. In 997, they accepted Christianity from Rome under King Stephen, who
became the country's patron saint.
Hungary became a large kingdom in the Middle Ages and began to participate in the
Renaissance, but it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks after the Battle of Mohacs, 1526. This
marked the beginning of Turkish domination over most of the country for the next 173 years.
Hungary was "liberated" from the Turks by Austrian armies in 1699 (Treaty of Karlowitz =
Karlovac), and became part of the Austrian empire. The Hungarians revolted against Austria in 1848-49 (Revolution and War of Independence), but lost. They obtained partnership status with Austria
in 1867, with the establishment of the Austro-Hungarian empire. As we know, Hungary became an
independent state in November 1918, a Soviet republic led by Bela Kun in March-July 1919 (see ch.
2) and then a kingdom ruled by a Admiral Nicholas Horthy as regent. He sided reluctantly with
Germany in World War II. In October 1944, he tried to negotiate a separate peace with the Russians,
but was arrested and removed by the Germans. He died in exile in Portugal in 1957. (He was reburied
in Hungary in 1995).
The Communists in Hungary.
When the Red Army entered Hungary in late 1944, the first anti-Nazi government included
a number of high officials from the former Horthy regime because they, like Horthy, had tried to
negotiate a separate peace with the USSR. However, in early 1945, they were replaced by a coalition
government, in which the communists shared power with three other parties: the Independent
Smallholders' Party, representing the better-off farmers; the Social Democratic Party, representing
the workers; and the National Peasant Party, representing the middle and poor peasants (see ch. 5).
It is worth noting that Hungary was the only country on the "inner rim" of East Central
Europe, which experienced really free elections. These were held in November 1945, after the
Communist-sponsored land reform had distributed land to the peasants. The communists secured
only 17% of the vote. Even in the next elections, held in August 1947, when the communists printed
fake ballot papers for themselves, they won only 22% of the vote.
Why did Stalin allow so much freedom in Hungary? It seems the Hungarian communists
believed land reform had made them so popular that they were bound to win the elections. We also
know that the Hungarian communists, led by the veteran of the "Hungarian Soviet Republic" of 1919,
Matyas Rakosi (1892-1971), who had returned from the USSR, were told by Stalin to hold their
horses. This was so because he wanted Hungary to serve as an example of democracy in order to
balance the repression in Poland. According to a Hungarian communist, Stalin actually told the
Hungarian communists that going slow in their country was a "trade-off" for communist violence in
Poland. What is more, they were told they would have to wait "ten or fifteen years" before
introducing "socialism" in their country. Finally, like the Polish and Czech communists, Hungarian
communists believed at this time that Stalin favored different national paths to socialism. Therefore,
some believed it would take time for them to gain majority support. (6)
At the same time, however, the USSR drained Hungary of her resources both by extortionary "reparations," and through Soviet-Hungarian "joint stock companies." As in Romania, the USSR used these companies to take over German and western foreign assets. The British and U.S. representatives on the Allied Control Commission protested, but were ignored by the Soviets.
As in Poland, so in Hungary, communist leaders proceeded to "split" the non-communist
parties, persuading and/or coercing their weaker members to join the communists or work for them
inside their old parties. (The term, "salami method," is attributed to, Matyas Rakosi). Even so - as
mentioned earlier - in the elections of August 1947 the communists won only 22% of the vote
despite the terror and mass ballot falsification by the communists. The large anti-communist vote did
not, however, reflect opposition to land reform, carried out in 1945.It expressed opposition to
communism as well as to the Soviet occupation and economic exploitation of Hungary. However,
the opposition won only a hollow victory, for its leaders were either arrested or forced to leave the
country. In 1948, Hungary was transformed into a "socialist" republic on the same model as the other
East European states under Soviet domination. (7)
The state, established in October-November 1918, was made up of the Czech lands of
Bohemia, Moravia, (with the addition of a predominantly Polish part of Teschen Silesia in 1919-20),
Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia. Bohemia and Moravia are Czech, but then had a large
German-speaking population, mostly in the mountain areas known as the Sudetenland. Slovakia
(became a separate state in Jan.1993) is inhabited by Slovaks, but had, and still has a sizable
Hungarian minority. Subcarpathian Ruthenia is inhabited by Ruthenes, who speak a Ukrainian dialect.
(It was annexed by the USSR in late 1944 and is now part of the independent Ukrainian Republic).
The Czechs have a long and illustrious history. In the late middle ages, Bohemia-Moravia
experienced a period of cultural and economic flowering The Charles University in Prague, named
after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia (ruled 1348-1378), was established in
1348. However, in 1415, war broke out between Bohemia and the Austrian empire. This led to the
Hussite Wars, named after the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus (1369-1415), who headed a revolt
against the Catholic church a hundred years before Martin Luther did so in Germany. Hus was burned
at the stake as a heretic by Emperor Sigismond and this set off the wars. After battling the Austrians
for just over two hundred years, the Czech Protestants were crushed at the Battle of the White
Mountain on November 8, 1620.
This battle marked a major turning point in Czech history. The Austrians proceeded to
Catholicize the population and to Germanize the noblility -- mostly through giving land to their own
nobles. (Many Czech nobles were killed and many emigrated). The result was a long interruption in
national development. The nobles and townsmen now spoke German, while only the peasants spoke
Czech. However, a Czech national rebirth began at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. By the
last quarter of the 19th century, the cities were Czech again except, of course for the Sudetenland
and some German-speaking islands in Bohemia and Moravia. Due to rich mineral deposits and a hard-working, skilled, work force, the Czech lands became the most industrialized and prosperous part of
the Austrian empire. They also possessed a well-developed agriculture, a good road and rail network,
and a highly literate population (98% literacy by 1900).
The Slovaks had come under Hungarian rule around the year 1,000 A.D. They worked as serfs
for Hungarian landlords. Their national renaissance also began in the early 19th century, but it was
constantly repressed by the Hungarians who ruled them until late 1918.
The Ruthenes (Ukrainians) lived in the poorest part of the country. They were also ruled by
Hungarians until late 1918.
Czechoslovak independence was proclaimed on October 18, 1918, by the Czecho-Slovak
National Committee in Paris. On November 14th, the Provisional Assembly in Prague declared the
state a republic with Thomas G. Masaryk (1850-1937) as President. Indeed, the birth of
Czechoslovakia was due both to the defeat of the Central Powers and the efforts of T. G. Masaryk
and his closest collaborator, Edward Benes (1884-1948). Masaryk, who was first a philosopher, then
a statesman, lobbied for Entente support during the war. (See section on the Czechoslovak Legion,
ch. 2). In 1918, he also secured the support of Slovak and Ruthene emigrants in the U.S. for their
inclusion in a federal Czechoslovak state. The leading Slovak and Ruthene politicians at home also
supported the idea of a federal Czech-Slovak-Ruthene state.
Although the country did not become a federation, as the Slovaks and Ruthenes had expected,
it turned out to be the only successful democracy in interwar Eastern Europe. Thomas G. Masaryk
(1850-1937) was President from November 1918 until he retired in 1935, when he was succeeded
by Edvard Bene (1884-1948), who had been the foreign minister. As we know, the British and
French gave in to Hitler's demand for the Sudetenland at the Munich Conference (September 29,
1938), after which he annexed the Czech lands in mid-March 1939 and made Slovakia an
"independent state" (see ch. 4). Slovak leaders, who had collaborated with the Germans, were
excecuted for treason in 1945. Nevertheless, wartime Slovakia was an important experiment in
Slovak statehood and inspired a desire for independence, which finally came in January 1993. (The
same experience applies Croatia, which was also a satellite of Nazi Germany in World War II and
became independent in Feb.1991).
The Czechoslovak "Showcase of Democracy" and Its Demise.
The situation in post World War II Czechoslovakia was in some ways similar to Hungary.
Stalin also told the Czech and Slovak communists to "go slow," even though they controlled the key
ministries. But the Czechoslovak case had its own distinct features. Like Poland, Czechoslovakia had
been an allied state during the war, but unlike Poland it had no territorial disputes with the Soviet
Union, and no anti-Soviet feelings. On the contrary, the Czechs -- though not the Slovaks -- had a
traditional sympathy for Russia, dating back to the Panslavic feelings of the early 19th century. This
sympathy was greatly reinforced by the Anglo-French betrayal of Czechoslovakia at the Munich
Conference in 1938, in which the USSR had not participated. Also, during the war, Moscow had been
the first to recognize Edward Benes' Czechoslovak Committee in London as the government of
Czechoslovakia, as well as the country's pre-Munich frontiers..
At that time, in 1942,President Benes then opted for close Czechoslovak-Soviet relations. He
broke off talks with the Poles for a confederation when the Soviets expressed opposition. In
December 1943, he went to Moscow, signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the USSR,
and freely offered his closest cooperation. He also offered Stalin, as a good will gesture, the eastern
tip of his country, Subcarpathian Ruthenia, with its largely Ukrainian-speaking population. Stalin
declined - but annexed it in late 1944, when his armies entered the region.
Benes' policy was dictated by two factors: one was deep resentment of the Western betrayal
of his country in 1938. The other was his belief that although Czechoslovakia would be in the Soviet
sphere of influence after the war, the Soviets would have nothing to gain by imposing their own
political and economic system on a friendly ally. He believed that Czechoslovakia would be "a bridge
between East and West."
In the last week of March 1945, Benes and a delegation of Czechoslovak politicians
representing all major parties, left London for Moscow to negotiate with the Soviet government as
well as with Czech communists and representatives of the Slovak National Council. Benes agreed to
the Soviet proposal that each political party, except "fascist" parties, would have 3 cabinet posts, but
that the communists would hold the key ministries of the Interior, Information and Agriculture. The
former Czechoslovak ambassador to Moscow, Zdenek Fierlinger (b. 1891), who was a pro-communist Socialist, was to be Prime Minister, with the communist, Klement Gottwald (1896-1953)
as Deputy Prime Minister. The commander of the Czechoslovak division in the USSR, General
Ludvik Svoboda (b. 1895), was to be Minister of Defense. Although Jan Masaryk (1886-1948, son
of President T. G. Masaryk) was to continue as Foreign Minister, his Undersecretary was to be the
communist Vladimir (Vlado) Clementis (1902-1952).
On March 31, 1945, Benes and his group left Moscow and arrived by train in Kosice, a town
in eastern Slovakia, on April 3rd. They were accompanied by the Soviet ambassador, Valerian Zorin.
On the next day, Benes appointed a provisional government which announced its program on April
5th. The key points of the Kosice Program were:
1. All civil liberties were guaranteed, i.e. freedom of speech, conscience, etc.
2. The Slovaks were guaranteed autonomy.
3. There was to be limited nationalization of key industries, credit and banking, insurance
systems, and mines, but also support for private business.
4. A new land reform was promised - meaning the confiscation and distribution of land
formerly owned by the prewar German and Hungarian minorities.
5. The provisional government, representing all political parties (with the exceptions listed below) was to be responsible to a Provisional National Assembly, which was to be replaced later by a freely elected Constitutional Assembly. Meanwhile "National Committees" were to carry on local administration. (These committees were modelled on the Soviets and were controlled by communists).
The Kosice Program outlawed "fascist" organizations and promised to punish "collaborators"
and "traitors." Furthermore, all political parties which had "transgressed against the interests of the
nation" would be forbidden. These included the large Czech Agrarian Party, although it could not be
blamed for Czechoslovakia's fate in 1938-39, or for the collaboration of some of its members with
the Germans. The largest party in Slovakia, the Catholic Populists, whose leaders had collaborated
with the Germans, was also banned.
Furthermore, the armed forces were to be commanded by "officers of sincerely democratic
and truly antifascist convictions," who were to undergo "political education." (8)
As was the case elsewhere, the new Czechoslovak government was a "National Front," i.e, a coalition of parties acceptable to the Soviet Union, with communists holding the key ministries. As the communist Vaclav Kopecky stated many years later, the communists could have taken power in 1945, but did not for "international reasons." (9) This referred to Stalin's policy of avoiding a confrontation with the Western powers. As noted above, the Hungarian communists were also told to wait.
Meanwhile, the fact that American troops did not liberate Prague and even evacuated
western Czechoslovakia, convinced many Czechs that their country was definitely in the Soviet
sphere of influence. Therefore, thousands joined the Communist Party , which was already quite
popular because the Soviet Union was seen as a friend that would tolerate democracy in
Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans and the resettlement of Czech
farmers in their place made the communists popular with this conservative element. Here as
elsewhere, the communists denied any intention to collectivize the land.
In view of the above, it is not surprising that, in the relatively free elections of May 26, 1946,
the communists won 40.17% of the total vote in the Czech lands, though they won only 30.37% in
preponderantly Catholic Slovakia. Here, the Catholic "Democratic Party," whose membership was
enlarged by former Populists, won 62% of the vote. In the Czechoslovak National Assembly, the
democratic parties held 186 seats and the communists 114. However, the communist Klement
Gottwald replaced Fierlinger as Prime Minister, while communists kept the the key ministries.
As noted above, President Benes believed that Stalin would tolerate democracy in his country.
However, it turned out that the Kosice Program laid the groundwork for later communist and thus
Soviet domination. Meanwhile, however, Czechoslovakia was a showcase of democracy in Eastern
Europe until communist pressure led to the establishment of total communist power in February 1948
(3) Where the Allies Did Not Give Way -- the Case of Greece.
As noted earlier, Stalin recognized Greece as being in the British sphere of influence. Indeed,
in December 1944, Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill told Greek communist leaders in the
presence of Stalin's representative, Colonel Popov, that British troops were in Greece with the
approval of Marshal Stalin and President Roosevelt. Nevertheless, the communist movement, the
EAM, and its armed forces, ELAS, erupted in a rebellion which was crushed by British troops (see
In September 1946, the first general election was held and gave an overhelming majority to
the royalist "Popular Party." However, the EAM and other left-wing groups refused to participate
in the election and to accept the results. It seems they acted against Stalin's advice, believing they had
a good chance of winning power. At this point, in late 1946, the communists began extensive
guerrilla action, which developed into a civil war that lasted until October 1949. Although
Western statesmen and public opinion believed that Stalin secretly supported the Greek communists
as part of his design to gain control of the Dardanelles and then of the eastern Mediterranean, the
general view today is that he did not order the communists to start the civil war. (Perhaps the truth
will be found some day in the Russian archives).
At this time, Western views on Stalin's policy stemmed from the fact that Tito was supporting
the Greek communists. It was not known that Tito was doing this on his own, for he feared that the
British might try to overthrow him in order to provide added security for a non-communist Greece.
We know now that Stalin summoned a Yugoslav delegation to Moscow in February 1948, and
insisted that the Greek uprising must be "rolled up." He also insisted that Yugoslavia sign an
agreement with the USSR on mutual consultation in foreign policy. Finally, he opposed Yugoslav-Bulgarian plans for a Balkan Federation, which would include Greece. (10)
It is curious that, despite Stalin's attitude, aid for the Greek communists continued coming not only from Albania, which was then a satellite of Yugoslavia, but also from Bulgaria, which was under complete Soviet control. Perhaps the Bulgarian communists, like Tito, were afraid of an anti-communist Greece? Or perhaps Stalin felt he had to give at least token support to the Greek communists via Bulgaria? The Greek communists were finally defeated in late 1949. Their defeat was due to a combination of three factors: (a) the opposition of the vast majority of the Greek people to communism; (b) British and U.S. support for the anti-communist forces; and, most importantly, (c) the lack of direct Soviet military support. The vast majority of East European peoples also opposed communism and Soviet domination, but they were repressed because the Western powers did not consider their independence to be a vital interest, so they sent no troops. (11)
3. British and U.S. Policy, 1945-47.
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972, President 1945-52), believed in "talking tough" to the Russians
when he thought it necessary, but at first he continued Roosevelt's policy of preserving good relations
with Stalin. Thus, in June 1945, he sent Harry Hopkins (1890-1946), Roosevelt's close advisor, to
Moscow to help iron out differences and persuade Stalin to be lenient to the 16 Polish underground
leaders kidnapped and put on trial by the Soviets in Moscow (see chapter 5). Also, despite great
difficulties, Truman managed to carry out Roosevelt's plan to establish the United Nations; this was
done in San Francisco in April-June 1945. He did not threaten Stalin with using the atomic bomb at
the Potsdam Conference in July-August, though he informed him of the successful test at
Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16th. Truman was surprised that Stalin took the news calmly.
Now we know that Stalin was very well informed on U.S. progress through his spies, notably the
German-born scientist Klaus Fuchs. Fuchs, who worked originally for the British, was sent to the
U.S. to work on the "Manhattan Project" (development of the atomic bomb). He was a communist
and managed to transfer many key atomic secrets to the USSR before he was arrested. After serving
a prison sentence in Britain, Fuchs settled in East Germany and died there. (12)
Of course, like Roosevelt, Truman wanted Soviet cooperation against Japan, because he could not be certain that the atomic bomb would suffice to knock her out of the war.
In March 1946, Winston S. Churchill (out of power since July 1945), visited the U.S. and
made his famous Iron Curtain speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He deplored
Soviet domination over Eastern Europe and warned of the Soviet threat to Western Europe.
Although Churchill's view was shared by some members of the U.S. administration (in February,
George F. Kennan proposed that the United States adopt a policy of "containmment" toward the
USSR in Europe), his speech had a mixed reception. Indeed, Senator Arthur Kapper of Missouri
accused Churchill of trying to secure U.S. support to preserve the British empire. As for the Truman
administration, with the exception of Iran, it did not decide to take a stand against the USSR until the
spring of 1947.
In 1946 the Western powers began moving toward a stiffer attitude to the USSR. As
mentioned earlier, their first military involvement on the anti-communist side was in Greece. Their
first victory, however, was the Soviet withdrawal from Iran in 1946.
British and Soviet forces had occupied parts of Iran in September 1941, because Shah Reza
Pahlavi was considered pro-German. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. (He
ruled, with one interruption, until early 1979). The British and Soviet forces were to leave at the end
of the war. However, the Iranian Communist Party, Tudeh, organized a rebellion in Iranian
Azerbaijan, the Soviet-occupied part of the country. The Soviets prevented government troops from
intervening and did not seem to plan on leaving. Nevertheless, when the Iranian government protested
to the U.N. Security Council, the Soviets signed an agreement with Iran in April 1946 to withdraw
their troops, conditional on reforms in Iranian Azerbaijan and the creation of an Iranian-Soviet oil
company in northern Iran. However, an American Military Mission arrived in 1947, and arranged for
the Iranian purchase of U.S. military equipment. Also, the Iranian Parliament (Mejlis) nullified the oil
agreement signed with the Soviets. Two years later, in 1949, Tudeh was outlawed after an attempt
on the life of the Shah. (14) Stalin's decision to withdraw from northern Iran stemmed most likely
from his wish to avoid a confrontation with the Western powers at this time.
The Truman Doctrine.
Meanwhile, increased knowledge of Soviet brutality in Eastern Europe and the British
withdrawal of military support from the anti-communist forces in the Greek civil war in 1946-47,
(Britain could no longer afford the financial burden), convinced President Truman that the United
States must make a stand in the eastern Mediterranean. It is true that George F. Kennan had
advocated the containment of the Soviet Union in 1946, but he did not do so on an ideological basis.
His thinking was on the lines of traditional great power politics and referred basically to Europe.
However, since this type of argument was alien to American thinking, President Truman announced
his doctrine in ideological-moral terms.Finally, by this time, U.S. opinion had come to oppose further
In an address to Congress on March 12, 1947, Truman proclaimed what came to be known
as the Truman Doctrine. In essence, this was a commitment of U.S. aid to any government that asked
for help against communism. (15) At the time, this really meant aid to the anti-communist forces in
Greece and aid to Turkey; the latter was being pressured by the USSR, especially to give the latter
control of the straits. Truman's statement was followed by massive U.S. military aid to the Greek and
Turkish governments, and the U.S. Sixth Fleet was sent into the Mediterranean. Thus, the United
Sttes replaced Britain as the major power in this part of the world.
Some Western historians have argued that the Soviet Union was too weak to challenge the
Western powers either in the Mediterranean or in Western Europe. Therefore, they concluded that
the Truman Doctrine was an example of overreaction. However, another interpretation is also
possible. Arkadi Shevchenko, a high Soviet official in the U.N., who defected to the U.S. in the late
1970s (this was made public in the mid-1980s), had worked closely with Soviet Foreign Minister
Andrei Gromyko. Shevchenko claimed it was the failure of the Western powers to exert strong
diplomatic pressure on Stalin, which led to the establishment of puppet communist regimes in Eastern
Europe. Thus, one can argue that Western intervention against communism in Greece prevented
Stalin from giving overt support to the Greek communists. (16)
Whether a determined Western stand would have made Stalin give up his goal of dominating
all the Eastern European countries other than Greece is, however, a question that may be answered
when relevant Soviet archives are opened to historians. Whatever the case might be, Western
opposition to Soviet domination of Eastern Europe was not in the cards, if only because the United
States and Britain did not consider the region to be a vital interest of theirs. Therefore, they did not
wish to provoke a confrontation with Stalin in this area. (Churchill showed much interest in an
independent Poland, but could not do much about it).
Furthermore, what seems to have worried Stalin more than the Truman Doctrine, which, after
all, he could view as an assertion of legitimate Western interests in the eastern Mediterranean, was
the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan.
In June 1947, Secretary of State General George C. Marshall announced a major change in
U.S. policy. This was an offer of U.S. economic aid to all European countries, including the USSR
and its East European satellites. There were no strings attached. The countries which wanted U.S.
aid simply had to state their needs and commit themselves to give an accounting afterward..
In reality, the plan was conceived to help Western Europe, especially France and Italy, where
the communist parties seemed strong enough to win elections. This was due less to their popularity
for participation in resistance movements, though this played a part, than to the ruin of the French
and Italian economies by war. There was mass unemployment and no capital to rebuild. Massive help
was also needed to rebuild West German industry, help Holland, Belgium and Italy, and prop up the
faltering economy of Great Britain. Truman decided to offer the aid also to Russia and her East
European allies. This was a gamble, because there was no guarantee that Congress would agree to
extend aid to Moscow and its "friends." As it turned out, Congress did not have to make this
Stalin seemed to hesitate and then apparently concluded that the Marshall Plan was a U.S.
move to undermine the Soviet hold on Eastern Europe. However, Molotov accepted the invitation
to the Marshall Plan conference in Paris, June 1947. The Czechoslovak government also accepted
and the Poles prepared to do the same. Curiously, even though Molotov rejected the plan on June
28, claiming its requirements (listing needs and accounting later for expenditure) constituted
"interference in internal affairs" -- the Czechs and Poles were still ready to go. At this point, a
delegation of the Czechoslovak government was summoned to Moscow and told to refuse the
Marshall Plan because it was a ploy to undermine the Soviet position in Europe. On July 10th, the
Czechoslovak government made an announcement reversing its previous decision. A Polish
government delegation was also summoned to Moscow and given the same instructions..
Whatever Stalin's initial hesitations, his final reaction to the Marshall Plan seems to have been
accompanied by the decision to impose total Soviet control on his satellites. In the first place, he
decided to overthrow the most independent leader of them all, Tito. This led to the Soviet-Yugoslav
split and the "Stalinization" of the Soviet bloc.
4. The Soviet-Yugoslav Split and Stalin's Policy Shift in Eastern Europe.
As we know, Josip Broz Tito had come to power in Yugoslavia after leading a successful partisan movement against the Germans and Italians in 1941-45. Under Soviet pressure, he agreed briefly to a coalition government with some royalist ministers, but then imposed a communist one under his own leadership (see ch. 5).
Before the Soviet-Yugoslav split, Tito appeared to be the most orthodox Stalinist in Eastern
Europe. He outlawed opposition parties and modelled his constitution on the Stalin constitution of
1936. He nationalized all industry and collectivized the land. He did all this while the other communist
states had coalition governments and mixed economic systems. However, Tito had his own power
base, in the Partisans and Yugoslavia had not been occupied by Soviet troops. Therefore he could
afford to conduct his own policy on the Trieste question, demanding that it be given to Yugoslavia,
a solution the Western Allies rejected while Stalin preferred not to rock the boat. (18) Tito also
negotiated for a federation with Bulgaria, which was to include Greece. This did not sit well with
Stalin, who forbade it. Although Soviet-Yugoslav relations seemed good, there were hidden frictions.
The Yugoslav communists criticized the uncivilized behavior of Soviet troops in 1945, as they passed
through Yugoslavia on their way to Austria (brutality, rape, theft). Also, they refused Soviet
proposals to set up joint Soviet-Yugoslav companies, which would have benefitted the Soviets more
than the Yugoslavs.
Stalin's new policy was heralded by the establishment of the Cominform or Communist Information Agency in September 1947. It was established at a meeting of western and eastern party leaders at Szklarska Poreba, Poland. The Cominform, which was to have its headquarters in Belgrade, was supposed to facilitate the exchange of information between the Soviet bloc states. In fact, Stalin planned to use it as an instrument of Soviet control, and he planned to overthrow Tito. It should be noted that the Polish leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, opposed both the establishment of the Cominform and Stalin's plan to overthrow Tito. He was, however, overruled by the Polish Politburo and Stalin decided to get rid of him too.
Tito's security police soon discovered that Stalin was recruiting some Yugoslav communists to organize a revolt and replace him with a leader obedient to Moscow. When the Yugoslavs protested, Stalin accused them of "nationalist deviation." In the exchange of views between the Soviet and Yugoslav parties, which was later published, the Yugoslav party declared that though it loved the Soviet Union, it loved its own country more. Therefore, it had to follow its own "national path to communism" and put Yugoslav interests first. On June 28, 1948, the Yugoslav Party was expelled from the Cominform. Stalin then employed economic pressure. Thus, the Soviet bloc states refused to trade with Yugoslavia or extend credit to her. The U.S. government soon offered its aid, which was accepted by Tito, but without joining the Western bloc. (19)
A Hungarian General, Bela K. Kiraly, was designated Commander of a combined East
European army, which was to invade Yugoslavia on Stalin's orders. Kiraly thinks the U.S. decision
to support South Korea against North Korea in June 1950, made Stalin give up the invasion of
Yugoslavia, planned for 1951. Kiraly believes that since the U.S. went to war with North Korea,
Stalin feared it would get actively involved if he attacked Yugoslavia. (20) This might have happened
because the U.S. Sixth Fleet was stationed in the Mediterranean since the Truman Doctrine had been
announced in March 1947.(Two years later, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - NATO - came
into being in April 1949). Finally, Stalin also knew the Yugoslavs were ready to put up a strong
resistance and their mountainous territory gave them the advantage, just as it had in World War II.
Whatever the case may be, in the fall of 1947, the communists in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia were instructed to prepare to implement the Soviet model in their countries. This came as a great shock to those communist leaders who had looked forward to following their own "national paths to communism." In Poland, this meant increased persecution of the Peasant Party and led to the flight of Mikolajczyk. In Hungary, the leaders of the Smallholder Party were pressured to leave the country and the social democrats were forced to fuse with the communists. This procedure, which was soon followed elsewhere, completed the so-called "salami method" of splitting left-wing parties and incorporating their radicals and/or opportunists in the communist parties.
5. The Communist Coup in Prague, February 1948.
In Czechoslovakia, the Party's Secretary General Rudolf Slansky (1901-1952, real name
Salzmann, who would become a purge victim himself) called in November 1947 for the ousting of
the "reactionary forces" from the National Front. Packages containing bombs were sent to Foreign
Minister Jan Masaryk and Justice Minister Prokop Drtina. The bombs were traced to the communists.
The communists, led by Prime Minister Klement Gottwald and the chairman of the Central
Council of Trade Unions, Antonin Zapotocky (1884-1957), put tremendous pressure on President
Benes to dismiss the non-communist ministers from the government. The communists knew, as did
Benes, that they could not hope to win a majority if the non-communist ministers resigned and
elections were held to produce a new government. As for Benes, he did not believe the communists
would mount a coup. He was wrong. When the 12 non-communist ministers tendered their
resignations in protest against the actions of the security police, they expected Benes to retain them
and thus start a constitutional crisis which would lead to new elections and communist defeat.
But the communists flooded Prague with armed factory "workers"- the militia they had
organized beforehand. The Trade Union Congress, controlled by the communists, also threatened to
act. Indeed, two and a half million workers went on a strike organized by the Communist Party. Prime
Minister Gottwald proclaimed a "state of emergency," and the headquarters of key opposition parties
were raided. Above all, there were threats from Moscow. The Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister (and
former Ambassador to Czechoslovakia), Valerian Zorin, arrived in Prague. He told several
democratic ministers that the present Czechoslovak government was "intolerable" to the Soviet
President Benes gave in. Not only was he a sick man (he had had two heart attacks), but also he did not want to risk a civil war and/or Soviet military intervention. So a new government was appointed on February 25, 1948. Jan Masaryk died soon thereafter; allegedly, he committed suicide by jumping from the first floor window of his apartment. Although circumstantial evidence uncovered in 1968 points to murder, the question has not been resolved. (21) Benes refused to sign the new constitution. He resigned the Presidency in June and died three months later. Czechoslovak democracy was crushed, but it survived in the hearts and minds of the people, to surface again in 1968, and triumph in December 1989. (22)
Before we pass on to the Stalinization of Eastern Europe, we should look at the German
question and the Berlin blockade which, along with the Chinese civil war, the French Indochina war
and the Korean war, provided the somber international background for Stalin's new policy in Eastern
6. The German Question and the Berlin Blockade.
Western-Soviet relations over Germany became strained shortly after the war ended. There
was, for example, the question of German reparations. Moscow wanted billions of dollars as well as
most of the industrial production of the Ruhr. The Western powers refused because this would have
prevented the economic recovery of their occupation zone in western Germany. Furthermore, as
mentioned earlier, in September 1946, the U.S. government emphasized its view that the Polish-German frontier was provisional and would have to be settled at a future peace conference, at which
a united Germany would be present. This American bid for German support worried both Stalin and
the Poles. Stalin, of course, also wanted a united Germany - but a communist one under Soviet
As the German communists imposed their rule on the Soviet zone of occupation in eastern
Germany, the U.S. and Great Britain began to fuse their occupation zones in the second half of 1946.
In June 1947, a German Economic Council was set up in the US-British zone and elections brought
victory to the Christian Democratic Party led by Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967). In February 1948,
the US-British zones were finally united in "Bizonia." (The French refused to join in with their zone
of occupation, but did so later ). At the same time, the U.S., British and French zones in West Berlin
The Soviets demanded an Allied explanation for fusing the British, French and U.S.
occupation zones in West Berlin and, without waiting for an answer, walked out of the Allied Control
Council there on March 28, 1948. On April 1st, the Soviet authorities in East Germany began
harassing Allied traffic to West Berlin. Currency reforms took place in the Western June 1948. The
Soviets followed suit in their zone. On July 24th they proceeded to cut off all land routes from West
Germany to West Berlin. (Berlin lay in the Soviet zone). It was clear that if the Western powers
abandoned West Berlin, the West Germans and other West Europeans would conclude that Germany
would be united under Soviet domination, and the rest of Western Europe would also come under
Soviet control, probably through communist governments.
This did not happen because the U.S., British and French governments decided to make a stand. Under President Truman's leadership, they mounted the Berlin airlift, which supplied West Berlin with everything, including coal. Stalin decided not to order Soviet planes to attack the Western planes, though there was some buzzing.. He finally lifted the blockade on May 12, 1949. However, he had provoked a reaction that was to shape the Cold War. On April 4th the Western Powers and other Western states established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to defend Western Europe. The key member was, of course, the United States.
Meanwhile, in September1948, a Parliamentary Council was established in West Germany.
In November the East German communists claimed the right to administer all of Berlin, but, in
December, free elections in West Berlin resulted in the victory of the Social Democratic Party. In
March 1949, a communist Constitution was imposed in East Germany; this was followed in early May
by a democratic constitution for West Germany. In September, Konrad Adenauer became the
Chancellor of West Germany, now called the German Federal Republic. (22)
7. The Korean War.
This is not the place for a detailed discussion of the origins of this war (see ch. 11), but we
must note its impact on the Western-Soviet standoff in Europe.
When North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, the general Western assumption
was that the Soviets had instigated the attack in order to divert U.S. attention to the Far East, while
they pushed into Western Europe. We don't know what Stalin had in mind in Europe, but.we do
know that the North Korean leader Kim il Sung had discussed his plans with Stalin and secured his
support. We also know the Soviets had built up the North Korean army. Once the war began, they
sent officers and equipment to North Korea. Finally, just at this time, the United States was
negotiating a treaty with Japan. A Korea united under communist rule would be a threat to Tokyo
and thus the U.S. position in the Pacific region.
The United Nations Security Council approved military help for South Korea because the
Soviet representative had walked out in a dispute over seating China, so he could not cast a veto. The
U.S. government introduced conscription; U.S. troops went not only to Korea but also to Europe.
The U.S. began arming West Germany. At the same time, the East European armies were built up
rapidly under Soviet control, while bloody purges took place in the Communist parties of the bloc.
II. The Stalinization of Eastern Europe, 1948-53/55.
l. Party Purges and Repression.
Having failed to overthrow Tito, Stalin now proceeded to eliminate suspect communist
leaders in the satellite states. Apparently, he decided to prevent any repetition of Tito-style
independence. Those purged were mainly home-grown communists, while most those who had
returned at war's end from the USSR were spared. The most violent party purges took place in
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria; the most limited took place in Romania. In Poland, the
former party leader, Gomulka, did not stand trial, but the party purges were accompanied by the
ruthless repression of veterans of the Home Army (A.K). (see below) The goal of this action was to
eliminate all known and possible opponents of communism and the USSR
With the exception of Poland and Romania, rigged public trials of party leaders were
organized on the Soviet model of 1936-38, with the help of Soviet experts. They were tortured or
brain-washed into admitting that they had spied for the U.S., Britain, and/or Israel, and had plotted
with Tito against the USSR.
In Czechoslovakia, the trial of Foreign Minister Vladimir (Vlado) Clementis (1902-1952), and
of Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Party, Rudolf Slansky, who was of Jewish
origin, had anti-Semitic overtones. As elsewhere, many lesser party members were coerced into
testifying against them. This was, of course, the standard practice in the Stalin purges of the 1930s.
As for accusations that party leaders spied for Israel, we should recall that the USSR originally
supported Israeli independence, but turned against Israel when it refused line up with Moscow. (It
is curious that Czechoslovakia continued to export arms to Israel until 1952). Also in 1953, Stalin
concoted the "doctors' plot," accusing Soviet Jewish doctors of plotting to murder Soviet leaders.
He probably intended to use this alleged plot to start a widespread purge of the Soviet Communist
Party, but died before he could implement it.
In Hungary, there was the trial of Foreign Minister Laszlo Rajk (1909-1949), who was also
of Jewish origin. (His son later became a prominent Hungarian dissident).
In Bulgaria, the old communist Traicho Kostov (1897-1949) had the courage to revoke some
parts of his forced confession, but was then tortured into confirming it. In Albania, the pro-Yugoslav
leader Koci-Xoxe was purged and replaced by the pro-Soviet Enver Hoxha.
In Romania, a press attack was launched against a prominent "native" communist leader,
Lucretiu Patrascanu (1900-1954). He was accused of "nationalist deviation," given a secret trial and
In Poland, the Secretary General of the Polish Workers Party, Wladyslaw Gomulka, was
forced to "admit" to "nationalist deviation" - he had opposed forced collectivization and the
establishment of the Cominform, also Stalin's attack on Tito. Gomulka had also advocated a "Polish
path to socialism." But there was no public trial, perhaps because the Polish Party did not want to
lose its credibility entirely (it had been dissolved by the Comintern in 1938 on trumped up charges),
and/or perhaps because the prosecutors could not secure satisfactory "confessions" implicating
Gomulka. He was imprisoned and then put under house arrest, but was not physically ill-treated,
though some of his close supporters were. Finally, Gomulka steadfastly refused to "confess."
Torture was used against selected communists and sympathizers to force them to incriminate
others marked out for liquidation, also to implicate leaders in other bloc countries. (The same
methods had been used in the Stalin purges in the USSR in the 1930s).Most of the charges against
East European communist leaders were built around two American communists, Noel and Hermann
Field, who had fled to Eastern Europe. They were arrested, accused of being U.S. spies, and forced
to implicate the communist leaders that Stalin selected for liquidation. (23)
Although the Fields were not U.S. spies, Stalin had some basis for his spy mania. His
suspicions were fed by clumsy CIA attempts to infiltrate Eastern Europe. For example, there was
U.S. financial support for the Polish underground organization "Freedom and Independence"
(Wolnosc i Niepodleglosc, Polish acronym: WIN), which was infiltrated by Polish security agents
from the beginning. The CIA also smuggled former native fascists back to Belorussia to organize anti-Soviet resistance (they were all caught), and landed a group of Albanian patriots in Albania (they
were killed). All these projects were reported to Moscow by Kim Philby, the Soviet "mole" in the
British intelligence establishment.
At the same time, in Poland terror was also unleashed against the veterans of the Home Army, most of whom had come out of hiding to accept a government amnesty in 1947. Many were tortured to death when they refused to "confess." In 1948-50, physical torture included beatings, the tearing out of nails, standing naked in cells with open windows in winter, and/or standing in barrels of icy water up to the arm pits. Later, prisoners were deprived of sleep and/or made to sit or stand in the same position for hours, until they broke down and signed "confessions."
Repression was also directed at all those viewed as potential enemies of the regime. It is
difficult to estimate the number of people in Polish prisons at any one time in the period 1948-55, but
it must have been at least 50-60,000 and probably as many as 100,000 out of a population of some
28,000,000. There were also attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. Several bishops were forced to
confess in a rigged trial to misuse of charity funds, and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (1901-1980) was
kept for several years under house arrest in isolated monasteries.
In Poland, the survivors of the terror were released in 1955 and "rehabilitated" in 1956-57.
Some rehabilitations took place at this time in Romania and Bulgaria, while Czechoslovakia hdat to
wait until 1968. The people who lived through the terror in all of these countries were generally
broken, or at least convinced that resistance to Soviet power was useless. Even so, there were some
exceptional people who did not break, and would later join dissident movements.
2. Stalinist Political Reforms in Eastern Europe: Repression, Control, and Exploitation.
In the period 1947/8 - 1955/6, the Stalinist political-economic model was forcibly imposed
on the East European states under Moscow's control. Its chief features were as follows:
(a) Government was exercised by monolithic communist parties whose members staffed all
administrative positions. Soviet-type constitutions were passed; there was censorship of the press,
literature and art. As in the USSR, so in Eastern Europe, "socialist realism" produced novels about
factory and state farm workers, plays about "good" communists and "bad" fascists/imperialists, also
Western spies. Artists painted beaming factory, state and collective farm workers. Marxism-Leninism
was an obligatory subject in high schools and universities, as was the Russian language in schools..
(b) Soviet control over East European satellite governments was exercised not only through
selected party and government leaders, but also through Soviet ambassadors and Soviet "experts" in
all areas. They supervised the fulfilment of treaty obligations; they controlled the armed forces and
In Poland, army officers were at first mainly Russians with Polish names, russified
descendants of 19th century Polish deportees to Siberia.Many of them left Poland for the USSR in
1946-47. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, however, led to the arrest and rigged trials
of Polish officers who had served in the prewar Polish army and/or the wartime Polish army in the
West. This in turn led to a new influx of Soviet officers. Indeed, Konstantin K. Rokossovskii (or
Rokossovsky, 1896-1968), born in Warsaw, raised in Russia and Commander of a Russian army in
1944-45, was promoted to the rank of a Polish Marshal and made Commander-in-Chief of the Polish
Army. He was also a Deputy Premier and member of the Central Committee and Politburo of the
Polish United Workers' Party (1949-56).
(c) The Soviets also continued to exploit their satellites economically. As mentioned earlier,
they had set up "joint stock companies" in the ex-enemy countries of Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary;
these companies took over foreign-owned property. Moscow also exploited its ally Poland by
forcing large coal deliveries below world prices plus "free" trasnport to the USSR. The Soviets
treated the coal as "German reparations," arguing that Poland obtained the Upper Silesian coal mines
due to Soviet support. (In fact, the coal came mostly from the eastern part of Upper Silesia, which
had belonged to Poland in 1921-39, but it is true that the latter regained them due to the defeat of
Germany by the Allies, primarily the USSR).
3. Distorted Economic Development.
The degree of economic development existing in 1945 varied from country to country. Thus,
the Czech lands (Bohemia and Moravia) had been industrialized in the 19th century, when they were
part of the Austrian, then the Austro-Hungarian empire. Czech industry had developed greatly in the
interwar period and survived World War II virtually undamaged. The communists nationalized
industrial plants, established central economic planning, and collectivized the farms.
The same methods were applied in Romania and Bulgaria, but here, in view of the lack of raw
materials (except for oil in Romania and some coal in Bulgaria), the emphasis was on agricultural
production. In fact, with the establishment of the Economic Council for Economic Cooperation
(Comecon) in 1949, these two countries were slated to export agricultural products to the other
members of the bloc in exchange for industrial goods.
It is worth noting that in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic, German acronym: DDR) established in October 1949, private farms and small scale private business existed until 1960/61. This was done probably to avoid discouraging the West Germans from uniting some day with the East Germans in a Soviet-dominated, neutral Germany. Perhaps for the same reason, the Soviets apparently considered the possibility of returning to the Germans the port of Szczecin (formerly Stettin), given to Poland in 1945. Whatever the case may be, the port remained under direct Soviet control for many years. (24)
In Poland, communist policy was to devote all resources to the development of heavy industry. The same policy was followed in Hungary, although, unlike Poland, it had very few mineral resources, especially coal.Communist economic policy in these two countries led to unbalanced economies. Thus, the stress on heavy industry led to the neglect of housing, transport, agriculture and consumer goods. We should note that in Poland the communists gave up collectivization in 1949, for fear of civil war. However, the authorities discriminated against the private farmers who owned most of the land. In Hungary, where resistance was weak, the farms were collectivized, but farmers were allowed to keep small private plots. While both countries had been not only self-sufficient in food production before the war, but had also been major food exporters, communist policies led to inefficiency, waste, a drastic decline of production, and constant shortages.
The Korean War aggravated the economic problems of Eastern Europe. Half of all the
industrial investment in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria went into arms production, while in
Poland and Hungary one-third of industrial investment went the same way. At the same time, in the
Polish Six Year Plan, whose maximum version was approved in July 1950, just after the outbreak of
the Korean war, 42.9 % of total investment went into heavy industry; ll.9% into agriculture; 14.9%
into transport/communication; 8.3% into housing; 4.2% into consumer goods; and 17.7% into other
sectors. The neglect of housing construction had particularly drastic effects in Poland, which had been
devastated during the war. The housing shortage was further aggravated by a very high birthrate in
the period 1945-65. By the mid-1970s, the average waiting period for accommodation in
government-built apartment blocs was between 15 and 20 years. In the meantime, married couples
often had to live with their parents, or in rooms in "communal" apartments.
4. The New Course, 1953-55.
Some changes were introduced after the death of Stalin on March 3, 1953. In the Soviet
Union, Georgii M. Malenkov (1902-1988), Chairman of the Council of Ministers until February 1955,
stressed the need to increase the production of consumer goods.
On June 16-17, 1953, there were anti-Soviet and anti-communist riots in East Berlin. The
immediate cause was the raising of workers' industrial production quotas without increasing their
pay. The Soviets put down the riots with tanks.
A few days earlier, a Hungarian delegation met with Soviet leaders in Moscow. The Soviets were alarmed by the deteriorating economic situation in Hungary and told the Hungarian communist leaders to do what they considered necessary to improve it. Thus, Moscow allowed the introduction of what was called the New Course in Hungary. This policy was implemented by Malenkov's Hungarian protege, Imre Nagy (1895-1958). Nagy was an old communist who had spent many years in Moscow. Nevertheless, he did not approve the methods used in Hungary in 1948-53. He now allowed peasant farmers to leave the collective and state farms if they wished, and thousands did. He also allowed more investment in consumer goods and ended police terror. The economic reforms were reminiscent of NEP in the Soviet Union in the years 1921-28 (see ch. 3). However, the New Course was reversed in 1955, after Malenkov had lost out in the power struggle in the USSR to Nikita S. Khrushchev. Rakosi returned to power in Hungary. He reimposed collectivization, police terror, and shunted Nagy aside. (25)
Thus, economic reforms which could have improved the situation were abandoned. By fall 1956, both Poland and Hungary seethed with discontent. Only a spark was needed to set off the explosion (see III, sec. 2, below). Outline of Chapter Six
l. Khrushchev and Destalinization in the USSR.
No one could foretell that the Stalinist "apparatchik" (member of the party "apparat" or
bureaucracy), Nikita S. Khrushchev (1894-1971), would launch an attack on Stalin and Stalinism,
nor could anyone foresee the consequences thereof, including Khrushchev himself.
Khrushchev was born in 1894 into a poor worker-peasant family in Kalinovka, Kursk province, Belorussia. He worked in the mines and became a communist in 1918. He then became a "politruk," or political agitator, among the workers. He also went to school to obtain an education.
His political career took off in 1925, when he became Stalin's trouble-shooter, especially against
Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev. He was helped up the party ladder by his "protector," Lazar M.
Kaganovich (1893-1989), one of Stalin's hatchetmen.
In 1935, Khrushchev, then First Secretary of the Moscow Party Committee, was put in charge of building the first sector of the Moscow subway. He was in such a hurry to finish it in time for November 7, 1937, the 20th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, that some buildings above the subway line collapsed. (Some of the forced labor used in this project included Spanish communists, veterans of the civil war).
During the infamous purge trials of 1936-38, Khrushchev publicly called Kamenev, Zinoviev
and other old Bolsheviks "fascist degenerates." He joined in the call for the "mad beasts to be finished
off." (He later claimed that he believed the charges). In 1938, he was First Secretary of the Ukrainian
Party and completed the purges there. In March 1939, he became a member of the Politburo. In
October of that year, he helped organize the rigged elections in occupied eastern Poland (see ch. 4).
During the war, he was a political general in the army and fought in the Battle of Stalingrad. In 1944,
he was Prime Minister of the Ukraine, where he reimposed collectivization in the eastern part, and
imposed it for the first time in annexed western Ukraine. In 1950, he became Minister of Agriculture.
He tried to build "agro-cities" (living-shopping-recreational complexes for the farmers), but the
experiment ended in failure. This was hardly the track record of a liberal reformer. In fact, as we shall
see later, Khrushchev launched his reform program in February 1956 as a move in the power struggle
with his critics and opponents in the Politburo.
When Stalin died of a stroke on March 5, 1953, Malenkov succeeded him. However, the head
of the security police, Laverenty P. Beria (1899-1953), surrounded Moscow with his troops on the
pretext of readiness to put down any possible disturbances. Malenkov and Khrushchev saw this as
a threat. They had Beria arrested, tried in secret, and shot. A power struggle ensued between
Malenkov and Khrushchev in 1953-55. Though Khruschev took the post of General Secretary of the
Party as early as September 1953, Malenkov did not resign as Premier until February 8, 1955. For
his support in the failed anti-Khrushchev coup in June 1957, he was expelled from the party and
exiled to Kazakhstan, where he was the manager of the Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydroelectric Power
Station. His fate marked a significant change from Stalin's time, when loss of party status lead to
execution or the labor camp.
In agriculture, Khrushchev initiated the Virgin Lands Program in 1953, introducing intensive irrigation to increase arable land and thus raise food production. This program was applied mainly in western Siberia, northern Kazakhstan, and the southern Urals. Thousands of settlers were brought in from European Russia and about 85,500,000 additional acres of land were under cultivation by 1956. However, although the program was successful at first, yields plummeted when a prolonged drought showed that irrigation was inadequate to cope with the situation.
But it was in foreign policy that Khrushchev made the first great changes, which led to
opposition within the party leadership. In 1955, he patched up relations with Tito and publicly
recognized the Yugoslav path to socialism. He visited Great Britain together with Deputy Prime
Minister Nikolai A. Bulganin (1895-1975). The popular British press called them "Bulge and Krush."
He then went on to India and established good relations with that country. Most importantly, he
proclaimed the necessity of coexistence with the West and declared that a nuclear war would mean
the end of both capitalism and socialism. These policy changes were opposed by Molotov,
Malenkov, Kaganovich and other high party officials, who argued that Stalin would never have
Khrushchev decided to pull the carpet out from under his critics by launching an attack on
Stalin and the Stalinist terror system. This was clearly intended both to deprive his enemies of the
cloak of Stalin's prestige and clear the way to a thorough purge of the party bureaucracy, thus
consolidating his power. At the same time, his memoirs show that he now personally condemned
Stalin's brutality, particularly his murder of thousands of innocent communists in the 1930s. He also
wished to purify and revitalize communism.
He made a long, secret speech (8 hours) at the 20th Party Congress in February 1956. He
admitted the purge trials were rigged and accused Stalin of the mass murder of party members and
the deportation of millions of people. He painted Stalin as a paranoid personality and even as an inept
war leader. Finally, he called for coexistence with the West. (26) The speech led to a period of "thaw"
in the Soviet Union (the name comes from the title of a novel by the Soviet writer, Ilya G.Ehrenburg,
1891-1967). The thaw meant the relaxation of police terror, the release of hundreds of thousands
from labor camps, and the relaxation of censorship.
Nevertheless, Khrushchev set limits to literary and artistic freedom. In summer 1957, he told
Soviet writers and artists that if they did not "toe" the party line, he would shoot them. His threat was
no doubt affected by political infighting at the top. In June that year, he defeated an attempt to
overthrow him by the Presidium (old Politburo). The repercussions of events in Poland and Hungary
were also important for the winding down of the thaw in Russia.
2. Protest and Change in Poland; Revolt in Hungary.
As mentioned earlier, Imre Nagy's popular "New Course" had been reversed by Rakosi in
1955. This made the Hungarians seethe with resentment. This resentment increased when the contents
of Khrushchev's speech were leaked by party members interested in seeing a thaw in Hungary.
However, we should note that, unlike Hungarian intellectuals, the workers did not know of the
speech; they were motivated by poor wages, living conditions, and resentment of Soviet domination.
A symbol of Hungarian protest against Stalinism was the solemn reburial of Laszlo Rajk in
Budapest on October 6, 1956, when about 1 million people took part in the procession. They
demonstrated widespread revulsion against Stalinist excesses in Hungary and a strong desire for
A.The Polish October.
The Poles were also seething with resentment. In fact, the Polish "thaw" began in early 1955
with the "amnesty" and "rehabilitation" of thousands of political prisoners, and then the public
rehabilitation of the prewar Polish Communist Party. Its dissolution by the Comintern in 1938 was
now explained as the result of political "provocation," without, however, naming the provocateur
(Stalin). Of course, the Polish communist leaders knew that Stalin ordered the Comintern to dissolve
the KPP (Polish Communist Party) on the false charge that it had been infiltrated by the Polish police.
The real reason, however, was that its leaders had protested against Stalin's treatment of Trotsky. As
noted earlier, the top Polish communist leaders, who had sought refuge in the USSR, were liquidated
there in the Stalin purges.
In 1955 Gomulka was released from house arrest. In August, the weekly paper, Kultura, published a poem by a communist poet, Adam Wazyk, entitled "A Poem for Adults." Here Wazyk attacked the inhumanity of the Stalinist system, and deplored its impact on Polish life. He called on the party to remedy all evils. The publication of this poem indicated that some high party members wanted a more humane type of communism. However, though the poem must have been approved by the censors, this number of Kultura was confiscated.
Khrushchev's anti-Stalin speech of February 1956 soon became widely known in Polish party
circles. However, the real impetus to change was a workers' revolt in the industrial city of Poznan
which began on June 28 1956. The workers had long been dissatisfied with their working conditions
and pay. A delegation was sent to Warsaw to negotiate with the government. When the delegates
failed to return at the appointed time, their colleagues thought they had been arrested. So they went
out into the streets with signs reading "Bread and Freedom." Some Polish troops refused to shoot
at them, but they were attacked by Polish security forces and tanks driven by the Soviet officers of
the Poznan tank school. This led to worker attacks on party headquarters and more deaths. All this
was observed by many foreign visitors, who were attending the annual International Trade Fair in
Although the Polish government threatened reprisals, it realized that protests might spread throughout the country. In July, a party "Plenum" was held. ( SpecialCentral Committee meeting with policy making powers).. It criticized the economic "mistakes" of the period 1948-56. Then a power struggle ensued between the so-called liberals, who wished to see extensive changes, and the Stalinists, who wished to change as little as possible. (They were known as "Natolinites," after the elegant villas of Natolin, where many party leaders lived). Both factions saw Gomulka as their man, and he was reinstated in the party.
Then came the Polish October. On October 19, 1956, the Central Committee met to elect a
new First Secretary of the Party, and Gomulka was the prime candidate. At this very moment,
Khrushchev and a group of advisers, including Soviet generals experienced in street warfare
(Stalingrad), arrived unannounced by air in Warsaw. At the same time, Soviet troops were massing
on Poland's eastern border, Soviet warships stood off the Polish coast, and two Soviet armored
divisions were on the wayfrom Legnica to Warsaw. (Legnica was the HQ of the Warsaw Pact signed
The situation looked grim, but the Poles reacted with determination. General Marian Spychalski, a former colleague of Gomulka who had been imprisoned but was now head of the army (Marshal Rokossovsky had been removed), made it clear the Polish army would fight, if attacked. Meanwhile, the workers of the Zeran automobile plant in Warsaw armed themselves (factory militias had arms stored in their factories), and stood guard over party members who favored liberalization and thus risked arrest. We also know that Polish Security Troops were ready to fight the Red Army or Security Troops if they invaded Poland. The Polish Army was also thought likely to fight in such a situation.
We do not know the exact contents of the talks which Khrushchev and his advisers held with
Gomulka and Polish Premier Jozef Cyrankiewicz The only record available thus far are Polish notes
of a meeting between Polish party leaders and Khruschev on October 19, which was very stormy and
no agreement was reached. However, .later that day, Gomulka was elected Party leader by the
Central Committee of the PZPR. Soviet documents show that Khrushchev decided against military
intervention because, as he said, it would be easy to get into Poland, but difficult to get out. Also t
Premier Zhou Enlai of Red China urged Soviet consent to liberalization in Poland. Mao tse-Tung
supported it because he favored a reducted Soviet domination over Eastern Europe (for Sino-Soviet
relations at this time, see ch. 10).
Khrushchev and company left Warsaw while Soviet troops retreated from the Polish borders
and Soviet warships left the Polish coast. On October 22nd, Gomulka made a speech to some
400,000 people in the grounds surrounding the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. He criticized the
"mistakes" of the past and promised a change for the better. He called for a return to "true socialism"
and told the people to go back "to work for Socialism and for Poland." He was cheered as a national
hero and had the support of virtually all Poles, who now hoped for a better life and less interference
by the Soviet Union. (27) It was only later that Khrushchev really accepted Gomulka. In the
meanwhile, however, the Khruschevh-Gomulka confrontation sparked a revolution in Hungary.
B.The Hungarian Revolution ( October-November1956).
The events in Poland had an electrifying effect in Hungary, where it was thought that
Gomulka had forced the Soviet leaders to give freedom to the Poles. On October 23rd, there were
student demonstrations of sympathy for Poland in Budapest. The students demanded greater freedom
for Hungary. They marched to the radio station and sent in a delegation which wanted to broadcast
their program. When they failed to come out, the crowd surged forward and was fired on by the hated
security police, AVO. The workers in the crowd seized or/and received arms from Hungarian
soldiers and shot back. Blood flowed in the streets. The First Secretary of the party, Erno Gero, made
a provocative broadcast and called on the Soviet garrison for help. However, the Hungarian army
declared its support for the people.
On the night of October 23-24th, Imre Nagy became Prime Minister of Hungary and Soviet
troops entered Budapest. On October 27th, Khrushchev's troubleshooter, Anastas I. Mikoyan
(1895-1978), arrived in the Hungarian capital together with the chief Soviet ideologue, Mikhail A.
Suslov (1902-1982). It seems they were instructed to work out a compromise with Nagy along the
lines reached with Gomulka in Poland. There are indications that the two Soviet emissaries gave Nagy
a free hand to do what he thought necessary to keep the peace and secure communist rule. . We know
from Russian documents that on October 30, the Soviet Politbureau decided against military
intervention and that is why Soviet troops and familities left Budapest the next day. However, we also
know that the Politbureau reversed its decision on October 31, and ordered more Red Army units to
Meanwhile, Nagy was under great public pressure to democratize the country -- something
that he supported personally. He proceeded to re-establish a multi-party system. Also under public
pressure and as a means of protecting the country, on November 1st, the day that Soviet troops
again entered Hungary, he stated that Hungary would withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and
proclaimed Hungarian neutrality. (Austria had become a neutral state with Soviet consent in 1955).
Mikoyan and Suslov seem to have approved the establishment of the multi-party system, but it is not
clear whether they approved neutrality. On the other hand, we know that the new Party chief, Janos
Kadar (1912-1989). did..
A Soviet military delegation arrived to negotiate with the Hungarians on November 3rd.
General Pal Maleter, who became Minister of Defense in the new government, proceeded with other
members of the Hungarian delegation to negotiate with the Russians. But this was a Soviet ruse, for
they were arrested. At 5:19 A.M. on November 4th, Nagy announced that Soviet forces had
launched an attack on the capital. They occupied the parliament building at 6:00 A.M. At the same
time, a new government was announced from Soviet-occupied Hungary. The new Premier was Janos
Kadar the head of the Hungarian Workers' Party, who had earlier given his full support to Nagy.
Russian documents show that the Suez Canal War played an important role in Khrushchev's
decision to crush Hungary. Here we should note that the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser
(1918-1981), had nationalized the canal in late July, thus putting this crucial waterway under
complete Egyptian control. Since Nasser was clearly aiming to unite the Arab states in an attack on
Israel, Israeli forces invaded Egyptian territory on October 29th and drove toward the Suez Canal.
Britain and France also attacked Egypt. The USSR threatened to take action and President Dwight
D. Eisenhower ordered a global alert of U.S. forces. This crisis was resolved by an agreement to
withdraw the Israeli, British and French forces, and send in U.N. forces. In the meanwhile, Nasser
was defeated. Russian documents show that Khrushchev felt the USSR could not afford to see Nasser
beaten and lose control of Hungary. He also believed the Suez War was a very good opportunity for
Soviet military intervention in Hungary.
It was under these circumstances that the Soviets were "invited" to come in and "save
socialism" in Hungary by the new First Secretary of the Party and Premier, Janos Kadar, who had
himself been a purge victim. Soviet documents show that Kadar had flown to Moscow and had
argued against Soviet military intervention, but accepted it when he could not convince the Soviet
leadership to hold its hand.
After a few days of fighting, the Hungarian revolution was crushed. (28) Radio Free Europe was blamed by some people in the West for inciting the Hungarians to revolt, or at least to continue a fight that was hopeless. In fact, earlier declarations by certain U.S. statesmen indicated a plan to roll back communism in Eastern Europe. President Eisenhower's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) was rabidly anti-communist. Also, in the 1952 elections the Republican Party had espoused the goal of "liberating" Eastern Europe. However, this was intended to secure the votes of Americans of East European descent. In reality, the U.S. had no intention of risking a war with the USSR over Hungary. (29) It is, however, unlikely that the Hungarians would not have resisted a Soviet invasion even if they had received no encouragement from the U.S.
But without outside aid, the Hungarians were doomed. Nagy and a few of his key supporters
sought refuge in the Yugoslav embassy. Although they were given a safe-conduct to leave the
country, Kadar broke this promise and helped arrest them with Soviet support. They were imprisoned
for a time in Romania, then were returned, executed in Budapest in 1958, and were buried in
unmarked graves. Meanwhile, in November 1956, about l00,000 Hungarians crossed the border into
Austria, and many settled later in the United States.
For the next few years, terror reigned in Hungary until Kadar achieved a partial reconciliation
with his people in the early 1960s (see ch. 7). Still, the revolution was condemned as "reactionary"
and "fascist." The people thought otherwise. Finally, in spring 1989, it was recognized officially as
a "people's revolution." In June of that year, Nagy and his companions were given an official burial.
Kadar died, the Hungarian Workers' Party dissolved itself, and Hungary became a free a democratic
republic (see ch. 8).
In late October 1956, Khrushchev apparently accepted Gomulka and some limited
liberalization in Poland in return for a pledge of loyalty to the Soviet Union. Imre Nagy's restoration
of a multi-party government was apparently sanctioned by Soviet emissaries, who might also have
approved Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, i.e. Hungarian neutrality. We do not know
whether these concessions were, from the beginning, seen by the Soviet leadership as a ruse to be
followed by attack (Soviet forces pretended to withdraw but only some left Hungary), or whether
Khrushchev and his advisers believed that Nagy would turn out to be a Hungarian Gomulka, and then
realized that he would not. Whatever the case might be, it is clear that the Suez Canal War was a
factor in the timing of Soviet intervention to crush the Hungarian revolution. In the West, Soviet
intervention in Hugary was strongly condemned. Many Western communists tore up their party cards,
and many sympathizers were alienated from the USSR.
In Poland, Gomulka was extremely popular at first. He secured the cancellation of Polish
debts to the USSR and Poland was given new Soviet credits. He was allowed to proceed with a
considerable amount of liberalization. He relaxed press censorship and allowed peasants to leave
state and collective farms, which they proceeded to do in droves. But Gomuulka did not restore
multi-party government. Furthermore, he soon began to restrict freedom of the press and proceeded
to consolidate his power (see ch. 7).
In retrospect, we can see the Polish workers' revolt of June 1956, the change of Polish
leadership, and even more the revolution in Hungary, as heralds of what was to come in 1989.
Although at the time it seemed that the USSR would not tolerate any significant liberalization in
Eastern Europe, this did not prove to be the case except in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Meanwhile,
however, Gomulka's Poland and Kadar's Hungary enjoyed more freedom than other satellite states
and the USSR .
1. On U.S. historians' revisionist views about the origins of the Cold War, see Robert James Maddox,
ed. The New Left and the Origins of the Cold War, Princeton, New Jersey, 1973; for a balanced
study, see John L. Gaddis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1945, New
York, 1972; see also Thomas T. Hammond, "The Great Debate over the Origins of the Cold War,"
in Witnesses to the Origins of the Cold War, ed. Thomas T. Hammond, Seattle, Washington, 1982,
pp. 3-26. For a recent evaluation, see: John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know. Rethinking Cold War
History, Oxford, 1987, especially the discussion of previous historiography in chapter Ten. See also
Gaddis, "The Soviet Side of the Cold War," Diplomatic History, 1997, pp.523-526, and "The
Novikov Telegram, Washington, September 27, 1946," ibid., pp.527-537, also comments by George
F.Kennan, Mervyn P. Leffler, William Taubmann, Viktor L. Mal'kov, and Steven Merritt Miner,
ibid., pp. 539-563.
2. For a history of 20th century Romania up to the end of 1969, see Stephen Fischer-Galati,
Twentieth Century Rumania, New York and London, 1970; on the first postwar years, see Stephen
Fischer-Galati, "The Communist Takeover of Rumania," in Thomas T. Hammond, ed., The Anatomy
of Communist Takeovers, New Haven, Connecticut and London, 1975, pp. 310-321 and Cortlandt
V. R. Schuyler, "View from Rumania," in Thomas T. Hammond, Witnesses of the Origins of the Cold
War, pp. 123-160. See also, Keith Hitchins, Rumania 1866-1947,Oxford, 1994, ch. 12.
3. For a history of modern Bulgaria, see R. J. Crampton, A Short History of Modern Bulgaria,
Cambridge, London and New York, etc., 1987; on the first postwar years, see Nissan Oren, "A
Revolution Admnistered: The Sovietization of Bulgaria," in Hammond, The Anatomy of Communist
Takeovers, pp. 321-338; Cyril E. Black, "The View from Bulgaria," in Hammond, ed., Witnesses to
the Origins of the Cold War, pp. 60-97.
For George F. Kennan's advice on U.S. policy toward Soviet Russia, see Thomas H. Etzold
and John Lewis Gaddis, eds., Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945-1950,
New York, 1978 (Moscow Embassy Telegram #511, February 22, 1946, pp. 50-63, and "The
Sources of Soviet Conduct," July 1947, pp. 84-89, reprinted from Foreign Affairs, v. XXV, July
1947). See also John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment. A Critical Appraisal of Postwar
American Security Policy, Oxford and New York, 1982, chaps. One - Three.
4. On Finland, see John H. Hodgson, Communism in Finland, Princeton, New Jersey, 1967, also
Kevin Devlin, "Finland in 1948: The Lesson of a Crisis," in Hammond, The Anatomy of Communist
Takeovers, pp. 433-447.
5. On developments in Poland in 1945-47, see John Coutovidis and Jaime Reynolds, Poland 1939-1947, New York, 1986, chaps. 8-10 (the authors ascribe too much independence to the PPR). The
best account so far of the period 1943-48 is a Polish study, first published by the Polish underground
press, then reprinted in the West and finally published in English translation, see Krystyna Kersten,
The Establishment of Communist Rule in Poland, 1943-1948, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Oxford,
1991. ( The study is based on Polish documents;Russian documents were not available to the author
at this time) Some Polish party documents were published in English in: The Beginnings of
Communist Rule in Poland. December 1943-June 1945, edited by Anthony Polonsky and Boleslaw
Drukier, London, 1980. A selection of Russian documents was published in: SSSR-Pol'sha.
Mekhanizmy podchineniia 1944-1949. Sbornik dokumentov (Poland-USSR. Mechanisms of
Subjugation) edited by Gennadi Bordiukov et al., Moscow, 1995. The Polish edition, Polska-ZSRR.
Mechanizmy Podleglosci. Dokumenty WKP(B) 1944-1949 (Poland-USSR. Mechanisms of
Subjugation. Documents of the CPSU (B), 1944-1949), was published in Warsaw, 1995.
For the account of the U.S. ambassador in Poland, see A. Bliss Lane, I Saw Poland Betrayed,
Indianapolis, Indiana, 1948; for another American diplomat's view of Poland in 1947-49, see Richard
T. Davies, in Witnesses to the Origins of the Cold War, pp. 249-277; see also Susanne S. Lotarski,
"The Communist Takeover of Poland," in Hammond, The Anatomy of Communist Takeovers, pp.
For Mikolajczyk's account, see his The Rape of Poland. Pattern of Soviet Aggression, New
York and Toronto, 1948. For Jerzy Morawski's admission that the communists falsified the results
of the referendum of June 1946, and that in reality two-thirds of the electorate had voted "no" on
issue 3, as Mikolajczyk had asked, see Neal Ascherson, The Struggles for Poland, New York, 1987,
p. 144. Ascherson's book was written as companion to the TV serial "Struggles for Poland." at the
time; it is unreliable for Polish history before 1945. Morawski speaks in no. 6 "Bright Days of
6. For a political history of modern Hungary, see: Jorge K. Hoensch, A History of Modern Hungary,
1867-1986, trans. Kim Traynor, London and New York, 1989, 2d edition 1995; for an excellent
survey of Hungarian history up to 1970, which includes cultural development, see Paul Ignotus,
Hungary, London, 1972.For a more recent history by Hungarian historians see: Peter F. Sugar et al
eds., A History of Hungary, Bloomington, Ind., 1990.
On Stalin's statements to Hungarian communists, see Michael Charlton, The Eagle and the
Small Birds. Crisis in the Soviet Empire: From Yalta to Solidarity, Chicago, Illinois, University of
Chicago Press, 1984, p. 69, and in more detail, Charles Gati, `Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, Durham,
North Carolina, 1986, Part I. For an American diplomat's view of Hungary in 1945-47, see Louis
Mark, Jr., in Witnesses, pp. 186-209; see also Paul Ignotus, "The First Two Communist Take-overs
of Hungary, 1919 and 1948," in Hammond, The Anatomy of Communist Takeovers, pp. 385-398.
7. For the abrupt Soviet turning away from national paths to socialism at the founding meeting of
the Cominform at Szklarska Poreba, Poland, September 1947, see Gati, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc,
8. For histories of the Czechs and Slovaks, see Robert W. Seton-Watson, A History of the Czechs
and Slovaks, London and New York, 1943, reprint Hamden, Connecticut, 1965; William V. Wallace,
Czechoslovakia, London, 1976; Victor S. Mamatey and Radomir Luza, A History of the
Czechoslovak Republic, 1918-1948, Princeton, N.J., 1973. On Benes and Kosice program, see Jozef
Korbel, Twentieth Century Czechoslovakia. The Meanings of its History, New York, 1977, pp. 218-220.
9. For Kopecky's statement, see Karel Kaplan, The Short March. The Communist Takeover in
Czechoslovakia, 1945-1948, New York, 1987, p. 16.
10. On Stalin's statement to the Yugoslav delegation, see Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin,
New York, 1962, p. 181; also, Vladimir Dedijer, The Battle Stalin Lost. Memoirs of Yugoslavia
1948-1953, New York, 1971, p. 68.
11. On the Greek civil war, see ch. 5, Bibliography, sec. 2.
12. On Klaus Fuchs, see Robert Chadwell Williams, Klaus Fuchs, Atom Spy, 1987.
13. On the Churchill speech, see U.S. national and regional press; for Senator's Kapper's reaction,
see local Missouri and Kansas press. On Kennan's "long telegram," of February 1946, later published
as "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," in Foreign Affairs, vol. XXV, July 1947, see Thomas H. Etzold
and John Lewis Gaddis, eds., Containment. Documents on American Foreign Policy 1945-1950, New
York, 1978, pp. 84-90; for an analysis of the containment policy, see John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies
of Containment. A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American Security Policy, Oxford and New York,
1984 (chaps. One to Four).
14. On Western-Soviet relations and Iran, see Bruce Kuniholm The Origins of the Cold War in the
Near East. Great Power Conflict and Diplomacy in Iran, Turkey, and Greece, Princeton, New Jersey,
1980, ch. V.
15. For President Truman's address to Congress on aid to Greece and Turkey, see Public Papers of
the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1947, Washington, D.C., 1963, p. 179; see also Etzold and Gaddis,
Containment, ch. 2.
16. Shevchenko quoting Soviet diplomat, Feodor T. Gusev, in Charlton, The Eagle and the Small
Birds, p. 138.
17. On the Marshall Plan, see Hadley Arkes, Bureaucracy, the Marshall Plan and the National
Interest, Princeton, New Jersey, 1972, and Charles L. Mee, Jr., The Marshall Plan. The Launching
of the Pax Americana, New York, 1984.
18. On Trieste, see Bodgan C. Novak, Trieste 1941-1954. The Ethnic, Political, and Ideological
Struggle, Chicago, Illinois, 1970.
19. On the Soviet-Yugoslav split, see Daniels, A Documentary History of Communism, rev. ed., vol.
2, pp. 156-160; for an American eyewitness view of Yugoslavia in 1944-46, see Michael B.
Petrovich, in Witnesses to the Origins of the Cold War, pp. 34-59; for a Yugoslav account of the
split, see Vladimir Dedijer, The Battle Stalin Lost; see also R. Bass and E. Marbury, eds., The Soviet-Jugoslav Controversy, 1948-1958: A Documentary Record; New York, 1959.
20. For Kiraly's statement on the planned invasion of Yugoslavia, see Charlton, The Eagle and the
Small Birds, p. 78.
21. On the communist coup in Prague, February 1948, see Korbel, Twentieth Century
Czechoslovakia, pp. 244-52; a detailed study is to be found in Korbel's earlier work, The Communist
Subversion of Czechoslovakia, 1938-1948: The Failure of Coexistence, Princeton, New Jersey, 1959;
for an insider's account, see Kaplan, The Short March, chaps. XXII-XXIV; see also Edward
Taborsky, Communism in Czechoslovakia, 1948-1960, Princeton, New Jersey, 1961, and same,
President Edvard Benes Between East and West, 1938-1948, Stanford, California, 1981; see also,
Pavel Tigrid, "The Prague Coup of 1948: The Elegant Take-over," in Thomas T. Hammond, ed., The
Anatomy of Communist Takeovers, pp. 399-432. For an American diplomat's view of Czechoslovakia
in 1947-50, see John A. Armitage in Witnesses, pp. 210-230; for a discussion of evidence available
in 1968 regarding Jan Masaryk's death, see Claire Stirling, The Masaryk Case, New York, 1969,
Boston, 1982. In early 1991, a Czech newspaper published what appeared to be Jan Masaryk's letter
to Stalin, dated March 9, 1948, expressing bitterness at Stalin's betrayal of his promises to safeguard
Czechoslovak democracy. Masaryk wrote that he was about to take his own life. The letter was a
Czech translation of the French original found in the archives of the Czechoslovak Communist Party,
in a separate collection of papers left by Antonin Novotny. See Ceske Noviny, 8/1991, priloha RP,
February 20, 1991; Polish translation with comments by Professor Piotr S. Wandycz, Zeszyty
Historyczne, vol. 100, Paris, May 1992, pp. 83-87. The letter seems to be genuine, but this has yet
to be established. (Czech historians suspect it is a communist forgery designed to cover up Masaryk's
22. On The Berlin Blockade, see Avi Shlaim, The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948-1949.
A Study in Crisis Decision-Making, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1983 (has extensive
bibliography); on Germany, see U.S. Department of State, Germany 1947-1949: The Story in
Documents, Washington, D.C., 1950, and Documents on Germany, 1944-1959, Washington, D.C.,
1959. On the German Democratic Republic, see bibliography at end of this chapter. For the U.S.
occupation of Germany and U.S. policy, see Edward N. Peterson, The American Occupation of
Germany. Retreat to Victory, Detroit, Michiagan, 1977 (has extensive bibliography); for a G.I. view
of the situation in Berlin, 1945-48, see Karl Mautner in Witnesses, pp. 231-248.
23. For a study of the East European purge trials by a Hungarian survivor, see George H. Hodos,
Show Trials. Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954, New York and London, 1987; on Noel
Field, see Flora Lewis, The Red Pawn. The Life of Noel Field, Garden City, New York, 1965; for
Czechoslovakia, see Eugen Loebl, My Mind on Trial, New York, 1976, and Karel Kaplan, Report
on the Murder of the General Secretary, translated by Karel Kovanda, Columbus, Ohio, 1990; for
Poland, see Richard F. Starr, Poland: the Sovietization of a Captive People, New Orleans, Louisiana,
1962. (For other countries, see bibliography in Hodos).
24. For East Germany, 1945-53, see David Childs, The GDR: Moscow's German Ally, London,
1983, ch. 1; for a detailed study, see Ann Phillips, Soviet Policy Toward East Germany Remembered;
The Postwar Decade, New York, 1988.
25. For the economic development of Eastern Europe in the Stalinist period, see Nicholas Spulber,
The Economics of Communist Eastern Europe, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1957; on Hungary, see
Gati, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, ch. 6; on Poland, see Zbigniew Landau and Jerzy Tomaszewski,
The Polish Economy in the Twentieth Century, translated by Wojciech Roszkowski, London and
New York, 1985, ch. 4, pp. 215-245.
26. For the full text of Khrushchev's speech on February 25, 1956, at the 20th Congress of the
CPSU, see The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism, a selection of documents edited
by the Russian Institute, Columbia University, New York, 1956, doc. 1, pp. 1-90; for extracts, see
R. V. Daniels, A Documentary History of Communism, rev. ed., vol. I, Hanover, New Hampshire
and London, 1984, pp. 321-327, and R. V. Daniels, A Documentary History of Communism in
Russia. From Lenin to Gorbachev, Hanover, New Hampshire and London, 1993, pp. 254-258.
27. For an older account of events in Poland in 1956, see Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc.
Unity and Conflict, rev. ed., Cambridge, Massachusetts, ch. 11, "The Polish October," pp. 239-268;
Paul E. Zinner, ed., National Communism and Popular Revolt in Eastern Europe, a selection of
documents on Poland and Hungary, New York, 1956, Part II. "Poland"; extracts in Mastny, East
European Dissent, vol. I, "Revolt in Poland," pp. 79-99; for extracts from Gomulka's speech of
October 20, 1956, see Daniels, A Documentary History of Communism, rev. ed., vol. II, pp. 230-234
For new documents, see: L.W. Goluchowski, "Poland 1956. Khrushchev, Gomulka, and the 'Polish
October,'" Cold War International History Project Bulletin, issue 5, Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., Spring 1995. See also Mark Kramer, "New Light Shed on
1956 Decision to Invade Hungary," Transition, vol. 2, no.23, Nov.15,1996, pp. 35-40, and bibl.
section on Poland.
28. For an overview and analysis of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, see Ignotus, Hungary, ch. 12;
for an updated treatment, see Gati, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, ch. 6; on Mikoyan and Suslov
negotiations with and concessions to Nagy, especially the multi-party system, see Gati, The Bloc that
Failed. Soviet-East European Relations in Transition, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana, 1990,
pp. 39-40. Gati points out that Nagy's two most radical decisions, i.e., on Hungary's withdrawal from
the Warsaw Pact and the proclamation of neutrality did not prompt Soviet intervention, for they were
made on November 1, the day after the re-entry of Soviet troops into Hungary, see Ibid. According
to Khrushchev, Mikoyan, on returning to Moscow, strongly opposed the Soviet decision to invade
Hungary, protesting that he and Suslov were not present when it was made. (They were in Budapest
between October 27-31; Israeli forces invaded Egypt on October 29th, while France and Britain
entered the war two days later), see Khrushchev Remembers. The Glasnost Tapes, translated and
edited by Jerrold L. Schecter with Vyacheslav V. Luchkov, Boston, Toronto, London, 1990, p. 122.
For new documents, see: Csaba Bekes, "New Findings on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution," in Cold
War International History Project Bulletin, issue 2, Washington, D.C., Fall 1992, and Mark Kramer,
"New Light Shed on 1956 Soviet Decision to Invade Hungary," Transition, vol. 2, no. 23, Nov. 15,
1996, pp. See also "Select Bibliography, Hungary."
29. On the U.S. policy of "liberation" toward Eastern Europe in 1952-56, see Bennett Kovrig, The
Myth of Liberation. East-Central Europe in U.S. Diplomacy and Politics since 1941, Baltimore,
Maryland and London, 1973, ch. V on Hungary in 1956; also Bennet Kovrig, Of Walls and Bridges.
The United States & Eastern Europe, New York, 1991, ch. 2; for a case study in the 1952 election,
see Robert Szymczak, "Hopes and Promises; Arthur Bliss Lane, the Republican Party, and the Slavic-American Vote, 1952," Polish American Studies, vol. XLV, no. 1, (Polish American Historical
Association), Spring 1988, pp. 12-28.
1. General Surveys.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Soviet Bloc. Unity and Conflict, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard
University Press, 1965, and 5 reprints, last in 1965.
Francois Fejto, A History of the Peoples Republics. Eastern Europe since Stali, New York, 1971,
Part I, chaps. 1-5.
Hugh Seton-Watson, The East European Revolution, New York, 1956 (classic study, but dated).
Recent Surveys and Studies.
J. F. Brown, Eastern Europe and Communist Rule, Durham, North Carolina and London, 1988.
Charles Gati, The Bloc That Failed, Bloomington, Indiana, 1990.
George H. Hodos, Show Trials. Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954, Westport,
Joseph Rothschild, Return to Diversity. A Political History of East Central Europe since World War
II, Oxford and New York, 1989; 2nd edition, 1993.
Jacques Rupnik, The Other Europe. The Rise and Fall of Communism in East-Central Europe, London, 1988; rev. ed., New York, 1989.
Nicholas Bethell, Gomulka: His Poland and His Communism, New York, 1969 (too generous to
John Coutovidis and Jaime Reynolds, Poland 1939-1947, New York, 1986 (based mainly on British
archival documents; sees Polish communists as independent agents).
Krystyna Kersten, The Establishment of Communist Rule in Poland, 1943-1948, Berkeley, Los
Angeles and Oxford, 1991 (based mainly on Polish archival sources; best study to date).
Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind, London, 1953, and later reprints. (Classic novel by a great poet,
Nobel Prize laureate 1980; shows writers' fate in communist Poland, 1945-51).
Peter Raina, Political Opposition in Poland 1954-1977, London, 1978 (Preface, chaps. 1-2, pp. 15-57).
George Sakwa, "The Polish 'October': A Reappraisal Through Historiography," Polish Review, v.
XXIII, no. 3, 1978, pp. 62-78.
Anita K. Shelton, "A Bibliographic Essay on National Communism and the Polish October," East
European Quarterly, vol. XVII, no. 3, September 1983, pp. 283-298.
Konrad Syrop, Spring in October. The Polish Revolution, 1956,New York, 1958 (a contemporary
account, but still valuable).
Teresa Toranska, "Them." Stalin's Polish Puppets, tr. Agnieszka Kolankowska, New York, 1987 (an
enterprising young reporter's revealing interviews with old Polish communists during the era
of Solidarity, 1980-81).
Jan B. de Weydenthal, The Communists of Poland. An Historical Outline, Stanford, California,
Hoover Institution Press, 1978; new ed., 1987, chaps. 4-5.
L.W.Goluchowski, "Poland 1956, Khrushchev, Gomulka, and the 'Polish October,'" Cold War
International History Project Bulletin, issue 5, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars,
Washington, D.C., spring 1995.
Antony Polonsky and Boleslaw Drukier, eds., The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland.
December 1943 - June 1945, London, 1980.
Paul Zinner, ed., National Communism and Popular Revolt in Eas-tern Europe, New York, 1956.
John O. Crane and Sylvia Crane, CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Anvil of the Cold War, New York, 1991
(see ch. 22: "The Death of Jan Masaryk (1948)," pp. 320-332. (The rest of this book on the
communist period is unreliable).
Karel Kaplan, The Short March. The Communist Takeover of Czechoslovakia, 1945-1948, New
York, 1987. (By an insider).
Same, Report on the Murder of the General Secretary, trans. Karel Kovanda, Columbus, Ohio,
Josef Korbel, Twentieth Century Czechoslovakia. The Meaning of Its History, New York, 1977
(Best popular work in English).
Eugene Loebl, Sentenced and Tried: The Stalinist Purges in Czechoslovakia, London and Toronto,
1969. (By a communist who suffered).
Mamatey and Luza, A History of the Czechoslovak Republic, 1918-1948, Princeton, New Jersey,
1973, Part Three (Survey and analysis of the period 1945-48).
Jiri Pelikan, ed., The Czechoslovak Political Trials of 1950- 1954: The Suppressed Report of the
Dubcek Government's Commission of Inquiry, 1968, Stanford, California, 1971.
Hubert Ripka, Czechoslovakia Enslaved. The Story of the Communist Coup d'Etat, London, 1950
(By an anti-communist politician).
Josefa Slanska, Report on My Husband, London, 1969. (By Slansky's widow).
Csaba Bekes, "New Findings on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution," Cold War International History
Project Bulletin, issue 2, Washington, D.C., fall 1992.
I. T. Berend and G. Ranki, Hungary. A Century of Economic Development, New York, 1974 (By
two Hungarian historians; Part Three, 1, 2).
Ferenc Feher and Agnes Heller, Hungary 1956 Revisited. The Message of a Revolution a Quarter of
a Century After, London, 1983 (By two Hungarians; a socialist perspective).
Charles Gati, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, Durham, North Carolina, 1986 (Best study to date).
Jorg K. Hoensch, A History of Modern Hungary, 1867-1986, trans. Kim Traynor, London and New
York, 1988, reprint 1989; 2d edition, 1995..
Bela K. Kiraly, et al., eds., The First War Between Socialist States: The Hungarian Revolution of
1956 and Its Impact, New York, 1983. (B. Kiraly was commander of Budapest Garrison and
fought in uprising; later emigrated to U.S).
Bela K. Kiraly and Paul Jonas, eds., The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in Retrospect, New York,
Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: From Kun to Kadar, Stanford, California, Hoover
Institution Press, 1979.
Stanley M. Max, The United States, Great Britain, and the Sovietization of Hungary, 1945-1948,
New York, 1985.
V. L. Musatov, "SSSR i vengierskie sobytiia 1956 g: novye arkhivnye materialyi," Novaia i
Novieshaiia Istoriia, nr. 1, 1993, pp. 3-22. (Soviet archival documents on revolution of 1956).
Laszlo Rajk and His Accomplices before the People's Court: A Transcript of the Rajk Trial,
Budapest, 1949. (Official transcript).
Imre Nagy, On Communism. In Defense of the New Course, New York, 1957; reprint, Westport,
Raphael Patai, The Jews of Hungary, Detroit, 1996 (ch. 47).
Eric Roman, Hungary and the Victor Powers, 1945-1950 New York, 1996.,
Ferenc A. Vali, Rift and Revolt in Hungary. Nationalism versus Communism, Cambridge,
Ivo Banac, With Stalin Against Tito. Cominformist Splits in Yugoslav Communism, Ithaca, New York and London, 1990.
Nora Beloff, Tito's Flawed Legacy. Yugoslavia and the West Since 1939, Boulder, Colorado, 1985
(attack on Tito myth).
Stephen Clissold, ed., Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, 1939-1973: A Documentary Survey, London
and Oxford, 1975.
Milovan Djilas, Tito. The Story from Inside, New York, 1980 (attacks the Tito myth).
R. B. Ferrell, ed., Jugoslavia and the Soviet Union, 1948-1956, New York, 1956.
Michael Lees, The Rape of Serbia. The British Role in Tito's Grab for Power, 1943-1944, San Diego,
David Martin, The Webb of Disinformation; Churchill's Yugoslav Blunder, San Diego, California,
Fred Singleton, Twentieth-Century Yugoslavia, New York, 1976.
Adam B. Ulam, Titoism and the Cominform, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1952.
Richard West. Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia, London, New York, 1994 (readable study by a British journalist, based on English and Yugoslav sources).
Stephen Fischer-Galati, 20th Century Rumania, New York and London, 1970 (chaps. 6-7).
Keith Hitchins, Rumania 1866-1947, Oxford, 1994, (ch. 12).
Ghita Ionescu, Communism in Rumania, 1944-1962, London, 1964, (Introduction and chapters 1
Robert R. Kind, History of the Rumanian Communist Party, Stanford, California, 1980.
John D. Bell, The Bulgarian Communist Party, Stanford, California, 1985.
Michael M. Boll, The Cold War in the Balkans: American Foreign Policy and the Emergence of
Communist Bulgaria, 1943-1947, Lexington, Kentucky, 1984.
Same, ed., The American Military Mission in the Allied Control Commission for Bulgaria, 1944-1947. History and Transcripts, New York, 1985.
J. F. Brown, Bulgaria under Communist Rule, New York, 1970.
Same, Eastern Europe and the Communist Bloc, Durham, N.C., London, 1988 (ch.10).
R. J. Crampton, A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, Cambridge, England, 1987, ch. 4.
Christo Devedijiev, Stalinization of Bulgarian Society, 1949-1953, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1975.
Michael Padev, Dimitrov Wastes No Bullets: The Inside Story of the Trial and Murder of Nikola
Petkov, London, 1948.
The Trial of Traicho Kostov and His Group, Sofia, 1949. (Official record).
Arnulf M. Baring, Uprising in East Germany, June 17, 1953, Ithaca, New York, 1972.
David Childs, The GDR: Moscow's German Ally, London, 1983, (ch. 1).
J. P. Nettl,The Eastern Zone and Soviet Policy in Germany, 1945-1950, New York, 1951
Fedor Burlatsky, Khrushchev and the First Russian Spring. The Era of Khrushchev Through the Eyes
of his Adviser, New York, 1988. (By an insider).
Edward Crankshaw, Khrushchev. A Career, New York, 1966.
Wolfgang Leonhard, The Kremlin Since Stalin, New York, 1966 (By a prominent erstwhile German
communist, then political scientist who taught at Yale University and in West Germany).
N. S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, tr. and ed. by Strobe Talbot, Boston, 1974 (written on
the basis of memoirs taped by the author and smuggled out to the West).
Khrushchev Remembers. The Glasnost Tapes, trans. and ed. by Jerrold L. Shecter with Vyacheslav
V. Luchkov, Boston, Toronto, and London, 1990 (selected tapes excluded by Khrushchev
from the 1974 edition).
Khrushchev on Khrushchev. An Inside Account of the Man and His Era, by his son, Sergei
Khrushchev, ed. and trans. by William Taubman, Boston, Toronto and London, 1990 (a
sympathetic account of Khrushchev in the years after his fall from power, 1964-71).
Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy. A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, New York, 1994
(ch.9. Insightful book by an American historian of Russia).
Martin McCauley, ed., Khrushchev and Khrushchevism, Bloomington, Indiana, 1987.
Roy and Zhores Medvedev, Khrushchev. The Years in Power, New York, 1976 (written by two
prominent Soviet dissidents).