Informbiro period

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Informbiro (also the Informbiro period or the time of the Informbiro) was a period in the history of Yugoslavia which spanned from 1948 to 1955, characterised by conflict and schism with the Soviet Union. The word Informbiro is the Yugoslav name for the Cominform, an abbreviation for "Information Bureau," from "Communist Information Bureau".

History

The Tito–Stalin, or Yugoslav–Soviet split took place in the spring and early summer of 1948. Its title pertains to Josip Broz Tito, at the time the Yugoslav Prime Minister (President of the Federal Assembly), and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. In the West, Tito was thought of as a loyal communist leader, second only to Stalin in the Eastern Bloc. However, having largely liberated itself with only limited Red Army support,[1] Yugoslavia steered an independent course, and was constantly experiencing tensions with the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav government considered themselves allies of Moscow, while Moscow considered Yugoslavia a satellite and often treated it as such. Previous tensions erupted over a number of issues, but after the Moscow meeting, an open confrontation was beginning.[2]

Next came an exchange of letters directly between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ). In the first CPSU letter of 27 March 1948, the Soviets accused the Yugoslavs of denigrating Soviet socialism via statements such as "socialism in the Soviet Union has ceased to be revolutionary". It also claimed that the KPJ was not "democratic enough", and that it was not acting as a vanguard that would lead the country to socialism. The Soviets said that they "could not consider such a Communist party organization to be Marxist-Leninist, Bolshevik". The letter also named a number of high-ranking officials as "dubious Marxists" (Milovan Đilas, Aleksandar Ranković, Boris Kidrič, and Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo) inviting Tito to purge them, and thus cause a rift in his own party. Communist officials Andrija Hebrang and Sreten Žujović supported the Soviet view.[3][2]

Tito, however, saw through it, refused to compromise his own party, and soon responded with his own letter. The KPJ response on 13 April 1948 was a strong denial of the Soviet accusations, both defending the revolutionary nature of the party, and re-asserting its high opinion of the Soviet Union. However, the KPJ noted also that "no matter how much each of us loves the land of socialism, the Soviet Union, he can in no case love his own country less".[2] In a speech, the Yugoslav Prime Minister stated

We are not going to pay the balance on others' accounts, we are not going to serve as pocket money in anyone's currency exchange, we are not going to allow ourselves to become entangled in political spheres of interest. Why should it be held against our peoples that they want to be completely independent? And why should autonomy be restricted, or the subject of dispute? We will not be dependent on anyone ever again!

— Prime Minister Josip Broz Tito[2]

The 31 page-long Soviet answer of 4 May 1948 admonished the KPJ for failing to admit and correct its mistakes, and went on to accuse it of being too proud of their successes against the Germans, maintaining that the Red Army had "saved them from destruction" (an implausible statement, as Tito's partisans had successfully campaigned against Axis forces for four years before the appearance of the Red Army there).[1][2] This time, the Soviets named Josip Broz Tito and Edvard Kardelj as the principal "heretics", while defending Hebrang and Žujović. The letter suggested that the Yugoslavs bring their "case" before the Cominform. The KPJ responded by expelling Hebrang and Žujović from the party, and by answering the Soviets on 17 May 1948 with a letter which sharply criticized Soviet attempts to devalue the successes of the Yugoslav resistance movement.[2]

On 19 May 1948, a correspondence by Mikhail A. Suslov informed Josip Broz Tito that the Communist Information Bureau, or Cominform (Informbiro in Serbo-Croatian), would be holding a session on 28 June 1948 in Bucharest almost completely dedicated to the "Yugoslav issue". The Cominform was an association of communist parties that was the primary Soviet tool for controlling the political developments in the Eastern Bloc. The date of the meeting, 28 June, was carefully chosen by the Soviets as the triple anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Field (1389), the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo (1914), and the adoption of the Vidovdan Constitution (1921).[2]

Tito, personally invited, refused to attend under a dubious excuse of illness. When an official invitation arrived on 19 June 1948, Tito again refused. On the first day of the meeting, 28 June, the Cominform adopted the prepared text of a resolution, known in Yugoslavia as the "Resolution of the Informbiro" (Rezolucija Informbiroa). In it, the other Cominform (Informbiro) members expelled Yugoslavia, citing "nationalist elements" that had "managed in the course of the past five or six months to reach a dominant position in the leadership" of the KPJ. The resolution warned Yugoslavia that it was on the path back to bourgeois capitalism due to its nationalist, independence-minded positions, and accused the party itself of "Trotskyism".[2] This was followed by the severing of relations between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, beginning the period of Soviet–Yugoslav conflict between 1948 and 1955 known as the Informbiro Period.[2]

After the break with the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia found itself economically and politically isolated as the country's Eastern Bloc-oriented economy began to falter. At the same time, Stalinist Yugoslavs, known in Yugoslavia as "cominformists", began fomenting civil and military unrest. A number of cominformist rebellions and military insurrections took place, along with acts of sabotage. However, the Yugoslav security service led by Aleksandar Ranković, the UDBA, was quick and efficient in cracking down on insurgent activity. Invasion appeared imminent, as Soviet military units massed along the border with the People's Republic of Hungary, while the Hungarian People's Army was quickly increased in size from 2 to 15 divisions. The UDBA began arresting alleged Cominformists even under suspicion of being pro-Soviet.

However, from the start of the crisis, Tito began making overtures to the United States and the West. Consequently, Stalin's plans were thwarted as Yugoslavia began shifting its alignment. The West welcomed the Yugoslav-Soviet rift and in 1949 commenced a flow of economic aid, assisted in averting famine in 1950, and covered much of Yugoslavia's trade deficit for the next decade. The United States began shipping weapons to Yugoslavia in 1951. Tito, however, was wary of becoming too dependent on the West as well, and military security arrangements concluded in 1953 as Yugoslavia refused to join NATO and began developing a significant military industry of its own.[4][5] With the American response in the Korean War serving as an example of the West's commitment, Stalin began backing down from war with Yugoslavia.

The term refers to the Cominform Resolution of June 28, 1948 (resulting from the Tito–Stalin Split) that accused the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), among other things, of "depart[ing] from Marxism-Leninism", exhibiting an "anti-Soviet attitude," "meeting criticism with hostility" and "reject[ing] to discuss the situation at an Informbureau meeting." Following these allegations, the resolution expelled the KPJ from Cominform. As a result, Yugoslavia fell outside of the Soviet sphere of influence, and the country's brand of communism, with its independence from the Soviet line, was called Titoism by Moscow and considered treasonous. Party purges against suspected "Titoites" were conducted throughout Eastern Europe.

Significant evidence supports the opinion that the actual reason for the Cominform Resolution was the unwillingness of Josip Broz Tito to obey the instructions of Joseph Stalin. The most serious disputes concerned policy in the Balkans. In particular, Yugoslavia was considered to be pushing too fast towards unification with Bulgaria and Albania. Although following Stalin's proposal for a series of such unifications, Tito was seen to be proceeding without proper consultation with Moscow. Another issue was Tito's eagerness to export revolution to Greece, in contravention of Stalin's Percentages Agreement with the capitalist powers.

The Cominform Resolution is seen as a failed attempt by Stalin to command obedience not only from Tito, but from other national Communist parties as well.[citation needed]

In his memoirs, Nikita Khrushchev asserted that he was "absolutely sure that if the Soviet Union bordered Yugoslavia, Stalin would have intervened militarily."[citation needed] The Soviets planned an invasion with Hungarian, Romanian, and Soviet troops, and in January 1951 large military maneuvers in Hungary simulated an invasion with the assumption of NATO intervention on the Yugoslav side. The threat of war declined, however; Yugoslavia was important to the West because of its importance to the defense of Italy and Greece, and the United States' strong defense of South Korea in the Korean War had likely helped discourage the Soviets, Béla Király stating that it "nipped Stalin's pet project in the bud". The country became an informal NATO member; in February 1951 the British Chiefs of Staff announced that a Soviet attack of Yugoslavia "would lead to world war", in June Koča Popović visited Washington DC for joint planning discussions, and by the mid 1950s the United States provided the country with one half billion dollars in military aid.[6]

This period was also marked by dissent within the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and subsequent repression and deportations of many pro-Soviet members to labor camps and prisons, notably Goli Otok island.

Khrushchev reconciled with Tito after Stalin's 1953 death, but Yugoslavia remained outside the Eastern bloc and an informal NATO member.[6] Tito dramatically changed his domestic policies and created an amnesty programme. Most of the prisons were closed and destroyed, and the government also loosened controls in the media to a much wider extent than in the rest of the Eastern bloc.

This period figures prominently in Yugoslav literature and cinema.

Timeline

  • February 1948 – Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov threatens Tito that "serious differences of opinion about relations between our countries" will result if Tito does not clear his actions with Moscow
  • March 27, 1948 – the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) sends a letter of warning to the Central Committee of the KPJ
  • April 12–13, 1948 – A CC KPJ plenum discusses the CPSU letter
  • May 4, 1948 – The CC CPSU sends a new letter to the CC KPJ with additional allegations
  • May 9, 1948 – At a meeting in Belgrade the CC KPJ issues its reply to the CKVKP(b) letter
  • May 20, 1948 – The CC KPJ issues a statement that the KPJ will not send a delegation to the next Cominform meeting
  • June 28, 1948 – Cominform circulates the "Resolution on the situation in the KPJ"
  • September 1948 – The USSR unilaterally annuls its treaty with Yugoslavia. Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Czechoslovakia follow suit.
  • October 25, 1948 – The USSR expels the Yugoslav ambassador. Other pro-Soviet governments follow suit.
  • November 29, 1948 – From the scheduled meeting in Budapest, Cominform issues a new resolution that states in part that "the transformation of Yugoslavia from the phase of bourgeois nationalism into fascism and direct betrayal of national interests is complete"
  • 1949 – Goli Otok prison camp is established for the internment of "supporters of the Informbiro"
  • March 5, 1953 – Death of Joseph Stalin.
  • June 6, 1953 – Under Khrushchev, the USSR suggests the exchange of ambassadors with Yugoslavia. Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania follow suit.
  • 1954 – Poland and Czechoslovakia also restore relations with Yugoslavia
  • June 2, 1955 – Yugoslavia and the USSR sign a joint declaration in Belgrade
  • 1995 – Goli Otok internees from post-Yugoslav republics seek damages

Informbiro in cinema

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Tomasevich 2001, p. ?.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ramet 2006, p. ?.
  3. ^ Lampe 2000, p. ?.
  4. ^ "Military Assistance Agreement Between the United States and Yugoslavia, November 14, 1951". Lillian Goldman Law Library. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "Yugoslavia – The Yugoslav-Soviet Rift". Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Schindler, John R. (1998-02-24). "Dodging Armageddon: The Third World War That Almost Was, 1950". Cryptologic Quarterly: 85–95. 
  • Gibianskii, Leonid (1998), "The Soviet-Yugoslav Split and the Cominform", in Naimark, Norman; Gibianskii, Leonid, The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944–1949, Boulder, CO .
  • ——— (2001), "The Idea of Balkan Unification and Plans for its Implementation during the 1940s", Voprosy Istorii (in Russian) (11–12): 38–56 .

External links

  • June 1948 Cominform Resolution, Fordham .\
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