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HISTORY COURSEWORK

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Assess the view that Stalins policies in Eastern Europe


between 1945-47 were brutal and expansionist.

The debate on Soviet foreign policy


In organising Cominform, Stalin rejected the idea that communist parties could act
independently, each pursuing its own path to socialism. He now took steps to consolidate
the Soviet position in Eastern Europe by replacing coalition governments with a

communist monopoly of power. The most dramatic instance of this took place in Prague
in Feb 1948 when the communists, who already formed part of the government, seized
complete control1
Hugh Seton-Watson draws a distinction between the genuine coalition which governed
for an initial period in four of the countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and
Czechoslovakia and the bogus coalition which succeeded it, in which the governments
still contain non-communist parties, but these are represented by men chosen no longer
by the party membership but by the communists 2the genuine coalition gave way to the
bogus coalition in Bulgaria as early as Jan 1945, in Romania in March 1945, in Hungary in
Feb 1947even during the period of the genuine coalition the presence of the Soviet
occupation forces enable the Communists to prevail over their partners 3
Communism was unpopular in Eastern Europe ensured that an American sphere of
influence would arise largely by consent, but its Soviet counterpart could sustain itself
only by coercion origins of cold war4
Soviets unpopular, why Stalins government was and continued to be as repressive as
Hitlers had ever been5
Just as Stalin ensured that communist parties could communicate only through Moscow
and not among themselves6, so he sought to extract benefits unilaterally from the
countries within his sphere of influence without encouraging their economic cooperation:
one estimate suggests that the Soviets took from Eastern Europe in the form of
reparations and other removals for use in reconstruction about as much as the
Americans put into Western Europe through the Marshall Plan7
The creation of the Informational Bureau of Communist Parties, the Cominform formally
signalled the beginning of a new and often brutal Soviet policy: the consolidation of the
Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. This new policy entailed the transformation
of five countries into Soviet satellites under the control of Communist regimes cloned
from the regime in Moscow8

1 Spriano in Holloway in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p76
2 Seton-Watson, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p588
3 Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p588
4 Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p17
5 Raack in Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p18
6 Gibiansky, in Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p204
7 Marer, in Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p204
8 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p111
2

All this, in addition to the millions forced refugees, arrests of opposition members and
brutal persecution of intellectuals in Eastern Europe, amounted to a hidden but quite
powerful dimension of Soviet Foreign Policy. It was a traditional policy of the empire, but
a more barbaric one. This occupational policy deeply affected millions of people and did
irreparable damage to the image of Stalins Soviet Union in Central Europe 9
If the motive force of postwar Soviet policy was a desire for securitywhy did the Soviets
act as though security was inseparable from domination?...it is certain that that the
Soviet Union was not driven to the extremes by American efforts to deny its
predominance in Eastern Europe10
COMECON Stalin left it as little more than an empty shell for the rest of his life while
exploiting his dependencies though imposed bilateral agreements without any pretence
of partnership. In the end this allowed the Soviet Union to extract from them for its
reconstruction about the same fourteen billion dollars worth of deliveries that the United
States supplied to its allies for their reconstruction through the Marshall Plan 11 = key
difference between his empire by imposition and the American empire by invitation 12
Both America and Russia were powerful militarily and expansionist for security and
ideological reasons, and each stood firm for its vision of the postwar world. But there the
similarities ended. Throughout Eastern Europe and their occupation zone in Germany,
Russians and their local communist allies in the middle and late 1940s repeatedly
deprived large numbers of people of every individual right valued in the West, including
freedom of speech and religion, the right to a fair trial and the right to choose political
leaders thorough free and fair elections13
Although most Americans disliked Stalins communist system and did not want it to
spread, his disregard for other peoples basic human rights also helped to turn tens of
millions of Americans against the USSR in the early postwar years 14
Nowhere beyond what Moscow considered the Soviet borders did its politics foresee the
establishment of communist regimes15
Nations frequently take actions that are designed to enhance their security but that have
the opposite effect. Their initiatives endanger the security of others, thereby precipitating

9 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p147


10 Mark, E, American Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of American
History, Volume 68, Number 2, p336

11 Marer, in Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p58


12 Lundestad, in Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p58
13 Levering and Botzenhart-Viehe, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p25
14 Levering and Botzenhart-Viehe, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p25
15 Mastny, in Leffler, The Cold War: What do we now know? The American Historical Review, p508
3

reactions that further intensify their own sense of vulnerability. This concept is known as
the security dilemma and is frequently noted by political scientists who study
international relations16
From Moscows point of view I think it can be postulated that the Soviet leaders felt
themselves in an inferior position compared to the United States. The Soviet expansion in
Eastern Europe was probably at least in part seen by them as a defensive move to
safeguard essential strategic and political interests17
The United States came to expand its own commitments and influence on a larger scale
than did the Soviet Unionunlike the United States, the Soviet Union did not really
become a global power in this first period after the war. Americas influence could be felt
in almost all corners of the world. With only a few exceptions, the Soviet Union counted
for little outside its border areas18
Roberts suggests that while Stalin wanted a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and
security from future German aggression, he hoped, until late 1947, that he could achieve
his goals while maintaining good relations with the United States and Great Britain 19
Kolko we now know that the Russians had no intention of Bolshevising Eastern
Europe20
BUT Stalins concessions did nothing to weaken Russian influence in Eastern Europe
Kennan aptly described them as fig leaves of democratic procedure to hide the
nakedness of Stalinist dictatorship21
Post-revisionists also view = Stalin is now seen as a cagey but insecure opportunist
without any long-term strategy for or even very much interest in promoting the spread of
communism beyond the Soviet sphere but weakness of revisionist accounts was their
failure to appreciate how Stalins nonideologically motivated goals, however defensive
they may have been, nonetheless appeared to pose security problems for the West 22
Why the Cominform two factors prompted the establishment of the Cominform: the
Soviets perceptions of a threat from the West to their zone of security in Europe, and the

16 Jervis, in Leffler, The Cold War: What do we now know? The American Historical Review, p513
17 Lundestad, America, Scandinavia and the Cold War 1945-1949, p333
18 Lundestad, America, Scandinavia and the Cold War 1945-1949, p333
19 Roberts in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p4
20 Kolko, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p587
21 Kennan, Memoirs, in Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p280
22 Gaddis, The Emerging Post-Revisionist View on the Cold War, p181
4

conviction of Stalin and Molotov that the Soviets could manage this zone only with iron
ideological and party discipline23
Hamiltion Fish Armstrong on Eastern Europe it was a law of international politics that a
great power surrounded by a number of smaller states must necessarily exercise a
dominant interest over their affairs24
As the Soviets seemed to lack a compelling ideological reason for expansionism, their
strivings for predominance in Eastern Europe were ascribed to fears of further attack
from the West25
Stalins territorial ambitionstook shape from 1941 in response to a limitless craving for
security and the failure of Roosevelt and Churchill to draw a clear linethere was no
intention in the summer of 1945 of a long-term Soviet presence in central Europe 26
We need to see Eastern European peoples as more than mere pawns in a superpower
struggleonly the interrelation of local circumstances and international events can fully
explain the communization of Eastern Europe after the Second World War27
A Soviet empire by rape stood in contrast to an American empire by seductionSoviet
leaders accustomed to total control over their own subjects and knowing no other way to
organise society, could confidently deal only with puppets running familiar Soviet-type
systems. In short, given their history, political system and priorities, as well as challenges
from the West, Soviet leaders could hardly have done other than they did in creating
their Cold War Empire28
Stalin in the end got the Polish government he wanted but at enormous cost. The
brutality and cynicism with which he handled these matters did more than anything else
to exhaust the goodwill the Soviet war effort had accumulated in the West, to raise
doubts about future cooperation in London and Washington 29

23 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p125


24 Mark, E, American Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of American
History, Volume 68, Number 2, p317

25 Policy Committee, Document PC-4, War and Peace Aims of the Soviet Union, March 29 1944, box 138,
Records of Notter, in Mark, E, American Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The
Journal of American History, Volume 68, Number 2, p322

26 Mastny, in Reynolds, The Origins of the Cold War; The European Dimension, 1944-1951, The Historical
Journal, Volume 28, Number 2, p513

27 Okey, in Reynolds, The Origins of the Cold War; The European Dimension, 1944-1951, The Historical Journal,
Volume 28, Number 2, p515

28 Pechatnov and Edmondson, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p150
29 Kennan Memoirs, Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p19
5

Stalin envisaged a key international role model for the Yugoslavs. Not only did he choose
them as his proxies to spearhead the assault on the French and Italian areas, but he also
accepted their offer to host the Cominforms headquarters in Belgrade 30
Rather than double-crossing Stalin, the Yugoslav communists did not differ at that time
from all the others in their trying to act on what they perceived to be his wishes 31
The Yugoslav Party was the most Stalinist of all, complete with its adulation of the
supremo32
Stalin, for example, could not control Yugoslav Communist leader Tito. Nor could his loyal
followers easily consolidate their power in countries like Czechoslovakia and Hungary 33
The Bulgarian historian Vesselin Dimitrov details the extent to which Bulgarian
communist partisans sought to determine their own futureStalin told the Bulgarian
communists to work with other democratic forces, something they did not want to do
Leaders of the Workers Party tried to manipulate Stalin and gain leeway for their own
autonomous action34
it was not part of Stalins plans, however, to allow a Communist revolution to be carried
out in Bulgaria he insisted that other political parties should be given a degree of
influence35
In his essay on postwar Bulgaria, Dimitrov shows that while Stalin seemed to be in no
hurry to impose communism on Bulgaria, Bulgarian communists constantly sought to
crush their enemies and seize complete controlhe argues that Bulgarian communists,
at times acting against Soviet wishes, had by this time already gone a long way towards
liquidating their opponents and completing their seizure of power36
Eastern Europe became a vital territorial buffer and frontline against the Americans and
the British, increasingly hostile to the USSR37

30 Gibianskii, in Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p34


31 Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p35
32 Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p37
33 Reynolds, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p167
34 Dimitrov, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p191
35 Dimitrov, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p195
36 Dimitrov in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p8
37 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p98
6

The peoples of Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia at least, were by no means illdisposed towards the Soviet Union38
It seems likely that Washington policy-makers mistook Stalins determination to ensure
Russian security through spheres of influence for a renewed effort to spread communism
outside the borders of the Soviet Union. The Russians did not immediately impose
communist regimes on all the countries they occupied after the war and Stalin showed
notoriously little interest in promoting the fortunes of communist parties in areas beyond
his control39
Soviet foreign policy the evidence
Message from Moscow re military intervention in Albania: it was abnormal that
Yugoslavia should take such a decision without consulting the Soviet Union or even
informing it40
For example, despite their lack of support in the December 1945 election in Hungary,
they were able to insist that a Communist be appointed Minister of the Interior 41
Molotov my task as minister of foreign affairs was to expand the borders of the
fatherland and it seems that Stalin and I coped with this task quite well 42
The installation by the Soviets of a de facto Polish government at Lublin in July 1944
followed by their callous indifference to the Warsaw uprising in August, aroused great
concern in Washington43
After Stalin decreed the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, its staff continued to work
in various Soviet state and party structures, mainly in military intelligence and
propagandathe Foreign Policy department continued to run several secret institutes of
the disbanded Comintern that maintained old operative and informational contacts with
the world communist movement. Institute 205 dealt with the assessment and analysis of
information. Institute 99 specialised in the recruitment of cadres for operative Communist
work among POWs. Institute 100 dealt primarily with radio broadcasting and maintained
a network of radio agents scattered around Europe44

38 Zinner in Mark, E, American Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of
American History, Volume 68, Number 2, p334

39 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p355
40 Girenko, Stalin-Tito, Moscow: Politizdat, 1991, in Holloway in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p77
41 Seton-Watson, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p588
42 Molotov Remembers, We Now Know, p30
43 Lukas, in Mark, E, American Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of
American History, Volume 68, Number 2, p323

44 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p119


7

Although relatively free elections were permitted in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria,
elsewhere Soviet support and intimidation was widespread. Vyshinskys celebrated browbeating of King Michael of Romania in Feb 1945 and the Yugoslav election that Nov
(enlivened by such edifying slogans as ballots for Tito, bullets for Grol) soon dispelled
illusions that the communists defined democracy in the same way as the folks back in
Ohioevents in Eastern Europe coupled with the March 1946 crisis over the Soviet
presence in Iran, had permanently changed American perspectives of Russian policy 45
Molotov, post-Yalta = Poland big deal! But how governments are being organised in
Belgium, France, Greece, etc, we do not know. We do not say that we like one or another
of these governments. We have not interfered, because there it is the Anglo-American
zone of military action46
We now know that most communists in Eastern Europe were uncertain about Soviet
intentionsDimitrov emphasises that Stalin did not want a revolution in Bulgaria.
Examining the situation in Hungary, Roman finds not a shred of evidence that the
Kremlin planned to Sovietise Hungary47
Naimark has provided powerful evidence of disarray within the Soviet occupation zone in
Eastern Germany and there are indications of a similar pattern elsewhere in Eastern
Europe48
By the time Khrushchev came to power, such satellite leaders as Ulbricht and Gomulka
were often in a position to determine the pace of events 49
Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Harriman while the revolutionary spirit might linger in
some circles of the Communist party, the thinking of Stalin and his principal advisers is
towards the consolidation and development of their country within its frontiers of 1941 50
May 1943 Harriman reported that relations with the USSR were constantly becoming
more solid and that the Soviets showed no desire to foment revolutions along their
borders or to cause disorders which would threaten international stability 51
On our part, we should recognise that we have no more business in the political affairs of
Eastern Europe than Russia has in the political affairs of Latin America, Western Europe

45 Reynolds, The Origins of the Cold War; The European Dimension, 1944-1951, The Historical Journal, Volume
28, Number 2, p504

46 Molotov, in Pechatnov and Edmondson, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p97
47 Dimitrov and Roman, in Leffler, The Cold War: What do we now know? The American Historical Review,
p517

48 Naimark quoted in Gaddis in Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p32


49 Gaddis in Westad, Reviewing the Cold war, p32
50 Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1945, in Mark, E, American
Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of American History, Volume 68,
Number 2, p323

and the United Stateswe may not like what Russia does in Eastern Europe. Her type of
land reform, industrial expropriation, and suppression of basic liberties offends the great
majority of the people of the United States. But whether we like it or not the Russians will
try to socialise their sphere of influence just as we try to democratise our sphere of
influence52
Stalin failed to support, or even to allow the Americans and the British to supply by air,
an uprising of the Polish resistance in Warsaw, with the result that the Germans wound
up completing, on a far more massive scale, the purge of Polish anti-communists he
himself had started at Katyn four years earlier53
At Moscow, Harry Hopkins was sent to attempt to resolve the deadlock over Poland US
conceded by agreeing that the reorganisation of the Polish government should be limited
to the addition of a small number of Western-oriented leaders to the Soviet-sponsored
government, rather than recreating the government on a new basisin accepting a
Communist-dominated government and in rapidly moving to recognise it (July 5), the US
was tacitly abandoning any attempt to press for Soviet disengagement from Poland 54
At the December Council of Foreign Ministers, the Polish pattern was repeated in the case
of Romania: that is to say, after face-saving additions to the government, Britain and the
United States extended formal recognition55
Far more difficult to resolve was the problem of who was to govern Poland the Lublin
Poles, the London Poles, or a combination of both Roosevelt told Stalin that the
American public opposed recognition of the Lublin government on the grounds that it
represented a minority of the Polish peoplein the same breath, however, the President
also said that he wanted a government in Poland that will thoroughly friendly to the
Soviet Union contradiction as a government in Warsaw representative of the people
would almost inevitably have been hostile to the Soviet Union56
Roosevelt: we placed, as clearly shown in the agreement, somewhat more emphasis on
the Lublin Poles than on the other two groups from which the new government is to be
drawn57

51 Minutes of the Policy Committee, May 10 1944, Box 138, Records of Notter, in Mark, E, American Policy
Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of American History, Volume 68, Number 2,
p323

52 Wallace, speech Sept 12 1946, in Levering and Botzenhart-Viehe, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of
the Cold War, p79

53 Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p19


54 Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p584
55 Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p585
56 Matthews notes, 3d plenary meeting, Feb 6, 1945, FR: Yalta, pp677-78, in Gaddis, J, The United States and
the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p161

Roosevelt warned Polish ambassador Ciechanowski that the United States would not fight
Stalin to prevent him from taking Eastern Poland and the Baltic States 58
Harriman = The Russians would insist strongly on their 1941 frontiersthey believed that
the British had already agreed to these boundaries and that American failure to discuss
the issue indicated that Washington had no serious objections 59
Teheran Roosevelt personally agreed with Stalin that the Russo-Polish border should be
moved to the west60
Murder of 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn in 1940, Stalin security in mind? He hoped to
avoid disturbances that might endanger his relationship with Hitler and to eliminate
potential leaders of a future Poland who might be unsympathetic to Soviet interests he
was only meting out to the Poles the kind of treatment he had already accorded several
million Soviet citizens and would extend to many others in the future 61
The Stalin-Hopkins talks resolved thorny disagreements about the reorganisation of the
new Polish government in a way satisfactory to the Kremlin and its Polish clients. The
compromise called for several members of the old London-based government in exile to
join the pro-Soviet Lublin government, but the latter group would still be dominant
compromise opened the way for Britain and the US to recognise the Soviet backed Polish
government62
Teheran FDR agreed with Stalin that Russia should be allowed to have much of eastern
Poland at wars end. But Roosevelt also told Stalin, a US aide recorded that there were in
the United States from six to seven million Americans of Polish extraction and he did not
wish to lose their vote and hoped that Stalin would understand that he could not publicly
take part in any arrangement to redefine Polands borders at the present time 63
When Stalin began to demand full Yugoslav adherence to the new economic and mutual
assistance pacts, Tito balked. Enraged, Stalin claimed, I will shake my little finger and
there will be no more Tito64

57 Roosevelt to Churchill, March 29, 1945, FR:1945, V, 189, in Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of
the Cold War 1941-47, p162

58 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p136
59 Harriman to Roosevelt, Nov 4, 1943, in Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 194147, p137

60 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, p138
61 Knight, in Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p19
62 Pechatnov and Edmondson, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p102
63 Levering and Botzenhart-Viehe, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p17
64 Khrushchev, in Lafeber, America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-1996, p76
10

When Stalin learned in January 1948 that Yugoslavia had promised to send a division to
Albania to guard the border with Greece, he sent a messagewarningthat it was
abnormal that Yugoslavia should take such a decision without consulting the Soviet Union
or even informing it65
In internal Soviet documents, Yugoslavia was praised, especially for its militant antiAmerican stance66
In the summer of 1947, when the Yugoslavs notified him of their intention to formalise
closer cooperation with Bulgaria as a preparatory step for the controversial confederation
of Balkan communist states, he did not interfere67
Titos pompous touring of the neighbouring capitals has been retrospectively credited
with having alarmed Stalin about Belgrades allegedly independent foreign policy. Yet its
directors had shared the texts of the intended pacts with Moscow beforehand, dutifully
incorporating the minor amendments it asked them to make68
Tito desperately tried to avoid a complete break with Stalin. Swallowing his insults,
Yugoslavia in July 1948 loyally supported the Soviet Union at the contentious
international conference, held in Belgrade, on regulating navigation on the river Danube 69
Stalin I do not wish to begin the Third World War over the Trieste question, he explained
to disappointed Yugoslavs, whom he ordered to evacuate that territory in June 1945 70
Stalin moved to forestall trouble with the Western Allies arising from foreign communist
agitation and revolution. He advised and warned Tito and Mao to abstain from
revolutionary action in their nations and instead to accept subordinate positions in
coalition governments led by pro-Western parties71
Bulgarian Partisans, rebellious soldiers and newly minted Communists went on the
rampage throughout the country, killing an estimated 10,000 30,000 people 72

65 Iu.S Gurenko, Stalin-Tito, Moscow: Politizdat 1991, in Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb, p257
66 Gibianskii, in Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p34
67 Gibianskii, in Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p34
68 Gibianskii, in Mastny, the Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, p35
69 Cannon to Secretary of State, July 31 1948, FRUS, Volume 4, in Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity,
p53

70 Banac, in Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p30


71 Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, p222
72 Ognianov, in Dimitrov, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p194
11

Stalin on Bulgaria perhaps we are making a mistake when we consider Soviet power as
the only road to Socialism. Perhaps other forms a democratic republic or in certain
cases even a constitutional monarchy might lead to it73
Stalin on Bulgaria in 1945 Dimitrov to Kostov = Stalin stressed that out party should
not be afraid of differences of opinion and criticism in the government and the Patriotic
Front74
In September 1946 Stalin advised the Bulgarians to form a Labour Party 75
Moscow Conference 1945 The Soviet government would itself propose a slight
broadening of the Bulgarian regimemembers of loyal opposition would be included in
the government76
Moscow Conference 1945 = compromise agreement on Rumania and Bulgaria on paper
committed Soviet Union to principle of self-determination 77
From a few hundred CP members to half a million in Hungary in 1945 and from 28,000 to
1.2 million in Czechoslovakia in the year from May 1945 in neither of these two cases
can Soviet pressure be considered an all-sufficient explanation: the Hungarians were
largely Catholic and historically anti-Slav, while the Red Army pulled out of
Czechoslovakia in Nov 194578
The weakness of Communist support in Eastern Europe in this period has been widely
noted. Stalin had acknowledged privately at Potsdam that any freely elected government
would be anti-Soviet and that we cannot admit 79in the election in Hungary in Nov 1945
the Communists could only win 17% of the vote west did little to exploit this situation 80
Minister of Foreign Ministers in London, 1945, - Molotov = the regimes in Rumania and
Bulgaria were more representative than the British-sponsored government of Greece 81
Communist revolutions extracted a terrible price in terror and hardship. Many of their
subsequent policies Russian intervention in Hungary and Czechoslovakia warrant harsh

73 Tsentralen partien arkhiv Sofia, in Dimitrov, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p195
74 TSPA, in Dimitrov, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p197
75 Dimitrov, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p201
76 Record of the Byrnes-Stalin meeting of Dec 23, 1945, FR: 1945, II, 752-56, in Gaddis, J, The United States
and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p280

77 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p282
78 Reynolds, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p168
79 Stalin in Mosley, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p584
80 Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p584
12

judgements but to concentrate exclusively on these points is to neglect other of


considerable importance most significant of all, perhaps, is the fact that life in the
communist countries has improved. The picture is one of brutality and betterment 82
April 1945, Stalin: the Germans will recover very quicklygive them 12 15 years and
theyll be on their feet again. And that is why the unity of the Slavs is important 83
From the very beginning Stalin, through Zhdanov, kept two options open: as long as
Finland behaved well and fulfilled the reparations plan, a deal with the traditional,
conservative leadership remained a preferred option. But he kept another option open as
well a possible communist junta in case things should not work out with the existing
leadership. Relations between the two countries continued to go well, however, and,
instead of a Communist coup, the Finns received a friendship treaty84
Molotov to Chuev we had to consolidate what had been conquered, the eastern part of
Germany had to be transformed into our Socialist Germany; and Czechoslovakia, Poland,
Hungary, Yugoslavia they all had been in an amorphous state, and we had to introduce
orderthere85
The miscalculations of the non-Communist ministers in Prague in Feb 1948 in resigning
without mobilising support, the successful resistance in Austria and Finland to communist
monopoly of the key ministries of Interior and Justice, the ability of Tito to defy Soviet
ostracism and blockade all these remind us that Eastern Europe cannot be judged as a
monolith86
Czech Coup Newly declassified documents show that Moscow neither gave any direct
orders to Gottwald nor offered to move Soviet troops in Germany and Austria close to the
Czechoslovak borders. They suggest, in fact, that it was Gottwald who, looking for facesaving outside pressure asked the Russians for the deployment of troopsMolotovs
response: proposals to move Soviet troops in Germany and Austria as well as to give
Gottwald orders from Moscow we consider uncalled for 87 but Kremlin did give green light,
advising Gottwald, to stand more firmly, not to yield to the right, and not to hesitate 88

81 Bohlen Minutes, Byrnes-Molotov conversations, Sept 16 and 19, 1945 in Gaddis, J, The United States and
the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p265

82 Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, p292


83 Stalin quoted in Djilas, in Lafeber, America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-1996, p19
84 Nevakivi, in Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p119
85 Chuev, in Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p98
86 Reynolds, The Origins of the Cold War; The European Dimension, 1944-1951, The Historical Journal, Volume
28, Number 2, p515

87 Molotov, in Pechatnov and Edmondson, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p135
13

The debate on ideology


When Hitler forged the Allied system by creating the necessity for it, none of the pre-war
considerations disappeared, and the political leaders and tendencies responsible for
these policies were also still largely in the major seats of power. Indeed going back to the
years after 1917 and the intense hostility of the western nations toward Bolshevism, it is
clear that the coalition between England, France, the United States and the Soviet Union
was the exception to the basic trend in international affairs after World War I, and that
any temporary alliance would be fragile at best89
The coalition against the Axis was born of necessity rather than deliberation or choice,
and only the common need to defeat a common enemy bound it together. Great Britain,
the Soviet Union and the United States shared no single set of objectives other than this
preeminent reality, no unifying political and economic peace aims 90
In the long term perspective, Stalins pledges of cooperation with capitalist powers was
only a truce91
In the Soviet leaders mind the conflict between communism and capitalism was an
unavoidable feature of world history and in the end communism would triumph over
capitalism92
Zubok and Pleshakov argue that ideology was a key element that shaped Soviet
behaviourthere was a lodestar that guided Stalinit was the promise of Communist
revolutionary universalism93
Stalin appears to have gone through the entire post World War II period convinced that
the capitalists would soon fall and fight with one another94
Constantly seeking to extend the orbit of American hegemony, the US had been the
most expansionists of all great powers. Impelled by the inner drives of American
capitalism, the nations leaders have sought to fashion a global environment conducive
to the steady growth of the American economythe most powerful nation on earth in

88 Pechatnov and Edmondson, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p135
89 Kolko, The Politics of War, p14
90 Kolko, The Politics of War, p618
91 Varsori in Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p292
92 Varsori in Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p292
93 Zubok and Pleshakov, in Leffler, The Cold War: What do we now know? The American Historical Review,
p507

94 Gaddis in Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p34


14

1945, the US tried to reshape the world to suit the needs of American capitalismthe
USmust bear responsibility for beginning the Cold War95
BUT ideology is not constant, Marxism-Leninism contained many different strands one
day Stalin was opposing Nazi Germany; the next he signed a non-aggression pact with it.
And during the Cold War, one day Khrushchev combated capitalism; the next he
emphasised peaceful co-existence with it96
Varsori sees little chance of there not being a conflict between the US and West
European elites on the one hand and Stalins regime on the other, because of past
ideological hostilityboth East and West read into each others actions what beliefs and
prejudices stretching back to be before the Russian Revolution told them that the other
side was aggressive97
Ideology - the evidence
Stalin to Comintern leader Dimitrov, Jan 1945 the crisis of capitalism is evident in the
division of the capitalists into 2 factions once fascist and the other democratic. The
alliance between us and the democratic faction succeeds because the latter had an
interest in preventing Hitlers domination. At present we are with one faction against the
other, but in the future we shall be against this faction of the capitalists as well 98
Molotov Stalin looked at it this way, World War One wrested one country from capitalist
slavery; World War II has created a socialist system & the third will finish off imperialism
forever99
Kennans Long Telegram examined the Soviet outlook and why Russian leaders were
not cooperating with their wartime alliesKennan wrote, the basic Soviet instinct was
that there can be no compromise with rival power and the constrictive work can start
only when Communist power is dominant100
Kennans Long Telegram world communism is like a malignant parasite which feeds
only on diseased tissue101

95 Tucker, in Krueger, Review: New Left Revisionists and their critics: Reviews in American History, p467
96 Lundestad in Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p73
97 Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p15
98 Stalin quoted by Poznyakov, in Roberts, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p50
99 Molotov Remembers, in Gaddis, J, We Now Know, p14
100 Kennans Long Telegram, in Levering and Botzenhart-Viehe, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the
Cold War, p39

101 Kennan, in Levering and Botzenhart-Viehe, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of the Cold War, p73
15

Vandenberg (leading Republican) 2 rival ideologies, democracy and communism, now


found themselves face to face, they could live together in harmony but only if the US
speaks as plainly upon all occasions as Russia doesand if we assume a moral
leadership which we have too frequently allowed to lapsewhen Vandenberg had
finished speaking the Senate and the galleries stood and applauded102
Clayton, Roosevelt administration: as a matter of fact, if we want to be honest with
ourselves, we will find that many of the sins that we freely criticise other countries for
practicing have their counterpart in the US103
Novikov Telegram The Soviet version of Kennans Long Telegram both depicted the
other side as driven by an insatiable urge for world dominationNovikov worried about
Americas global reach, described the US as trying to reduce Soviet influence in
neighbouring countries in order to hamper the process of democratisation there and to
create conditions for the penetration of American capital into their economies 104
Secretary of State Byrnes suggested at Potsdam that differences in ideology between the
Soviet Union and the United States were so pronounced that peaceful relations between
the 2 countries might be impossible105

The debate on Western foreign policy


1947 Bohlen remarked that it has often been said that the United States was
attempting to deny to Russiaspecial interests, based on Geography, in Eastern
Europethat was not a true statement in any sense of the word and it is perhaps best
refuted by the speech that Secretary Byrnes made on Oct 31 1945all the arrangements
that the United States has reached and many they have sought with the Soviet
government, have indicated perfectly clearly we were not attempting to deny to Russia
the prerequisites of a great power, namely that she has a certain primary strategic
interest in the countries that lie along her border. It has been the abuse of that right
which has caused most of the trouble we have had 106it would be difficult to provide a
better epitome of American policy107

102 Congressional Record, Feb 27 1946, pp1692-95, in Gaddis, J, The US and the Origins of the Cold War 19417, p296

103 Claytion, in Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, p234


104 The Novikov Report, 27 Sept 1946, in Pechatnov & Edmondson, in Levering et al, Debating the Origins of
the Cold War, p160

105 Byrnes in Gaddis, J, The US and the Origins of the Cold War, p298
106 Bohlen, US Relations with Certain States, July 10 1947, Box 6, Records of Bohlen in Mark, E, American
Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of American History, Volume 68,
Number 2, p336

107 Mark, E, American Policy Toward Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Cold War, The Journal of American
History, Volume 68, Number 2, p336

16

Although Stalin had talked about the possibility of coordinating the actions of European
communists, the American initiatives of 1947 prompted Stalin to establish Cominform,
declare the establishment of two camps, encourage strikes and demonstrations in
Western Europe and clamp down mercilessly in Eastern Europe 108
Leaders of the United States had become convinced, revisionists assert, that survival of
the capitalist system at home required the unlimited expansion of American economic
influence overseas. For this reason the United States could not recognise legitimate
Soviet interests in Eastern Europe, Germany or elsewhere109
Horowitz the totalitarian single-party system was established only after the Truman
Doctrine in 1947110
Horowitz = ideologically United States threw down the gauntlet, the timing and tone of
the Truman Doctrine destroyed any hope of compromise at the Moscow Foreign Ministers
Conference and provoked Stalins counter move the formation of Cominform111
Roosevelt may well have expected the Russians to allow free elections in Eastern Europe
when it began to look as though Moscow was stalling, the President became concerned.
He never wavered, however, in his insistence that governments installed in power along
Russias borders be friendly to the Soviet Union FDRs superficial knowledge of Eastern
Europe kept him from fully realising the contradiction between freely elected and proRussian governments in that turbulent part of the world112
The President by his actions had led the American people to expect free elections in
Eastern Europe, while at the same time leading the Russians to expect a free hand
peculiar mixture of naivety and realism which characterised Roosevelts East European
policy had created a painful dilemma113
Resis Stalin was a conservative nationalist seeking a spheres-of-influence
understanding for Eastern Europe within the framework of great power co-operation to
keep Germany down. Such a relationship was possible with British, Resis argues, as the
percentages agreement showed, but the policy was frustrated by the US government,
which deprecated traditional power politics and demanded a say in Eastern Europe while
denying the Soviets similar rights in the West114

108 Parrish, in Leffler, The Cold War: What do we now know? The American Historical Review, p516
109 Gaddis, in Leigh, Is there a revisionist thesis on the origins of the Cold War? The American Historical
Review, p104

110 Horowitz, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p587


111 Horowitz, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p600
112 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p173
113 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p173
17

Western foreign policy the evidence


Wallace, Secretary of Commerce: we should recognise that we have no more business in
the political affairs of Eastern Europe than Russia has in the political affairs of Latin
America, Western Europe and the United States115Wallace was asked to resign
Roosevelt at first suggested to the Soviets that the postwar world should be stabilised by
four policemen the Soviets were delighted, for they understood this plan to mean they
would be the policemen patrolling Eastern Europe116
The Molotov-Novikov cable predicted that in the countries of Eastern Europe and the
Middle East the American government would stop at nothing to limit or dislodge the
influence of the Soviet Union. It drew attention to the fact that American expenditures on
the army and navy have risen tremendously in comparison with the years prior to World
War II, and that the Americans maintained their old military bases and began
constructing new ones thousands of miles away from the United States, on the periphery
of the USSR117
Sept 1946 first meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers Molotov told Byrnes: in a
defeated country, especially a neighbouring country, the Soviet Union must have a
modicum of influencehe blamed the US government for employing a double standard:
why did it not interfere in the policies of the British in Greece, but try to so in Rumania? 118
Russian response to Marshall Plan was an American strategy for setting and
maintaining conditions on economic development in Eastern Europe and the Soviet
Union. That estimate prompted them first to refuse to participate and then to embark
upon a series of actions which most Americans mistakenly think had already occurred
they initiated a program of repression in Rumania, they sharply curtailed freedom of the
press in Bulgaria, Rumania and eastern Germany. They shot the Peasant Party leader
Patlov in Bulgaria and within the year the communist party in Czechoslovakia seized a
monopoly of political power119
Titos demands for Trieste, his funnelling of support to the Greek communists, and his
shooting down of two US transport planes in August 1946 were among the actions that
the western powers readily but erroneously assumed were orchestrated by Stalin 120

114 Resis in Reynolds, The Origins of the Cold War; The European Dimension, 1944-1951, The Historical
Journal, Volume 28, Number 2, p513

115 Wallace in Vital Speeches, XII, Oct 1 1946, 738-41, in Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the
Cold War 1941-1947, p339

116 Lafeber, America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-1996, p12
117 Origins of the Cold War: The Novikov, Kennan and Roberts Long Telegrams of 1946, United States Institute
of Peace, 1991, in Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p103

118 Soviet transcript of the London Meeting, in Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold war, p96
119 Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, p273
18

The Trieste Affair of May-June 1945 exposed an erratic trend in Stalins foreign policy 121
Stalin not only revealed an inclination to defer important decisions, but also proved ready
to go back on choices already made 122Stalin = wait and see attitude, then he told the
Italians to back down, then he told Tito to back down Soviet behaviour during the
Trieste crisis in May 1945 suggested that Stalin was not actively seeking to expand the
geopolitical area under Soviet control123
Joseph E. Davies the altruistic impulse among American public men which insists upon
a perfect structure of World Peace failed to take into account such obvious facts of life as
Russian insistence on friendly governments in Eastern Europe, British requirements for
control of important sea-lanes, and even American demands for postwar strategic bases
in the Pacific124

The debate on the impact of World War II/post-war conferences


Yalta as for the countries of Eastern Europe, the Allies were step by step agreeing to the
introduction of Soviet influence there125
Kolko disagrees with the conclusion that Roosevelt gave at least his de facto assent to
the percentages agreement126Churchill did not speak for the Americans, Stalin was
aware that his conversation with Churchill would mean little even if he could trust the
Englishman. Churchill too was aware of his limited freedom and powers in regard to the
Americans. Any agreement was bound to be worthless127
By the end of 1943, the President had indicated to the Russians that they could count on
a free hand in Eastern EuropeThe American people, having been led by the Presidents
own rhetoric to expect self-determination everywhere, reacted angrily when the Soviet
Union proceeded to extract territorial concessions from its neighboursAmericans came
to regard Stalin as an aggressor with unlimited ambitions 128

120 Reynolds, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p168
121 Mastny, in Pons, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p211
122 Pons, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p211
123 Pons, in Leffler and Painter, Origins of the Cold War, p211
124 Drury, Senate Journal, in Gaddis, J, The United States and Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p156
125 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p34
126 Leigh, Is there a revisionist thesis on the origins of the Cold War? American Historical Review, p109
127 Kolko, in Leigh, Is there a revisionist thesis on the origins of the Cold War? American Historical Review,
p110

19

The impact of World War II/post-war conferences the evidence


Truman if the Russians lived up to their agreements that they made at Yalta, there
wouldnt be any trouble at all, but they didnt; they never lived up to an agreement they
made ever129
Stalin left Yalta doubtless believing his allies had at least acquiesced to his domination
over Eastern Europe130
Much of the advice from the State Department as well as the Foreign Office was that
Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe would have to be acceptedthis theme, running
through a number of the American paper prepared for the Yalta and Potsdam meetings,
has been neglected by the revisionists131
From the Council of Foreign Minister Meetings in Washington and London, there emerged
a chorus of assurances that the two governments accepted Russias need for friendly
regimes on its borders132
Roosevelt did persuade Stalin to sign a declaration on Liberated Europe which
reaffirmed the principles of the Atlantic Charter and called for the formation of provisional
governments in Eastern Europe Roosevelts reluctance to apply the declaration less
than two weeks after Yalta when the Russians imposed a puppet government on Rumania
doubtless indicated to Moscow that the President did not expect literal compliance with
the terms of the agreements133
Senator Wheeler warned that the Declaration on Liberated Europe was a rhetorical
gesture which would in no way prevent Russian control of Eastern Europe 134
Yalta West acknowledged that the Soviet Union was entitled to a preeminent role in
Eastern Europe135

128 Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p134
129 Truman quoted by Miller in Varsori in Westad, Reviewing the Cold War, p284
130 Lafeber, America, Russian and the Cold War, 1945-1996, p13
131 Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p586
132 Thomas, in Richardson, Cold War Revisionism, p585
133 Feis in Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-47, p164
134 Congressional Record, Feb 26 1945, p1470, in Gaddis, J, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War
1941-47, p166

135 Zubok, V and Pleshakov, C, Inside the Kremlins Cold War, p33
20

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