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COMINFORM Communist Information Bureau

In June 1943 the Communist International ostensibly was officially dissolved. The dissolution was hailed as a step in promoting better relations between the allied nations. Apparently overlooked was the fact that in 1941 and 1942 a host of organizations had been set up in Moscow on an international scale to take over in a different field the work of front organizations. All had tie-ups in the United States.

For example, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee organized in September 1941 had direct connections in the United States and its Secretary, Shachno Epstein, who had spent many years in the United States was still wanted on a passport charge in New York. The Pan Slav Committee of Moscow, parent organization of the communist-controlled American Slav Congress which was established in April 1942 in the United States, was another. Likewise, the Free Germany Committee and various intellectual bodies.

The official journal, The Communist International, was replaced by War and the Working Class and a number of press associations set up to cover the world, the Inter-Continent News having been the intermediary in this hemisphere. The contents of these Soviet journals were cabled promptly and prepaid to the various communist parties, which accepted the line laid down in those journals as directions for their own activities. These articles were also promptly reprinted in the official press of these parties, presumably in accordance with the former instructions of the Communist International to publish all decisions, and were accepted by Party members as directions. At the same time the various Soviet Embassies began publication of bulletins principally of a propaganda nature which featured the aims and activities of these front organizations.

Thus the dissolution of the Communist International was anticipated by the setting up of propaganda agencies which were well-received in quarters which the Communist International never could penetrate.

But the dissolution was more a shadow than substance. In looking through the fiction to the reality, it was found that no former sections of the Communist International went out of business, on the contrary they became far more active on a larger scale. It was not long before some foreign members of the Communist International were publicized as the logical leaders of their countries when liberated.

In no country after the dissolution of the Communist International was there ever a deviation in loyalty by a communist party towards the Soviet Union. Their primary allegiance was still to the Soviet Union in whose interest all questions, political and military, were considered. In the United States and Great Britain the central theme after the dissolution still remained the agitation for an immediate opening of the Second Front with the customary aspersions on military leaders for lack of leadership and imputations of bad faith of political leaders.

In 1946, the Italian Communists won 48 percent of the vote and the French Communists, 46 percent of the vote. In 1947 the postwar cooperation between the Soviet Union and the West collapsed, marking for some the beginning of the Cold War. Having seen communist parties seize power in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia and a communist insurgency threaten Greece, the Western powers dedicated themselves to containing Soviet influence. In May 1947 communists were expelled from the governments of Italy and France, and a month later the United States promulgated the Marshall Plan for the economic reconstruction of Europe, which was appealing to the to East European governments.

After the dissolution of the Comintern, Colonel General Andrei A. Zhdanov advocated the establishment of a new international Communist organization. In 1946, there was reportedly, a divergence of views in the Politburo regarding; the character of the new organization. Zhdanov advocated an organizational concept that would allow for specific differences in the methods to be applied in different foreign countries. Zhdanov illustrated his position by the Yugoslav example. He publicly labelled Yugoslavia as the most advanced Peoplets Democracy. Dimitrov, the world-known Comintern Functionary, supported Zhdanovls views.

Zhdanov was considered an "aristocrat of the Party" and one of the best bralns in the Soviet hierarchy, thouh he was said to be reckless. Zhdanov is said to have been a fanatic Communist, and to have believed that it was possible to make striking advances internationally through foreign Communist Parties, particularly in France and Italy. Specifically, he is said to have been responsible for the organization of the Cominform in September 1947, a foreign policy move which at the minimum was intended to sabotage the Marshall Plan but which was also intended to launch the French and Italian Parties into revolutionary action to seize power.

The writings of Marx claim that industrial (called capitalistic by Marx) nations had alternate booms and depressions; that booms are caused by large exports or markets, and depressions by lack of exports and markets. His remedy is communism, where government, ownership will insure uniform production and uniform distribution. This method will work in a closed economy, provided that a uniform standard of life is accepted. In practice as shown by the experience of Russia, and that under way in England, it meant a low standard of life. The doctrine of alternate booms and depressions was accepted in Russia. Its leaders had for two years [1945-1947] been predicting a coming depression in the United States. They have been hoping that when this came the United States would be so embarrassed that it would cease to be a major Power.

The only fault in this argument is that there hadn't been any depression, or sign of depression, within the United States since World War II. This was very disappointing; something had to be done about it. This turned out to be a political activity, not involving formal war, to detach west Europe from the American trade zones. Not only would this, if successful, result in the loss by the United States of the $7 billion yearly gifts, but also of about the same amount of goods which have been paid for. This great reduction in trade might start an economic disaster; it seemed worth trying.

Secretary of State General Marshall, in his Harvard speech of 5 June, 1947, invited the European nations including Russia and its satellites to arrange an economic program to assist one another. There followed the Paris Conference, in which Russia and its satellites refused to take part. Sixteen west European nations were present. They submitted their report and request for United States aid on 22 September 1947.

Stalin feared a weakening of the Soviet Union's grip on Eastern Europe. Anticommunist forces in the region remained potent, and most of the communist governments were unpopular. In addition, East European parties began taking positions independent of Moscow; for example, communists in the Polish and Czechoslovak governments favored participation in the Marshall Plan, and Yugoslavia and Bulgaria broached the idea of a Balkan confederation. By September Stalin had abandoned gradualism and reversed his earlier advocacy of independent, "national roads to socialism." He now pushed for tighter adherence to Moscow's line and rapid establishment of Soviet-dominated communist states. The policy shift was indicated in September 1947 at the founding meeting of the Cominform, an organization linking the Soviet communist party with the communist parties of Eastern Europe, France, and Italy.

The plan to accomplish this was part of the latest Russian Plan, approved at Moscow on 2 September 1947. This called for the reconstitution of the Comintern, renamed the Communist Information Bureau, whose first mission would be to overthrow the existing governments in France and Italy and replace them with communists. These two countries are the largest in west Europe, with the greatest populations and the best industrial plants. Their location strategically is such that if occupied the American line of communications to the eastern Mediterranean would be threatened. Germany would be encircled on three sides. It would be impossible to defend Germany under those conditions. The small states of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland would be unable to maintain their independence. Spain and Portugal might be defended, provided necessary measures are taken in time. Even Scandinavia would be in danger, and this possibility has been feared by the General Staff of Sweden.

At the founding conference of the Cominform in September 1947, Zhdanov supported the Yugoslav delegates in their criticism of the backward policies of other Communist Parties, especislly the French and Italian, and in general indicated his approval of the policies of the Yugoslav Communists. Tito, however, was proving to be less than completely obedient, and in 1948 Stalin decided that it was necessary to take disciplinary action. After negotiations laeting four months, characterized by efforts of Stalin and Molotov to intimidate and split the Yugoslav Politburo, it became necessary to apply the extreme sanction against Tito: excommunication from the Communist fold.

On 22 October 1947, Colonel General Andrei A. Zhdanov, then member of the Russian Polit Bureau and Secretary-General of the Russian Communist Party, issued a declaration of Russian policy. This charged that the United States was seeking "world domination through American imperialism . . . [through] a new imperialistic war against socialism and democracy and by supporting reactionary and anti-democratic pro-Fascist regimes everywhere." Zhdanov listed the peace-loving democracies as consisting solely of Russia and its satellite states, less Finland-considered as partly Fascist. India, Egypt, and Syria were probable new members, while the revolutionists in Indo-China and Indonesia were expected to join. All other states throughout the world were charged as in "preparation for new military adventures" under American domination.

This allegation corresponded with similar statements made by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Y. Vishinsky before the United Nations on 18 September; by the Communist Information Bureau on 5 October; by other Russian officials; and extensively by the Russian press.

Against the supposed threat of a new and fearful war against the peace-loving democratic states of Russia and its satellites, General Zhdanov announced that Russia would take the lead to oppose the United States. He called upon all communists in the world to join in the battle. To start the campaign, he said that "the USSR will put all effort in seeing that the Marshall Plan is not realized." Previously the Communist Information Bureau (new name for the Comintern) had on 27 September and 5 October 1947 issued statements announcing the organization of the communist states to combat alleged American efforts to start a new war. The first objective was to secure France and Italy. This was to be done by 5th Column activities designed to replace the existing national governments with communists. Thereby the friendly contact of these two states with the Anglo-Saxon Powers would be broken, and in lieu thereof close cooperation arranged with Russia. It was believed this objective could be gained during the winter of 1947-48.

Russia's open avowal that it would do all it could to break the Marshall Plan, and at the same time seek to produce revolutions in Italy and France, are unprecedented actions for a Power to take in times of peace. A delicate situation had consequently arisen.

The advantages to Russia included stopping American exports to Europe to the extent of the $7 billion furnished yearly during 1946 and 1947, and proposed for 1948. This with the hope that it will cause unemployment in the United States and help in starting an economic crisis. Second, to separate west Europe from cooperation with the United States by installing communist governments friendly to Russia, and ready to join Russia. Third, to secure control of the great industrial plants and resources of manpower in west Europe. United to the resources of Russia the combined resources and industrial plants, after reconditioning and coordination, will equal or exceed those of the United States, while the combined manpower will be vastly superior. Fourth, to secure desirable and numerous bases fronting on the Atlantic Ocean for air and naval forces.

Stalin, as is known, had little or no respect for foreign Communists and foreign Communist Partiess. He had long been distrustful and suspicious of foreign comrmmists. Thus, if a broad militant Conmmunist policy was adopted, then the presumption must be that Stalin's mistrust and skepticism had been overcome by some advocate of such a policy. Zhdanov evidently was this advocate. A militant and aggressive policy was in fact adopted. The Western Communist Parties were given the task of sabotaging the Msrshall Plan. Zhdanov bluntly stated this in his September 1947 speech.

The continuing independence of France and Italy was of major strategical importance to the United States. The effort of Russia is to deprive the United States of this advantage by political activity which involved little risk for Russia if it failed, and great gains if it succeeds. In these countries, communist parties had been operating for years, and have been in close liaison with Russia. They were both represented at the initial meeting of the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) in September 1947, and joined in the declaration that uprisings against their own national governments should be carried out this winter. From what later developed, the uprising was to take place toward mid-November.

A militant and aggressive policy was in fact adopted. The Western Communist Parties were given the task of sabotaging the Marshall Plan. Zhdanov bluntly stated this in his September 1947 speech. In 1947 the Finnish Communist Party, for no apparent reason, adopted a disruptive strike program. The Greek Comrmmists, given the chalkbge of the Truman Doctrine in March 1947, revolted in the summer and fall of 1947 and proclaimed a Goverment in December of that year. The Czech Communists seized the Government in February 1948. It is easy to believe that Zhdanov's political fortunes depended upon the success of the miltant policy. It succeeded only in Czechoslowkla, and this was a minor victory when compared with the reverses suffered.

The French Communist Party undertook violent action in November of 1947 and, until broken by the French army, almost succeeded in paralyzing the government and the economy. The French government was at first not vigorous. On the 12th of November serious communist riots started in Marseille and Naples. They were on the same pattern - strikes of port employees to tie up imports. There was considerable violence and some slight initial successes for the communists. A few days later the strikes were extended in France to coal mining and industrial areas and in Italy to industrial cities. The French Communist Party on 14 November issued a declaration stating they were opposing collusion with the United States, and would proceed to greater violence if necessary. Strikes by government employees in France stopped railroad traffic and public services. For some days the situation looked serious. Making no headway against the communists, the French government on 21 November resigned. A new government under M. Robert Schuman was formed. It ordered troops to suppress disorders, and authorized them to use ball ammunition if necessary, which had the necessary effect.

The Italian Party undertook similar action, but wlth much less seccess. The Italian government took vigorous steps to quell the communists. The strength of the MPs (Carabinieri) was increased by 10,000 by transfers from other military organizations. This Italy was entitled to do under her peace treaty. Energetic action was taken in Italy. Communist demonstrations now fell off. On 9 December 1947, the communists acknowledged defeat by calling off strikes and disorders in both France and Italy.

The fact that the communist uprisings followed the same pattern and occurred between the same dates in both Italy and France pointed to a common origin. Whether this was a joint plan adopted at the September 1947 meeting which reconstituted the Comintern, or whether it was pursuant to orders issued later, was not immediately known. The important fact was that the communists were decisively beaten in all areas in which they operated. According to reports from private correspondents the majority of members of the French Communist Party joined to secure better social conditions-particularly higher wages to meet the increased cost of living. They did not join to further the policies of Russia. A return of French citizens to other political parties on a rather large scale was reported.

In February 1948, the Czechoslovak Communist Party succeeded in seizing power; the impetus for this was attributed to Zhdanov. In 1947 the Finnish Communist Party, for no apparent reason, adopted a disruptive strike program. The Greek Comrmmists, given the challenge of the Truman doctrine in March 1947, revolted in the summer and fall of 1947 and proclaimed a Government in December of that year. The Czech Communists seized the Government in February 1948. To believe that Zhdanov's political fortunes depended upon the success of the miltant policy. It succeeded only in Czechoslowkla, and this was a minor victory when compared with the reverses suffered.

The failure of the communist parties in France and Italy was a decided setback for Russia's adopted mission to break the Marshall Plan. When Stalin was living, the Soviet Union's approach to fraternal parties and fraternal countries was one of great-nation chauvinism, and the most prominent example of this was its decision in 1948 with regard to the Yugoslav question. Within the socialist camp, the Yugoslav comrades were the first to resist the Soviet Union's great-nation chauvinism and defend their own nation's independence; and the Yugoslav comrades were the first to criticize the existing malpractices in the Soviet Union's model of building socialism, to find the specific path for Yugoslavia's building of socialism, and set a precedent for the struggle model of building socialism.

Stalin held Zhdanov responsible for the various reverses in Soviet policy, in particular the Yugoslav defection. Zhdanov's death on 31 August 1948 signalled the end of the so-called Zhdanov period. There were numerous rumors and much speculation that Zhdanov was murdered. This speculation was revfved and given added impetus by the so-called Doctor's Plot of January 1953.

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Page last modified: 30-10-2017 10:47:47 ZULU