Key Facts & Summary:
- The members of Cominform were communist parties of France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
- The main intention of the Cominform was to coordinate actions of the communist parties under Soviet direction.
- Every communist party in Europe joined and this allowed Stalin to control communists in Europe,
Between September 22nd and 27th, 1947, the constituent meeting of the Cominform (Information Bureau of the Communist Parties) was held in Poland. Neither by the tasks, it has set itself nor by the structures, it has set itself, this new body, which defines itself as a forum for coordinating and exchanging experiences, can not be considered as new. international. Restricted body, consisting initially of nine member parties (Soviet, Yugoslav, Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Czechoslovak, French and Italian), then eight following the ousting of the Yugoslav Communist Party, the Cominform never received in the course of its existence new memberships. Européocentriste, this organization had to remain small to preserve more manoeuvrability and for a more efficient centralization. Its members were to be communist parties, which were assured that they would safeguard the monolithism of the communist movement: the communist parties of Eastern Europe entered the Soviet zone of influence and the strongest parties of Europe of the ‘Where is.
The Cominform was an international organization of communist parties. It is the abbreviation of “Information Bureau of Communist and Workers’ Parties”. It was created in October 1947 by 9 Communist Parties, 7 of which were in power in their respective countries: the U.S.S., Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, the other two being French and Italian. The Cominform was dissolved in April 1956, after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR and the wave of de-Stalinization that followed. The Cominform is one of the instruments of the Cold War.
The aim of the Cominform is to make the unity of thought and action between the countries where the Communist Party had a very important place in the government and the communist parties of the other countries of liberal democracy (France and Italy) where the communists had a large number of voters and elected officials. Let us note that the Chinese Communist Party (yet at the door of power in China) and the Vietnamese Communist Party which then fights against the French in Indochina are not members.
The Cominform is set up to deal with the block of Western countries that the United States sought to create by the Truman doctrine (March 1947) and the Marshall Plan (June 1947). It is very quickly becoming the tool of the close control of the countries led by communists and European communist parties by the PC of the USSR and its leader Joseph Stalin.
The circumstances of the creation of the Cominform:
The Cominform took over from the Comintern or Communist International which had been dissolved by Stalin in May 1943 in order to facilitate the relations of the USSR and its allies (the United States and the United Kingdom) in its struggle against Nazi Germany.
Since 1945, the USSR has greatly expanded its influence in Eastern Europe. Many countries have been liberated from the German army by the Red Army, which is still stationed there despite the end of the fighting. This is the case in Poland, eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. In these countries, the communist parties are in the government where they are in charge of important ministries that they share with puppet parties or with “bourgeois” parties as in Czechoslovakia. In the Balkans, Yugoslavia and Albania who have liberated themselves are led by communist governments. In Western Europe, taking advantage of their participation in the resistance against the Nazi occupation or the governments of collaboration the French and Italian Communist parties are very influential, they have positions of ministers in governments of coalitions with the socialist parties and the democratic parties Christians, they have many deputies and lead many locaBut the situation changes in 1947. In March, Harry Truman, President of the United States, under pressure from criticism by the Republican Party, in anticipation of his re-election as President (November 1948), proposes to help the “peoples free of Europe “. It is a question of being able to face a possible advance of the Soviet troops towards the west, but also to repress attempts of internal upheavals organized by the communists. This is the Truman doctrine or “containment”. In France and Italy, countries that accept American aid, Communists are forced to leave the government (May 1947 in France).
For the United States, the considerable influence of the Communists is due to the great economic and social difficulties of the population, which are the result of the destruction of the war and the looting of occupied Europe by the Germans. Also on June 5th, the United States proposes a massive financial and economic aid to the various governments of all the countries of Europe (including the USSR) in order to relieve Europe of its ruins, to provide work and goods of consumption to the population. It’s the Marshall Plan. Of course, this support supposes the maintenance of the capitalist economic system in these countries and the restoration of liberal democracy with several political parties and free elections. These conditions are opposed to the ideas of the USSR and European communists. The governments of the countries of Eastern Europe refuse this economic aid because of its political counterparts (July 1947). The Czechoslovak government that wanted to accept is forced to refuse.
At the end of September, the European communist parties meet in Poland. Andrey Zhdanov, Stalin’s right-hand man, defines the division of the world into two enemy camps: the “imperialist camp” led by the United States and the “democratic and anti-imperialist camp” grouped around the USSR. The Communists decided to create the Cominform (October 5, 1947).
The action of the Cominform
The participation of the European Communist parties in the Cominform, their duty to report regularly on their actions places them in inferiority vis-à-vis the PC of the USSR and Stalin. In their own countries, they must apply the directives coming from the direction of the kominfom. They are vassalized.
The break with the other parties of the left
In the nascent context of the Cold War, the hominem orders the European CPs to break the national fronts where they were allied to socialist parties. Most often the socialist parties are absorbed by the local PC, in order to create a single party, as in the USSR. Socialist activists who refuse this absorption are arrested tried. In Czechoslovakia, the only country in Eastern Europe that had a democratic tradition before the Second World War, the Socialists are trying to resist. But through the workers’ demonstrations that it organizes, the Czechoslovak PC manages to eliminate the socialist ministers and to claim all the powers. (1948)
The purge of communist parties
To ensure the loyalty of local communist leaders, the Cominform purifies the communist parties. Activists and leaders who had had a revolutionary past before the war, who had participated in the Spanish Civil War, who had made resistance against the German occupation army, at home or in a foreign country, are considered dangerous. Having experienced a different political environment than Stalinism, they can be critical of what they see in their country and become oppositional kernels to established Stalin leaders.
The local secret service, supported by the experienced Soviet service, will search their past to try to discover traces of independence of spirit or action deemed useful at the time but are no longer in agreement with the current directives imposed by Stalin. They are accused of elitism, Trotskyism, “petty-bourgeois” deviationism, to be agents of the American secret service, or of Zionism; there is often a strong hint of anti-Semitism in the accusations (at the same time the State of Israel is born in Palestine) … Their family environment, their relations are blamed. Many are arrested, subjected for months to moral torture, otherwise physical to make them crack and accept any accusation to finally have peace. Amazing trials are being held in which communist militants with a recognized revolutionary and communist past are accused of having always been traitors, demanding pardon from the party and demanding punishment for their past. The leaders of the communist parties are eliminated: in Bulgaria Kostov, in Poland Gomulka (sidelined) in Czechoslovak Slanky (executed). Thousands of executives suffer the same fate. Only the leaders of the local PCs remain supporters of Stalinism (often waiting for their own subsequent elimination)
The Yugoslav case
In Yugoslavia, the Cominform fails to eliminate Tito, who is crowned by leading the Yugoslav resistance to the German occupation. Moreover, Tito liberated the country without the help of the Soviet Red Army, and it does not occupy the country unlike the other countries of Eastern Europe. At the end of the war, Tito imposed in his country, a political and economic system copied on that of the USSR, but he refuses to comply with the directives of Stalin. The Cominform tries to eliminate Tito by conspiracies within the Yugoslav army, government, communist party. In vain, Tito manages to thwart them and gets rid of his opponents brutally. Then the Cominform condemns this Yugoslav communism (titism) and warns the “brother parties” who would like to imitate it.