chapter  4
The Stalinist model in Eastern Europe
Pages 12

In theory, after 1945 the Communist parties were encouraged to support different national roads to Socialism which varied according to local conditions. In fact a pattern emerged across Soviet-occupied Europe. The governments or-in the ex-enemy states Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania-the Soviets got control of the commanding heights of the economy on the grounds that the former owners were Fascists or Nazi collaborators, or that such enterprises were ‘enemy property’. This enabled the Soviet Union to exploit their economies more easily, and gave the local Communists greater power of patronage.1 The Communists were ‘advised’ to join broad coalitions with other ‘anti-Fascist’ parties. This soon revealed itself to be the same strategy as that developed in the Spanish Republic-a smokescreen behind which the Communists struggled for power with the help of Soviet forces. In Poland a virtual civil war was fought between Stalin’s Polish Committee for National Liberation and the Home Army, the main resistance movement to the Nazis, supported by the government in exile in London. In 1945 the Smallholders Party won the elections in Hungary but they were forced into a renewed coalition with the Communists and Socialists. Another key step on the road to ‘People’s Democracy’ was to force through mergers of the Communists with the Social Democrats to create a ‘united working class party’. This happened in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Zone of Germany. Pseudo ‘bourgeois’ or peasant parties were also established to weaken the authentic ones as in the cases of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and the Soviet Zone of Germany.2 Everywhere trade

union federations, youth movements, women’s movements and leagues of culture were formed under Communist control. Increasingly, membership of appropriate bodies was essential to gain employment, education or advancement. But almost everywhere the Communists were easy prey for Stalin because they were ‘Soviet patriots’. They could not conceive that the Soviet system was not only imperfect but also downright criminal. Their Marxism was in most cases too weak to withstand such a discovery. The exception was Tito and most of his comrades. Stalin fell out with Tito, who had appeared a most loyal follower. Tito, supported by most of his colleagues, dared to ignore Soviet advice on what was best for Yugoslavia’s development.3