800.00B Communist International/12–349: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State


3004. General impression of Soviet appraisal their position and prospects as reflected Cominform Communiqué (Embtel 2961 November 291) reinforces estimate based tenor Stalin’s telegram to Pieck2 and Malenkov’s November 6 speech,3 namely that Soviets again tend believe as they did mistakenly in 1947 that tide of world events is running in their favor; hence they are mobilizing all forces to reap maximum revolutionary harvest expected as sequel to World War II. In this context, while overthrow of Tito appears as important immediate objective, primary long-range objective in Europe is of course Germany, with strong supporting action in other countries, especially France and Italy (notes special attention given by Communiqué to winning Catholic workers). At same time Communiqué highlights important developments over which Soviets are especially concerned: (1) Tito situation; (2) Communist labor losses as exemplified by London contest ICFTU;4 (3) NAT; and (4) Western Union.

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Grounds of Soviet confidence are alleged strengthening of “Socialist” camp, weakening of “Imperialist” camp. Among contributing causes Embassy believes special importance attached in Soviet thinking to China victory and to “gathering economic crisis” in non-Communist countries (which probably long awaited as major factor in Soviet strategic timing). Significant that such crisis was alluded to, though less positively, by both Zhdanov and Molotov in 1947 (at original Cominform meeting and on November 6, respectively5) whereas not mentioned in November 6 speeches 1946 and 19486 (Zhdanov, Molotov). China victory means enormous change in pictures since 1947. Hence 1949 Cominform Communiqué and November 6 speech by Malenkov express highest point Soviet aggressive confidence since end of war. Communiqué uses somewhat less bellicose language than Malenkov speech, but this probably due difference of occasion, not change of view; 1947 Cominform Communiqué shows similar difference from November 6 speech.

High tide of Communist world hopes plus usual Communist strategy combatting developments their [they] dislike with shrill propaganda probably dual reasons why Communiqué issued at this time. Tactical factors in timing may have been London World Labor Conference and recent taunts from Belgrade that Cominform of no account, organized solely against Tito (Belgrade’s despatch 332 September 27 and telegram 994 to Department September 267). Meeting presumably explains recent rumors of secret gathering at Galyateto (Budapest’s 1297 to Department November 188). Fact of meeting suggests Cominform organization will be maintained at least for immediate future rather than changed into revived Comintern (Embassy’s A-320 March 289).

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Content of resolutions offers no radical surprises but analysis nevertheless useful for clues to overt aspects of Communist operations. General pattern conforms to regular prescription for building Communist power pyramid: CP directs working class (this is what “unity” means) which in turn is dominant element in rallying masses for “peace”. Strategic significance of “peace” drive plainly indicated as furnishing mass base for (a) revolution in ripe countries, (b) crippling “Imperialist” intervention by remainder. Bolsheviks have never forgotten that mass craving for peace made possible their original seizure of power. Fact that parties stimulated to mobilize mass base suggests Soviets anticipate opportunities for successful revolution may ripen by time mobilization reaches peak. Similar mobilization within working class indicated by drive for “unity”. Play for Catholic workers cleverly put in terms of degree collaboration which is not banned by Pope.

1949 Communiqué, unlike 1947, plainly indicates how drives for peace and unity intended to take revolutionary turn—note especially paragraph in resolution 2 about “solution of problems confronting proletariat as class directing struggle for elimination power of monopoly capital”. Mention of effects of economic crisis, capitalist depression of workers’ living standard, Fascist infringement of democratic liberties indicates factors to be exploited in heightening class war. Call for “unity from below” isolating Rightist Social-Democrats from masses indicates further stress on classic tactics of “united front from below” (Paris 5006 to Department November 3010) generally used until mid-1930’s and revived after Hitler threat eliminated. Note reference to struggle for governments of national unity in captialist countries, meaning Communist participation in governments as in first stage of people’s democracies.

Army, Navy, Air, Attachés jointly view Communiqué, not withstanding China situation, as stemming from a feeling of frustration induced by growing obstacles in the form of Marshall Plan, NAT, MAP and Tito defection which have already caused them material setbacks. Fact that Soviet plans in many respects are being effectively deflated is evident from emphasis Tito, labor “disunity,” NAT and Western Union. Tito heresy strikes at principle of Soviet-controlled World Revolution as fundamental as does increasingly manifest desertion Communist ranks by World labor forces. NAT, MAP, German Federal Republic hit their aggressive designs nearest home and in [Page 42] most vulnerable spot. Consciousness losses in Italy, France, etc. also major discouragement calling forth appropriate bombast.

However, on balance Embassy believes Communiqué displays degree optimism on World front based effect China and hope economic difficulties West not apparent intervening pronouncements since 1947. Communiqué’s warning for example, against underestimating danger of war is logically necessary prevent claims of increased strength of “peace” camp from taking edge off peace drive. Embassy trusts that their over-estimation of effect of China victory and of “economic crisis” will lead to defeats paralleling those of 1947 and 1948 (e.g. French and Italian strikes and Italian strikes and Italian elections). Economic disunity of Free World of which Soviets keenly aware seems most serious factor in their favor.

Therefore must be alert to further intensification of effort on part of Soviets and also believe that now is the time to increase our efforts further to exploit our own successes.

Please pass Defense and by pouch Belgrade.

Sent Department 3004. Department pass London 327,11 Paris 422, Frankfort 87.

  1. Representatives of the Communist (or Workers’) Parties of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Italy, and France held a meeting of the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) during the last week of November 1949 in Hungary. The representatives unanimously adopted three resolutions: “Defense of Peace and Struggle Against the Warmongers” presented by Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov, member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; “Working Class Unity and the Tasks of the Communist and Workers’ Parties” presented by Palmiro Togliatti, Secretary General of the Italian Communist Party; “The Yugoslav Communist Party in the Power of Murderers and Spies” presented by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Secretary of the Romanian Workers’ Party. English language versions of the resolutions appeared in the November 29 edition of the Cominform journal For a Lasting Peace For a Peoples’ Democracy. A copy of that text was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 490, December 10, from Bucharest, not printed (800.00B Communist International/12–1049). English translations of the Russian texts of the resolutions appearing in the Soviet press on November 29 are printed in Current Digest of the Soviet Press. January 3, 1950, pp. 10–12. A summary of the resolutions was transmitted in the telegram under reference here, not printed (800.00B Communist International/11–2949).
  2. The reference here is to the message of October 13 from Marshal Stalin to Wilhelm Pieck, Prime Minister of the newly established Communist regime in East Germany—the German Democratic Republic. For documentation on the establishment of the regime, see vol. iii, pp. 505 ff.
  3. The reference here is to the speech by Georgi Maksimilianovich Malenkov, Secretary and member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary celebration, of the Bolshevik Revolution. For the full text of Malenkov’s speech, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, November 22, 1949, pp. 1–10; for extracts from the speech, see Survey of International Affairs 1949–1950, pp. 129–139. For Embassy Moscow’s initial impressions of the Malenkov speech, see telegram 2791, November 7, from Moscow, p. 671.
  4. A new world labor federation (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) created as a democratic rival of the Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions was formally established at the international conference of trade unions held in London, November 28–December 9, 1949.
  5. Under reference here is the speech on the international situation made by Audrey Aleksandrovich Zhdanov, member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at the conference of representatives of the Communist Parties in Poland in late September 1947 at the time of the founding of the Communist Information Bureau, and the speech by Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and then Soviet Foreign Minister on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. For the full text of Zhdanov’s speech, see Informatsionnoe soveshchanie predstavitelei nekotorykh kompartii v Pol’she v kontse sentyabrya 1947 goda (Moscow: 1948), pp. 13–48; for extensive extracts from the speech, see Margaret Carlyle, Editor, Documents on International Affairs 1947–1948 (New York, London, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1952), pp. 125–137. For extracts from Molotov’s address, see ibid., pp. 141–146.
  6. For commentary by the Embassy in Moscow on Zhdanov’s speech of November 6, 1946, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vi, pp. 801802 and 804806. For extracts from Molotov’s address of November 6, 1948, see Documents on International Affairs 1947–1948, pp. 147–153.
  7. Neither printed.
  8. Not printed.
  9. Not printed. In it the Embassy in Moscow observed that it had no concrete evidence to support the rumors that Soviet leaders were planning to re-establish the prewar Communist International. The Embassy nevertheless felt that the current “two worlds” split and the substitution in Soviet ideological presentations of “Anglo-American monopoly capitalist forces” for “fascist imperialism” had overcome the reasons for the official “liquidation” of the Communist International (800.00B Communist International/3–2849).
  10. Not printed.
  11. Telegram 4880, December 8, from London, repeated to Moscow, not printed, reported that the British Foreign Office felt that the Cominform Communiqué indicated that world Communism was, on balance, in an essentially defensive posture. The Foreign Office thought that the Soviet Union overestimated the effect of the Communist victory in China. The British also felt that the current unsatisfactory economic situation in the West might passively contribute to the advantage of the West insofar as Soviet dependence on the notion of the “inevitable” faUure of capitalism made less likely Soviet initiation of positive malicious moves against the West (800.00B Communist International/12–849).