87. Editorial Note

According to reports from the Yugoslav Government and other sources, the Soviet Union sent a circular on September 3 to its Eastern European satellites denying Marshal Tito’s status as a bona fide Communist, warning the satellites not to follow the Yugoslav example too closely, and attacking Yugoslav foreign policy as pro-Western. No official statement of this warning was released by the Soviet Union or the satellites. (Soviet Affairs, October 1956, page 1; Department of State, INR Files)

Seemingly as a consequence of the deterioration of Soviet-Yugoslav relations, First Secretary Khrushchev suddenly went to Yugoslavia on September 17 for an 8-day stay which included discussions with Tito. The Khrushchev visit was officially described as “of a private nature for the purpose of rest,” although some U.S. officials believed there was much more to the trip, as evidenced by the following extract from the briefing on “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security,” by Acting Director of Central Intelligence Cabell at the 297th meeting of the National Security Council, September 20:

“General Cabell then turned to the subject of Khrushchev’s current ‘vacation’ in Yugoslavia. There were various speculations on the reasons for this visit. It was thought, for example, that the Soviet leaders were considerably worried about the rate at which some of the Soviet satellites, notably Poland, were proceeding along the course which would lead to national communism. They were inclined to blame Tito for the rapidity of these developments and Khrushchev may have gone to Yugoslavia to warn Tito about the dangers inherent in this course. Tito in turn may use the Khrushchev visit in an effort to get commitments from the Soviet leaders on the timing and speed of the movement toward greater independence for the Soviet satellites.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman Papers, NSC Records)

Speculation was further excited when Tito flew to the Crimea on September 27 to continue his discussions with Khrushchev, Chairman Bulganin, other Soviet leaders, and First Secretary of the Hungarian Workers’ Party Gerö. Cabell briefed the National Security Council on these visits during his discussion of “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security,” at the 298th meeting, September 28, as follows:

“General Cabell then said he had a few remarks on the alleged split among Soviet policy makers regarding the problem of Marshal Tito. To everyone’s surprise we had learned that Tito had flown back to Moscow [Yalta?] with Khrushchev who had been Tito’s guest for a few days in Yugoslavia. Following this development there had been a flood of intelligence material alleging new and serious rifts over the Yugoslav problem among the Soviet leaders. It was the burden of [Page 243] many of these reports that Khrushchev was now completely isolated in support of the new and more liberal approach to Yugoslavia. Certain Yugoslav sources were insisting that Khrushchev’s opponents are arguing that Tito’s policies are dangerously weakening the control of the USSR over its satellites. Whatever the precise truth of all these rumors, General Cabell said that the CIA believed that recently Soviet policy toward the satellites had given rise to concern and that the Soviet leaders believed they will now have to shift their course and again tighten their controls. On the other hand, General Cabell pointed out that Bulganin and Mikoyan had been at least as closely associated with the new policy of liberalism toward the satellites as Khrushchev himself. Accordingly, General Cabell was inclined to doubt if there existed any genuine crisis in the top Soviet leadership.” (Ibid. )