BW – Cominform and the Takeover of Eastern Europe

The Paris Negotiations

The Paris Negotiations was a conference called for by the British and the French, and was later joined, and left again, by the USSR. It concerned the acceptance of US aid. The USSR wanted the finiacal aid with no strings attached, while the UK and France argued for a joint spending programme. THe Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov rejected this, as he believed it would undermine Soviet influence in Eastern Europe by encouraging western ideas like free trade. This caused the Soviets to withdraw from the negotiations.

This pleased the UK’s Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin as he did not want the Soviets obstructing talks with the USA, he also observed this was the beginning on the Western Bloc, and alliance of Western Europe and the USA.

When detailed negotiations began, 16th July, the Eastern European states were prevented from attending by Stalin.

Negotiations were difficult as each state had their own national interests in mind principally. In the end, national ‘shopping lists’ were created, each state essentially drawing up a list of what it wanted. This came to a cost of 27 billion dollars.

Stalin’s Response

Marshall Aid was condemned by the Soviets, and was called “Dollar Imperialism”, by Foreign Minister Molotov, meaning in layman’s terms, that the USA was attempting to take control and influence over other states through wealth.

The Soviets set up the Communist Information Bureau, Cominform in Sept 1947. The job of this body was to promote ideological unity among the Eastern Bloc states. Main maims were to co-ordinate and activities of Communist Parties throughout the world and to complete the Sovietisation (making their government system in line with the Soviet model, authoritarian and centralised power) of the satellite states.

He also created The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, COMECON, in 1949. Initially the organisation existed in name only, but its main task was to increase economic integration between the states.

Stalin responded to Marshall Aid by increasing the control he had over the states of Eastern Europe, he acted against coalition governments in the sphere of influence, and created Cominform and COMECON.

He also kept divisions of the Red army in Eastern European states, as both a threat and a way of keeping control.

This increased his influence over Eastern Europe, and better enabled him to take control of much of it. The military presence allowed them to arrest opposition to the Communist Party in Hungary in Spring ’49,  and generally act in a way to force his will upon the states in his sphere of influence, like rigging the Polish Elections of 1947, which the UK and USA could not intervene in as Poland was within the Soviet sphere of influence.

The Takeover of Eastern Europe

As mentioned previously, the USSR used organisations like Coninfrom, and military presence to enforce his authority in the region. 2

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