in july 1947, 16 western European countries meant in paris to negotiate the marshall plan, including turkey and Greece. eastern European countries were invited but were prevented from attending by stalin. bevin was pleased with russias exit from the talks because this would allow not obstruction from stalin with America’s talks. the meetings were difficult as all nations had their own belief as to what should be done in Europe economically, france wanting more us aid than bizonia and Britain wanting to protect it. they decided that there would be cooperation on the development of hydroelectric power, the german economy was declared essential and 16 states promised to liberalise trade.
the Russian foreign minister declared marshall aid dollar imperialism, a device the americans would use to gain control in Europe. cominform was set up to create ideological unity in eastern Europe by the Russians. COMECON (mutual economic assistance) was created to counter the marshall plan by the Russians in the 1950s, but never amounted to much affect. stalin saw marshall aid as an anti-communist movement by the west, fearing that it might weaken his ideological hold in eastern Europe. politicians became more stalin-like, economies became more soviet in eastern Europe to counter act the marshall plan and a five year plan was introduced to revive the economies. all armies of the eastern states were also placed under control of Moscow and issued with equipment from Russia. these methods allowed stalin to spread communism more freely and with little opposition, indoctrinating the eastern bloc to communism. keeping the economies at a lower level meant that people were more inclined to support the radical views of communism, as shown by marshall’s studies.
soviet takeover of eastern Europe:
Poland: to deflect criticism of his polish policy, he allowed the former leader of the government in exile in London, mikolajczyk to join. however, he needed to ensure that there were no free elections in Poland so that the communists were guaranteed power. he therefore banned mikolajczyk’s party from running. to assert his power, stalin used terror to gain votes.
Hungary: the elections of nov 1945 were free, debate in parliament was free and the press was free as well. soviet influence was guaranteed because stalin was head of the allied control commission which ruled hungary, so insisted on a communist coalition government.
Czechoslovakia: there were free elections in may 1946 which elected the communist party to power. Czech cabinet voted to attend the paris conference but were banned by stalin from attending.
Yugoslavia: communists were elected without any soviet influence. tito attempted revolution as a communist sovereign state and split from stalin in 1948
Romania: no strong political opposition so communists took power quickly. electoral bloc was formed between communists, socialists and even the opposition, winning 80% of the vote.
Bulgaria: forced the communist government to accept 2 members of the opposition to keep the west satisfied in 1945. they attempted to challenge the communists and won one third of the vote in oct 1946. however, this was a frontline communist state that needed to be defended so stalin allowed the communists to liquidate the competition.
Baltic states: sovietisation was used to enforce communist values and institutions in these states. attacks on their national culture weakened their national identity. stalin deported many who opposed their economic policies. in march 1949, 90000 Baltic nationals were branded enemies of the people and deported to Siberia.