OI – Paris Negotiations, Stalin’s Reaction to Marshall Aid, COMECON/COMINFORM, Soviet Takeover of the East

The Paris Peace Negotiations was held on 29/07/1947 to the 15/10/1947. Those who attended were the allied powers–America, USSR, Britain and France. The aim of the conference was to put into action the Marshall Plan, to help aid Europe from falling into poverty and under the influence of communism as a result. Stalin was suspicious of US offer of aid. He believed that Truman actually was only interested in in interfering in the domestic affairs of the European states.

Stalin’s reaction to the Marshall aid was a typical one.  The foreign minister of the Soviet, Molotov, set up a meeting with the leaders of the Western Powers, Britain and France, to discuss the Marshall Plan. Molotov made clear the Soviets rejection of the aid that the USA were offering to the war-torn Europe. Molotov’s first objection was that the Marshall plan would be aiding Germany, the Soviets refused to accept this as Germany was the state’s wartime enemy in not only the recent world war but also the previous one. Germany had devastated Soviet land and Stalin did not tolerate this. Secondly, Molotov was adamant in demanding that the Soviet Union have complete control and freedom of action over any Marshall Plan funds Germany might receive. Finally, the Foreign Minister wanted to know precisely how much money the United States would give to each nation. When the British and French representatives did not reveal this information, Molotov stormed out of the meeting on July 2. Stalin had also set up Cominform in response to the Marshall Plan. He forbade countries who were run by Cominform, those governed by communist parties, to accept the aid that the Marshall plan offered. The USSR claimed that the marshall aid set up by the US was “a plan for interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.” Molotov denounced the plan as ‘’dollar imperialism’’, he saw it as being no more than a capitalist tool to promote American influence over Europe–including the West, where Stalin had quite clearly marked as his territory, his sphere of influence. Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) was set up in 1949 and it co-ordinated industries and trade of Eastern Europe. The idea of it was to trade with each other and not the West, building one another’s economy without the hands of the West. Comecon favoured USSR produced goods and guaranteed a cheap supply of raw materials for the USSR.

Stalins takeover of Eastern Europe was achieved by using salami tactics, where opposition was being rid of, slowly yet steadily, in the process of slicing a salami. In Poland (1947) – a coalition government took power in 1945, but Stalin arrested all the non-Communist leaders in 1945, and the Communists forced the other non-Communists into exile. In Hungary (1947) – Hungary was invaded by the Russians, and in 1945 the allies agreed that Russian troops should stay there. Stalin allowed elections, in which the non-communists won a big majority. However, some communists were elected, led by a pro-Russian called Rakosi. Rakosi now started demanding that groups which opposed him should be banned. If not, he hinted, the Russians would take over the country. Then he got control of the police, and started to arrest his opponents. He set up a sinister and brutal secret police unit, the AVO. By 1947 Rakosi had complete control over Hungary. In Czechoslovakia (1945–48) – a left-wing coalition was elected in 1945. In 1948, the Communists banned all other parties and killed their leaders. In Romania (1945–1947) – a left-wing coalition was elected in 1945; the Communists gradually took over control.

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