Cold War - 1945-7 What was happening behind the 'Iron Curtain'?



  • General De Gaulle - fell from power 1946. A coalition of Communist, Socialist and Christian Democrat, became the new gvt
  • March 1946 - Socialist leader went to Washington to negotiate US loan to lead FRA into Western world
  • After the Moscow Conference 1947, the Comms. are expelled from the coaliton because France aligns itself with BR and the US.
  • Initially, they remained with Socialists but Stalin ordered the, to stage violent strikes against the Marshall Plan. This persuaded the Socialists to distance themselves from the Communists and accept the pro-US policy
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  • Stalin forced the Provisional Government of Unity in June 1945 to delfect Western criticism of his Polish policy. It included Stanislav Mikolajczyk, the former leader of the gvt-in-exile.
  • Stalin could not risk free elections as the Communist Party, who was unpopular, would suffer defeat. Therefore Mikolajczyk resigned two months later, and later refused his Polish Peasants' Part from joining the communist-dominated electoral bloc. He hoped this would trigger a political crisis and force the West to intervene
  • However, POL was in the new Soviet Sphere of Influence, and therefore was unable to interfere in domestic affairs.
  • In the 1947 elections, terror and electoral rigging meant that the bloc gained 394 seats, and the Peasants' Party only gained 28.
  • Although Gomulka, leader of the Comm party was dependent on Soviet assisstance, he believed the POL could not unquestioningly follow Soviet example. Viewed Cominform with dismay, and only accepted it reluctantly under pressure. A year after that, he was removed.
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  • Post-war social revolution revolution had been carried out by a socialist-communist alliance
  • The May 1946 elections were won with 38% of the vote by the communists, without manipulation of the vote
  • The worsening Cold War (e.g. Marshall Plan, Cominfrm) created a climate where CZE acting as a bridge between the East and the West became impossible.
  • February 1948, the communists seized power.
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  • ROU's King Michael called on BR and USA not to recognise their new gvt, as it had been imposed on them by the Soviets in 1945.
  • The Prime Minister, Groza, was told by Stalin to appoint two more non-Communists to the government to please the west, but made little difference.
  • Groza's National Democratic Front party was strengthened when the Socialist party merged with Communist party (practically ensuring communist dominition of the party)
  • The Front was later extended to other socialist parties, like the National Peasant Party
  • 1646 - the Communist-dominated Front won 80% vote - terror was used, but they probably would've won without it as it represented a large amount of the population
  • In 1947 - the ACC was dissolved after signatures of the Paris Peace Treaties, and they refused Marshall Aid and joined Cominform. The King was forced to abicate, and in April 1948, a Communist Republic was declared
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  • November 1945 - elections were free, even though the Soviets could have easily influenced them
  • Two years later, the press remained free, as was debate in parliament and the borders with the west were open. However, Soviet influence was guaranteed through their domination of the ACC until the signing of the peace treaty. This allowed Stalin to insist on the Communist party participating in the coalition gvt
  • In 1947, the main communist opposition leader was arrested by Sovoets. This did not lead to an overwheming communist success though, as they only won 45% vote. By autumn, it seemed possible they may maintain some independence but was increasingly being drawn to Soviet bloc. By the end of the year, a friendship treaty was signed with YUG and a month later, so was a mutual aid treaty with the USSR.
  • As a result of this and Soviet pressures, the Hungarian communist and socialist parties merged 1948, and 1949, the Communist-dominated Hungarian People's Independence Front was formed.
  • In the elections of may 1949, only candidates from the HPIF could stand
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  • Had a unique position among the Soviet-dominated states because the communist party had won power independently from Soviet forces. The Peoples Front won 90% vote in the 1945 election, which allowed Tito to smoothly implement communist revolution based on the Stalinist model of the USSR
  • Tito's aims clashed with western policies. For example, he aided the Greek Communists in the Greek Civil Warand demanded control of territories such as Trieste.
  • USSR sympathised with claims of territory but wasn't ready to risk confrontation with the west over these claims.
  • In the end, an agreement was made at the 1947 Paris peace negotiations where Trieste was divided into two parts: one under Anglo-American control, and the other under YUG control
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  • Soviet techniques were similar in BUL, but Stalin wanted to avoid unnecessary friction with the west until the peace treaties had been signed.
  • Therefore in 1945, he forced the communist-dominated gvt to include two members of the opposition. These began to demand changes in policy, so Stalin advised the communists to develop a series of measures of smother the opposition
  • He urged the BUL Communists to set up a 'Labour Party' to win border appeal and be a 'mask for the present period'.
  • In the 1946 elections, the opposition won over one third of the votes. The Truman Doctrine and increasing US involvement meant BUL became a frontline state in defending communism. This, plus the vote results, allowed communists to liquidate the opposition.
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Italy and Finland


  • Similar to FRA, with regard to communists being part of a governing coalition
  • Though, as Stalin conceded, ITL would be part of the capitalist west as it had been liberated by them. In May 1947 communists were dismissed from the gvt


  • Its weak communist party received little help from the USSR as it seemed Stalin saw them as no real threat.
  • Finland therefore remained neutral, which was emphasised in 1947, when it refused to attend the Paris Conference on the Marshall Plan, as it wished to 'remain outside world political conflicts'. FIN would not become a Cominform member either, although it did receive financial assistance from US outside the Marhsall Plan
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