Tito Speaks

(January 1953)

From Fourth International, Vol. 14 No. 1, January–February 1953, pp. 31–32.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Vladimir Dedijer’s large volume [1] of over 400 pages is not without interest. Despite the sometimes carefully embellished story which conveniently reshapes a posteriori events, the role of men, of Tito and of other Yugoslav leaders particularly, the struggle of the Yugoslav masses as well as that of the Communist Party against the Nazi occupation and for social liberation is often drawn with feeling in keeping with the heroic proportions of this struggle.

The outstanding interest in the book is contained in some previously unpublished facts and information on the relations between the Yugoslav CP and the Kremlin during the war and up to the time of the break between the two; on the relations of other Communist parties with the Kremlin; on the formation of the Cominform (1947); on the project of a Balkan Federation; on the attitude of Stalin and the Kremlin toward the Yugoslav, Greek and Chinese revolutions. In the final chapter of the book there are noteworthy indications from Tito on how the Yugoslav leadership now conceives of and justifies the political regime in Yugoslavia and its prospects of development. (See article by Jean-Paul Martin elsewhere in this issue.)

The information provided by Dedijer’s book on all the above-mentioned subjects confirm especially the evaluations made by our own movement on the relationships between the Soviet bureaucracy, the Communist parties and the revolutionary mass movement, as well as on the Yugoslav and Chinese revolutions.

Let us examine this concretely.

Dedijer believes that the scope taken by the revolutionary movement of the masses in Yugoslavia during the war, and its relatively independent character, greatly displeased Stalin and the Kremlin from the beginning (1941).

The Kremlin was very parsimonious in the aid it doled out to the Yugoslav partisans, enough to hold out against the German troops and to immobilize a certain number of them in Yugoslavia, but not enough to permit the creation of an independent force capable of achieving victory by itself.

On Yugoslavia, as well as on Greece, the Kremlin had come to an agreement with the Americans and the English during the war which would have permitted the inclusion of both of these countries in the British sphere of influence. To buttress this point of view Dedijer cites not only a series of significant facts which were disclosed in the relations between the Yugoslav CP and the Kremlin but also the pertinent references contained in Cordell Hull’s and Stettinius’ memoirs.

The description of the first interview between Stalin and Tito in 1944 in Moscow leaves no room for doubt on Stalin’s intentions toward Yugoslavia at the time. He brought pressure on Tito to accept the return of the king, not to oppose an eventual landing of British troops in Yugoslavia, and to placate the Serbian bourgeoisie which he, contrary to Tito, believed to be “very strong.”

We know that he had a like attitude toward the Greek revolution which began with the liberation of the country in 1944, and that the Greek Communist party, loyal to the Kremlin’s orders, did not attempt to take power either before or during the month of December 1944. We know that it engaged in merely defensive battle despite the overwhelming superiority of its forces for a number of days during the British intervention in December 1944.

Stalin and Mao Tse-tung

From a number of other sources and from our own deductions we know that Mao Tse-tung’s struggle for power beginning with 1946 started under the pressure of the revolutionary movement of the peasant masses and against the Kremlin’s line which was designed to maintain the compromise with Chiang Kai-shek.

Dedijer provides new proof of the correctness of this point of view on the Chinese Revolution in his citation of the proposal Stalin made to Kardelj in Moscow in February 1948. According to Dedijer, Stalin then said the following, verbatim:

“For instance, we do not agree with the Yugoslav comrades that they should help further the Greek partisans. In this matter, we think we are right and not the Yugoslavs. It is true, we have also made mistakes. For instance, after the war we invited the Chinese comrades to come to Moscow and we discussed the situation in China. We told them bluntly that we considered the development of the uprising in China had no prospect, and that the Chinese comrades should seek a modus vivendi with Chiang Kai-shek, that they should join the Chiang Kai-shek government and dissolve their army. The Chinese comrades agreed here with the views of the Soviet comrades, but went back to China and acted quite otherwise. They mustered their forces, organized their army and now, as we see, they are beating the Chiang Kai-shek army. Now, in the case of China, we admit we were wrong. It proved that the Chinese comrades and not the Soviet comrades were right. But that is not the case with you in the Balkans (on the Balkan Federation – M.P.). It is not the case with the Greek partisans, and Yugoslav comrades should stop helping them. That struggle has no prospect whatsoever.” (pp. 321, 322).

The admission is in character, and despite Stalin’s recognition of “error” – he obviously could not have done differently – it is not exaggeration to say that this fact (Mao’s victory achieved, the Kremlin’s line to the contrary notwithstanding) constitutes the decisive act of independence of the Chinese CP in relation to the Kremlin whose happy consequences and historic significance for China as for the entire world will perhaps never be forgotten by the Chinese. [2]

To be noted also in Stalin’s declaration are his remarks relating to the Greek civil war (1947–49), once again cynically betrayed by the Kremlin since “it has no prospect whatsoever.”

Inside the Cominform

The dissolution of the Comintern in 1943 did not cause any concern among the Yugoslavs, according to Dedijer. They found Stalin’s motives at the time to be perfectly justified. On the other hand, in 1945, Dedijer states, the Yugoslavs were the first to feel the need for the revival of an international body for consultation and the exchange of experiences between the various Communist parties. They proposed this idea to Stalin who endorsed it immediately for other reasons.

Not lacking in interest are all the facts given in Dedijer’s book on the meeting that founded the Cominform, the criticisms directed by the Yugoslavs and Zhdanov at the French and Italian Communist parties for their opportunist line, as well as all the details on the functioning of the Cominform, the editing of its paper, etc. They depict the constant efforts of the Kremlin to keep the Cominform under its strict control in face of discontent and even of latent opposition by several leading elements of different Communist parties.

Of great interest are the pages on Dimitrov’s attitude, his project for a Balkan Federation, as well as for a broader confederation embracing “Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Greece – yes, mind you, Greece” (p. 314), his declaration published in Pravda and then refuted in the same paper, his frictions with Stalin personally on this question, as well as the reactions of other Communist leaders to this project. They give a clear illustration of how far the aspirations of the Communist parties in the satellite countries – the deformed expression of the aspirations and interests of the masses – ran counter to the Kremlin’s line.

They clarify in part the deeper reasons for the unrest, the chronic crisis which afflicts their relations with the Kremlin, as well as the past and future purges to which the Soviet bureaucracy is driven to keep direct agents totally loyal to it at the head of the Communist parties and governments.

– M.P.


1. Tito by Vladimir Dedijer. Simon and Schuster; $5.

2. In this connection it is interesting to cite in extenso what Isaac Deutscher wrote on the same subject in the introduction to the French edition of his biography of Stalin (pages 13–14):

“... Stalinists as well as anti-Stalinists have recently begun to accredit the legend that Stalin was the real inspirer of the Chinese Revolution. How reconcile this opinion with his role in the Chinese events of 1925 to 1927 as we have described them in Chapter X? How reconcile this opinion moreover with the declaration of Stalin himself at Potsdam that ‘the Kuomintang is the only social political force to govern China’? (Cf. J.P. Byrnes, Speaking Frankly) One may contend that he ostensibly disavowed the Chinese communists at Potsdam solely to deceive his Western allies. It appears more correct to me to believe that Stalin, until a very late date, had a very conservative point of view on the ability of the Chinese Communist Party to control all of China and that even in 1948 he went to the lengths of trying to dissuade Mao Tse-tung from launching the series of offensives which were to bring victory to Chinese Communism. It seems that a letter from Stalin to Mao was read at the conference of the Chinese Communist Party which was held shortly before the beginning of these offensives; but the conference rejected Stalin’s advice.”

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Updated on: 10 April 2015