Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page


World Politics

Stalinist Terror in the Balkans

(16 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 37, 16 September 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Two interesting reports appeared last week on the spread of Stalinist terror in the Balkan countries. One was written by Bogdan Raditsa, former head of the foreign press department in the Yugoslavian government of Tito, and appeared in The New Republic; the other appeared in Collier’s and was written by Reuben Markham who has for many years been Balkan correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and is known as a responsible journalist.

The two articles do not tell us anything especially new about Stalinist rule in the Balkans, but they do provide considerable information which confirms again the reports that the Russian occupation forces have spread terror and disorganization wherever they have gone.

Raditsa’s article offers a picture of how Yugoslavia is actually ruled by OZNA, the secret police of the Stalinist rulers. While the new Yugoslavian constitution, like its Russian model, offers wide theoretical guarantees of freedom, the actuality is much different. Raditsa writes:

“There are, of course, paper guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly and religion. But in fact, the people are afraid to talk. No opposition press exists. In the pre-election period an opposition paper, Democratija, published by Milan Grol, was temporarily permitted to appear, but when it became popular it was suppressed. The same happened to Novostj, published by Dragoljub Jovanovich, and to Glas Naroda, published by Marija Radio ... In the first issue she published two poems by Vladimir Nazor, now president of Croatia, to expose his opportunism. One lead been written during the war and was dedicated to the fascist collaborator, Ante Pavelic. The other was dedicated to Tito. For her rashness, a bomb was exploded in the paper’s bookshop.”

The Stalinist oligarchy has established a system of local Vijece (Peoples Councils) the function of which is to dominate local life in behalf of the government. “Each council,” writes Raditsa, “has its ‘denunciation’ office, which issues a karakteristika, a secret report on every citizen within its territory. If anyone moves elsewhere, the report is sent on.” That is Stalinist “liberation” at work.

In Dictator Tito’s Jails

Raditsa, who was on the inside of the Tito government and knows the facts, charges that after Tito assumed power, “Zagreb’s jails held 70,000 prisoners ...” And just as the opponents of Stalinism are terrorized, regardless of which political point of view motivates their opposition, so those on top, the Stalinist functionaries and bureaucrats, live a life of comparative privilege. “They alone get enough to eat, and adequate clothing. They are well housed. Tito inhabits the King’s palace, Kardelj (another Stalinist leader – Ed.) the old Stoyadinovich villa. When I was entertained by state and party functionaries during my trips I always had plenty of food. On going back to my friends, I sometimes found they had been without food for days.” That is the picture of Tito’s Yugoslavia.

A similar picture of Stalinist terrorization in Rumania and Bulgaria is painted by Reuben Markham in his Collier’s articled In these countries the Stalinist rulers have made alliances with former fascists and reactionaries. In Rumania “The Foreign Minister, George Tatarescue, has committed practically every political crime that Communists the world over excoriate. In the past, he directed and subsidized pogroms against Jews, suppressed Peasant and Communist leaders, helped King Carol establish a dictatorship on a fascist model and conducted Rumania’s worst elections. He also concluded the first major agreement in the series of treaties delivering Rumania to Nazi Germany.” Today this man works hand in glove with the Stalinists.

Terror in Bulgaria

The same situation holds in Bulgaria. The Prime Minister of that country, Kimon Gueorguieff, despite his present alliance with the Stalinists, was a leader in the bloody suppression of workers on June 9, 1923, and again during 1934 when a military clique seized power in Bulgaria and suppressed all working class opposition.

Markham’s article is interesting not merely for its revelation of the mechanisms by means of which Stalinism maintains its terror in the Balkans, but also for the description of the policies which it has pursued. He describes the failure of the Stalinist policy of land distribution :

“The land was given out in a haphazard way. Groza (the Rumanian Stalinist leader – Editor) confiscated property and used it to attract followers. A peasant stood a poor chance of receiving anything unless he joined Groza’s Plowman’s Front, whose membership soon jumped from a few thousand to a million and a half. But the peasants received inadequate amounts, under five acres each, with no machinery, stock or credit.

“Also hundreds of thousands still remain without land, because there isn’t enough to go around. The larger farms that were once well cultivated are now broken up into little pieces which are poorly cultivated; production has fallen and the peasantry as a whole is poorer than ever. No basic problem has been solved, peasant poverty remains, dissatisfaction mounts and eventually the autocratic leaders must resort to some drastic reform measure.

“That has already begun in Bulgaria where the Communists in many villages are gathering the peasants’ fields into big ‘blocks’ ... The peasants, while theoretical owners are formed into work brigades, directed by brigade bosses.”

This is the pattern of Stalinist occupation in the Balkans – and the mockery and tragedy is that it even proceeds in the name of socialism to which it is completely antithetical.

Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 April 2020