The counter-revolution in action in Hungary and Poland. Matyas Rakosi. Who cooked up the “broth” in Budapest? Talk with Hungarian leaders. Debate with Suslov in Moscow. Imre Nagy’s “self-criticism”. Rakosi falls. Reaction surges ahead. Khrushchev, Tito and Gerö in the Crimea. Andropov: “We cannot call the insurgents counter-revolutionaries.” The Soviet leadership is hesitant. The Hungarian Workers’ Party is liquidated. Nagy announces Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Treaty. Part of the back-stage manoeuvres: the Tito-Khrushchev letters. Poland 1956—Gomulka on the throne. In retrospect: Bierut. Gomulka’s counter-revolutionary program. What we learn from the events of 1956. Talks in Moscow, December 1956.
The infection of the 20th Congress encouraged all the counter-revolutionary elements in the socialist countries and the communist and workers’ parties, emboldened all those who had disguised themselves and were awaiting the moment to overthrow socialism wherever it had triumphed.
The counter-revolutionaries in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere, the betrayers of Marxism-Leninism in the parties of Italy and France and the Yugoslav Titoites gleefully welcomed Khrushchev’s ill-famed theses about “democratisation”, the “cult of Stalin”, the rehabilitation of condemned enemies, “peaceful coexistence”, “peaceful transition” from capitalism to socialism, etc. These theses and slogans were embraced with enthusiasm and hope by the revisionists, in or out of power, by social-democracy, by the reactionary bourgeois intellectuals.
The events in Hungary and Poland were the visible prologue of the counter-revolution which was to be carried out more extensively and thoroughly, not only there, but also in Bulgaria, in East Germany, in Czechoslovakia, in China, and especially in the Soviet Union.
After securing its positions to some extent in Bulgaria, Rumania, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere, the Khrushchevite clique attacked Hungary, the leadership of which was not proving so obedient to the Soviet course. However, Tito, together with the Americans, had his eyes on Hungary.
As was becoming apparent, Hungary had many weak points. There the party had been created, headed by Rakosi, around whom there were a number of veteran communists like Gerö and Münnich, but also young ones who had just come to the fore, who found the table laid for them by the Red Army and Stalin. The “construction of socialism” in Hungary began, but the reforms were not radical. The proletariat was favoured, but without seriously annoying the petty bourgeoisie. The Hungarian party was allegedly a combination of the illegal communist party (Hungarian prisoners of war captured in the Soviet Union), old communists of Bela Kun and the social-democratic party. Hence, this combination was a sickly graft, which never really established itself, until the counter-revolution and Kadar, together with Khrushchev and Mikoyan, issued the decree for the total liquidation of the Hungarian Workers’ Party.
I have been closely acquainted with Rakosi and I liked him. I have often talked with him, because I have visited him several times both on business and as a family, with Nexhmije. Rakosi was an honest man, an old communist and a leader in the Comintern. His aims were good, but his work was sabotaged from within and from without. As long as Stalin was alive everything seemed to be going well, but after his death the weaknesses in Hungary began to show up.
Once, in a talk with Rakosi, he spoke about the Hungarian army and asked about ours.
“Our army is weak, we have no cadres. The officers are the old ones from the Horthy army, therefore we are taking ordinary workers from the factories of Csepel and putting them in officer’s uniforms,” he told me.
“Without a strong army socialism cannot be defended,” I told Rakosi. “You should get rid of the Horthy men. You did very well to take workers but you must give importance to educating them properly.”
While we were talking in Rakosi’s villa, Kadar arrived. He had just returned from Moscow where he had gone for treatment of an eye complaint. Rakosi introduced me, asked him how his health was now, and gave him leave to go home. When we were alone Rakosi said:
“Kadar is a young cadre and we have made him minister of internal affairs.”
To tell the truth, he didn’t seem to me to be of the right stuff to be minister of internal affairs.
Another time we talked about the economy. He spoke to me about the economy of Hungary, especially about agriculture, that was going so well that the people could eat their fill and they did not know what to do with all their pork, sausage, beer and wines! I opened my eyes in surprise, because I knew that not only in our country, but in all the socialist countries, including Hungary, the situation was not like that. Rakosi had one shortcoming, he was sanguine, exaggerated the results of the work. But despite this weakness, in my opinion, Matyas had a good communist heart and did not have an incorrect view of the line of the development of socialism. It must be recognized, in my opinion, that international reaction, supported by the clergy, the powerful kulak stratum and the disguised Horthyite fascists, set about undermining Hungary and Rakosi’s leadership, acting together with Yugoslav Titoism and its agency, headed by Rajk, Kadar (disguised) and others, and finally also by Khrushchev and the Khrushchevites, who not only disliked Rakosi and those who supported him, but even hated him, because he was loyal to Stalin and Marxism-Leninism, and when need be, opposed them with authority in the joint meetings. Rakosi was one of the old guard of the Comintern and to the modern revisionists the Comintern was the “ête noire”.
Thus Hungary became the field for intrigues and combinations between Khrushchev, Tito and counter-revolutionaries (behind whom stood American imperialism), who eroded the Hungarian party and the positions of Rakosi and sound elements in the leadership of the party from within. Rakosi was an obstacle both for Khrushchev, who wanted to put Hungary under his control, and for Tito, who wanted to destroy the socialist camp and had a double hatred for Rakosi as one of the “Stalinists” who exposed him in 1948.
In April 1957, when the “anti-party group” of Malenkov, Molotov, etc., had still not been liquidated, I was in Moscow with a delegation of our Party and Government. After a non-official dinner in the Kremlin, in Yekaterinsky Zal, we sat down in a corner to take coffee with Khrushchev, Molotov, Mikoyan, Bulganin, etc. In the course of the conversation Molotov turned to me and, as if joking, said:
“Tomorrow Mikoyan is going to Vienna, to try to cook up the same broth as he did in Budapest.”
To keep the conversation going I asked him:
“Did Mikoyan prepare that broth?”
“Who else?” said Molotov.
“Then Mikoyan can’t go back to Budapest again,” I said.
“If Mikoyan goes there again, they will hang him,” Molotov continued.
Khrushchev had dropped his eyes and was stirring his coffee. Mikoyan frowned, ground his teeth and then said with a cynical smile:
“Why should I not go to Budapest? If they hang me, they will hang Kadar, too, because we prepared that broth together.”
The role of the Khrushchevites in the Hungarian tragedy was clear to me.
The efforts of Khrushchev and Tito to liquidate everything healthy in Hungary united them, therefore they co-ordinated their activities. With Khrushchev’s visit to Belgrade they aimed their attacks to rehabilitate the Titoite conspirators, Koçi Xoxe, Rajk, Kostov, etc. While our Party did not budge a fraction from its correct principled positions, the Hungarian party gave way and Tito and Khrushchev triumphed. With Rajk, the betrayal was rehabilitated. Rakosi’s positions were greatly weakened.
Possibly the leadership of the Hungarian party, under Rakosi and Gerö, made economic mistakes, too, but these were not what caused the counter-revolution. The main mistake of Rakosi and his comrades was that they did not stand firm, but wavered under the pressure of external and internal enemies. They did not mobilize the party and the people, the working class, to nip the attempts of the reaction in the bud, made concessions to it, rehabilitated enemies like Rajk, etc., and weakened the situation to the point that the counter-revolution broke out.
In June 1956, on my way to Moscow for a meeting of Comecon, I had a talk with the comrades of the Political Bureau of the Hungarian Workers’ Party in Budapest. I did not find Rakosi, Hegedüs, who was prime minister, or Gerö there because they had left for Moscow by train. (In fact, in Moscow I did not meet or see Rakosi in any consultation or anywhere else. No doubt he was “resting” in some “clinic” where the Soviets “convinced him to hand in his resignation”. Only two or three weeks later he was discharged from the duties he held.) The Hungarian comrades told me that they had some difficulties in their party and their Central Committee.
“A situation against Rakosi has been created in the Central Committee,” they told me. “Farkas, who was a member of the Political Bureau, has taken up the banner of opposition to him.”
“The time has come for Farkas to be expelled not only from the Central Committee, but also from the party,” said Bata, the minister of defence. “His stand is anti-party and hostile,” he continued. “His thesis is: ‘I have made mistakes, Beria is a traitor. But who ordered me to make those mistakes? Rakosi.”
“This question has also been raised by Revay, who proposed that ‘we should set up a commission to study the faults of this one and that one, the mistakes of Rakosi, etc.,’” the Hungarian comrades told me.
Here I interrupted and asked:
“Then the Central Committee has no confidence in the Political Bureau?”
“So it turns out,” they said. “We were obliged to accept the commission but we decided that its report would go to the Political Bureau first.”
“What is this commission?” I asked. “The Political Bureau must be charged by the Central Committee with such matters and the report should be discussed in the Central Committee. If it is considered necessary, the Central Committee removes the Political Bureau.”
Amongst other things the Hungarian comrades told me that Imre Nagy, who had been expelled from the party as a counter-revolutionary, had put on a big dinner on the occasion of his birthday to which he had invited a hundred and fifty people, including members of the Central Committee and the government. Many of them had accepted the traitor’s invitation and had gone to the dinner. When one member of the Central Committee had asked the comrades of the leadership whether he should go or not they had replied: “This is up to you to decide.” Of course, such a reply was astonishing to me and I asked the Hungarian comrades:
“But why did you not tell him flatly that he should not go because Imre Nagy is an enemy?”
“We left him to judge and decide for himself with his own conscience,” was the reply.
During this conversation the Hungarian leaders admitted that they had a difficult situation in the party. The 20th Congress had added to these troubles.
“There are groups in the party, writers, etc.,” they told me, “who are not on the rails, who want to avail themselves of the 20th Congress. These elements tell us, ‘The 20th Congress confirms our theses that there are mistakes in the leadership. Therefore we are right.’”
“Togliatti’s interview has caused us many problems,” said one of those present. “There are members of the Central Committee who have said to me: ‘What are we doing? It would be better to act, to have a different, independent policy in Hungary, too, as in Yugoslavia.’”
In fact, things there had gone from bad to worse. Another member of the Central Committee had said to them angrily: “Are you of the Political Bureau still hiding from us issues like those of the 20th Congress? Why aren’t you publishing Togliatti’s interview?”
“And we published it, because the party had to be informed!. . .” the comrades of the Political Bureau told me.
I told the Hungarian comrades that the situation with us was good and explained how we acted at the Tirana Conference.
“There is proper democracy in the Party,” I stressed, “democracy which must strengthen the situation and unity and not destroy them. Therefore we came down hard on those who sought to exploit the democracy to the detriment of the Party. We have not permitted such things to occur among us.”
Speaking about Togliatti’s interview they asked my opinion of it:
“With what he has said, Togliatti is not in order,” I replied. “Of course, we have not raised our objections to him publicly, but we have called in the first secretaries of the party district committees and have explained the question to them so that they will be vigilant and ready at any moment.”
Szallay, a member of the Political Bureau, rose and said:
“I have read Togliatti’s interview and it is not all that bad. The beginning is good and it is only the final part which spoils it.”
“We did not publish it and were surprised that Radio Prague broadcast it,” I told them.
From this conversation I formed the conviction that their line was wobbly. Apart from this, it seemed that the sounder elements in the Political Bureau were under pressure from counter-revolutionary elements, and therefore they themselves had vacillated. The Political Bureau seemed to be solid, but was completely isolated.
In the evening they put on a dinner for us in the Parliament Building, in a room where a big portrait of Attila hanging on the wall struck the eye. We talked again about the grave situation that was simmering in Hungary. But it seemed that they had lost their sense of direction. I said to them:
“Why are you acting like this? How can you sit idle in the face of this counter-revolution which is rising, why are you simply looking on and not taking measures?
“What measures could we take?” one of them asked.
“You should close the ‘Petöfi’ Club immediately, arrest the main trouble-makers, bring the armed working class out in the boulevards and encircle the Esztergom. If you can’t jail Mindszenty, what about Imre Nagy, can’t you arrest him? Have some of the leaders of these counter-revolutionaries shot to teach them what the dictatorship of the proletariat is.”
The Hungarian comrades opened their eyes wide with surprise as if they wanted to say to me: “Have you gone mad?” One of them told me:
“We cannot act as you suggest, Comrade Enver, because we do not consider the situation so alarming. We have the situation in hand. What they are shouting about at the ‘Petöfi’ Club is childish foolishness and if some members of the Central Committee went to congratulate Imre Nagy, they did this because they had long been comrades of his and not because they disagree with the Central Committee which expelled Imre from its ranks.”
“It seems to me you are taking the matter lightly,” I said. “You don’t appreciate the great danger hanging over you. Believe us, we know the Titoites well and know what they are after as the anti-communists and agents of imperialism they are.”
Mine was a voice in the wilderness. We ate that ill-omened dinner and during the conversation which lasted for several hours, the Hungarian comrades continued to pour into my ears that “they had the situation in hand” and other tales.
In the morning I boarded the aircraft and went to Moscow. I met Suslov in his office in the Kremlin. As usual, he welcomed me with those mannerisms of his, prancing like the ballerinas of the Bolshoi, and when we sat he asked me about Albania. After we exchanged opinions about our problems, I raised the question of Hungary. I told him my impressions and my opinions frankly, just as I had expressed them to the Hungarian comrades. Suslov watched me with those penetrating eyes through his horn-rimmed spectacles, and as I spoke I noticed signs of discontent, boredom and anger in his eyes. These feelings and this disapproval were accompanied by doodling with a pencil on a sheet of paper he had on the table. I carried on speaking and concluded by saying that I was astonished at the passivity and “lack of concern” of the Hungarian comrades.
Suslov began to speak in that reedy voice of his and in essence said:
“We cannot agree with your judgements over the Hungarian question. You are unnecessarily alarmed. The situation is not as you think. Perhaps you have insufficient information,” and Suslov talked on and on, trying to “calm” me and convince me that there was nothing alarming in the situation in Hungary. I was not in the least convinced by his “arguments”, and the events which occurred in the subsequent days confirmed that our observations and opinions about the grave situation in Hungary were completely correct. About two months later, at the end of August 1956, I had another bitter argument with Suslov about the Hungarian question. In passing through Budapest when we were going to the congress of the Chinese party, from a talk which we had at the airport with the Hungarian leaders of that time, we became even more convinced that the situation in Hungary was becoming disastrous, that reaction was moving, while with its actions the Hungarian leadership was favouring the counter-revolution. During the stop-over we made in Moscow, Mehmet, Ramiz and I met Suslov and told him of our apprehensions so that he would transmit them to the Soviet leadership. Suslov maintained the same stand as in the meeting I had with him in June.
“In regard to what you say, that the counter-revolution is on the boil,” said Suslov, “we have no facts, either from intelligence or other sources. The enemies are making a fuss about Hungary, but the situation is being normalized there. It is true that there are some student movements, but they are harmless and under control. The Yugoslavs are not operating there, as you say. You should know that not only Rakosi but also Gerö have made mistakes. . .”
“Yes, it is true that they have made mistakes, because they rehabilitated the Hungarian Titoite traitors who had plotted to blow up socialism,” I interjected. Suslov pursed his thin lips and then he went on:
“As for Comrade Imre Nagy, we cannot agree with you, Comrade Enver.”
“It greatly astonishes me,” I said, “that you refer to him as ‘Comrade’ Imre Nagy when the Hungarian Workers’ Party has thrown him out.”
“Maybe they have done so,” said Suslov, “but he has repented and has made a self-criticism.”
“Words go with the wind,” I objected, “don’t believe words. . .”
“No,” said Suslov, his face flushing. “We have his self-criticism in writing,” and he opened a drawer and pulled out a note signed by Imre Nagy, addressed to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in which he said that he had been wrong “in his opinions and actions” and ‘sought the support of the Soviets.’
“Do you believe this?” I asked Suslov.
“Why shouldn’t we believe it!” he replied, and went on, “Comrades can make mistakes, but when they acknowledge their errors we must hold out our hand to them.”
“He is a traitor,” I told Suslov, “and we think that you are making a great mistake when you hold out your hand to a traitor.”
This brought the conversation with Suslov to an end and we left disagreeing with him. From this meeting we formed the impression that, after having definitely condemned Rakosi, the Soviets were fearful and alarmed about the situation in Hungary that they did not know what to do and were seeking a solution before the storm broke. Without doubt they were talking with Tito about a joint solution. They were preparing Imre Nagy, thinking they would master the situation in Hungary through him. And so it turned out.
The circle around Rakosi was very weak. Neither the Central Committee nor the Political Bureau were up to the mark. People like Hegedüs, Kadar, old men like Münnich and a few young fellows without any experience of the party and struggle, weakened the running of affairs more and more each day and fell into the Titoite-Khrushchevite spider’s web.
This whole adventure was being feverishly prepared. Reaction was aroused, surged up, spoke and acted openly. The pseudo-communist, kulak and traitor, Imre Nagy, with the mask of communism, became the standard-bearer of Titoism and the struggle against Rakosi. The latter had seen the danger which was threatening the party and the country and had taken measures against Imre Nagy, by expelling him from the party at the end of 1955. But it was too late. Hungary had been caught up in the spider’s web of the counter-revolution and was lost. Rakosi was attacked by Khrushchev, by Tito, by the centre of Esztergom as well as by foreign reaction. Anna Ketli, Mindszenty, the counts and barons in the service of world reaction, who had been assembled within Hungary, as well as outside, in Austria and elsewhere, organized the counter-revolution and sent in weapons for the bloodbath which they were preparing.
The ‘Petöfi’ Club became the centre of reaction. Allegedly it was a cultural club of the Youth Union, but in fact it operated, under the nose of the Hungarian party, as a centre where the reactionary intellectuals not only spoke against socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but also prepared and organized themselves until they reached the point of arrogantly presenting their demands to the party and the government in the form of an ultimatum. Initially, as long as Rakosi was still at the head of affairs, attempts were made to take some measures: the ‘Petöfi’ Club was attacked in a resolution of the Central Committee, one or two writers were expelled from the party, but these were mere pin-pricks, and not at all radical measures. The nest of the counter-revolution continued to exist and only a little later, almost all those who had been attacked were rehabilitated.
The demoted Imre Nagy continued to sit like a pasha in his home, which he had made a haunt for his partisans. Among these partisans he had people in the Central Committee of the Hungarian Workers’ Party. The Hungarian leaders went back and forth to Moscow in a daze, while instead of taking measures against the reactionary element which was building up, their alleged comrades of the Central Committee went to pay visits to Imre Nagy in his home to congratulate him on his birthday. The courtiers of Rakosi became the courtiers of Nagy and paved the way for him to seize power.
The decision to remove Rakosi was taken in Moscow and Belgrade. He gave way and did not resist the pressure of the Khrushchevites and the Titoites, and the intrigues of their agents in the Hungarian leadership. They forced Rakosi to resign, allegedly for “health reasons” (because he suffered from hypertension!), while admitting “his mistakes in violation of the law”. At first there was talk about the merits of “Comrade Matyas Rakosi” (thus they “buried” him with honours), then there was talk about his mistakes, until the point was reached of talking about the “criminal Rakosi gang”. In the preparation of the backstage manoeuvres which preceded the removal of Rakosi, a major role was played by Suslov, who, precisely at this time, went to Hungary on holiday(!).
Apparently Rakosi was the last obstacle that hindered the revisionist wagon from going full speed ahead. It is true that Gerö was elected first secretary, and not Kadar, as the Soviets and the Yugoslavs wanted, but his days were numbered. Kadar, who had been in prison and rehabilitated a little earlier, was elected to the Political Bureau at first and, as the man of Khrushchev and Tito, in fact he played “first fiddle” there.
After the plenum of July 1956, (at which Gerö replaced Rakosi, and Kadar joined the Bureau) reaction surged ahead, and the authority of the party and the government virtually did not exist. The counter-revolutionary elements insistently demanded the rehabilitation of Nagy and the removal of those few sound elements left in the leadership. Gerö, Hegedüs and others went from city to city and from factory to factory trying to cool tempers, promising “democracy”, “the rule of socialist law” and increased pay. Obviously, all these things were dune not in the correct Marxist-Leninist way, but submitting to the pressure of the powerful upsurge of the petty-bourgeoisie and reaction.
We considered the removal of Rakosi from the leadership of the Hungarian party a mistake which did great damage to and seriously weakened the situation in Hungary, and we expressed this opinion to the Soviet leaders when we went to Moscow in December. The events themselves showed how right we were.
The “happy” period of liberalization began, the period of dragging from the prison and the grave those whom the dictatorship of the proletariat had justly condemned. The traitor Rajk and his associates were reinterred after a pompous ceremony in which thousands of people, headed by the Hungarian leadership, took part and which ended with the “International”. Thus, the traitor Rajk became “Comrade Rajk”, and a national hero of Hungary, almost the same as Kossuth.
After a formal letter to the Central Committee, Nagy was readmitted to the party and confidently awaited the development of events which would bring him to power. They were not long delayed.
After Rajk, many others previously condemned came on the scene—officers and priests, people sentenced for political crimes and thieves, to whom moral satisfaction as well as material satisfaction was given. Rajk’s widow received 200,000 forints as a reward for her husband’s treachery, and the Budapest newspapers published reports about the generosity of “Madame Rajk” who donated this sum to the people’s colleges. Those condemned by the courts were proclaimed the victims of Rakosi, Gabor Peter, and Mihaly Farkas, who was arrested at this time. The top officials begged the pardon of reaction for their “crimes”. “But what could we do,” said the minister of justice, “when Comrade Rajk, himself, admitted his guilt!”
Hegedüs, while still prime minister, declared under the pressure of Khrushchev, “We greatly regret that our party and government slandered the Yugoslavs”, while Gerö, in his first speech after he had been elected to the head of the party said, “Our party still has to pay its debts to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and the leaders of Yugoslavia and to deny the slanders we have spread to the detriment of the Yugoslav Federal Republic.”
In all that was taking place, Gerö, who was one of the oldest leaders of the party, proved to be an opportunist and a coward who swung from side to side and moved like a puppet manipulated by the real actors behind the scenes in the Hungarian tragedy. When Tito was on “holiday” in the Crimea, Gerö went to talk with him in Khrushchev’s villa and the three of them, together with their suites, “took walks along the seashore, talked and had photographs taken”. If the history of intrigues and diabolical manoeuvres to the detriment of the peoples is ever written, these will be “historic photographs”. Here, in Khrushchev’s villa at Yalta, the first steps to conciliation were taken and, a few days later, Gerö with Hegedüs and Kadar, went to Belgrade, where they talked with Rankovic. Not much later, when the disturbances began, they threw Gerö into the rubbish bin and Kadar, with the blessing of Khrushchev and the manoeuvres of Mikoyan and the revisionist ideologist Suslov, was elevated to first secretary.
Meanwhile Imre Nagy emerged from his hole, took power, shouted in triumph, proclaimed “democracy”, and Tito was at the culmination of his victory. Reaction came to power, gangsters swarmed in from abroad, and the fascist Horthyite and clerical parties of the bourgeoisie were reformed. Imperialism filled the country with spies and was pouring in arms wholesale from Austria. Radio “Free Europe” urged on the counter-revolution day and night and called for the overthrow and total liquidation of the socialist order. Even earlier Hungary had opened its doors to spies disguised as tourists.
When we passed through Budapest in October 1956, on the return journey from China, the members of the Bureau of the Hungarian Workers’ Party themselves told us that “20,000 tourists have visited Hungary recently”. When I pointed out that this was dangerous, they replied: “But we get hard currency from them.” After the removal of Rakosi, especially in those ill-famed October days, the doors were opened to the Horthyites, the barons and counts, the former masters and oppressors of Hungary. Esterhazy established himself in the middle of Budapest and telephoned embassies, announcing that he intended to place himself at the head of the government. Mindszenty, released from prison, returned to his palace escorted by the “national guard” and blessed the people. The old parties, owners’ parties, peasants’ parties, social-democratic parties, catholic parties, revived like maggots in a festering wound, re-established themselves in their former premises, brought out newspapers and Nagy and Kadar were placed in the government. The counter-revolution swept the entire capital and was spreading to other parts of Hungary.
As Bato Karafili, our ambassador in Budapest, told us later, the frenzied crowds of counter-revolutionaries first rushed upon a bronze monument of Stalin, which had still been left standing in a square of Budapest. Just as Hitler’s assault squads in the past were let loose on everything progressive, the Horthyites and other riffraff of Hungary hurled themselves in fury on the monument of Stalin, trying to uproot it. Since they failed to achieve this even with steel ropes attached to a heavy tractor, the bandits did their work with the aid of cutting torches. Their first act was symbolic: by knocking down the monument of Stalin they wanted to say that they were going to destroy everything that still remained in Hungary from socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat and Marxism-Leninism.
Destruction, killings and rioting swept the whole city.
The scabby bird, Imre Nagy, had flown from the hands of Khrushchev and Suslov. This traitor, in whom Moscow had placed its hopes, like a drowning man clutching at his own hair to save himself from death, showed what he was, and in the upsurge of the counter-revolutionary fury, announced his reactionary policy and made public declarations about Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Treaty. The Soviet ambassador in Hungary was a certain Andropov, a KGB man, who was elevated to power later and played a dirty role against us. This agent, with the label of ambassador, found himself surrounded by the counter-revolution which broke out. Even when the counter-revolutionary events were taking place openly, when Nagy came to the head of the government, the Soviets still continued to support him, apparently hoping that they could keep him under control. During those days, after the first half-hearted intervention of the Soviet army, Andropov told our ambassador in Budapest:
“We cannot call the insurgents counter-revolutionaries because there are honest people among them. The new government is good and it is necessary to support it in order to stabilize the situation.”
“What do you think of Nagy’s speeches?” our ambassador asked him.
“They are not bad,” replied Andropov, and when our comrade pointed out that what was being said about the Soviet Union did not seem to be correct, he replied:
“There is anti-Sovietism, but Nagy’s recent speech was not bad, it was not anti-Soviet. He wants to maintain links with the masses. The Political Bureau is good and has credit.
The counter-revolutionaries acted with such arrogance that they forced Andropov, together with all his staff, out into the street and left them there for hours on end. We instructed our ambassador in Budapest to take measures for the defence of the embassy and its staff, and to place a machine-gun at the top of the stairs. If the counter-revolutionaries dared to attack the embassy he was to open fire without hesitation. But when our ambassador asked Andropov for weapons to ensure the defence of our embassy, he refused:
“We have diplomatic immunity, therefore no one will touch you.”
“What diplomatic immunity?!” said our ambassador. “They threw you out into the street.”
“No, no,” said Andropov, “if we give you arms, some incident might be created.”
“Very well,” said our representative. “I am making you an official request on behalf of the Albanian government.”
“I shall ask Moscow,” said Andropov, and when the request was refused our ambassador declared:
“All right, only I am letting you know that we shall defend ourselves with the pistol and shotguns we have. ”
The Soviet ambassador had shut himself up in the embassy and did not dare to stick his head out. A responsible functionary of the Foreign Ministry of Hungary, who was being chased by the bandits, sought refuge in our embassy and we admitted him. He told our comrades that he had gone to the Soviet embassy but they had turned him away.
The Soviet troops stationed in Hungary intervened at first, but were then withdrawn under the pressure of Nagy and Kadar and the Soviet government declared that it was ready to begin talks about their withdrawal from Hungary. While the counter-revolutionaries were wreaking havoc, Moscow trembled. Khrushchev was afraid, hesitating to intervene. Tito was king of the situation and the supporter of Imre Nagy, indeed, he had assembled his army and was ready to intervene. Then Moscow sent the appropriate person to Budapest, the huckster Mikoyan, along with the cocky Suslov.
Here in Tirana we did not fail to speak up. I called the Soviet ambassador and told him angrily:
“We are completely uninformed about what is going on in a number of socialist countries. Tito and company have a finger in the organization of the counter-revolution in Hungary. You are abandoning Hungary to imperialism and Tito. You must intervene with arms and far piazza pulita1 before it’s too late.”
I mentioned Tito’s aims and condemned the trust Khrushchev had in him, as well as Suslov’s trust in Imre Nagy’s “self-criticism”.
“You see what Imre Nagy is,” I said. “Now blood is being shed in Hungary and the culprits must be found.”
“The situation is grave but we shall not allow the enemy to seize Hungary. I shall transmit the opinions you expressed to me to Moscow.”
Every one knows what happened in Hungary and Budapest. Thousands of people were killed. Reaction, armed from abroad, slaughtered communists and democrats, women and children in the streets, burned houses, offices and everything they could lay hands on. The gangsterism prevailed for days on end. Only the security detachments of Budapest put up some slight resistance, while the Hungarian army and the Hungarian Workers’ Party were neutralized and liquidated. Kadar published the decree on the liquidation of the Hungarian Workers’ Party, an act which showed who he was, and proclaimed the formation of the new party—the Socialist Workers’ Party, which Kadar, Nagy and others were to build.
The Soviet embassy was surrounded with tanks and Mikoyan, Suslov, Andropov and who knows who else, continued to intrigue inside.
Reaction, headed by Kadar and Imre Nagy, shut up in the parliament building, where they indulged in idle talk, sent out continuous appeals to the Western capitalist states to intervene with arms against the Soviets. In the end, the frightened Nikita Khrushchev was obliged to give the order. The Soviet armoured forces marched on Budapest and fighting began in the streets. The intriguer Mikoyan put Andropov in a tank and sent him to parliament to bring back Kadar, in order to manipulate matters through him. And this is what occurred. Kadar again changed his patron, again changed his coat, returned to the bosom of the Soviets and, protected by their tanks, called on the people to cease the disturbances and appealed to the counter-revolutionaries to hand in their arms and surrender.
That was the end of the Nagy government. The counter-revolution was put down, and Imre Nagy took refuge in Tito’s embassy. It was clear that he was an agent of Tito and world reaction. He had Khrushchev’s support, too, but he slipped from his grasp, because he wanted to go further, and did so. Khrushchev quarrelled with Tito for months about handing over Nagy. Tito refused until they reached a compromise that Nagy should be handed over to the Rumanians. At the time when negotiations over this problem were going on with Tito, Krylov, the Soviet ambassador in Tirana, sought our opinion whether or not we agreed that Nagy should go to Rumania.
“As we have declared previously,” I replied to Krylov, “Imre Nagy is a traitor who opened the doors to fascism in Hungary. Now it is proposed that this traitor, who has killed communists and progressives, who has killed Soviet soldiers and called on the imperialists to intervene, should go to a friendly country. This is a big concession and we do not agree with it.”
After tempers cooled and the victims of the Hungarian counter-revolution, a deed of Tito in particular, as well as Khrushchev, were buried, Nagy was executed. The way this was done was not right, either. Not that Nagy did not deserve to be executed, but not secretly, without trial and without public exposure, as was done. He ought to have been publicly tried and punished on the basis of the laws of the country of which he was a citizen. But of course, neither Khrushchev, Kadar, nor Tito wanted him brought to trial, because Nagy could have brought to light the dirty linen of those who pulled the strings in the counter-revolutionary plot.
Later, when the counter-revolution in Hungary had been suppressed, many facts came to light which proved the complicity of the Soviet leaders in the Hungarian events. We, of course, suspected what role the Soviets played, especially in regard to the removal of Rakosi, the support for Nagy, etc. However, at that time we did not know precisely how the Khrushchev-Tito collaboration had developed and neither did we know about the secret meetings of Khrushchev and Malenkov with Tito in Brioni. These things were revealed later and we adhered to our stand of opposition to these actions of the Soviets.
Some days after order was restored in Hungary, the Soviet leadership informed us of the correspondence which it had exchanged with the Yugoslav leadership over the Hungarian question. The facts which were revealed in those letters disturbed us profoundly, because the problems were serious and critical. At that time, the interests of socialism and the communist movement required that the Soviet Union should be defended from the attacks of imperialism and reaction and our unity preserved. On the other hand, our Party had to have its say about these anti-Marxist actions of the Soviet leadership. Therefore, everything had to be carefully considered and weighed up, bearing in mind the interests of the Party, our country, the revolution and socialism. That is how we judged these problems, we expressed our opinions to the Soviet leaders in a comradely tone, so that everything would be corrected and kept between ourselves.
During those days, after we received the letters, I summoned Krylov:
“I have called you here,” I said, “to clear up some matters which arise from these letters. First, I want to tell you that the allusions which Tito made to ‘certain evil men’, clearly implying the leadership of our Party, seem to us unacceptable. Such a thing, on his part, does not surprise us because we are accustomed to Tito’s attacks. However, we are extremely surprised about the fact that in the reply of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union there is no clear-cut stand to be seen in connection with these insinuations of Tito’s. Have you anything to say about this question?”
“I have nothing to say about this,” replied Krylov, faithful to his manner of playing dumb.
Then I continued:
“Tito should have been told bluntly that we are not evil men and enemies of socialism, as he says. We are Marxist-Leninists, resolute people, who will fight to the end for the cause of socialism. Tito, on the contrary, is an enemy of the revolution and socialism. There are many facts to prove this.
Krylov was silent, and continuing the talk, I dwelt in particular on another problem which had attracted our attention in these letters. Khrushchev wrote to Tito: “In connection with the removal of Rakosi, you were completely satisfied that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union tried, as early as the summer of this year, to ensure that Kadar would become first secretary.”
Besides this, the letter clearly indicated their collaboration, not only before the events of October, but also during them, a collaboration which was concretised in the plan hatched up during secret talks in Brioni. These actions of the Soviet leadership were unacceptable to us. In our opinion, the Titoites continued their disruptive secret activity, and this was clearly apparent in Hungary in particular. We had informed the leadership of the Soviet Union of this opinion.
I questioned Krylov about this matter:
“We are not clear about where the Central Committee of the Hungarian Workers’ Party was formed, in Budapest or in the Crimea”.
Of course Krylov did not like this question and, biting his words, said:
“This is how matters must stand: the Hungarian comrades have gone to the Crimea and talked with our comrades. There the question has been raised of who should be placed in the leadership. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has said that ‘it would be good if Kadar were elected.’”
“Does it mean that the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was not for Gerö but for Kadar?” I continued.
“That is what emerges from the letter,” replied Krylov.
“Apart from that,” I said, “the Kadar government has been formed in close collaboration between your leadership and Tito. Is that not so?”
“Yes, it seems to be so,” Krylov was obliged to admit.
Continuing the talk, after informing him of the concern which the events in Hungary aroused in our Party, I pointed out to the Soviet ambassador:
“The unanimous opinion of our Political Bureau is that these actions of the comrades of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who talk with Tito about the composition of the leadership of the Hungarian party and government, are not correct. The Soviet leadership is well aware of our views on all these matters, because we have expressed them to it. Is that not so?”
“Yes, it is so,” said Krylov.
“Have you transmitted all our views to Moscow?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I have transmitted them.”
At the end of this talk, as though by chance, the Soviet ambassador asked me:
“Will Dali Ndreu be put on trial?”
Of course this question was not accidental.
Apparently, the trial and exposure of the agents of the Yugoslav revisionists, Liri Gega and Dali Ndreu, was not pleasing to the Soviets.
“The trial has been prepared and will be held,” I told Krylov, “because they are traitors and agents. When their attempts to carry out the plot against our Party and state failed, Dali Ndreu and Liri Gega, sensing that they would have to render account for their activity as agents, attempted to flee the country, and were captured near our state border. Their hostile activity has now been completely proved and they themselves have admitted it. And if Tito continues his hostile activity, we shall publish the truth about these agents, with facts and tape-recordings. We think that we can no longer tolerate the Titoites, who want to stab us in the back and to make accusations against us.”
“I understand your situation,” murmured Krylov and went away with his tail between his legs.
The same phenomena as in Hungary developed in Poland, too, almost at the same time, although there the events did not assume those proportions and that dramatic character they did in Hungary. In Poland, too, the dictatorship of the proletariat had been established under the leadership of the United Workers’ Party, but, despite the aid which the Soviet Union provided, socialism did not develop there at the necessary rates. As long as Bierut was at the head and the Polish party was in correct positions, successes were achieved in the socialist development of the country. However, the initial reforms and measures which were taken there were not carried through to the end and the class struggle was not waged at the proper level. The proletariat increased, industry was developed, efforts were made to disseminate Marxist ideas among the masses, but, de facto, the elements of the bourgeoisie retained many of their dominant positions. The land reform was not carried out in the countryside, and the collectivisation went only half-way, until Gomulka declared the cooperatives and state farms unprofitable, and favoured the growth of the kulak strata in the Polish countryside.
As in Hungary, East Germany, Rumania and elsewhere, the Polish party was formed through a mechanical merger of the existing party with the bourgeois parties, so-called workers’ parties. Perhaps such a thing was necessary in order to unite the proletariat under the leadership of a single party, but this union should have been brought about through a great deal of ideological, political and organizational work, to ensure that the former members of other parties were not only assimilated, but what is more important, were thoroughly educated with the Marxist-Leninist ideological and organizational norms. But this was not done either in Poland, Hungary, or elsewhere and all that happened in fact was that the members of the bourgeois parties changed their names, became “communists”, while retaining their old views, their old outlook. Thus, the parties of the proletariat were not strengthened, but on the contrary, were weakened, because social-democrats and opportunists like Cyrankiewicz, Marosan, Grotewohl, etc., established themselves and their views in them.
Apart from this, there was another factor in Poland which had an influence in the counter-revolutionary manifestations: the old hatred of the Polish people for Czarist Russia. Through the work which reaction did inside and outside the party, the old hatred, which was completely justified in the past, was now turned against the Soviet Union, against the Soviet people, who, in fact, had shed their blood for the liberation of Poland. The Polish bourgeoisie, which had not been hit as hard as it should have been, did everything in its power to incite the nationalist and chauvinist sentiments against the Soviet Union.
After the death of Bierut, these were expressed more openly, and the weaknesses of the party and the dictatorship of the proletariat in Poland also emerged more openly. Thus, partly from the weaknesses in the work, partly from the efforts of reaction, the church, Gomulka and Cyrankiewicz, and partly from the interference of the Khrushchevites, the disturbances of June 1956 and the events which followed them, came about. Of course, the death of Bierut created suitable conditions for the plans of the counter-revolution. I had met Bierut long before, when I went to Warsaw. He was a mature, experienced comrade, quiet and kindly. Although I was younger than he, he behaved in such a good comradely manner with me that I can never forget him. When I met him at meetings in Moscow, too, it was a special satisfaction to talk with him. He listened to me attentively when I spoke about our people and their situation. He was sincere, just and principled. I remember when we talked in Warsaw he mentioned a discussion he had had with Comrade Mehmet.
“Your comrade spoke to me frankly when he criticized the stand of our prime minister. I like comrades who speak frankly,” said Bierut.
I met him for the last time in Moscow when the 20th Congress of the CPSU was held.
Shortly before his death, Bierut and his wife, as well as Nexhmije and I were in a box together in the “Maly Teatr” to see a play about the revolutionary navy of Leningrad.
In the interval we had a cordial conversation in the small room behind the stage. Amongst other things, we spoke about the Comintern, because at that time the Bulgarian Ganev joined us and he and Bierut reminisced about when they had met in Sophia, when Bierut had been sent there illegally on a task.
Only a little while after this meeting, we heard the bad news: Bierut had died, like Gottwald, . . . “of a cold”. Great grief and astonishment!
We went to his funeral in Warsaw; it was the beginning of March 1956. Many speeches were delivered by Khrushchev, Cyrankiewicz, Ochab, Zhu De, etc., over Bierut’s coffin. Vukmanovic-Tempo, who had come to take part in the funeral as the envoy of Belgrade, also spoke. Even here, the Titoite representative took the opportunity to launch revisionist slogans and to express his satisfaction over the new “possibilities and perspectives” which had just been opened by the 20th Congress.
“Bierut has been taken from us at a moment when possibilities and prospects have been opened for collaboration and friendship between all socialist movements, in order to realize the ideas of October in various ways,” said Tempo, and called for advance on the road opened “through continuous actions”. While the speeches were going on, not far from me, I saw Nikita Khrushchev leaning against a tree, exchanging words with Wanda Wassilewska. Without doubt, he was striking deals over the body of Bierut, whom they were putting in the grave.
A few months after these bitter events at the start of 1956, Poland was engulfed in confusion and chaos which smelled of counter-revolution.
The events which occurred in Poland were almost identical with those in Hungary. The revolts of the Poznan workers began before the outbreak of the Hungarian counter-revolution, but in fact, these two counter-revolutionary movements matured at the same time, in the same situation and with the same inspiration. I am not going to go into a detailed description of them because they are known, but it is interesting to point out the analogy of facts in these countries, the astonishing parallels between the development of the counter-revolution in Poland and that in Hungary.
Both in Poland and in Hungary the leaders were changed: in the ore country Bierut died (in Moscow), in the other Rakosi was removed (the work of Moscow); in Hungary, Rajk, Nagy, Kadar were rehabilitated, in Poland, Gomulka, Spychalski, Morawski, Loga-Sowinski and a whole series of other traitors; there Mindszenty came on the scene, here Wyszynski.
Even more significant is the ideological and spiritual identity of these events. Both in Poland and in Hungary, the events took place under the aegis of the 20th Congress, with the slogans of “democratisation”, liberalization and rehabilitation. The Khrushchevites played an active role, a base counter-revolutionary role, in the development of events in both these countries. The Titoites also had their influence in Poland, although not so directly as in Hungary, but the ideas of self-administration, “the national roads to socialism”, and the “workers’ councils”, which were taken up in Poland, were certainly inspired by the Yugoslav “specific socialism”.
The June events at Poznan were counter-revolutionary movements which reaction inspired, exploiting the economic difficulties and the mistakes which had been made by the Polish party in the development of the economy. These revolts were suppressed and did not assume the same proportions as in Hungary, but they had major consequences in the further development of events. In Poland reaction found its own Nagy; this was Wladyslaw Gomulka, an enemy brought out of prison, who immediately became first secretary of the party. Gomulka, who had been general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Poland for a time, had been condemned for his right opportunist and nationalist views, which were very similar to the line followed by the Tito group, exposed at that time by the Information Bureau. When the congress for the uniting of the Workers’ Party and the Socialist Party was held in 1948, Bierut and the other leaders and delegates exposed and attacked the views of Gomulka. Our Party had sent its representative to this congress and when he returned to Albania he told us about the arrogant, stubborn stand of Gomulka in the congress. Gomulka was exposed, but nevertheless, as they said, “he was given a helping hand once again” and was elected to the Central Committee. A Pole who accompanied our comrade, told him that during those days, Gomulka had had a long tête-à-tête talk with Ponomarenko, a secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union who attended the congress and, it seems, Ponomarenko had persuaded Gomulka to make self-criticism. However, time showed clearly that he had not relinquished his views and later he was sentenced for anti-state activity, too.
When the rehabilitation campaign began, the partisans of Gomulka exerted pressure on the leadership of the party to proclaim Gomulka innocent. But he was too politically and ideologically discredited, and therefore, there were obstacles to this. Some months before Gomulka was restored to the head of the Polish party, Ochab declared “solemnly” that although Wladyslaw Gomulka had been released from prison, “this in no way alters the correct essence of the political and ideological struggle which the party has waged against the views of Gomulka.”
After he liquidated Bierut, Khrushchev assisted Ochab, Zawadski, Zambrowski and other elements such as Cyrankiewicz, but the seed of discord and disruption had been deeply implanted and was germinating. Gomulka and his supporters acted and managed to come to power. The Khrushchevites were worried: they had to have Poland firmly under control manu militari, and their policy and ideology were adapted to this imperative need. Khrushchev abandoned his old friends and turned to Gomulka who did not appear to be so obedient to Khrushchev’s dictate.
The advent of Gomulka to power convinced us that events in Poland were not developing in favour of socialism. We not only knew Gomulka’s sinister past, but we were able to judge him also from the slogans he launched and the speeches he made. He came to power with definite slogans for “the true independence of Poland” and “the further democratization of the country”. In the speech he delivered before he was elected first secretary, he did not fail to threaten the Soviets saying, “we shall defend ourselves,” and, as far as we know, there were even clashes between the Soviet and Polish detachments in Poland. In general the events in Poland, as in Hungary, developed under anti-Soviet slogans. Gomulka, too, was anti-Soviet. Of course, he was against the Soviet Union of the time of Stalin, but at the same time he wanted to be free from the yoke which the Khrushchevites were preparing for the countries of the socialist camp. Nevertheless, he did not fail to speak formally in favour of friendship with the Soviet Union and to “condemn” the anti-Soviet slogans. At the same time, he spoke positively about the stationing of the Soviet army in Poland, and this he did for immediate national interests, because he was afraid of some attack from West Germany, which never accepted the Oder-Neisse border.
The revisionist Gomulka made his moves with such unprecedented arrogance that I pointed out some of his actions to Khrushchev when I met him in Yalta. We were sitting in a pavilion with a stone floor at the edge of the sea, and when he had heard me out, Khrushchev admitted I was right and said to me textually: “Gomulka is a real fascist.” But the two counter-revolutionaries later came to agreement and had only honeyed words for each other. Their contradictions and differences were softened.
The speech which Gomulka delivered at the plenum of the Central Committee which elected him first secretary was a “programmatic” speech of a revisionist. He criticized the line followed up to that time in industry and agriculture, painted a black picture of the situation and proclaimed the cooperatives system in the countryside and the state farms unprofitable. We considered these views anti-Marxist-Leninist. Mistakes may have been made in the direction of collectivisation and the development of agricultural cooperatives in Poland, but the cooperatives system was not to blame for this. It had proved its vitality as the only road for the construction of socialism in the countryside in the Soviet Union, in the other socialist countries and in our country. Gomulka struck out with his sword, right and left, against “violations of the law”, against the “cult of the individual”, against Stalin, against Bierut (although he did not mention him by name) and against the leaders of socialist countries whom he called satellites of Stalin. Gomulka defended the counter-revolutionary actions in Poznan. “The workers of Poznan,” declared Gomulka at the 8th Plenum, in October 1956, “were not protesting against socialism, but against evils which had spread in our social system. The attempt to present the painful tragedy of Poznan as the work of imperialist agents and provocateurs was politically very naive. The causes must be sought in the leadership of the party and the government.”
The Soviets were worried and frightened about the events in Poland, because they saw that the “new course”, which they themselves proclaimed, was taking the Polish leaders further than they desired and that Poland was in danger of escaping from their influence. During the days in which the plenum, that was to restore Gomulka to power, was held, Khrushchev, Molotov, Kaganovich and Mikoyan went urgently to Poland. At the airport Khrushchev shouted angrily at the Polish leaders: “We have shed our blood to liberate this country, while you want to give it to the Americans.” The concern of the Russians was increased, because the Soviet Marshal Rokossowsky, who was of Polish origin, and other members of the Political Bureau who were considered pro-Soviet, like Minc, etc., were being squeezed out and in fact they were expelled from the Political Bureau. However, the Poles did not submit either to the pressure of the Soviet leaders or to the movement of Russian tanks; they did not even invite them to the plenum. Talks were held, at which Gomulka was present, but nevertheless for the time being Khrushchev and company were left biting their fingers. Pressure was exerted, an article was published in “Pravda” to which the Poles gave an arrogant reply, but, in the end, Khrushchev gave Gomulka his blessing and, after he made a “pilgrimage” to Moscow, Gomulka received credits and spoke about the Soviet-Polish “Leninist friendship”.
Gomulka implemented his “program”, set up his “workers’ councils”, “self-administrative cooperatives”, and “rehabilitation committees”, stimulated private trade, introduced religion in the schools and the army and opened the doors to foreign propaganda; he, too, spoke about the “national road” to socialism.
Gomulka’s views and actions were so extremely open and undisguised that many did not accept them, or could not accept them openly.
Even Khrushchev was obliged from time to time to throw some small stone at Gomulka’s garden. The Czechs, the French, the Bulgarians, and the East-Germans, who kept one eye and ear on Moscow, likewise adopted stands of reserve or opposition. Obviously we were opposed to Gomulka and his actions and this we had made known to the Soviet leaders with whom we had talked. The Poles did not like this attitude and their press complained openly that the other parties did not understand the changes that were occurring in Poland. An article published in those days mentioned our press and that of some other countries as examples of this “misunderstanding”, in contrast to the Italian, Chinese, Yugoslav and other parties which had “properly understood the profoundly socialist character of the changes in Poland”.
The Yugoslavs welcomed these “socialist” changes with enthusiasm and shouted that “those forces which fought for political democratisation, economic decentralization and the system of self-administration had triumphed” in Poland.
The Soviets did not give us any information about the events in Poland, either, but only sent us a letter in which they told us that the situation was very grave and informed us that a Soviet delegation was to go there. Apart from this nothing more, no news, no information. In the Soviet press we found an occasional article which attacked the events in Poland, but we also found articles which supported them. As I have said, from the talks with Krylov, the Soviet ambassador in Tirana, we had nothing definite. In one meeting which I had with him I spoke about the question of Poland and our concern about what was occurring there.
“How is it possible,” I asked him, “that we are not kept informed? How is it possible that we are left in the dark about these matters, which concern all of us? This is not right.”
“That is a fair request,” Krylov replied.
“Transmit our view to your Central Committee,” I concluded.
In the context of the events which were taking place, the differences of opinion between us and the Soviets were becoming ever clearer. In connection with this, the stand of our Party was: we must not make these difference’s public, because this would harm the Soviet Union and the socialist camp, but on the other hand, we must make no concessions of principle; must adhere to our stands and express our views openly to the Soviet leaders.
When I was in Moscow in December of that year, among other things, I talked with the Soviet leaders about the question of Poland. I shall deal separately with the talks of December 1956; but here I want to mention the support which Khrushchev and company gave Gomulka to consolidate himself in power. When we put forward our views and doubts about Gomulka to Khrushchev and Suslov, they tried to convince us that he was a good man and should be supported, while we were convinced that the disturbances which had occurred in Poland and which were very like the Hungarian counter-revolution, were the work of Gomulka and .served to bring this fascist to power, where he remained until he was purged by the Khrushchevites and Gierek. The latter is a ferocious enemy of the Party of Labour of Albania. In Poland all of them fell one after the other. Cyrankiewicz, this old agent of the bourgeoisie, lasted longest and pulled the strings with the Soviet army which had occupied Poland.
The events in Hungary and Poland quite rightly worried our Party and its leadership because they damaged the cause of the revolution and weakened the positions of socialism in Europe and the world.
After these events ended, or more precisely, lost their open and acute form, because now they were carried on in secrecy, the moment came to make the necessary analyses and draw the proper conclusions. Both Khrushchev and Tito made analyses according to their own interests and reckonings and the anti-Marxist views which they held. In essence, the Titoites and the Khrushchevites were united in their “analysis”, laying the blame on the mistakes of the leadership of the Hungarian party and Rakosi, in particular. Kadar, too, as the servant of two masters, sang in harmony with them, declaring that “the revolt of the masses was justified because of the mistakes of the criminal clique of Rakosi and Gerö.”
To the extent it was acquainted with the development of events and based on the facts which had emerged from the darkness which shrouded the plot, our Party had analysed these events and had drawn its own conclusions. In our opinion, the counter-revolution was provoked and organized by world capitalism and its Titoite agency at the weakest link in the socialist camp, at the moments when the Khrushchev clique had still not consolidated its positions. The Hungarian Workers’ Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat in Hungary melted away like snow in the rain at its first stern confrontation with reaction. From all that had occurred, certain facts drew our attention:
In the first place, the events revealed the weak and superficial work of the Hungarian party for the education and leadership of the working class. Despite its revolutionary traditions, the working class of Hungary did not know how to defend its power during the counter-revolution. On the contrary, a part of it became a reserve of reaction. The party itself did not react as a conscious organized vanguard of the class. It was liquidated within a few days, and this gave the counter-revolutionary Kadar the possibility to bury it once and for all.
The events of October and November 1956 underlined once again the vacillating character of the Hungarian intellectuals and student youth. They became the cat’s paw of reaction, and the assault squad of the bourgeoisie. An especially base role in this was played by the counter-revolutionary writers headed by the reactionary and anti-communist Lukacs, who also became a member of the Nagy government.
The case of Hungary proved that the bourgeoisie had not lost its hopes of restoration but, on the contrary, had prepared itself in illegality, even preserving its old organizational forms, which was shown by the immediate formation of clerical and fascist bourgeois parties.
What occurred in Hungary further convinced our Party of the correctness of the stand we had maintained towards the Yugoslav revisionists. The Titoites were the inspirers and main supporters of the Hungarian counter-revolution. Official personalities and the press of Yugoslavia welcomed these events with enthusiasm. The inflammatory speeches delivered in the ‘Petöfi’ Club were published in Belgrade and the “theories” of Tito and Kardelj, together with the theses of the 20th Congress, were the banner of these speeches.
To us these things were neither new nor unexpected. What worried us most was the role which the Soviet leadership played in these events, its co-ordination of plans with Tito, its backstage deals hatched up to the detriment of the Hungarian people, which had profound and bitter repercussions for them.
The counter-revolution in Hungary was put down by the Soviet tanks because Khrushchev could not fail to intervene (that would have exposed him once and for all), and here the imperialists and Tito did not make their calculations well. However, experience showed that this counter-revolution was suppressed by counter-revolutionaries who restored capitalism, but in a more camouflaged way, retaining their colour and disguise, as the Soviet Khrushchevites did in their own country.
The facts in Hungary increased our doubts about the leadership of the CPSU and worried and saddened us. We had always had great faith in the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Stalin and we had expressed this faith together with our sincere love for it and the land of the Soviets.
With this feeling of doubt and worry I went to Moscow in December 1956, together with Hysni, who supported and assisted me in the difficult talks and discussions with the Khrushchevites, in which the poison was mixed with hypocrisy.
As we had decided earlier in the Political Bureau, we went to the Soviet Union to discuss with the Soviet leaders the acute problems of the situation, the events in Hungary and Poland, as well as relations with Yugoslavia.
It must be said that at that period Khrushchev and company were not getting along so well with Tito. Their friendship seemed to have cooled off somewhat. Meanwhile, Tito had delivered his notorious speech at Pula, which had aroused a great deal of opposition in many parties of the socialist camp. In this speech, the Belgrade chieftain attacked the Soviet system, attacked socialism, attacked the parties which did not follow the “original Marxist-Leninist” course of Tito and also condemned the Soviet intervention in Hungary. These theses were not to the advantage of Khrushchev and company, or were too open, and they were obliged to take a stand for appearances’ sake.
Thus the Khrushchevites had made one or two attacks in the newspapers, although not very strong ones (in order to avoid making Comrade Tito too angry!) and indeed even with some praise, and, as was their custom, they had begun to exert economic pressure on Yugoslavia, a thing which Khrushchev admitted to me in the talks. At that time “Pravda” had also published an article of mine in which Yugoslav “specific socialism” and its spokesmen were attacked in harsh terms.
I am relating all this to explain why the welcome for us at that time was more “cordial” and why our views, especially with regard to the Yugoslavs, were not opposed, and indeed, even seemed to be approved by the Soviet leaders.
From the moment we left the ship in Odessa we noticed this atmosphere in the conversation we had with those who came to welcome us and the talks we held with the leaders of the organs of the party and the state in the Ukraine.
We travelled from Odessa to Moscow by train. We still had not recovered properly from the journey, when we were informed that the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had put on a dinner in honour of our delegation. As I have said elsewhere, the Soviet leaders were unrivalled for lunches and dinners that went on for hours on end. We were still tired from the trip, but, of course, we went to this “dinner”, which began at about four o’clock in the afternoon. As far as I recall, all the members of the Presidium, apart from Brezhnev, Furtseva and one other, were there. The dinner continued for several hours and Khrushchev and the others strove to create an atmosphere which would seem as friendly as possible. Nearly all who were present proposed toasts (Khrushchev alone proposed five or six) and in the course of the toasts fine words were said about our Party and Albania and I was praised especially. Especially zealous in these praises was Pospyelov who had been at the 3rd Congress of our Party in May.
The toasts proposed were frequently political speeches, especially those proposed by Khrushchev, for whom it was nothing to speak for half an hour in proposing a toast. In any case, from these speeches we got a preliminary signal about the stand they would take in the talks.
That evening Khrushchev did not spare his attacks against the Yugoslav leaders.
“Their positions are anti-Leninist and opportunist,” said Khrushchev among other things. “Their policy is a mishmash. We shall make no concessions to them. They suffer from megalomania,” he continued. “When Tito was in Moscow, he thought that with the majestic welcome put on for him, the people were saying he was right, and that they condemned our policy. In fact we need only have whispered one word to the people and they would have torn Tito and company to pieces.”
Speaking about our attitude to the Titoites, he said, “The Albanian comrades are right but they must keep cool and maintain their self-control.
“Your hair is going gray, but we are bald,” said Khrushchev, concluding his toast.
While the feast continued, “the bald head” told us that Albania was a small country, but had an important strategic position. “If we build a submarine and missile base there, we can control the whole Mediterranean.” Khrushchev and Malinovsky repeated this same idea when they came to visit our country in 1959. It was the idea which was concretised in the Vlora base, which the Khrushchevites used to put pressure on us, later.
As I said, Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders showed themselves very “cordial”, there was no lack of flattery, and all this was done to soften the just revolt of our Party over their wrong stands. I remember that during the evening we had some discussion about Khrushchev’s coming to our country, because although he had left hardly any country unvisited, he had not come to us, either openly or secretly. However, that evening there was a predisposition to reply positively to our request. Not only Khrushchev, but many other members of the Presidium expressed their desire to come to Albania and someone, I don’t remember who, jokingly proposed they should hold a meeting of the Presidium or even of their Central Committee in Albania! There was talk there, also, about the love” which Khrushchev allegedly had for our country (which he displayed later!) and they nicknamed Khrushchev “Albanyets”.2
Among many others I remember that Molotov, too, proposed a toast:
“I belong to that category of people who have not given much importance to Albania and have not become acquainted with it,” he said. “Now our people are proud that they have such a loyal, resolute and militant friend. The Soviet Union has many friends, but they are not all the same. Albania is our best friend. Let us drink this toast wishing that the Soviet Union will have friends as loyal as Albania !”
In general our correct line was praised and the Yugoslav revisionists were condemned by all the Soviet leaders that evening. Indeed Marshal Zhukov told us that they had proofs that the leaders in Belgrade had supported the counter-revolution in Hungary not only ideologically, but also organizationally, and that the Yugoslavs were operating as an agency of American imperialism.
In brief, the dinner continued and ended in this spirit. Two or three days later we had a preliminary meeting with Suslov, secretary of the Central Committee, who was considered a specialist in ideological matters and, if I am not mistaken, was also charged with international relations.
Suslov was one of the greatest demagogues of the Soviet leadership. Clever and cunning, he knew how to wriggle out of difficult situations and perhaps that is why he was one of the few who had escaped the purges carried out time after time in the Soviet revisionist leadership. Several times I have talked with Suslov and I always had a feeling of unease and annoyance from the meetings with him. I had even less desire to talk with Suslov now, following the Hungarian events, after that debate which I had had with him earlier about Nagy, the situation in Hungary, etc., and knowing his role in those events, especially in the decision for the removal of Rakosi. However, the work required this and I met Suslov.
Brezhnev took part in this meeting, too, but in fact, he was merely present, because only Suslov spoke during the whole talk. From time to time Leonid moved his thick eyebrows, but sat so immobile that it was difficult to gather what he was thinking about what was being said. I had met him for the first time at the 20th Congress in intervals between sessions (and then later, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution in November 1957), and from the time of that brief, chance meeting he had impressed me as a conceited, self-satisfied man. As soon as he was introduced to us he immediately brought the conversation around to himself and told us “in confidence” that he was engaged with “special weapons”. From the tone in which he spoke and the expression of his face, he implied to us that he was the man in the Central Committee dealing with the problems of atomic weapons.
The 20th Congress elected Brezhnev an alternate member of the Presidium of the Central Committee, and about a year later, the Plenum of June 1957 of the Central Committee of the CPSU, which condemned and purged “the anti-party Molotov-Malenkov group”, promoted Brezhnev from alternate to full membership of the Presidium. Apparently he was rewarded for the “merits” which he must have displayed in the elimination of Molotov, Malenkov and others from the leadership of the party.
After these events, up till 1960 I had to go many other times to Moscow, where I met the main leaders of the Soviet party but, just as before the 20th Congress, I never saw Brezhnev or heard him speak anywhere. He always remained or was kept in the background, “in reserve”, you might say. After the inglorious end of Khrushchev, precisely this ponderous, stern-faced person was brought out of the shade in place of the renegade, in order to carry on the filthy work of the Khrushchevite mafia, but now without Khrushchev.
It seems that Brezhnev was brought to the head of the party and the Soviet social-imperialist state, not so much on account of his abilities, but as a modus vivendi, to balance and even up the opposing groups which were feuding and squabbling in the top Soviet leadership. But let us give him his due: he is a comedian only in his eyebrows, while his work is tragic from start to finish. Ever since this Khrushchevite took power our Party has continually had its say about him and his aggressive, hostile, anti-Marxist work. But this is not the place to dwell at length on Brezhnev. Let us return to the meeting of December 1956.
At the start Suslov suggested that we should speak briefly about the problems we were going to discuss, especially about the historical aspect, while he gave us an exposition about the events in Hungary. He criticized Rakosi and Gerö, who, with their mistakes, had “caused great discontent among the people”, while they left Nagy outside their control.
“Nagy and the Yugoslavs,” he continued, “have fought against socialism.”
“But why did they re-admit Nagy to the party?” I asked.
“He had been unjustly expelled, because his faults did not deserve such a punishment. Now, however, Kadar is following a correct course. In your press there have been some notes critical of Kadar, but it must be borne in mind that he should be supported because the Yugoslavs are fighting him.”
“We are not well acquainted with Kadar. We know that he was in prison and was with Imre Nagy.”
Replying to our complaint that we had not been informed about the development of events in Hungary, Suslov said that the events took place without warning and there was no time for consultations.
“No consultations were held with the other parties, either. Only when we intervened for the second time we consulted the Chinese, while Khrushchev, Malenkov and Molotov went to Rumania and Czechoslovakia,” he said.
“How was time found to consult Tito over the appointment of Kadar, while we were not informed about anything?” I asked.
“We did not consult Tito about Kadar,” he said. “We simply told him that there was no longer any place for Nagy’s government.”
“These are issues of principle,” I stressed. “It is essential to hold consultations, but they are not being held. The Consultative Political Council of the Warsaw Treaty, for example, has not met for a year.”
“A meeting had been set for January, while in those days, every day’s delay would cause great bloodshed,” he replied.
Amongst other things I told him that the term, which was now being used, the “criminal Rakosi-. Gerö gang”, seemed astonishing to us and we thought this did not help in uniting all the Hungarian communists.
“The mistakes of Rakosi created a grave situation and discontent among the people and the communists,” said Suslov.
We asked him to tell us concretely about the mistakes of Rakosi and Gerö, and Suslov listed a number of general things, by means of which he tried to lay the blame on them for all that had occurred. We demanded a concrete example, and he told us:
“For example, the question of Rajk, who was described as a spy without any documentary proof.”
“Were these things discussed with Rakosi? Was he given any advice?” I asked.
“Rakosi did not accept advice,” was the reply.
Likewise, we had opinions quite opposite to Suslov about the attitude towards Gomulka and his views.
“Gomulka removed the communists, the old loyal leaders and officers, and replaced them with others, who had been condemned by the dictatorship of the proletariat,” I told Suslov.
“He relies on the men whom he knows,” said Suslov. “Gomulka must be given time and then we can judge him.”
“But his views and activities can be judged very well already,” I objected. “How can you explain the anti-Soviet slogans he used when he came to power?!”
Suslov scowled and said quickly:
“It was not Gomulka who did these things and now he is stopping them.”
“But what about his stands and statements about the church, for example?”
Suslov went into a long rigmarole, “arguing” that these were “pre-election tactics”, that Gomulka was “taking correct stands” towards the Soviet Union, the socialist camp, etc., etc. We parted still disagreeing with each other.
That same day we held the official talks with Khrushchev, Suslov and Ponomaryov. I opened the discussion by presenting the views of our Party in connection with the events in Hungary and Poland, as well as in connection with relations with Yugoslavia. Right at the start I said:
“Our delegation will express the views of the Central Committee of our Party on these matters frankly, even although on a number of issues we have differences with the Soviet leadership. These opinions, whether pleasant or otherwise,” I continued, “we shall state openly, as Marxist-Leninists, and discuss in a comradely way whether or not we are right, and if we are not right, we must be convinced why.”
In connection with Hungary, once again I stressed the lack of information and consultations over this painful problem of the socialist camp.
“We believe the Consultative Political Council of the Warsaw Treaty should have been called together in that situation,” I said. “At such moments, consultations are essential to co-ordinate our actions and stands. This would demonstrate our strength and unity.”
I continued on the Hungarian problem and conveyed to them our impressions about the Hungarian party, Rakosi and Gerö. Here I stressed in particular, that the assessment which Kadar was making of them, calling them “a criminal gang” seemed to us astonishing. In our opinion the mistakes of Rakosi and Gerö were not of that magnitude to warrant such a description. In regard to the mistakes in the economic development of Hungary, we were not aware that Hungary was in such a serious situation as to justify the “revolt of the masses”. Here the Soviets agreed with our opinion and admitted that the economic situation was not grave.
I went on to speak about the stand towards Nagy, Kadar, etc. In regard to Kadar, I expressed the distrust of our Party in him and added that, nevertheless, our stand towards him had been very prudent.
In regard to the events in Hungary, I underlined the role of the Yugoslav revisionists and expressed the disapproval of the Party of Labour of Albania that Tito had been placed in the role of arbiter in connection with those events.
In regard to relations with Yugoslavia, after outlining the history of the problem, as was decided in the Political Bureau, I declared in essence:
“The Yugoslavs have carried out hostile activity against our Party and country for a long time and they are continuing to do so now. We believe that the Yugoslav leaders are anti-Marxists, and together with the agencies of American imperialism, are among the main inspirers of the events in Hungary. Our relations with Yugoslavia should be normalized only on a Marxist-Leninist road, without making any concessions such as have been made. The Party of Labour of Albania thinks that the Soviet Union should not fulfil the request for weapons, which Yugoslavia has made through Gosniak. We, for our part, will maintain only state and commercial relations, but will not in any way maintain party relations with the Yugoslavs.
In particular, in the name of the Central Committee of our Party, I once again expressed our opinion that Khrushchev’s visit to Belgrade in 1955 should not have been made without consulting the sister parties and without calling together the Information Bureau, which had condemned Tito as an anti-Marxist.
After I spoke, Nikita Khrushchev took the floor, and began by telling us how he had criticized the Yugoslav leaders over their stand towards our Party and country. Khrushchev posed as though he approved and supported our views and stands, but still did not fail to make criticism and give us “advice”. Thus, speaking about my article published in “Pravda”, he said:
“Tito was furious about that article. In the Presidium we thought about removing certain parts of it but you had said that no alterations should be made to it, and we published it as it was. However, the article could have been done in a different form.
In regard to events in Hungary and Poland, Khrushchev continued to harp on his old tune, and apart from other things, “instructed” us that Kadar and Gomulka must be supported. In regard to the latter he said:
“Gomulka is in a difficult situation, because reaction is mobilizing itself. The things which are written in the press are not the views of the Central Committee, but the views of some who have risen against Gomulka. The situation there is gradually being stabilized. Now the elections which will be held in Poland are important. That is why we have to support Gomulka. To this end, Zhou Enlai is to go there and this will greatly assist to strengthen Gomulka’s positions. We thought it would be better for the Chinese to speak and not us, because reaction is mobilized against us.”
And Zhou Enlai went to Poland in agreement with Khrushchev and to his aid.
Then Khrushchev “advised” us to keep our tempers with the Yugoslavs, and posing as a “great politician”, told us of the difference amongst the Yugoslav leaders.
At the end of his speech Khrushchev tried to “sweeten” the atmosphere by promising that they would study our economic demands and would help us.
So ended these talks in which we told them of our opinions and the Soviet leaders tried to avoid any responsibility for what had occurred. So ended the discussion of this tragic page in the history of the Hungarian and Polish peoples. The counter-revolution was suppressed, here with Soviet tanks, there with Polish tanks, but it was suppressed by the enemies of the revolution. However, the evil and the tragedy did not come to an end. Only the curtain came down, while behind the scenes Kadar, Gomulka and Khrushchev continued their crimes until they completely consummated their betrayal by restoring capitalism.
1. “Make a clean sweep” (Italian in the original).
2. “The Albanian” (Russian in the original).
Next: 10. Temporary Retreat in Order to Take Revenge