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Kominform

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Kominform is the abbreviation for Communist Information Bureau (officially: Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties), which from 1947 to 1956 was a supranational alliance of various communist parties, dominated by the CPSU under Josef Stalin. It replaced the Comintern, which had been dissolved in 1943 and whose apparatus continued unofficially.

Members

State Party
Bulgaria Bulgarian Communist Party
GDR (observer status from 1949) Socialist Unity Party of Germany
France Communist Party of France
Italy Communist Party of Italy
Yugoslavia (until 1948) Communist Party of Yugoslavia
Poland Polish United Workers’ Party
Romania Romanian Labour Party
Soviet Union Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Czechoslovakia Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Hungary Party of the Hungarian Labourers

The Kominform was initially based in Belgrade, but after Yugoslavia’s expulsion in 1948, its headquarters were moved to Bucharest.

History

Since 1946, Stalin had been trying to consolidate the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence in Eastern and Southern Europe into a firm unity and to assert the CPSU’s claim to leadership in ideological and political terms. After several months of consultations, with the exception of Albania, but with the participation of the Communist Parties from France and Italy, the leaders of the East European parties were finally invited to the founding conference of the Cominform in the Polish city of Szklarska Poręba for September 22-27, 1947.

The Soviet side took the view that the world had split into two large camps and that relations between the communist parties had to be made even closer in the interests of self-assertion.

The Kominform was officially founded on September 30, 1947, not least as a reaction of the Soviet Union to the Marshall Plan of the United States of America. The Cominform was to organize the cooperation of all Moscow-affiliated so-called communist and workers’ parties worldwide. In this respect it formed the successor organisation to the Comintern, founded in 1919 on Lenin’s initiative, which had been dissolved in 1943 in the course of the Second World War, in a sense as a gesture of the USSR’s willingness to cooperate with the West within the framework of the anti-Hitler coalition.[1] The Cominform did not have a large apparatus as was the case with the Comintern. It actually consisted only of the editorial office of the central organ For Lasting Peace, For People’s Democracy, which was published in various languages and was initially based in Belgrade with a staff of about 50, and since 1948 in Bucharest.[2]

During the war, the Soviet Union was militarily allied with the basically ideological opponents USA and Great Britain in the so-called anti-Hitler coalition and together with them and other states formed the allied wartime opponents of Germany. After the war, the economic, social and political clashes of interests intensified again, especially between the great powers USA and USSR, which led to the Cold War from 1946. The founding of the Cominform was a Soviet reaction to this development. During the founding debate, Andrei Zhdanov gave his speech on the view of the Two Camps previously advocated by US President Harry S. Truman. As an inter-party institution, the Cominform was de facto a command centre of the CPSU, through which extensive conformity of the nine member parties was to be achieved, as had already been the case in the Comintern from 1924/25 at the latest, after Joseph Stalin had taken power in the Soviet Union. Albania also applied for membership on 26 October 1947.[3]

The body, however, did not live up to Moscow’s expectations. Yugoslavia’s party leader Josip Broz Tito vehemently resisted the attempt to shape the organization along the lines of Stalin’s ideas. He insisted on the principle of equal rights for the merged parties. As a result, on June 28, 1948, a Kominform conference, acting on a Soviet proposal, decided to exclude the Yugoslav Communists.[4] The value of the Cominform declined after it failed to restore Yugoslavia to the authority of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1948 and after the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong also failed to join. A delegation of the SED, which was in Moscow in December 1948, made an application to be admitted to the Cominform. However, this was rejected by Stalin on the grounds that the SED was not yet mature enough.[5]

On November 29, 1949, the Kominform openly called on its members to overthrow Yugoslav leader Tito and fight Titoism. After Stalin’s death (1953), the Kominform was dissolved in 1956 in the course of de-Stalinization under the new Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

At the latest since the victory of the Communists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949 under Mao Zedong and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the influence of other Communist social designs had also increased alongside that of the Soviet Union and also in competition with it. The determining influence of the Cominform could no longer be maintained in its previous form.

In Eastern Europe and some other communist-oriented states, other alliances between those states were more appropriate alternatives for the Soviet Union. Thus, even before the dissolution of the Cominform in 1949, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) had come into being as an economic alliance, and in 1955 the Warsaw Pact as a military alliance of the corresponding states. These foundations were also reactions to similar developments and alliances in the political West, such as the Western European Coal and Steel Community in the economic context, which later became the European Economic Community (EEC), or NATO in the military context.

When the Kominform newspaper “For lasting peace, for people’s democracy” announced the dissolution of the organization in Bucharest on April 17, 1956, the end of the communist party alliance no longer moved the general public very much.[6]

See also

  • Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON)

Literature

Individual references

  1. Manfred Görtemaker, in: Information on Political Education, 245/1994, p. 20.
  2. Leo Schwarz Two camps, young world, September 23, 2017
  3. Thomas Schreiber: Enver Hodja, Le sultan rouge. Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès, 1994, p. 109.
  4. Calendar sheet of 28 June 2008(Memento of 25 October 2008 in the Internet Archive) MDR; retrieved 1 June 2016.
  5. Wilfriede Otto, in: Views of the GDR, vol. VII. 1997, p. 328.
  6. Spearhead in the Cold War Deutschlandradio Kultur, Calendar Page of April 17, 2006c on April 16, 2011