CIA: Tito and Information Bureau (Cominform) dispute

  • Written by  Petra Janša (Translated by samo Juršič)
  • Comments:DISQUS_COMMENTS
Josip Broz Tito. (Photo: Archive of Demokracija magazine) Josip Broz Tito. (Photo: Archive of Demokracija magazine)

“Tito needed Soviet help against General Draza Mihailovic and their help at a peace conference. In 1944, however, Sretan Zujovic, now in prison, supported the Soviets more fervently than he supported Tito,” says in the CIA document published on March 31, 1949.

“Cominform” or "informbiro" is the shorter name for the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties (1947-1955), a kind of connecting organization of Communist parties and later Communist countries in Europe. It was established with the aim of resolving the mutual issues of the Communist parties, acting unanimously in the world on behalf of communism, and informing the public about the state of the Communist parties, especially in matters of principle. The organization was under the direct leadership of Russian Bolshevik revolutionary Joseph Stalin.

The dispute between Tito and the informbureau

“Demokracija” editorial staff has obtained a document from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) entitled A Further Look of a Ranked Yugoslav Official on Tito's Foreign and Domestic Policy and the Yugoslav-Informbureau Dispute. The information was obtained by the source in March 1949 and the document was published on March 31, 1949. The nine-point source describes the dispute between Tito and the informbureau, the role of Yugoslavia in the subsequent (cold) war, Soviet policy and the replacement of personnel in the Soviet government. Tito's dispute with the informbureau describes the source on four points:

“1. Tito's disputes with the informbureau date back to 1944 after the liberation of Belgrade. Even at that time, Tito was too independent and too important to please the Russians, but they could not take action against him during the war. Tito needed Soviet help against General Draza Mihailovic and their help at a peace conference. As early as 1944, Sretan Zujovic, now in prison, supported the Soviets more fervently than he supported Tito. When a breakthrough with informbureau came to light in 1948, the Yugoslav Communist Party and the Yugoslav Army accepted it with regret, as Soviet military propaganda deeply influenced Yugoslav opinion. Non-communist sections of the population were disappointed and even isolated by the behaviour of the Red Army and USSR representatives in Yugoslavia. Finally, the country's economic recovery has stalled due to the relentless exploitation of all Yugoslav resources for the benefit of the Soviet Union and other satellites. As a result, the military and most of the Yugoslav Communist Party were forced to support the break with the informbureau, albeit with regret and hope that Tito could find a viable solution to the conflict.”

Tito doesn't have to "go to Kanoso"

The CIA source further notes that Tito does not need to acknowledge subordination to the Soviet Union. Or as the document says:

“2. Now Tito does not have to "go to Kanoso." Nor does he need to declare a definitive anti-Soviet policy. Even though Tito has no way of finding a friendly solution to the problems that Yugoslavia has with the informbureau, it must continue to mislead the party and army into believing that it is fundamentally pro-Soviet and will sooner or later resolve the dispute. After years of USSR-favoured propaganda and an attack on the West, Tito cannot make a complete turnaround. This is why Yugoslavia is moving closer to Western democracies, even though its economy is difficult and fraught with political risks. Tito does not enjoy this situation but can do nothing about it.”

Rankovic is a dangerous individual

The CIA source then notes the Party's relations with Tito and the Soviet Union:

“3. On the other hand, the leading officials of the party and the army know that their fate depends on Tito's ability to solve their problems. Tito must constantly think about pro-Russian associates that he cannot get rid of. Alexander Rankovic, for example, is a dangerous individual; Udba is his personal creation and the servants of Udba obey him more than Tito. Individuals such as Rankovic, Kardelj, Kidric, Bebler and Djilas will never be persuaded to completely turn their back on the USSR. However, since they themselves are doomed to fall if Tito falls, they support him all the time, nevertheless being careful not to approach Tito too close to the West, as this would mean their fall without an opportunity to escape to the Russians. Such a illogical situation cannot last forever,” the CIA source writes and continues:

“4. The current Soviet attitude in the Yugoslav-Austrian dispute over Carinthia is designed to show the people of Yugoslavia that the USSR is not an enemy of their country, but merely opposes dictator Tito and his supporters. By this time, the Russians are hoping to overthrow Tito and his gang and regain control of Yugoslavia. When they see that this cannot be done, they will release the Pan-Slavic mask and attempt to destroy only Yugoslavia, using the plan from year 1934 to destroy the Yugoslav state.”

The role of Yugoslavia in the Cold War

We also learn from the CIA document about the role of Yugoslavia in the coming Cold War.

“5. Yugoslavia cannot remain neutral in the coming conflict. If Tito is still in power at the outbreak of war, he will strive to maintain Yugoslav neutrality for at least some time. The USSR, however, would not respect Yugoslav neutrality; The Russians would immediately invade Yugoslavia to remove Tito and his supporters, establish a regime directed at the Soviets, and make the Soviet military machine available to the nation. If Tito, on the other hand, were to disappear before the outbreak of the war, there is no doubt that Yugoslavia will once again become a Soviet satellite and find itself at the forefront of the Soviet army,” a CIA source wrote in March 1949.

The Soviets dream of the dictatorship of the proletariat

And how did the CIA source perceive Soviet policy?

“6. Western democracies do not yet understand the essence of communism and the goals and tactics of the USSR. Neither Western democracies nor various emigrants were able to organize reliable, logical and effective propaganda against the real forces of Communism, while at the same time exploiting the weaknesses of the communist satellite regimes. The Soviets constantly dream of the world revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is well known that communism cannot be imposed on other nations by peaceful means and communist leaders have no choice but to use fraud, lies, terrorism, corruption and in the end, brute force.

Moscow therefore developed an unparalleled military organization and an unparalleled imperialism policy aimed at subjugating neighbouring nations, one after another; other countries in Europe and Asia will be the next target. Africa and South America will go their own way. Strong communist fifth column can be found everywhere, and non-communist personalities in high positions have been corrupted by Soviet agents. The Communists penetrated deep into North America. Henry Wallace, for example, represents America's biggest shame and the lowest level of politics. (The name of the source is blacked out.) he could not understand why democracies did not use an effective method against the Communists,” the CIA source wonders in this document.

The dangers of communism

A CIA source also senses the great danger of Soviet communism spreading to the West:

“7. In the war between Western democracies and the USSR, Europe could soon be completely occupied by Soviet and satellite forces. When that happens, the Soviet Union in Europe and Asia would have unlimited territory with huge resources and a huge workforce with high industrial efficiency. With such a base organized by terrorism and typical communist methods, the Soviets can resist any outside attack or organize and launch an air and submarine offensive," a CIA source warns.

Replacing Vyshinsky with Molotov

Point 8 in the document the CIA source subtitles Recent Staff Changes in the Soviet Government:

“8. Replacing Vyshinsky with Molotov means changing voices, but not politics itself. There is no possibility that Vyshinsky could change Yugoslavia's politics in any way. Be it Vyshinsky or Molotov, the one who yells and commands, their activities, posture and even their behaviour will be prescribed by the Politburo. The character or thinking of the person occupying any position there does not matter; he's just a record player. This fact makes a major difference between Soviet officials and diplomats and those from the West who still maintain a certain freedom of action and personal posture," the CIA source notes, among other things and also reports to Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.

Thousands of people found themselves in prison camps

It should be recalled that in Tito's Yugoslavia, in the so-called psychological war, it began to deal with followers and imaginary followers of the resolution of the informbureau. As a result, tens of thousands of party members were expelled, and thousands of people found themselves in prison camps on the Naked Island, St. Gregory and beyond. In the years 1949-1956, the Yugoslav authorities’ imprisoned more than 13.000 political opponents on the Naked Island because of their alleged support for the Soviet Union and its leader Stalin. About 550 of them were Slovenes. More than 400 political prisoners died on the island, mostly due to illness and famine, and after 1956 other prisoners from the former Yugoslavia were imprisoned on the island. Of those arrested 21.818 were NOB participants, 9.234 professors, teachers, doctors, intellectuals, 5.081 workers and farmers, 4.008 students and students. The jailers were subjected to torture and forced labour in the quarry regardless of weather conditions. In summer at high temperatures and in winter in cold wind. The prisoners were regularly beaten and otherwise abused by the guards. Products from Naked Island were in fact intended for export. Italian ships drove them across the sea, and the earnings went to the operation of the Yugoslav Udba abroad and the financing of the Trieste Credit Bank. Investigators and seekers of political opponents were rewarded by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. In 1953, according to some, 36 were declared national heroes; some became ambassadors to the Soviet Union, the United States, China, the United Nations, Canada and India. Naked Island Concentration Camp was closed in the mid-1980s. Famous Slovenians who landed at the Naked Island prison camp include Andrej Aplenc, Igo Sajovic, Franc Cukjati, Virgil Gomizel, Vladimir Bobinac, Dragotin Gustincic, Cene Logar, Bozo Kobe and many others.

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