By David Williamson
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Additional resources for Access to History. Europe and the Cold War 1945-1991
In many ways, as modern historians who have had access to the Soviet archives have shown, Stalin had shown himself to be pragmatic. He believed ﬁrmly in zones of inﬂuence. Provided that Soviet power was secure in the key states of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, he was ready, at least for a time, to be ﬂexible in Hungary, Finland and Czechoslovakia and respect the interests of his allies elsewhere, as his attitude to British intervention in Greece showed. In Italy and France he kept his options open by instructing the Communist parties to join democratic coalitions.
In January 1945 the leaders of the Czech government in London and the Communist political leaders met in Moscow. In retrospect Rudolf Slansky, the Communist Party Secretary, wrote that ‘here for the ﬁrst time there was joined the battle of two political worlds’, namely the West and the Soviet-dominated East. Yet Beneˇs, as the future constitutional President of Czechoslovakia, refused to take sides against the Communists. When the provisional government was formed, the Communists were able to demand eight seats in the cabinet including the inﬂuential Ministries of the Interior and Information, although Gottwald skilfully camouﬂaged their powerful position by not claiming the premiership.
There was even talk that the Soviet zone would have to deliver food to the hard-pressed Western zones. In May, General Clay, the military governor of the US zone, in an attempt to bring the French into line and to force the Soviets to agree to treat Germany as an economic unity with its economy organised on a national rather than a zonal level, announced that no further reparation deliveries would be made until there was an overall plan for the German economy. To the Soviets it seemed that the Americans were bringing pressure to bear on them to agree to a reconstructed German economy within an international capitalist system.
Access to History. Europe and the Cold War 1945-1991 by David Williamson