STALIN'S BIGGEST HEADACHE
AN ADDRESS BY
WILLSON WOODSIDE, B.Sc. ASSOCIATE EDITOR, SATURDAY NIGHT
Chairman: First Vice-President, Mr. Sydney Hermant
Thursday, February 9th, 1950
Members and Guests of the Empire Club of Canada Our Guest Speaker today is a fellow Torontonian and an old friend of this Club. We all know, like and respect
Willson Woodside. A Graduate, and a former member of the Staff, of the University of Toronto, Associate-Editor of Saturday Night, and Special Commentator on the C.B.C., he is a valued member of this Community. Father of 5 children. He has done much to keep us in touch with International affairs, and has been an Ambassador of goodwill and understanding from Canada to the rest of the World. An Engineer by profession Willson Woodside used to spend his summer vacations touring Industrial plants in Europe. He soon learned to appreciate the inescapable connection between Industrial and Political activity there, and his keen acquisitive mind and natural flair for writing and self-expression, soon won him an outstanding reputation as a Political analyst. Those of us who have had the pleasure of hearing Willson Woodside address this Club, who have heard his Broadcasts, and who read his Articles in Saturday Night, will give ready testimony to the fact that he is the exception that proves the rule that a man is rarely a prophet in his own country. For corroboration I would refer you to the Empire Club Year Books of 1946 and 1947 where you will find recorded Mr. Woodside's addresses to the Club on Russia and Spain. His words at that time were interesting and prophetic. In the interim some changes have taken place. The format of Saturday Night has been changed, as has the wave length of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Political changes have taken place in Europe also, but Willson Woodside has remained the same, a keen observer and an accurate and interesting reporter. It is our privilege to hear him this afternoon address us on the subject: "Stalin's Biggest Headache".
Mr. President, Guests and Members: Mr. Hermant's, kind remarks about my family recalls a comment I heard once about the man who had five children being better satisfied than the man with 5 million dollars. The man with 5 million dollars still wants more!
In spite of this great effort, I don't feel old, or even middle-aged, and yet I was thinking this morning that it is now close on to sixteen years since I made my first talk to the Empire Club. It was my first big public speech-and was a very bad talk too, and I think it is a remarkable thing that you ever asked me back.
"Stalin's Biggest Headache", to which I am referring, is not the Hydrogen bomb. How he feels about that I am not informed, though I fancy that humanitarians on our side are much more worried about it than he is.
Nor am I referring to his troubles with "the Mao who came to dinner", and has stayed on nearly two months in the Kremlin, though this may also lead to a headache.
The headache I am referring to is TITOISM--and I have no doubt it is a headache, the biggest headache that Stalin has had since Trotsky's day. I admit, though you may think me callous, that I have enjoyed listening to the screams of pain over the Moscow Radio, almost every day for a year and a half.
I hope none of you have missed this pleasure-one of few since the end of the war-through any suspicion that Tito's defiance is all a fake. I was talking only last night to an intelligent woman who was quite convinced that this was one of the greatest put-up jobs in history. It isn't. Titoism is a very serious heresy in the world church of Communism.
Only last week, for example, I saw in the transcript of the Moscow Radio which I am fortunate enough to receive each day, that Moscow is saying that Titoism is the "greatest menace to 'progressive'--meaning 'Communist'--forces in South America which exists today." The Soviets themselves are in fact the best authorities for my claim that Titoism is a serious challenge to Moscow's leadership.
Titoism has revealed, in a striking way, the weaknesses of the new Muscovite imperialism--though I may say that it was not Tito, among the Soviet neighbors, who first discovered this imperialism. I recall vividly an evening spent with my good, friend, Jan Masaryk, in London during the war, just after he had returned from Moscow negotiating a treaty of friendship. He was convinced then that the Soviets "had gone completely imperialist."
He told me that in his weekly broadcast to his people he was referring--this was in 1944--only to "the Soviet Empire" and not the Soviet Union, to give them some warning as to what to expect after the war. This did not earn Moscow's approval and affection. He died suddenly, as you know, two years ago--and however this happened, people in Czechoslovakia are convinced he was done in.
Because Tito was one jump further away from the U.S.S.R., and had, a window on the free world, he and the Yugoslavs have been able to express their national sentiment in the breakaway from the absolute dictation of the Kremlin. This does not mean that Tito is not a Communist. As someone put it well, he is no less Communist than the Bolsheviks, but more Yugoslav than the Russians. But of course, from being propagandized as the second greatest hero of world communism, he is now denounced by Moscow as a "Gestapo spy, a Judas, a running-dog of American imperialism."
There are other peoples who, like the Ukrainians and Balts, have not had the same opportunity to break away; still others like the Poles and Czechs, the Hungarians, Rumanians and Bulgarians who would find it much more difficult. But I have no doubt that they feel basically the same way as the Yugoslavs-for Yugoslav nationalism is no stronger than most of these others.
The success of Titoism now becomes a powerful incentive and encouragement to these other subjugated peoples to continue the struggle and seek their time. It also provides a dramatic warning to other nations still beyond Soviet control, who have swallowed the propaganda about Stalin's great international "liberating" movement, the "hope" of the workers of the world. They can hear what the Yugoslavs, who had a close look at "paradise", have to say about it.
And don't think that these others--Communists and non-Communists--are not listening in on what Tito has to say about complete subjugation which Moscow demands of her supposed "junior partners" in the "people's democratic front."
The Yugoslav Communist leaders, anxious to prove that they are real upholders of the Leninist tradition, have assiduously distributed the correspondence with Stalin which preceded the break. They gave this out in English and it is a fascinating document. Large quantities have been uncovered in Germany, printed in German. It has been sent into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Titoism has completely split the Norwegian Communist party. The powerful French Communist Party has a Titoist purge under way. The leader of the Japanese Communist Party, an old comrade of the Chinese leader Mao, has been denounced from Moscow as a Titoist--but upheld by his own following.
To chedk Titoism in Bulgaria, the Soviets have liquidated most of the native Communist leaders and installed men long-trained in Moscow. Here and in Hungary they have held Titoist show trials of top figures, and they are preparing such a trial in Poland. The men being tried and liquidated are figures who were chosen just over two years ago as the most reliable and able Communists in the satellites, to launch the Cominform. So deeply has Titoism eaten into Communist loyalty.
Now what, exactly, is meant by Titoism? The answer has been given over and over by Tito: it is an assertion that Communist countries, while cooperating in a "Social ist brotherhood', are equal, and must have the right to run their own house, according to their own special conditions and traditions. It is a flat denial of Moscow's right to dictate every aspect of domestic and foreign policy.
What Tito has said about Soviet policy, in asserting his independence, must I believe dispel any notion that the whole quarrel is a subtle trick. It is altogether too damaging to Moscow and to Stalin.
Tito has said that the Soviet Union has abandoned Leninism. He has said the Soviet Union is degenerate; that it suppresses all truth, wallows in lies, and has lost all moral foundation. You can hear all this in his broadcasts from Belgrade.
Tito has proclaimed that Stalin is not always right--which is the supreme heresy.
He says that Soviet Communism has become just another imperialism. He has quoted chapter and verse of its exploitation of Yugoslavia, and has attempted to keep it a colony supplying raw materials. He says the Soviets paid low prices for these, and demanded high prices for goods sent in exchange-goods they often had extorted cheaply from Poland or Czechoslovakia. They imposed joint stock companies on Yugoslavia, as on the other satellites, in which they held half of the stock, provided a very small part of the capital, but took most of the production.
On the political side, Tito has revealed that the Soviets spied on everything that was done in Yugoslavia, maintaining their own special secret service there just as they do in Canada and all other countries.
They had "trusties" inside the Yugoslav Politburo, reporting every detail of what was discussed, every difference of opinion, every remark critical of Soviet policy. They were prepared to use these agents to replace Tito and his lieutenants-but he grabbed them first. We may assume the Soviets use the same system to control the other satellite governments.
We may be sure that the damaging effects of Tito's inside story of Soviet methods have been far more apparent to the Soviet rulers than to the rest of us. His defiance came at a moment when they were clamping down the blockade on Berlin, no doubt as a preliminary to far-reaching policies in Europe, hopes for which must have been encouraged by the strength and activity of the Communist Parties in France and Italy at that time.
If, as one may suppose, they hoped to gain control of all Germany at that time--and this remains their supreme objective--then Tito helped to upset their plans. They have had to turn to an intensive effort to consolidate their hold over the other satellites, and put down Tito's insubordination.
It may even be that the experience with Tito will move the Soviets to incorporate the other satellites within the U.S.S.R. sooner than they had intended. Rokossovsky's appointment as virtual viceroy of the Kremlin in Poland may, in fact, be the first step towards incorporation. There is said to be a Soviet general placed over the Bulgarian Army, under a false name, and there have been rumours of similar moves in other satellites.
If you consider the Soviet mentality, and the way they have dealt with their own people during the past thirty years, how would they go about making sure that no more satellites break away? The certain method is to place them within the iron-bound Soviet frontier; to bring them under the full control of the N.K.V.D.; to move their armies to other parts of the U.S.S.R. or water them down with Russian troops: to deal with them, in short, exactly as they have dealt with the Ukrainians, the Georgians and the White Russians and other peoples of the U.S.S.R. since the Revolution.
How else can they really consolidate their control over Central and Eastern Europe, as Western Europe recovers, strengthens its military and economic power, and exerts a stronger and stronger pull on the satellites, where everything is getting worse, sinking to the Soviet level of life?
I think we can take it for granted that the Soviet leaders realize that had the Czechs and Yugoslavs concerted their policy early last year, before Czechoslovakia was taken over completely by the Communists, and when Tito was beginning to show defiance, an independence movement might have spread through all the satellite countries. It may have been Tito's growing independence at that time which hastened the seizure of government in Czechoslovakia, causing a profound shock throughout the Western world, and bringing on all these movements towards unity: Western Union, Consolidation of Europe and the Atlantic Pact.
It would seem therefore that that move in Czechoslovakia was a costly policy for the Soviet Union, in spurring the West towards unity and rearmament.
The incorporation of the satellite states within the new Soviet Empire would have an even more profound effect in the West. Among all the opponents of Soviet imperialism it would further spur movements towards unity and strength. Among all those sympathetic to the Soviet cause, it would make an end to all pretence that Soviet Communism was an international workers' movement. It would confirm all that Tito is saying about it having degenerated into imperialism.
Now why, if Titoism is so damaging, have the Soviets not done away with Tito and his following before this? Well, they have tried to. At first they seem to have been over-confident that he just couldn't defy them, that the bulk of the Yugoslav Communists were loyal to Moscow and with proper help and encouragement would overthrow him.
I heard in Washington last year a very interesting story from a man who was Hungarian Finance Minister up to the time of Tito's defection. He remarked to the leading Communist and Prime Minister of Hungary, Rakosi, that he intended to go for a holiday to the Dalmatian Coast. Rakosi impressed on him that he should not go to the Dalmatian Coast at the present time. After Tito's defiance, Rakosi said to him, "Now you know what I meant. However, I think that in about six weeks time you can take your trip to the Dalmatian Coast." So it was believed in inner Communist circles that Tito would last six weeks!
When this hope faded, the Soviets clamped on a severe economic blockade, which they thought would bring Tito down. Economic help from the West has saved Tito from that. He also seems to have found more support from his people, in defying Moscow, than he had ever gained in serving Moscow. I doubt if even one-fourth of the Yugoslavs would vote for Tito in different circumstances, but they prefer him to a new viceroy sent in by the Kremlin, which is the choice they have at the present.
Doubtless the Soviets have tried to assassinate Tito. And they have organized groups of Yugoslav Communists in the satellites neighboring on Yugoslavia, to carry on broadcasting and publish and smuggle in propaganda against Tito-probably with the promise that these men would get good jobs after the victory.
But Tito knows all the tricks. He was raised in their school. I have heard that he has night-fighter patrols watching for the parachuting of Soviet agents-as was done in wartime. And his security arrangements have successfully safeguarded his person.
That brings in a rather nice story quoted by an American who interviewed Tito last fall and asked him, what exactly was his policy? Tito leaned back and said, with a grin, "My policy is to keep alive!"
There are very many who believe that Stalin is bound now to use military force to make an end to Tito's defiance. Certainly he has used, and will use, threat of force. The mobilization last fall in Rumania and Hungary, along the Yugoslav border, was too well advertised, however, to be the real thing. It didn't shake Tito. Since then, I have had reports of a steady building-up of Soviet troops in Hungary, of the development of bigger air bases, the pushing through of the double-track Russian wide-gauge railroad lines to Budapest and also to Bucharest in Rumania, and to Breslau, on the Oder, facing Eastern Germany.
So I think that, all in all, there is every indication that a big crisis will arise in the Balkans and Central Europe in the spring. Will Stalin actually send the
Soviet Army into Yugoslavia? Only if he is convinced that the Western powers would not become involved, and a general war develop. Without our atom bombs, one can imagine the kind of ultimatum he would deliver, using the threat of his atom bombs.
We can't say for sure Stalin will continue to follow a cautious course. But he has a record of caution. We know that in Greece, Trieste and Berlin, he has been cautious in avoiding a final showdown. And the movement of sufficient troops to make a quick job of Yugoslavia would be almost sure to bring on a general war scare.
Will Stalin then try to bring down Tito with a guerilla campaign on a far larger scale than that in Greece? The first bands of Bulgarian guerillas have already been caught in Yugoslavia, and are even now on trial. But it would take a very big guerilla campaign to subdue the Yugoslav Army, trained in such warfare--especially if the guerillas were well-hated Bulgarians and Hungarians. And such a campaign would drag out, giving Tito time to get supplies through his window on the Mediterranean, also giving time for a general war crisis to develop.
So one returns to the alternative of incorporating the neighboring satellites in U.S.S.R., which would move the vast Soviet military power right up to the Yugoslav border. Stalin may well believe that Tito could not withstand such pressure for long.
We have been talking up to now about what Stalin may do about Tito. Now we come to the question of what we will do, ought to do, about him. That is a difficult question. Tito is against Stalin. His defiance is weakening Stalin's position and propaganda. Stalin is Enemy No. l. So we may well reason that what is bad for Stalin is good for us, and that we should help Tito.
This seems to be a sound and realistic policy, so long as we keep our minds clear on what we are trying to achieve. Tito is a Communist--he claims to be the real Communist leader. He maintains a sterner tyranny than the other satellite leaders. We must somehow make it clear to the Yugoslav people that our ultimate aim is the securing of their freedom, and that we are supporting Tito only against Moscow and not against them.
Therefore we must impose conditions on our aid to Tito. He needs us: there is no future for him in the Soviet system, only the biggest show trial in history and a slow and painful death. Let's hear no nonsense about his not accepting any conditions for our aid. That's the sort of thing we let Stalin put over on us, when we pumped in supplies to him while his back was to the wall, without at least getting his signature on a document which we could show the world and distribute among his oppressed people, promising the abolition of slave labor in the U.S.S.R. and freedom for the Eastern European peoples whom he was supposed to be "liberating" from Hitler.
Instead he cleverly put us in the position of appearing to be supporting him, thus discouraging the hopes of freedom burning strongly at that time among many of his peoples, and notably the Ukrainians.
I had in my office just a few weeks ago a fine figure of a guerilla fighter, who had fought his way from the Ukraine across Czechoslovakia to Germany, and thence to Canada, to contact the Ukrainians on this continent. He told of fighting going on in the woods with guerrilla detachments 1,000 strong, even last year. The Ukrainian underground movement, he claimed, reached its maximum strength as late as January, 1947. Gradually the Soviet troops and secret police are getting them under control.
Stalin even got us to promise to deliver back to his executioners and his labor camp supervisors all those Soviet citizens who had fled the U.S.S.R., or been carried off by the Germans during the war, and didn't want to go back. That, to my mind, was the absolute low point in all our policy towards the Soviet Union. It may now take us years to convince those of Stalin's people who are striving for freedom that we are on their side, and not on his.
We must at all costs avoid that mistake in dealing with Tito-and with General Franco.
The least we could demand of Tito, surely, is that he must give up at once the 8000 kidnapped Greek children he is still holding; and abolish his forced labor practices. I think we should also stipulate that, after his present crisis passes, he will allow free political activity and an opposition free press.
He may not keep his promise--and if he is an unredeemed scoundrel, he will calculate on that when he gives it. But at least our record, and our moral position, would be clear. We could hold his promise before his people, and that would constitute a steady pressure on him. If he should come to recognize the basic errors and evil of Communism, as former Communists like Koestler and Silone, Kravchenko and Gouzenko, have done, we should have helped to gain freedom for another people.
When I talk about freedom, I am inclined to lose my calm. I believe, passionately, that the idea of freedom offers us an explosive more powerful than the atomic bomb or the hydrogen bomb, to blow up the empire of this modern Genghis Khan.
I believe that, only if we believe deeply enough in the idea of freedom, only if we can rise above the enervating comfort and illusive security which we feel on this continent, and d go to work vigorously to pry away at the weak joints of the Soviet tyranny, are we likely to make it the triumphant force in the world.
I would like to see us launch a real cold war of ideas, a democratic counter-offensive, against Stalin's spreading Communist imperialism. I would aid the Ukrainians and the Baltic peoples, whose partisans are still fighting in the woods, the other subjugated peoples of the Soviet Union, who showed their restlessness during the war, and the satellite peoples with their strong nationalist feelings, with all the apparatus of the wartime resistance movements.
I would support them in setting up National Committees of Liberation, supported by Canadian, British and American Friends of the Russian people, Friends of the Ukrainian people, of the Polish and Hungarian people, and so on.
I would encourage Committees of Polish Trade Unionists-in-exile. Czech Trade Unionists, Ukrainians Balts, and so on.
I would support the existing committees of notable exiles: the Committee for a Free Europe, the Eastern European Peasant Union.
I would use pamphlets, underground newspapers, stronger radio programs, agents to contact their underground organization.
I would work on Soviet troops on occupation duty--so many of whom have come over, even without assurance against being handed back to Stalin.
I would work through the Orthodox Church in the satellites, into the Orthodox Church in Soviet Union. In short, I would turn the cold war on Stalin, keep him busy, put him on the defensive.
The ideas which can do this are freedom and union. A solemn promise of self-determination for all peoples, and a clear plan for a United Europe.
I believe only this kind of war, and not a war of atom-bombs, will give the possibility of establishing a real and manageable peace.
I have some hope, from the speech with which Senator Brien McMahon stirred the U.S. Senate the other day as it has not been stirred for years, urging a great world-wide peace offensive, that we may be on the verge of launching something like this.
We had better not waste much more time. For never in all history did the clock tick away the hours and the days and the months so fatefully as it is doing right now.