Post-War Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy under Khrushchev

Late Stalinist Foreign Policy, 1949-1956

Satellite states had been established in Eastern Central Europe immediately after the war. Eastern Germany (without Berlin) had been granted independence in 1949. The 6 satellite states, together with the Soviet Union, formed the WARSAW PACT, a pact for mutual defense, in 1949.
At the same time Stalin resumed the PARTY PURGES. With the communist parties having a monopoly of power - socialist states were ONE PARTY STATES - Stalin now wanted to eliminate freethinkers and potential enemies, and had the parties in (reestablished) Czechoslovakia and Poland purged. When the purgers were about to move into East Germany, Stalin suddenly died in 1953.
The SOVIET BLOCK had to suffer from post-war economic difficulties. Inflation appeared everywhere within the block, most noteably in Hungary in 1946. While western Europe's economy began booming from 1948 on, thanks to the MARSHALL PLAN, the progress of eastern Europe's economy was slow (Stalin had forbidden the socialist governments to accept Marshall aid). The result was massive emigration, especially from East into West Germany (200-250.000 per year). The socialist states responded by sealing off their borders; Berlin continued to be a loophole until 1961.
Economic difficulties caused large scale demonstrations in East Germany, demanding the abolition of the socialist system, on 17. 6. 1953 were clamped down by Soviet tanks. In 1956 the Hungarians established a non-socialist government and enjoyed a short period of liberty, when Soviet tanks responded brutally, forcing Hungary back into the socialist system. 100.000s fled into the west.

The USSR followed a policy of distancing itself from the west, of promoting communist organizations abroad (which Stalin tried to keep under strict control) especially in countries of the third world, where Stalin believed the situation favourable for revolutions and the installation of communist regimes. This policy would cause the US administration to establish the DOMINO THEORY.
Stalin relied on ESPIONAGE, the success of which significantly contributed to the Anti-Communist hysteria that took hold of the US in the early 1950es (MCCARTHYISM).
In 1955, the USSR signed the STAATSVERTRAG with Austria, releasing the country into independence under the condition that it remained neutral. The USSR handed over the naval base at PORKKALA over to Finland, both intended at gestures of goodwill towards Europe. The USSR offered German unification to the FRG under the condition that unified Germany, like Austria, would remain neutral and not join NATO. The offer was rejected by the Adenauer administration.

In 1956 the Egyptian government nationalized the Suez Canal. Britain, France and Israel reacted by launching an invasion of Egypt. The USSR openly declared to side with Egypt (as did the US administration); Britain, France and Israel called off the invasion.
The USSR tried to present itself as an anti-imperialist nation (the USSR itself, on paper, was federalist, the major nations within the USSR enjoying political autonomy). This view was accepted by many patriotic African/Asian intellectuals still living under colonial rule. The USSR was willing to support organizations fighting for independence with financial aid, with advisers as well as with arms.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 8th 2004

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