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(the Poles believe this combination to be inexpedient), then you can make an attempt with Lange, with the goal of using Lange to dismantle the PPS. Consult with Wanda Lvovna, who is closely familiar with Lange. The rest of the discussion dealt with questions regarding the shipment of 30 tons of seed grain from the Rokossowski reserves and fulfilling the Poles' request for railroad transport. But you already know about these matters.
[Source: Archive of the President, Russian Federation (APRF), fond 45, opis 1, delo 355, listy 8-11; published in Vostochnaia Yevropa v dokumentakh rossiiskikh arkhivov (Eastern Europe in the Documents of the Russian Archives 1944-1953), vol. 1 (1944-48), ed. T.V. Volokitina et. al., (Moscow: Siberian Chronograph, 1997), pp. 301-303; translated by Daniel Rozas)
"Oskar Lange, a well-known economist, active in the PPS and PUWP, was a professor at the University of Chicago during the war.
Wanda Wasilewska (1905-1964): Socialist and Communist politician and writer; leader of the Polish communist emigration in the Soviet Union during World War II—President of the Union of Polish Patriots in the USSR; Stalin's protegee. Did not return to Poland after 1945.
13 Marshall Józef Pilsudski (1867-1935): Polish national leader, architect of Polish independence in 1918, President 19181922 and Premier 1926-27, 1930.
14 Jan Sosnowski, active in SDKPiL, lived in the USSR after 1917. He died in the purges of 1937-38.
15 Feliks Dzierzynski (1877-1926): Polish and Russian communist politician; founder and President of the Cheka, 19171926; held various posts in the Soviet Government (Sovnarkom).
16 Tomasz Dabal, one of the leaders of the KPP, died in the purges
General Władysław Sikorski (1881-1943): eminent Polish military leader and statesman; Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile, 1939-1943; died in air crash in Gibraltar.
18 Józef Unszlicht, active in SDKPiL, lived in the USSR after 1917, died in purges in 1937-38.
19 The Lend-Lease Act of 1941, on the basis of which the USSR received from the United States equipment and supplies worth US $11 billion during the war.
State-run farms. 21 Viktor Lebedev, USSR Ambassador in Warsaw, 1945-52.
22 Nikolai Abramov, rear-admiral, a Russian officer who for five months (August-December 1945) was Chief of Staff of the
Andrzej Werblan is Professor Emeritus of History at the Silesian University in Katowice, former Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party, and Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliament.
Ante Pavelić, a Croatian politican and soldier who collaborated with the Germans during World War II.
24 Ivan Šubašić, premier of the Yugoslavian emigration government in London in 1944. In 1945, after an agreement with Josip Broz Tito, he became a Minister of Internal Affairs in Tito's government. He resigned from that post after several months.
25 The Provisional Revolutionary Committee of Poland, which was to become the Polish Soviet Government in case the Red Army won in 1920. It existed for a short period of time in the summer of 1920 on the territory seized by the Red Army. Julian Marchlewski was the Chairman; other members were Feliks Dzierżyński, Feliks Kon, Edward Próchniak and Józef Unszlicht.
Semyon Timoshenko, a USSR marshal.
For a discussion of the evolution of Stalin's inner circles of advisors see lu. N. Zhukov “Bor'ba za vlast' v rukovodstve SSSR v 1945-1952 godakh" (The Struggle for Power in the Leadership of the USSR, 1945-52), Voprosy Istorii 1 (1995), pp. 23-39.
Władysław Gomułka (1905-1966): pseudonym “Wieslaw”; Polish Communist leader; General Secretary of the Polish Workers' Party, 1943-1948; First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party, 1956-1970.
Władysław Gomułka, Diaries, edited by Andrzej Werblan (Warsaw, 1994), vol. II,
3 Krysztof Persak: Junior research fellow at the Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences. His current project deals with the Polish Communist Party Central Committee's organization and functioning as well as Polish Communist elite after 1944.
Krzysztof Persak, “Polish Sources On Stalin's Foreign Policy,” Paper presented at the CWIHP workshop “European Archival Evidence on Stalin and the Cold War,” Budapest, 3-4 October 1997.
s Vostochnaia Yevropa v dokumentakh rossiiskikh arkhivov 1944-53 88. [Eastern Europe in the documents of the Russian Archives), vol. I. 1944-48 (Moscow-Novosibirsk: "Siberian Chronograph," 1997).
• Hilary Minc (1905-1974): Communist politician; member of the PWP/PUWP Politburo, 1944-1956; deputy Prime Minister, responsible for the economy. At the time a member of the Politburo of the KCPPR and Minister of Industry in the TRIN.
? Stanisław Mikołajczyk (1902-1966): Peasants’ Party leader; Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile, 1943-44; leader of the opposition Polish Peasants' Party and deputy Prime Minister, 1945-47; 1947 emigration to the U.S.
8 Words “third quarter of 1945” added in hand on the original. ° Edward Osóbka-Morawski, TRJN premier.
10 Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party of France.
The Polish Contribution to the Victory of the “Prague Coup”
in February 1948
By Andrzej Paczkowski
n the last phase of World War II, and during the first years after the war, Polish-Czechoslovak relations
were, to use the euphemistic language of diplomacy, cool and sometimes even tense. The source of this tension was a conflict which had started in 1918 over part of Těšín (Cieszyn), Silesia (also known as Zaolzie) as well as the newly born territorial dispute over the division of German Lower Silesia, which eventually had fallen to Poland. The Polish and Czechoslovak Communists also became involved in these conflicts. Although both sides declared their internationalism, the communist parties were most unyielding in presenting their territorial demands; in part because of the necessity to strengthen their legitimacy as the defenders of national (or state) interests and in part to show themselves to be as good defenders as other political parties. This was particularly obvious in the case of the Polish Communists, who came to power by force. The Czechoslovak Communists, who traditionally had been quite influential, however, also had to avoid being outmatched by the “Benešniks.” In the end, under pressure from Stalin, a compromise was reached and a treaty of “friendship and cooperation” was signed in March 1947.
Cool relations between the two countries did not mean that relations between the Communist parties were equally bad. Perhaps they lacked the spontaneous cordiality with which, for example, Yugoslav leader Josip Tito was treated in Poland, but Poles sincerely worried that Prague was "lagging behind" the rest of Central Europe in its march towards “people's democracy.” They, of course, avoided public criticism of their Czech and Slovak comrades, but growing Polish impatience was expressed by some of the more orthodox activists in some internal documents. For example, the Polish consul in Moravská Ostrava stated with regret in a 1947 report that "the superstition of formal democracy is still deeply rooted in the heart of the (Czechoslovak] com-party (Communist Party].” However, he consoled himself by saying that “the growing consciousness and combative spirit of the working masses is producing more healthy trends." The fact that it was only in Czechoslovakia that the Communists had not yet gained full control over the situation was inconvenient for everybody, including Moscow.? However, Warsaw probably felt most directly what was happening on the other side of the Poland's southern border. Among other reasons, this was because Czechoslovakia under President Eduard Beneš did not constitute a tight enough barrier between Poland and the West. Moreover, Polish Communists, who were more and more determined to achieve “organic unification” with, or,
in fact, absorption of, the Socialists, were concerned with the "bad example" given by the Czechoslovak Social Democrats to their Polish counterparts. Particularly after the Brno congress of November 1947, activists who preferred to collaborate with non-Communist partners and President Beneš, rather than with Communist premier, Klement Gottwald, played an important role in the party leadership. In addition, Bohumil Laušman, the newly elected chairman of the Social Democratic Party, was allegedly a "centrist.” These trends could potentially have mobilized those Polish Socialists who were hesitant to fall into the open arms of Communist leaders Bolesław Bierut and Władysław Gomułka.
It is therefore not surprising that Warsaw was intensely interested in the elections planned in Czechoslovakia for May 1948. At the end of January 1948, during one of the meetings of the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) Politburo, “it was decided to propose to the CPCz [Czechoslovak Communist Party) a meeting during the coming two weeks to discuss the question of the election." On February 11, that is, when the government crisis in Prague began, the same body decided on the "guidelines" for talks with the Czechoslovak Communists. These concerned “a) (the question of] taking a tougher stance against reactionary and collaborationist forces; b) the question of the approach to the Social Democrats and tactics towards the Socialist Left in Czechoslovakia; and c) the question of potential political aid in organizational and technical spheres (in the election campaign).” On February 14, after the meeting, Gomułka presented a report to members of the Politburo. The recorder did not mention whether he had raised the question of taking a tougher stance against reactionary forces,” but the topic must have been discussed. One way or another, the Polish Communists intended to offer help. On February 13, as the situation in Prague intensified, the embassy sent a coded message suggesting that “due to the projected internal and political changes ... [it would be] desirable for a delegation
a from Poland to participate in the Congress of Trade Unions (which was to take place) on February 22."5 Three days later, however, Warsaw received a telegram saying that Gottwald “decided not to invite the delegation,” since "questions of internal politics will be discussed" during the Congress, "and the presence of foreigners could be interpreted as interfering in Czechoslovak internal affairs."6 (As is well known, the Congress of Trade Unions became one of the main instruments of pressure on Beneš.)
Although the Czechoslovak Communists completely controlled the situation in the trade unions, the Social Democrats were still their “weak point." A lot depended on
their stance, since it was only together with the Social Democrats that the CPCz had a majority in the Parliament. Without the collaboration of the Social Democrats, not just Zdeněk Fierlinger's “Left,” but above all Laušman's "center," the chances for a quick and "peaceful" elimination of political opponents were close to zero. In this matter Polish comrades could help, since the leadership of the Polish Socialist Party consisted of conformists who were ready to go quite far in order to show their loyalty in the fight for the "unity of the workers' movement,” and some of them were simply too dependent on the Communists. After receiving the news that Laušman was inclined to cooperate with Gottwald's opponents, Gomułka immediately conducted the necessary dialogue with Józef Cyrankiewicz, the premier and unquestioned leader of the compliant Polish Socialists. On the evening of the same day, February 20, the PPS leadership decided to send a party delegation to Prague. Their goal was to “potentially influence" Czechoslovak colleagues “in the spirit of leftist-Socialist and revolutionary politics." Also on February 20, the Polish Foreign Ministry ordered Aleksander Krajewski, chargé d'affaires in Prague, to “immediately go to Gottwald” and inform him about the planned departure for Prague of the four PPS delegates at noon the next day. An “immediate answer” was requested as to whether the “CPCz had any reservations with respect to this initiative, and the CPCz was asked to provide guidelines for talks with the Social Democrats."9 This time, the answer from Prague was completely positive. Gottwald asked the Poles to meet with the Social Democrats (“particularly the left ones”) and to press “them and Laušman not to leave the government under any circumstances or to align with the reactionary forces."10
In the late afternoon of February 21, four Polish politicians arrived in Prague. They belonged to the very top PPS leadership, although Cyrankiewicz, the “Number One” man, was not among them. It could have been impossible for Cyrankiewicz to come to Prague, since the arrival of the premier in office would give the delegation an official and government-level character. All the delegates were members of the Central Executive Committee (Centralny Komitet Wykonawczy, hereafter CKW), which was the highest executive organ of the party, corresponding more or less to the Politburo in Communist parties. Kazimierz Rusinek, head of the CKW (formally the Number Two man in the PPS), led the delegation. He was accompanied by Adam Rapacki, a member of the Political Commission of the CKW and Minister of Navigation in Cyrankiewicz's government, who later became famous on the international scene as Poland's foreign minister from 1956-1968. The other two members of the delegation were CKW members Stefan Arski and Henryk Jabłoński. There is no need to discuss their actions, since the extensive report published below relates it in great detail. It seems to be reliable, although it is noted that in Czechoslovak sources known to me, there
is no mention of the Poles' stay in Prague or of the many talks they conducted with the Social Democrats as well as with the Communists.
After returning to Warsaw the delegation submitted the following report, copies of which are found in Polish Workers' Party records as well as in those of the Foreign Ministry. Cyrankiewicz passed one copy to the Soviet embassy in Warsaw, and Ambassador Viktor Lebedev sent a shortened version to Moscow." In the memo accompanying the note, Ambassador Lebedev “ironically pointed out that the PPS delegates strikingly (javno) overestimated the importance of their mission."12 I am not able to judge whether and to what degree the ambassador was right, but I hope the historians investigating the 1948 “Prague coup” will do that in time. It is beyond question, however, that the Poles genuinely wanted to help Gottwald and their Socialist comrades in the efficient elimination of the “reactionary forces.” It is also possible that it was important to Cyrankiewicz to present the report to the Soviet representative in Warsaw, since this was a way for the PPS to stress its loyalty to Stalin (and Communists in general) and prove that it could be useful. At the same time, the observation of the mechanics of the "Prague coup," the ruthlessness and effectiveness of Gottwald's actions, definitely influenced the way in which the Polish Socialists assessed their chances to resist the “unification" plan pushed by Gomułka. The PPS leadership realized that if they did not give up "willingly" they would be forced to surrender under worse conditions. Less than two weeks after the victory of the Czechoslovak Communists, Roman Zambrowski, one of the PPR leaders, said that, "new (developments) in Socialist parties in the West and in the countries of People's Democracy ... were the reason that we entered a new stage of relations between the PPR and PPS. We consider this period to be a period of accelerated ripening of organic unity. The international situation has changed so much in the last few days that in order not to be left behind (the events) we need to start moving faster as well."13 Gomułka sent congratulations to Gottwald, and Cyrankiewicz and Rusinek sent a congratulatory letter to Laušman, expressing "a particular joy about the closing of the unified ranks of the Czechoslovak working class and consolidating the Social Democratic Party along the leftist-socialist, revolutionary political line."#4 By helping Gottwald and Fierlinger they were adding a brick to the Sovietization of Poland and signing the death sentence for their own party.
2 E.g., in January 1948 in the Central Committee (CC) Department of Foreign Policy of the All-Union Communist Party (b) a study was prepared in which reservations were expressed numerous times concerning the fact that the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPCz) “had not (yet) organized a decisive attack against the reactionary forces.” Quoted from G.N. Murashko et al., eds., Vostochnaya Evropa v dokumentakh rossijskich archivov 1944-1953, vol. 1, 1944-1948, p.742, n. 2.
Archiwum Akt Nowych (AAN) of KC PZPR, 2957-5, p.7. * Ibid., p.17.
5 AMSZ, Telegram Section, file 153, packet 15, coded message no. 1693. • Ibid., coded message no. 1817.
Murashko et al., Vostochnaya Evropa, doc. 261, p.769. 8 See the document published below. This document has been used by Stanisław Ciesielski in his article, “PPS wobec wydarzeń lutowych w Czechoslowacji w 1948 r. Delegacja PPS w Pradze” (“The PPS and the February events in Czechoslovakia in 1948: The PPS delegation in Prague"), in Wrocławskie studia z dziejów najnowszych, Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis 1274 (Wrocław, 1992), pp. 237-251. However, Ciesielski did not get to other documents, either from the MSZ, PPR, or WKP (b).
9 AMSZ, Telegram Sections, file 154, packet 16, coded message no. 2132.
10 Ibid., file 153, coded message no. 2011
1 Published in Murashko et al., Vostochnaya Evropa, doc. no. 262, pp. 770-775.
12 Ibid., p. 775, n. 6.
13 AAN, KC PZPR, 295/VII-4 (protocol of the meeting of CC PPR Secretariat of 8 March 1948).
14 Robotnik, No. 57, 27 February 1948.
The PPS Central Executive Committee considered this turn of events in the heart of ČSD to be particularly dangerous because of the threat to people's democracy in Poland's immediate neighborhood. The political crisis in Czechoslovakia was unanimously judged to be an action provoked by local and international reactionary forces in order to transform Czechoslovakia into the object of direct attack by the American capitalist counteroffensive.
The delegation was given political instructions based on the above basic stance of the PPS Central Executive Committee and flew to Prague on Saturday, February 21.
After arriving in Prague, the delegation considered it necessary to conduct preliminary talks with factors [i.e., people—translator's note) who could provide it (with] objective information about the present political situation. Since possible further active political measures depended on gaining an objective view of the state of affairs at the moment, a series of informational conversations as conducted that same day.
The general description of the situation was provided to the delegation first by Com. Krajewski, Polish Chargé d'Affaires in Prague.
Subsequently, conversations were held with Com. Rudolf Slanský, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) and Jaromír Dolanský, the Minister of Finance and a member of the KSČ Central Committee. Finally, a long conversation with Com. Zdeněk Fierlinger also took place.
After these preliminary talks the delegation gained a precise picture of the situation and the basic stances of the KSČ and the ČSD left.
In the general outline the situation was as follows:
The political crisis was directly caused by the resignation of the ministers of three right-wing parties: the National Socialists (Nar-Soc) (Ed. note: the original Polish document uses the unusual abbreviation Nar-Soc for the National Socialist Party: the Československá Strana Národně socialistická, henceforth ČSNS), People's Party (Lid) (Ed. note: the original Polish document uses Lid for the Czechoslovak People's Party: the Československá Strana Lidová, henceforth ČSL) and Slovak Democrats (DS). Twelve of these ministers, led by Vice-premier [Petr] Zenkl (ČSNS), resigned as a result of a conflict over the discharge of high National Socialist police officials and their replacement by Communists. This, of course, was only a pretext, which let into the open some conflicts that had been hidden for a long time. These conflicts had been growing for a while and became inflamed as the election date approached. They had a dual economicsocial and political background. The right-wing parties clearly sabotaged the further social reforms envisioned in the NF (National Front) program, which involved expanding the nationalization of all industrial enterprises employing more than fifty workers, the nationalization of wholesale trade, the introduction of a state monopoly on foreign trade, and additional land reform. The right wing was afraid that these reforms might undermine the existing
Document Report of the Special Action of the Polish Socialist
Party in Prague, 21-25 February 1948
In accordance with the resolution of the Political Commission and General Secretariat of the Central Executive Committee (CKW) of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), made late on the night of 20 February 1948, Com. Kazimierz Rusinek, Adam Rapacki, Henryk Jabłoński, and Stefan Arski were delegated to go to Prague. This decision was made after a thorough analysis of the political situation in Czechoslovakia brought on by a cabinet crisis there. The goal of the delegation was to inform the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party (ČSD) about the basic stance of the PPS and possibly to influence the ČSD Central Committee in the spirit of leftist-socialist and revolutionary politics. The motive behind the decision of the Political Commission and General Secretariat was the fear that, from the leftistsocialist point of view, the situation at the heart of CSD after the Brno Congress was taking an unfavorable shape. It was feared that the Czechoslovak Party, led by rightist elements, might easily be led astray during the present crisis by opportunism and be tempted to play the role of a “third force."
social balance to the advantage of the working classes and temporization. At the same time, President Beneš was cut at the economic base of the propertied classes.
preparing to make a solo appearance and appeal to the Politically, the following elements came into play: the nation. The military authorities began putting together a question of reforming the constitution, the fear of the special broadcast station in Hradčany (Ed. note: the Prague potential electoral success of the Communists (whose Castle) for that purpose. rallying cry was to win 51% of seats in the next
Led by Generals (Ludvík] Svoboda and [Bohumil] parliament), and the international situation.
Boček, the army declared, after some initial hesitation, a There is no doubt that in the region of Central and kind of supportive neutrality toward Gottwald's Eastern Europe, that is, in the zone of the people's
government. At the time it seemed certain that the democracies, Czechoslovakia was the last link on which military forces, while declaring their loyalty to President American capitalism was counting. After the failure of Beneš, did not want to get involved in the game. In its (Stanisław] Mikołajczyk in Poland and [Imre) Nagy in further deliberations, the delegation, in accordance with Hungary, American pressure focused directly on
the opinions of comrades from the KSČ, accepted the Czechoslovakia. American diplomacy counted on the neutrality of the army as a virtual certainty. possibility of making a certain breach here, thanks to the The right wing-the ČSNS, ČSL, and DS-were legal existence of a group of right-wing parties which ready after the opening blows to retreat to their initial openly showed their inclination to a pro-American
positions and let Beneš know that they were ready to go to orientation. American as well as British agencies in Canossa. Their price was a return to their initial position Czechoslovakia were very active, and American
in the government and the NF. This "compliance" of the propaganda (i.e., the Voice of America) conducted a right wing inclined Beneš to stick to the status quo antespecial campaign in the Czech and Slovak languages his concept of getting through the crisis. aimed at mobilizing reactionary and conservative
The KSC, from the beginning, took the position of elements. The emphasis directed at ČSNS was
supporting a revolutionary resolution of the crisis. The particularly forceful.
KSČ considered the crisis to have been caused by the right The political crisis developed against this general wing, which tried to undermine the people's democracy in background, and at the time of the delegation's arrival it Czechoslovakia by taking advantage of the parliamentary entered into a decisive stage. What was in this situation system to sabotage social reforms and realize reactionary was the position of particular political factors.
political and social postulates. At the same time the KSČ President [Eduard] Beneš tried to avoid a
appreciated the right wing's links to a pro-American revolutionary solution of the crisis, but all the signs led us orientation, and so decided to take up the fight and play it to assume that this step of the right wing parties was taken out so that it could once and for all make it impossible for in agreement with him. At the end of last week (February the right wing to take any political initiative and move the 20-21), President Beneš was already aware of the
balance of political forces decidedly to the left. With this unfortunate position of the right wing and tried to ward off goal in mind, the KSČ decided to propose the following the crisis through a return to the status quo ante. In
postulates as a way of going through the crisis: practice, this meant his refusal to accept the resignations of a) Immediate acceptance by President Beneš of the the right-wing ministers and his attempt to induce Premier resignation of the ministers; (Klement] Gottwald to keep working with them. President b) Reconstruction of the government to include Beneš dragged his decision out over the days that
ČSNN, ČSL, and Slovak Democratic representatives other followed, pressing the Communists to make concessions, than those who had resigned; his goal being to restore the pre-crisis situation. Thus
c) Reorganization of the NF by including in addition President Beneš's general tactic at the time was simple to the 6 political parties, trade unions, organizations of
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