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To the Editor:

call a “leak” at the suggestion of a highly- social contact with me, I am in a better

placed church official. Simply put, having position than anyone else to say that Yuri In the letter from the well-known KGB invited an opponent of the victim to visit him Smirnov is a professional atomic scientist functionary Pavel A. Sudoplatov, published on some pretext, the police official slips who received his training at Arzamas-16, in the American journal Cold War Interna- him, as if by accident, a specially-prepared who took part in the design and testing of the tional History Project Bulletin (Issue 5, Fall letter which refers to payments received 50-megaton nuclear bomb, who completed 1995, pp. 156-158), a suggestion or, rather, from the police department by the individual his doctoral work under the direction of the direct charge, is made against my colleague to be compromised.

well-known scientist D.A. Frankof many years, Yuri Smirnov, all of whose In this and similar situations, the “patri- Kamenetsky. During the period in which he scientific and literary efforts I have wit- otic" attitude of these employees towards worked at the Ministry of Atomic Energy, he nessed, that these efforts were in some way their agencies is touching. They of all people was responsible for a major line of research connected with the KGB. Asis usual in such understand that the discovery of an into the peaceful use of nuclear explosions. cases, in place of evidence the letter pro- individual's links to their services lead to Such a list of accomplishments does not vides only murky references to a conversa- compromising him in the public's eyes, and require any embellishments, and any profestion between Sudoplatov and his former that this works. It is not clear whether they sional would be pleased to call it his own. It colleagues on this matter.

consider that such actions strengthen the was entirely natural that Yuri Nikolaevich, Fairly or unfairly, the reputation of the negative image of their agencies. Perhaps, as a possessor of such a rich and varied set of KGB, as well as that of similar agencies in considering its own reputation to be beyond experiences, would turn his sights to the other countries has always been very low. salvage, this is of no concern to them. history of science, and particularly the hisThere has never been a better way to ruin a Knowing Yuri N. Smirnov to be a histo- tory of nuclear explosive technology. These person in the eyes of public opinion and his rian of science, who has objectively evalu- efforts have borne fruit, as is witnessed by close friends than to suggest that he has ated the contribution of our agents in obtain- his string of publications. He is recognized connections with these services.

ing “atomic secrets," who neither dimin- among historians of modern science, and no An unparalleled expert in the life of ishes nor exaggerates this contribution, attempts by Sudoplatov and his colleagues Russian bureaucrats and behind the scenes Sudoplatov and his colleagues, apparently, to blacken his reputation will stick. dealings, the author Nikolai Leskov, de- decided to "smear" Smirnov as a protective scribed a similar intrigue in his story Admin- measure.

Sincerely, istrative Grace. In this story, a police offi- As a colleague of Yuri Nikolaevich, cial wishing to compromise a provincial who began to work with me 35 years ago and Victor Adamsky public figure organizes what we would now to this day is in constant professional and Arzamas-16

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MORE ON THE 1956 Polish CRISIS

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9 October 1995

ment of Soviet forces based in Poland in his “...a number of comrades who are support

meeting with Marshals Konev and ers of a Polish-Soviet union...” (p. 40). To the Editor:

Rokossowski in the Soviet embassy on Octo

ber 19, also referred to in his memoirs (p. 41). Sincerely yours, I read the essay “Poland, 1956: The troop movements, which the Soviets Khrushchev, Gomulka and the Polish Octo- then claimed were a long-planned army “ex- Milton Leitenberg ber," by L.W. Gluchowski, and the accom- ercise” (p. 44), were certainly very much Senior Fellow panying documents in CWIHP Bulletin 5 larger than the “one military battalion” (p. Center for International and Security Stud(Spring 1995), pp. 1, 38-49, with enormous 40) that Rokossowski admitted to putting ies at Maryland (CISSM) interest, the reason for which will be evident "on alert" (p. 44). Gomulka's phrase is "the University of Maryland (College Park) in a moment.

Soviet Army stationed in Poland” (p. 44). Upon completion of the reading, how- In 1980 or thereabouts, I was given a ever, I was thoroughly puzzled by what I description of the same climactic meeting L.W. Gluchowski responds: saw as a major omission from the author's between the Soviet and Polish leaderships by introductory essay. Though the material a former Polish party and government offi- I would like to thank Mr. Leitenberg for appears in the documents and in footnotes to cial who had before 1956 been close to the his thoughtful comments on my documenthem, there is no mention at all in the body Polish First Secretary, Central Committee tary essay, “Poland 1956: Khrushchev, of the essay concerning one of the most Chairman and Prime Minister, Boleslaw Gomulka, and the Polish October,”” in the crucial aspects that determined the ultimate Bierut. That rendition adds information be- Spring 1995 issue of the CWIHP Bulletin. outcome of the confrontation between the yond that which appears in Gomulka's de

yond that which appears in Gomulka's de- With regard to Mr. Leitenberg's comment Soviet and Polish communist party leaders scription to the Chinese party in Document 4.

scription to the Chinese party in Document 4. that he was "thoroughly puzzled” by "a in Warsaw. It concerns the movement of I recorded the comments at the time. The major omission from" my “introductory esSoviet military forces toward Warsaw, the note which a Polish official handed to say” concerning “one of the most crucial circumstances in which the Polish party Gomulka during the meeting with the Sovi- aspects that determined the ultimate outleadership learned of the movements, and ets and which informed him of the Soviet come of the confrontation,” notably “the the threatened response of Polish military troop movements resulted from information movement of Soviet military forces towards units. It appears as a single line in Docu- reported to Warsaw by Polish military offic- Warsaw... [and] the circumstances in which ment 3 (p. 43), is amplified in Gomulka's ers (“colonels”). In addition, Polish Air the Polish party leadership learned of the rendition of the events to the Chinese in Force General Frey-Bielecki requested per- movements,” I shall be brief. Any discusDocument 4 (p. 44), and in footnote 61, mission to bomb the Soviet columns as they sion about the military aspects of the Sovietquoting Mikoyan's notes. The threatened converged on Warsaw. Some Polish Air Polish confrontation of October 1956 is response of Polish military units is not men- Force units apparently threatened such ac- bound to be controversial at this early stage tioned in the documents at all, or by the tion whether they received authority to do so of archival research in Poland. In any case, , author.

or not. (As I recall, Frey-Bielecki agreed to I decided to let this set of documents speak Gluchowski also quotes two of the com- make the request when some of his officers for themselves, and no less than six endnotes ments in Khrushchev's memoirs; the first- informed him of those threats, telling him include extensive discussions of military “...the people of Warsaw had been prepared what they intended to do. With that, he matters during the crisis. Even Mr. to defend themselves and resist Soviet troops decided to approach the political leadership.) Leitenberg acknowledges that "the material entering the city..."-without asking what The Polish internal security forces were also appears in the documents and in the foot“Soviet troops,” from where; and the sec- preparing some sort of resistance. Gomulka notes to them.” Furthermore, in the body of ond—“...our own armed strength far ex- was the source of Khrushchev's assessment my essay, I noted: “Three days in October ceeded that of Poland, but we didn't want to that “the people of Warsaw had been pre- [18 to 20) 1956 resolved four outstanding resort to the use of our own troops”— with pared to defend themselves.” Gomulka ap- and interrelated conflicts of the deout pointing out that it is belied by parently told him, in effect, “Leave us alone Stalinization period in Poland." The second Khrushchev's outburst at the October 19 and everything will be OK; if not, there will conflict I outlined reads as follows: "the meeting (quoted on page 40): “That number be a popular uprising.” And the Russians Soviet threat to intervene militarily in the won't pass here. We are ready for active thought that the Poles would fight; in the affairs of the Polish Party ended with a intervention....I would like the comrades to words of the Polish official, “All the Czech compromise agreement on the part of the voice their views on this matter: interven- traditions are different."

CPSU leadership and the PUWP leadertion or...”

One might add one more point. ship.” It is clear that I agree with Mr. It seems very likely, even obvious, that Gluchowski never comments on the propos- Leitenberg: “one of the most crucial asKhrushchev gave the order for the move- als for union, although Khrushchev refers to pects” of the confrontation in Warsaw had to

9

do with the threat of Soviet military intervention.

My first departure with Mr. Leitenberg comes when he elevates "the circumstances in which the Polish party leadership learned of the movements” to some kind of special moment in the negotiations. We still don't have enough Soviet evidence to draw Mr. Leitenberg's conclusions. This is particularly true when we consider his comment: "It seems very likely, even obvious, that Khrushchev gave

the order for the movement of Soviet forces based in Poland in his meeting with Marshals Konev and Rokossowski in the Soviet embassy on October 19, also referred to in his memoirs." In this case, an omission on my part may have resulted in the confusion, and I am grateful to Mr. Leitenberg for bringing it to my attention.

In my attempt to edit out a number of long historiographical comments about the documents from the essay I submitted to the Bulletin, I deleted a remark about the reliability of Khrushchev's memoirs on the Polish crisis, which was originally included with Molotov's characterization of Rokossowski in the Felix Chuev interview (contained in One Hundred and Forty Conversations with Molotov) cited in endnote 28. I should have left in place the following observation:

put the 8th Plenum on hold, to fur- the readers of the Bulletin decide for themther discuss the Polish position to

selves the merits of my case when I present wards Khrushchev, while the Sovi- it in full, in a second documentary essay I ets went to their own embassy. have begun to put together, this time with Rokossowski attended all the meet- Edward Nalepa of the Military Historical ings of the Polish Politburo during Institute in Warsaw, before I was made aware this tense period. The Stenographic of Mr. Leitenberg's letter, for an upcoming report of the 8th Plenum also notes issue of the Bulletin. Our documents include that Rokossowski attended all sit- a series of reports prepared by Polish militings of the 8th Plenum from 19-21

tary counter-espionage (Informacja) officOctober 1956. It would be difficult ers throughout the period of the crisis. to imagine Rokossowski not attend

In my first essay I wanted to focus on the ing meetings of the only legal bod- political aspects of the crisis, particularly the ies that could force him from the bottom line positions staked out by the two leadership. Khrushchev probably key personalities in this struggle: Khrushchev decided to let the Poles begin the 8th and Gomulka. Reflecting the tendency at Plenum for number of reasons,

these high level meetings to focus on personincluding the necessity of providing alities, both sides argued over the symbolic Gomulka with the legal status he significance of Marshal Rokossowski's conneeded to negotiate on behalf of the tinued presence in People's Poland. Almost Polish side at the Belvedere talks. all other outstanding issues that divided the More important, Rokossowski was Soviets and the Poles were left for further a full member of the PUWP Polit- negotiations. I am currently preparing a list buro and Central Committee. of the documents that cover this vast subject. Gomulka had to treat Rokossowski The documents I selected for translation or as part of the Polish negotiation team, cited in the footnotes of my first Bulletin at least officially, and no one on essay make up the most up to date collection either side would have suggested, at on the Polish version of what happened at least in public, otherwise.

the Belvedere Palace on 19-20 October 1956.

The Czech document recording a 24 OctoMilitary aspects of the 1956 crisis, with ber 1956 meeting at the Kremlin, which which I have been grappling since 1986, outlines the Soviet version of events—a have been among the most difficult issues to document introduced and translated by Mark date to discuss with any degree of confi- Kramer and published in the same issue of dence. Documentary evidence, until re- the Bulletin (pp.1, 50-56)-helps to comcently, has been limited, while humanist plete the documentary part of the whole sociology, brushed with rumors, hearsay, puzzle, but more Soviet documents are still and unsubstantiated gossip, grows with ev- required to draw less tentative conclusions. ery memoir. With some exceptions, the My thesis, not in dispute insofar as Mr. latter part of the little story from the long Leitenberg's letter is concerned, is that the Belvedere meeting recited to Mr. Leitenberg Polish crisis of October 1956 ended in a by his Polish source has a ring of truth. I can political settlement. Khrushchev made the imagine, during the most heated moments, final compromise which ended the standoff: Khrushchev and Gomulka exchanging veiled Rokossowski's future was left to the PUWP threats, using language that spawned images CC; and they later voted to oust him from the of heroic Polish resistance and Soviet mili- Politburo. Both sides compromised and tary glory. Khrushchev and Gomulka were claimed victory, although Gomulka came not the quiet diplomatic types. But it would out of the stormy negotiations especially in be a leap to suggest that “one of the most a strong position. Khrushchev, on the other crucial aspects” determining the “ultimate hand, managed, as I argue, “to put the Polish outcome of the confrontation" was the “cir- question to rest for almost 25 years.” The cumstances in which the Polish party leader- Soviet compromise should not go unnoship learned of the [Soviet military] move- ticed. ments," at least with the limited selection of Indeed, all this was accomplished at a documents I included in my essay.

time of great international tension, ideologiHowever, I will let Mr. Leitenberg and cal confusion, social unrest in the country

This is another example of how Khrushchev's memoirs are accurate in so far as the general atmosphere of the discussions are concerned, and at the same time confusing because he again tends to take what were obviously a series of discussions and compress them into one important conversation. Surely, as Document 1 clearly shows, Rokossowski could not have gone with Khrushchev to the Soviet embassy on 19 October (1956), although Khrushchev's emphasis on Rokossowski as a main source of information for what was happening in Poland at the time tells us a lot about what everyone in Poland took for public knowledge: Rokossowski was Moscow's man in Warsaw. The Polish Minister of Defense was at the Politburo meeting, held immediately after First Secretary Ochab

Kiryluk wrote:

...at two in the morning I was invited to meet with the CPCh [Communist Party of China) leadership. Talks with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Chen Yun lasted for three hours ... [The Chinese leaders stated:] “Between 19-23 October a CPCh delegation ... in Moscow convinced Khrushchev about the rightness of the political changes in Poland ... Matters of independent Polish activities cannot be questioned despite the reservations of the CPSU Politburo, which has become accustomed to methods and forms of behavior that must be eliminated from relations within the socialist camp." Mao used, in this context, the phrase "great power chauvinism." (See Archive of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Collection of telegrams from Beijing in 1956, Telegram no. 17599, 27 October 1956]

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where the negotiations were taking place, official who had before 1956 been close to
and led by two leaders who still had to the Polish First Secretary...Bierut.” At this
operate within some kind of collective lead- stage, I will only emphasize that this too is a
ership framework. Other than "active inter- problem. How Polish communists, sharply
vention,” as Khrushchev called it, could the divided before October 1956, immediately
Soviet leader (or Gomulka for that matter) after the crisis, appropriated and transformed
have guaranteed anything other than the the October events and then continued to re-
threat of military intervention during the invent the “Polish October" after each suc-
talks at the Belvedere Palace, without a cessive period of conflict during the Cold
prolonged and exhaustive period of face-to- War, is worthy of note.
face negotiation? We already know, for I take full responsibility for a number of
example, that Khrushchev only knew what misprints that appear in the published text.
others had told him about Gomulka or the Mr. Leitenberg's final critical remark to me,
situation in Poland, and that he was already “Gluchowski never comments on the (So-
suspicious of half the Polish Politburo, whom viet) proposal for union," is one of the most
he met in March 1956. In fact, Khrushchev serious errors. Three separate letters with
positively despised Roman Zambrowski, corrections were sent to the Bulletin, but it
the leading Gomulka supporter in the PUWP appears the last one did not make it into the
Politburo at the time. Mikoyan's warning to final text. The sentence from which Mr.
Gomulka that he would be pulled to the top Leitenberg cites (p. 40), where Gomulka is


by the Jews and then again they will drop outlining to the Polish Politburo
him” was directed at Zambrowski, who again Khrushchev's comments, should read as fol-
became the target of Soviet scorn during lows: “They are upset with us because the
informal Soviet-Polish meetings over the Politburo Commission proposed a new list of
future of Soviet-Polish relations after Octo- members to the Politburo without a number
ber 1956.

of comrades who are supporters of a PolishWith regard to the second assertion by Soviet alliance (not union—sojuszu polskoMr. Leitenberg; namely my refusal to dis- radzieckiego]; namely, comrades cuss the threatened response of Polish mili- Rokossowski, [Zenon] Nowak, Mazur,

“ tary units” to the Soviet troop movements, Jozwiak." The next two sentences should which“is not mentioned in the documents at read: “I explained to them that we don't have all, or by the author,” I will add this for the such tendencies. We do not want to break the moment. The Soviet control of the Polish friendly relations (not alliance-zrywac

— Army, acknowledged in the body of my przyjazni ze Zwiazkiem Radzieckim) with the essay, extensively discussed in my foot- Soviet Union.” notes, and covered by Document 5 Incidentally, Khrushchev's comment to (Khrushchev's letter to Gomulka on 22 Oc- Gomulka about Poland's leading supporters tober 1956), as well as the Soviet threat to of a Soviet-Polish alliance is closely related intervene militarily in the affairs of the to Khrushchev's previous comment, cited by Polish party, cannot be separated. If any Gomulka in Russian: “The treacherous accommunist in Poland at the time can make tivity of Comrade Ochab has become evia claim to have threatened to go to battle dent, this number won't pass here.” It was against Soviet tanks and troops, who also not obvious to me when I prepared the first marched with some Polish military units essay, although I now hope to make my case towards Warsaw, it was the commanders of shortly elsewhere, but it appears that the security troops under the command of Khrushchev's anger, directed as it was tothe Polish interior ministry, and perhaps wards Ochab, probably stemmed from some individual Polish Army officers who Ochab's September 1956 meeting with the turned to them. But all these matters need Chinese, as mentioned in Document 5, and further clarification. Edward Nalepa and I subsequent negotiations between Warsaw will try to sort through the myth and draw and Beijing. Soviet-Chinese talks over Posome more appropriate conclusions in the land appear to have led Beijing to demand essay we will present in a future Bulletin. from Moscow a more collective approach to

We will also try to put into context Mr. the way the Kremlin dealt with the Warsaw Leitenberg's presentation of the observa- Treaty Organization states. In a telegram to tions shared to him during a talk in 1980 Gomulka from the Polish ambassador to with “a former Polish party and government China, dated 27 October 1956, Stanislaw

,

It appears the Chinese may also need to be given some credit for the success of the "Polish October."

Centre for Russian and East European
Studies. University of Toronto
25 November 1995

9

MORE ON THE 1956 HUNGARIAN Crisis

CRISIS

23 October 1995

To the Editor:

The Spring 1995 issue of the Bulletin, as rich and as informative as ever, contains two stimulating articles by Professor Johanna Granville. Permit me to make a few comments on both.

In the first article—“Imre Nagy, Hesitant Revolutionary”—Professor Granville correctly argues that Prime Minister Nagy, a lifelong Communist, hesitated to side with the revolutionaries during the early days of the 1956 Hungarian uprising (October 2327); that he created a new, reform-minded party leadership that was more congenial to his way of thinking only on October 28th; and that, finally, he embraced the revolution's main demands of neutrality and political pluralism on November 1st, after he realized that Moscow had deceived him.

Alas, this is not a new interpretation, nor do the documents that follow Professor Granville's article provide important new evidence to confirm it. Hence your claim, not hers, made in the Table of Contents Box on p. 1-'Imre Nagy Reassessed"—is misleading. Ten years ago, and thus long before the archives opened, this is what I wrote in Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, 1986, pp. 12829 (all emphases in the original):

curred—that the time for reform had passed, and his all but impossible historic mission was to reconcile Soviet power-political interests with those of a new—somewhat independent and somewhat pluralistic—Hungarian political order. He consulted with Anastas Mikoyan and Mikhail A. Suslov, the two Politburo members who were in Budapest, and with Yuri V. Andropov, the Soviet ambassador to Hungary, to gain their approval for the transfer of the functions of the hapless Central Committee to a new, six-member party Presidium. So anxious was Nagy not to circumvent Moscow that he called the Kremlin from Andropov's office that morning to obtain confirmation of the authorization he had just received from the Soviet representatives in Budapest....

Only his second turning point, which came on November 1, signified a parting of the ways between Nagy and Moscow. Soviet troops having reentered Hungary the night before, Nagy realized that morning that the Kremlin was no longer interested in finding a political solution to the crisis under his leadership. He felt betrayed. In vain had he consulted with the Kremlin; in vain had he gained Soviet approval for every major measure he had adopted between October 23 and 31. The party was over. From the loyal Muscovite he had been all his life, this is when Nagy became a Hungarian revolutionary. On November 1, acting for the first time without Soviet concurrence, his government declared Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and the country's neutrality. On November 4, hen its troops reached the Hungarian capital, the Soviet Union overthrew the Nagy government and crushed the revolution.

ten years ago, Professor Granville's article must be regarded as a "restatement” of that interpretation, albeit a useful one. I am not aware of a single scholarly book or article published anywhere in recent years that has claimed that Nagy was anything but “hesitant."

In her second article and in the documents from the archives of the KGB that are attached to it—“Imre Nagy, aka 'Volodya'— A Dent in the Martyr's Halo?”—Professor Granville does offer a reassessment of Nagy's life in Moscow in the 1930s. While the documents make wild claims, Professor Granville prudently and correctly indicates some of the circumstances under which they were released in mid-1989. She puts it well: “The story of how these materials came to light is a story that has more to do with Soviet, Hungarian, and communist party politics amidst the revolutionary upheaval of the late 1980s and early 1990s than with historical or scholarly investigation” (p. 34). My purpose here is to add a few comments, including some new information on the role of a key player, about how and why the KGB released parts of its file on “Volodya."

On the basic issue at hand: Having read the four KGB documents published by Professor Granville (pp. 36-37), and having read fragments of others in 1991-92, I share Professor Granville's suspicion that Imre Nagy was almost certainly an informer for the NKVD, the KGB's predecessor, in the 1930s. Like most other Communist exiles, Nagy was also a Soviet citizen and a member of the Soviet Communist Party. He was attached to the Soviet-dominated Communist International.

However, the claims about the consequences of Nagy's reporting made by KGB Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov in his letter of transmittal to the Soviet Central Committe on 16 June 1989 (p. 36) are almost certainly not true. His suggestion that Nagy alone was responsible for the arrest, exile, or execution of dozens of high-ranking Communist exiles defies common sense. Nagy, after all, was hardly an important figure at that time; he did not even belong to the inner circle of Hungarian activists. He was a lonely man, writing on Hungarian agriculture in an obscure émigré journal no one read and com

[I]t is one of the paradoxes of political life in Eastern Europe that, until the last days of this shortlived revolution, Nagy was the man Moscow counted on, and could count on, to save its cause in Hungary. Indeed, from the time of the first demonstration on October 23 to October 31, Nagy could only envisage a Hungarian future based on Soviet tutelage. With Soviet consent, he sought to make order by promising ‘reforms,' assuming that the promise of such reforms would end the uprising.

Nagy's first turning point came on October 28 when he reached the conclusion that the party had to be changed, too. He had come to understand and the Kremlin con

To the extent this was a “reassessment"

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