Can we characterize the conflict between Yugoslavia and the Cominform as a war?

Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
4,716
India
#11
1948 saw the Tito-Stalin split which led to Yugoslavia being branded as a country run by traitors to Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism. Tensions between Yugoslavia and the Eastern Bloc continued until Stalin's death but they never turned into a war...or did they? While it is true that Stalin never launched a full-scale invasion of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav-Cominform conflict had some elements of a war.

1. Numerous armed clashes between the two sides. There were 937 clashes in 1950, 1517 in 1951, 2390 in 1952. Over a 100 Yugoslav citizens and soldiers lost their lives in these clashes. Yugoslav air space was also frequently violated.

2. The Soviet bloc sent saboteurs into Yugoslavia. Not spies, but saboteurs that were supposed to cripple Yugoslavia from the inside.

3. The Soviet bloc actively threatened Yugoslav sovereignty and Yugoslav borders. Communist Albania sent men to Albanian-inhabited regions of Yugoslavia to spread anti-Yugoslav sentiment while Hungary put forward its claims on parts of Vojvodina.

4. Yugoslavs were treated as enemy aliens in the Soviet bloc. They were often imprisoned and/or deported (for example in Romania). Yugoslav diplomatic staff were prevented from doing their duty and their immunity was violated. Organizations led by Yugoslav minorities in Soviet countries were shut down and Yugoslav minorities were sometimes put into special restricted zones. For her part, Yugoslavia imprisoned many Russians that lived in Yugoslavia, imposed restrictions of anything remotely Russian such as language, literature, things like that.

There were other things, like the propaganda war between the two sides (seriously, if you read Soviet propaganda from the time you would think that Yugoslavia was a superpower. It apparently had thousands of agents in multiple Communist countries and those agents were a part of a vast conspiracy designed to weaken Communism), leaflet droppings etc.

So, can we say this was an actual small-scale war rather than merely a tense situation that could potentially turn into a war?
Why was Tito hostile to Soviets.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,413
Republika Srpska
#12
Why was Tito hostile to Soviets.
Actually it was the other way around. The Soviets were hostile to Tito because they felt he was acting too independently. He supported the Greek Communists in the Civil War there, he started making moves towards a Balkan federation without consulting Stalin so he was accused of being a false Communist by the Cominform. There was also the issue of Soviet-Yugoslav joint companies. The Yugoslavs thought that the Soviet investors in the county behaved inappropriately, apparently considering themselves above the law. They even complained to Stalin in 1947 about this.
 

Tulun

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Nov 2010
3,851
Western Eurasia
#13
3. The Soviet bloc actively threatened Yugoslav sovereignty and Yugoslav borders. Communist Albania sent men to Albanian-inhabited regions of Yugoslavia to spread anti-Yugoslav sentiment while Hungary put forward its claims on parts of Vojvodina.
Just wondering, can you elaborate this particular point? I never heard about this, but that doesn't mean anything, I'm not too familiar with the details of the conflict (or the whole period for that matter) apart from some brief articles... in what form/channel did they claimed territories, in what extent, what pretext?
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,413
Republika Srpska
#14
Just wondering, can you elaborate this particular point? I never heard about this, but that doesn't mean anything, I'm not too familiar with the details of the conflict (or the whole period for that matter) apart from some brief articles... in what form/channel did they claimed territories, in what extent, what pretext?
Well, for example, the Yugoslav town of Subotica was included as a part of the Great HUNGARIAN Plan in Hungarian school textbooks. They also forbade the use of Serbo-Croatian language and started imprisoning members of the Yugoslav minority in Hungary. By itself, it does not mean much, but it takes a new meaning when you take into account that, according to Soviet preparations for war against Yugoslavia, Hungary was to push all the way to Fruška Gora.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#15
Actually it was the other way around. The Soviets were hostile to Tito because they felt he was acting too independently. He supported the Greek Communists in the Civil War there, he started making moves towards a Balkan federation without consulting Stalin so he was accused of being a false Communist by the Cominform. There was also the issue of Soviet-Yugoslav joint companies. The Yugoslavs thought that the Soviet investors in the county behaved inappropriately, apparently considering themselves above the law. They even complained to Stalin in 1947 about this.
What were these joint-companies and what did they make and sell?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#16
Well, for example, the Yugoslav town of Subotica was included as a part of the Great HUNGARIAN Plan in Hungarian school textbooks. They also forbade the use of Serbo-Croatian language and started imprisoning members of the Yugoslav minority in Hungary. By itself, it does not mean much, but it takes a new meaning when you take into account that, according to Soviet preparations for war against Yugoslavia, Hungary was to push all the way to Fruška Gora.
So, essentially a recreation of Hungary's 1914 southern frontier in relation to Serbia?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,413
Republika Srpska
#17
What were these joint-companies and what did they make and sell?
There were airspace companies, others were oriented towards river transport. Just a few examples. However, Yugoslavia was more interested in steel, aluminium and oil production and talks were held about creating a joint company for oil production, coal mining, production of lead etc. There was also a plan to create a Yugoslav-Soviet joint bank. However, Yugoslavia was wary. They wanted to develop on their own.
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,851
Western Eurasia
#18
Well, for example, the Yugoslav town of Subotica was included as a part of the Great HUNGARIAN Plan in Hungarian school textbooks. They also forbade the use of Serbo-Croatian language and started imprisoning members of the Yugoslav minority in Hungary. By itself, it does not mean much, but it takes a new meaning when you take into account that, according to Soviet preparations for war against Yugoslavia, Hungary was to push all the way to Fruška Gora.
Can you give reference to this, or what you mean? "Great Hungarian Plan" or "Plain?" What textbook? how was this phrase in Hungarian original, do you know? So I can search for further source on it.
I thought you meant there were some formal actual territorial demands or something expressed through diplomatic or political channels.


The second point "forbade the use of Serbo-Croatian language" is factually not true, there continued to operate Serbo-Croatian schools.

Source Nemzetiségi oktatás a Rákosi-kurzus idején | Pedagógiai Folyóiratok
(Nemzetiségi oktatás a Rákosi-kurzus idején in: Új Pedagógiai Szemle 2004/6
=
Minority education during the Rákosi-course i
n: New Pedagogical Review 2004/6)

Az 1948–1949. tanévben a délszláv (horvát, szerb, szlovén) nemzetiségi tannyelvű iskolák száma harmincra csökkent, a nyelvoktató iskoláké pedig huszonhétre – 695, illetve 1200 tanulóval. Ezen iskolák száma az 1949/1950-es tanévre tovább fogyott, amikor is huszonhét tannyelvű és huszonegy nyelvoktató nemzetiségi iskola működött 734, illetve 950 tanulóval.[4]

~

In the 1948-1949 school year the number of South Slavic (Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian) minority language educational schools decreased to 30, language teaching schools decreased to 27, with 695 and 1200 students.
The number of these schools decreased further in the 1949/1950 school year to 27 minority language educational schools and 21 language teaching minority schools with 734 and 950 students respectively.


...
1950/1951-es tanévben huszonöt délszláv (horvát, szerb, szlovén) tannyelvű nép- és általános iskolába 760 tanuló járt, a negyvenöt délszláv nyelvoktató iskolában pedig 4000 gyermek tanult.

~

In the 1950/1951 school year 25 South Slavic (Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian) minority language educational folk and elementary schools existed with 760 students, and 45 language teaching schools with 4000 students

The difference between the 2 types (minority language educational schools and language teaching minority schools) being in the first the main language of education is in the minority language (all or most subjects), in the second it is only taught as a separate subject, otherwise the main language of instruction is Hungarian.

Nevertheless there was no ban of these languages (no foreign language was banned at all in Hungary), they continued to be taught (and their teachers trained in the respective Serbo-Croatian branches in collages).

Regarding the imprisonments, certainly people were arrested for being accused with "spying to Yugoslavia", or "being Titoist". I don't know how much were actual Serbo-Croatians overrepresented in this, as these political accusations were used within the party purges too between the commies.

But also people who were considered to be "politically unreliable" were evicted from the border zone (15 km zone from the border) to resettle to other parts of the country. In this category ethnic minorities were certainly also a major suspicious element (together with the other usual suspects in the regime, former members of other political parties, ex-gendarmees, clericals, kulaks, people who had relatives or contacts abroad etc), they had to move to other parts of the country, so in this context persecution certainly affected Serbo-Croatians, no doubt.

Interesting the last point, the few online articles I read about the subject actually mostly discuss the "Southern Defence line" aka "Hungarian Maginot line" aka "Rákosi line" built during this time in the context of Soviet- Yugo conflict, along the southern border. Hungary built a defensive line against a possible Yugoslav attack, concrete bunkers (some still standing), minefields, barb wires and stuff, so there was a 2 sided paranoia too then :)). Apparently the Hungarian army plans anticipated a Yugoslav attack (with or without NATO support) and then a Soviet led counter-attack .
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,413
Republika Srpska
#19
Can you give reference to this, or what you mean?
Source: Branko Petranović, Istorija Jugoslavije 1918-1988, Treća knjiga: Socijalistička Jugoslavija 1945-1988, pg. 230.

"Great Hungarian Plan" or "Plain?"
Plain, my bad. A spelling error.

What textbook?
Geography textbooks for minority students of the 5th and 6th grades.

I thought you meant there were some formal actual territorial demands or something expressed through diplomatic or political channels.
Diplomacy was almost non-existent beween Yugoslavia and the Soviet bloc.


The second point "forbade the use of Serbo-Croatian language" is factually not true, there continued to operate Serbo-Croatian schools.

Source Nemzetiségi oktatás a Rákosi-kurzus idején | Pedagógiai Folyóiratok
(Nemzetiségi oktatás a Rákosi-kurzus idején in: Új Pedagógiai Szemle 2004/6
=
Minority education during the Rákosi-course i
n: New Pedagogical Review 2004/6)

Az 1948–1949. tanévben a délszláv (horvát, szerb, szlovén) nemzetiségi tannyelvű iskolák száma harmincra csökkent, a nyelvoktató iskoláké pedig huszonhétre – 695, illetve 1200 tanulóval. Ezen iskolák száma az 1949/1950-es tanévre tovább fogyott, amikor is huszonhét tannyelvű és huszonegy nyelvoktató nemzetiségi iskola működött 734, illetve 950 tanulóval.[4]

~

In the 1948-1949 school year the number of South Slavic (Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian) minority language schools decreased to 30, language teaching schools decreased to 27, with 695 and 1200 students.
The number of these schools decreased further in the 1949/1950 school year to 27 minority language schools and 21 language teaching minority schools with 734 and 950 students respectively.


...
1950/1951-es tanévben huszonöt délszláv (horvát, szerb, szlovén) tannyelvű nép- és általános iskolába 760 tanuló járt, a negyvenöt délszláv nyelvoktató iskolában pedig 4000 gyermek tanult.

~

In the 1950/1951 school year 25 South Slavic (Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian) minority language schools existed with 760 students, and 45 language teaching schools with 4000 students

The difference between the 2 types (minority language schools and language teaching minority schools) being in the first the main language of education is in the minority language, in the second it is only thought as a separate subject, otherwise the main language of instruction is Hungarian.

Nevertheless there was no ban of these languages (no foreign language was banned at all in Hungary), they continued to be taught (and their teachers trained in the respective Serbo-Croatian branches in collages).
Sure, schools continued to exist, but in the aftermath of the Rajk trial, the authorities started a wave of arrests of Yugoslavs in Hungary. This left many teaching spots in minority schools vacant. The government then replaced the old teacher with Hungarian teachers that often spoke little or no Serbo-Croatian. This led to Serbo-Croatian being basically gone in schools that were supposed to teach it. (AJ, 837, KPR I-3-a Mađ. O jugoslovenskoj nacionalnoj manjini u Mađarskoj, str. 30-31).

Interesting the last point, the few online articles I read about the subject actually mostly discuss the "Southern Defence line" aka "Hungarian Maginot line" aka "Rákosi line" built during this time in the context of Soviet- Yugo conflict, along the southern border. Hungary built a defensive line against a possible Yugoslav attack, concrete bunkers (some still standing), minefields, barb wires and stuff, so there was a 2 sided paranoia too then :)). Apparently the Hungarian army plans anticipated a Yugoslav attack (with or without NATO support) and then a Soviet led counter-attack
Yes, paranoia was present on both sides. In fact, the Soviets wanted the fall of Yugoslavia to coincide with the final North Korean conquest of the South so that the Soviet bloc could have two major victories on two sides of the world.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#20
Yes, paranoia was present on both sides. In fact, the Soviets wanted the fall of Yugoslavia to coincide with the final North Korean conquest of the South so that the Soviet bloc could have two major victories on two sides of the world.
1. Why'd they ultimately abandon their plan?
2. If the Soviets wanted such a huge victory, why not support the Greek Communists during the Greek Civil War? I mean, this does seem like it might have been a better investment than the Berlin Blockade and the West was going to be extremely pissed off at the Soviet Union regardless of whether it would have focused on Greece or on West Berlin.