The Crucial Years
A comparison of Soviet and US-British behavior from 1943 to 1948
By Keith P. Dyrud
[Written in 1987]
In 1947 the dean of political columnists, Walter Lippmann, wrote: "For a diplomat to think that rival and unfriendly powers cannot be brought to a settlement is to forget what diplomacy is about. There would be little for diplomats to do if the world consisted of partners, enjoying political intimacy, and responding to common appeals." (Walter Lippmann. The Cold War: A Study in U. S. Foreign Policy. Harper, New York, 1947. P. 60.) He was criticizing American foreign policy. American foreign policy makers were abrogating the role of "diplomats" and were unilaterally formulating and implementing a policy called "containment". This containment policy was best rationalized by Mr. "X" in an article which appeared in Foreign Affairs. (George Kennan (Mr. "X"). "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", Foreign Affairs, XXXV, No. 4 (July 1947), pp. 566-82. Reprinted in George Kennan. American Diplomacy, 1900-1950. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1951, pp. 89-106.) Containment created a policy which boxed in Communism, the great American enemy, and as a result it was not necessary to interact diplomatically with the Soviet Union. It became fashionable for western historians to justify this policy by describing Soviet behavior after World War II as a cynical and vicious attempt to enslave the states in eastern Europe which came under its control.
These same historians also argued that the communist parties in western Europe were puppets of Moscow which worked to bring western Europe into this association of enslaved states. On the other hand, these same historians argued, western behavior and motivation was far more pure. Whatever their secondary motivations, Britain and the United States successfully prevented western Europe from becoming enslaved. (In the 1960s this perspective was reflected in most popular texts of twentieth century Europe. A good example is: H. Stuart Hughes. Contemporary Europe, A History. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1961.)
In the late 1960s some historians reexamined that interpretation and revised their thesis. One approach was introduced by Louis J. Halle in The Cold War as History. (Louis J. Halle. The Cold War as History. Harper, New York, 1967.) Halle suggested that Stalin's behavior could be explained by viewing Stalin as a clever and powerful leader who wished to expand Soviet influence to cover as large an area as he could control without overextending himself as Napoleon and Hitler had done. As Halle suggested, in that endeavor Stalin was reasonably successful. Halle's interpretation avoided the ideological and emotive analysis common in the works of earlier historians. Halle's method of looking at both sides as "traditional" powers supported Walter Lippmann's observations.
During that same period Walter LaFeber advanced a thesis that has been even more influential among historians wishing to reexamine the great power politics of the post-war period. (Walter LaFeber. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1966. Wiley and Sons, New York. 1967.) LaFeber argued that at the immediate end of World War II, the policy makers in the United States adopted the goal of creating an undivided "Western-democratic world" based on American values and economic dominance. The United States pushed hard for this objective and the Soviet Union resisted that push by a series of actions and responses that began shortly after Churchill's "Iron Curtain speech at Fulton, Missouri in March, 1946. Thus LaFeber suggested that the United States bore a significant share of responsibility for initiating the "Cold War" and that Soviet behavior had little impact on American policy.
The American "ideal" of a "Western-democratic world" may be a beautiful idea but as William Appleman Williams pointed out in the late 1950s, the implementation of that ideal has often led to consequences he called "the tragedy of American diplomacy". (William Appleman Williams. The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. Paperback edition, Dell, New York, 1962.) What can perhaps be called the Williams-LaFeber view of American foreign policy has been incorporated into Thomas G. Paterson's text, American Foreign Policy. (Thomas G. Paterson, et. al. American Foreign Policy. D. C. Heath, Lexington, Mass. Second Edition, 1983.) America would use its power "to shape an American-oriented postwar world". In practice the United States has used that power politically, economically and militarily to control as much of the postwar world as its power would allow. In practical terms that meant the entire non-Communist world.
Authors of monographs have also picked up on the theme that it was the United States that acted and the Soviet Union that reacted, or in some cases, did not react. Alan Wolfe in his book: The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Threat, (Alan Wolfe. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Threat. South End Press, Boston, 1984.) argued that it is American domestic politics that has created the "Soviet threat". Not that the Soviet Union is good, it is just that Soviet behavior is not a significant factor in the American perception of the Soviet Union.
By the mid 1980s these revised views of the origins of the cold war should have found their way into the more standard survey texts of both American and European history. To a surprising extent the revised views have only partially penetrated these texts. The most recent version of a popular western civilization text states, "...there is evidence that Roosevelt himself had become distressed by Soviet actions in Eastern Europe". (Donald Kagan, et. al. The Western Heritage. Macmillan, New York. Third Edition, 1987. Pp. 997-998.) In attempting to be even handed, the authors suggested that the root cause of the cold war was incompatibility of goals with the Soviets continuing the imperialist expansion of Tsarist Russia and the United States assuming "Britain's traditional role to try to restrain Russian expansion...." (Donald Kagan, et. al. The Western Heritage. Macmillan, New York. Third Edition, 1987. Pp. 997-998. .)
A current United States history text says, "The Americans and Soviets again collided as they strove to establish defensive positions, sometimes far from home." (It should be noted that it was the American's "defensive positions" that were "sometimes far from home".) (Mary Beth Norton, et. al. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. Second Edition, 1986. P. 822.) That statement could hardly describe LaFeber's thesis about American objectives. Finally the author of a twentieth century European history text did acknowledge that Soviet behavior in eastern Europe was different before 1947 than it was after that year but when he looked for the origins of the Cold War, he examined post 1947 Soviet behavior. (Robert O. Paxton. Europe in the 20th Century. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, San Diego. Second Edition, 1985.)
The whole question of Soviet behavior in the immediate post World War II period should be reviewed for two reasons: First, historians who have continued to develop Walter Lafeber's thesis continue to focus primarily on American behavior. But just as diplomacy requires two or more participants, a balanced account of foreign policy requires analysis of more than one perspective. Second: American foreign policy makers require history, and accurate history, on which to base present and future judgments. As Louis J. Halle wrote, "What is needed for such judgments is a sense of how history moves, an understanding of the constant elements in human society, and a perspective that shows every particular thing in its relation to the whole." (Louis J. Halle. "The World of George Kennan", The New Republic. August 7, 1961. Reprinted in Robert B. Luce, editor. The Faces of Five Decades, pp. 437-441. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1964. P. 437.)
Contemporary American foreign policy makers continue to recite "unrevised" American cold war history about aggressive Soviets who do not keep their commitments just as President Truman accused the Soviet Foreign Minister, Molotov, of not keeping his commitments. That event occurred in the spring of 1945. Historians must provide a new generation of foreign policy specialists with a new perspective.
Throughout the decade of the 1980s, there has been a tendency to revert back to the earlier approach to explain the causes of the cold war. Restated simply, some scholars argue that the Soviet Union has been the aggressor and the United States has had to react. And as a recent Hoover Institution study argues, the Soviet Union took advantage of detente to "orchestrate" a whole new policy of aggression in the third world. (Dennis L. Bark, Editor. The Red Orchestra. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford. 1986.) Thus the suggestion exists the Soviet Union has always been "that way".
It is the thesis of this study that the picture of the Soviet Union as uncooperative with Britain and the United States does not fit a factual description of Soviet behavior in either eastern or western Europe following World War II. On the contrary there is ample evidence to suggest that the United States was unwilling even to consider Soviet objectives in the immediate postwar period. There is also some evidence that Walter Lippmann's "diplomacy" could have produced an undivided but diverse world. This brief survey will examine both Soviet and western behavior in eastern and western Europe focusing on Italy and France in western Europe and Bulgaria and Rumania in eastern Europe.
In July 1943 King Victor Emanuel III of Italy dismissed Benito Mussolini and replaced him with the military hero, Badoglio. Badoglio and the King then negotiated with the western allies, Britain and the United States. ( Stuart Hughes. The United States in Italy. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.) The armistice agreement contained the basis for an interim government in Italy. This armistice violated a standing agreement with their eastern ally, the Soviet Union, on two counts: First, it was an armistice rather than a surrender, and second, the Soviets, as part of the Alliance, did not participate in determining the nature of the interim government. President Roosevelt was able to soften Stalin's objections to this series of events. (Actually, Roosevelt was not entirely candid with Stalin about the armistice agreements. In a letter to Stalin dated Sept. 10, 1943: Roosevelt told Stalin that General Eisenhower "has accepted the unconditional surrender of Italy, terms of which were approved by the United States, the Soviet Republics and the United Kingdom." From Correspondence Between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. and the Presidents of the U.S.A. and the Primne Ministers of GreatBritain During the Great Patriotic War of 1941 - 1945. Moscow 1957, Vol. II, p. 91.)
But Stalin learned how business was done in the west. He followed exactly the same formula when the situation was reversed a year later as the Soviet Union was on the verge of occupying Rumania and Bulgaria. On August 23, 1944 King Michael of Rumania arrested Prime Minister Antonescu, announced Rumania's surrender and two days later declared war on Germany. (L. S. Stavrianos. The Balkans Since 1453. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1958. P. 811.) The situation was different in Bulgaria because Bulgaria was at war with Britain and the United States but not the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had no legal reason to be involved in Bulgaria at all. This problem was solved on September 5, l944 when the Soviet Union "in support of its western allies" declared war on Bulgaria. (op. cit., Stavrianos. The Balkans. pp. 811-812.)
On September 12, 1944, both Rumania and Bulgaria signed armistice agreements with the Soviet Union. Through these armistice agreements the Soviet Union exerted the same type of influence over their post-war governments as the US and Britain exercised in Italy. Yet throughout 1945 and 1946 US Secretary of State, James Byrnes strenuously objected to those terms. Historian Gordon Wright, observed that: "American and British efforts to influence the armistice terms, and to acquire a significant voice in the tripartite Control Commission for Rumania were brushed aside by Soviet officials, who argued that they were simply following the precedent set by the Western powers in Italy. The parallel, though not exact, was close enough to be both plausible and painful." (Gorden Wright. The Ordeal of Total War, 1936-1945. Harper, New York, 1968. p. 217.)
The Soviets also followed western precedent when they established civilian rule in Poland. In this case the parallel was with France. Until the United States invaded North Africa in 1942, the United States had recognized the Vichy French government. The United States and Britain did not recognize de Gaulle's provisional government until after the June D-day reinvasion of France in 1944. (John L. Snell. Illusion and Necessity. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1963, pp. 133-134.) Even a conservative writer recognized that de Gaulle's government had no "legal" standing. (See Sisley Huddleston. The Tragic Years, 1939-1947. Devin-Adair Company, New York, 1945. Huddleston argued that the post Nazi transition would have gone much smoother if the US and Britain had been willing to deal with the Vichy Government rather than with de Gaulle.) In the recognition of the de Gaulle government, Stalin was willing to cooperate.
Events did not unfold so smoothly with the recognition of the post-war Polish government. The Soviet Union had recognized the Polish Government-in-exile led by Mikolajczyk in London. Not until January 1945 did Stalin withdraw his recognition of the Mikolajczyk government and provisionally bestow it on his Polish National Committee. This recognition change occurred after the London Polish government had even refused to recognize the Curzon line as a legitimate border between the Soviet Union and Poland. The Soviet version of the Curzon line was only a slight modification of the 1918 line which had been established by the British Lord Curzon as a reasonable ethnographic boundary between Russia and Poland. (Wright. op.cit. pp. 219-221.) A Polish government that was that unwilling to recognize this reality in 1945 would certainly not have been a reasonable neighbor for the Soviet Union in the post-war years.
In France the United States and Britain established a provisional government that had no legal precedent instead of one that did. The Soviets did not argue with that decision. In Poland the USSR established a provisional government which had no legal precedent instead of one that did have legal status but which had demonstrated absolute intransigence toward the Soviet Union.
Most historians, however, are willing to overlook the procedures for the establishment of the immediate post-war governments choosing rather to focus on the procedures for establishing the permanent governments in the following years. But even in this period Soviet behavior in eastern Europe and cooperation in western Europe compares favorably with the behavior of the western powers.
In Italy, for example, the Communist Party cooperated with every post-fascist government until De Gasperi ousted them in 1947. In June 1945 Palmiro Togliatti, the head of the Italian Communist Party returned from Moscow with the announcement that "in the interests of unity in the war effort, the Communists would accept office under any terms". (H. Stuart Hughes. The United States in Italy. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p.126.) It may be possible to argue that the Communists were only helping Stalin in his war effort on the eastern front but that argument is not persuasive since the Communists continued that cooperation after the war was over. In fact they continued that cooperation to their own detriment. They even supported the post-war government when it readopted Mussolini's Concordat with the Catholic Church. (Sergi Hughes. The Fall and Rise of Modern Italy. Macmillan, New York, 1967. pp.231-237.) The Communists cooperated in the Constituent Assembly in 1946 when a new constitution was drafted, and they continued to cooperate in the new government that was formed after that constitution was adopted. In 1947, the Christian Democratic head of the coalition government, visited the United States and was told that his government would receive "still greater favor in Washington if the Communists were no longer in it". (Hughes. The United States and Italy. op. cit. p. 145.) According to H. Stuart Hughes, Togliatti, unaware of this double cross, continued to advocate cooperation. In a series of political moves, De Gasperi retired and returned to power without the support of the Communists. In 1948 he presided over an election which was a novelty for Italian politics because both Catholic priests and "diplomats of a foreign power" (the United States) were "taking an active part in an electoral campaign". (Ibid. p. 147.)
The story in France was similar to that of Italy except that in the two critical elections for delegates to the Fourth Republic's National Assembly in 1946 and 1951, the Communist Party won a plurality of the votes. (In the first two elections in Italy the Communists came in a close second or third.) As in Italy, the Communists cooperated with the de Gaulle provisional government which was set up even before the fighting ended. That cooperation continued in both constituent assemblies where their cooperation was essential in the passage of a constitution. This cooperation even carried into 1947 when the Communists, the largest party by a slight margin, joined the first government organized under the new constitution. That spirit of cooperation was not violated by the Communists but by the Socialist Premier, Ramadier.
In May, 1947, Ramadier ousted the Communists from his government. This act occurred after the Communist ministers had difficulty supporting the government's commitment to regain its colonial position in Indochina. The ouster came after the Communist ministers found it difficult to support the action of French troops who found it necessary to kill 80,000 Malagasies to put down a revolt in Madagascar. But Alexander Werth suggested that the final straw came when the Communist ministers supported the striking workers at the Renault plant. The workers struck because the previous Socialist government under Leon Blum had frozen their wages while the cost of living continued to increase. The Communist ministers voted against the Socialist sponsored legislation and Ramadier finally had his excuse to oust them. (Alexander Werth. France, 1940-1955. Henry Holt and Company, New York. Pp.348-356.)
Just as De Gasperi of Italy had made his pilgrimage to Washington in early 1947, The Socialist leader Leon Blum had made his trip to Washington in 1946. Blum always insisted that the economic aid he had been promised in Washington came with no strings attached but the Washington reporter for the French News Agency insisted that Fred Vinson, the Secretary of the Treasury, had strongly suggested that economic aid would be more freely offered if the Communists were not in the Cabinet. (Werth. op. cit., p. 314.)
When the next National Assembly elections were held in 1951, the Communist Party candidates lost a few votes but they still out-polled any other party. They elected only 101 delegates whereas in 1946 they had elected 179. They out-polled the Socialists but the Socialists got 106 delegates. These results were under the same constitutionally mandated "proportional representation" rules but with a twist. In preparation for the election, the government had adopted a "strictly dishonest system of "apparentements" which allowed the government to "doctor" the distribution of delegates. If the undoctored proportional rules had been used, the Communists would have gotten 150 delegates and the Socialists 91. (Werth. op. cit. p. 543.) By hook or by crook but not by democratic processes, Communist influence was reduced in the National Assembly making non-Communist coalitions possible.
In Bulgaria and Rumania in 1944, 1945 and 1946, the Soviet Union played a supervisory role. Neither country had a democratic tradition, yet the first two years of civilian government in these countries compared favorably with the events described in Italy and France, countries with a democratic tradition.
In Bulgaria in 1944, Stalin cooperated with the existing government. True, he had declared war on Bulgaria so that he could have influence in that country's future, but he did not force the government from power or topple the King. The British Historian, Alan Palmer, has suggested: "Russian control was firmest in Bulgaria. There were three main reasons for this: the character of the Fatherland Front coalition; the personality of [Georgi] Dimitrov; and the willingness of the Bulgars to accept the forms of government that satisfied their fellow-Slavs in Russia". (Alan Palmer. The Lands Between. Macmillan, London, 1970. P. 296.) All these reasons are honorable. The Fatherland Front, which was a coalition of popular anti-Fascist parties, was joined by the Communists in 1944. That coalition was genuinely popular, it formed the provisional government and won the General Election held in November 1945. Georgi Dimitrov, the head of the Communist Party, had been an international celebrity since the mid-thirties when Hitler had him arrested in connection with the Reichstag fire. The German Supreme court had then freed him. Bulgarians were proud of him. Finally, Bulgarians and Russians are members of an informal brotherhood that dates back at least to the Bulgarian war for independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1875-1878.
A crucial vote occurred in the summer of 1946 when a referendum ousted Bulgaria's young King Simeon. Ninety two percent of the voters voted to end the Monarchy. The dynasty was not particularly popular: the boy's father had ruled as a dictator. The vote may well have been relatively free. A second general election was held in the fall of 1946. The Fatherland Front still formed the ruling coalition but within the coalition the Communists headed by Dimitrov became the dominant group and Dimitrov became prime minister. There had been room for manipulation before the 1945 elections when the Communists negotiated with the Fatherland Front and were given the ministerial positions of Justice and Interior-the department which controlled the police. No doubt those positions helped the Fatherland Front "decisively" win the 1946 elections and allowed Dimitrov to become the prime minister within the coalition. But to this day there has been less dissatisfaction with the successive Communist governments in Bulgaria than there was with the non-Communist governments in France and Italy.
In Rumania the pattern was similar but not quite so smooth. Instead of the Fatherland Front, the coalition was called the National Democratic Front. King Michael first appointed General Sanatescu as prime minister. Unfortunately two anti-communists had undue power in this cabinet at a time when the Soviet armies were occupying the country. Remember, the Rumanian army had fought beside the German army against the Soviet armies all the way to Stalingrad. Yet the Soviets allowed the Rumanian King to establish his own provisional government which included the Communists but was dominated by anti-communists who actually tried to hinder Rumania's effort to join the Soviets in defeating Hitler. When the Soviets protested, the King appointed a second General, Gen. Radescu, to be the prime minister. General Radescu ordered the Communist militia to be disbanded and ordered the postponement of agrarian reform, the Communists' method for winning over the peasants. The Communists did not like these orders and, in fact, did not follow them. Rather than overthrow the Radescu government, they joined it as a minority in the coalition, while agitating for Radescu's ouster. Not until February 1945 did the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister, Andrei Vyshinsky, demand that King Michael appoint a new prime minister. Under pressure from the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister, the King appointed Peter Groza as prime minister. Groza was a leftist agrarian, not a communist, yet he held his post for seven years. (From Palmer. op. cit. pp. 298-300 and Stavrianos. op. cit. pp.830-832.)
Groza gave the traditional justice and interior ministries to the Communists. From then on events unfolded more or less according to plan. Initially there was considerable opposition to Communist control in Rumania but virtually all of it came from former leaders who had a long anti-communist history. When leaders of the National Peasant Party came into disfavor in June 1947, Alan Palmer agrees that: "There was evidence that a few supporters of the party had talked rashly about armed resistance to communism with American agents." And while the leaders were not "directly implicated, plans had been made to bring them by air out of Roumania." (Palmer. op. cit. p. 300.)
Those events occurred several months after President Truman announced that the United States would spend $400 million to defeat Communism in Turkey and Greece and would be willing to spend even more to help people within Communist countries defeat communism. That announcement became famous as the "Truman Doctrine". Perhaps those arrests and the slightly earlier execution of the Bulgarian peasant leader, Nikola Petkov, took place in an environment comparable to the environment in the United States six years later when the US government executed Julius and Ethal Rosenberg.
Clearly, non-communist cooperation broke down in eastern Europe before Communist cooperation broke down in western Europe. Furthermore, the Truman Doctrine was an explicit announcement of hostility toward the Communist governments and an invitation to the non-communists to adopt the same attitude. Neither the Soviet Union nor the western Communist parties retaliated. They continued the policy of cooperation until they were ousted. Some historians explain this cooperation by suggesting that the western Communist parties had been left to fend for themselves and thus the cooperation was their only chance for continued existence in Italy and France. This suggestion is made because historians cannot bring themselves to interpret Stalin's behavior as one of cooperation with the west. A full listing of the facts [which is beyond the scope of this paper] suggests that Stalin himself was the source for the cooperative behavior of the western Communist parties.
In fact the Truman Doctrine and its economic corollary, the Marshall Plan, did not finally convince the Soviet Union that cooperation was dead until July 1947. Marshall had suggested that his economic plan was meant for the whole of Europe, east and west. The British Foreign Minister, Bevin, and the French Minister, Bidault, were afraid the Marshall Plan was connected to the Truman Doctrine and would thus split Europe in two. To examine that question they invited Molotov to Paris at the end of June 1947. Molotov came with an "army of experts and advisers". The journalist-historian, Alexander Werth, suggested that Molotov had come to Paris with an open mind,(if he had made up his mind before, he would not have brought his army of experts). If economic aid were genuinely separated from Truman's attempt to destroy Communism, then Molotov would have accepted it.
Molotov determined that cooperation was not the foundation of the Marshall Plan and on July 2, 1947 he rejected it for his eastern European client states. (Werth. op. cit. Pp. 357-361.) It was probably at this point that Stalin came to the final conclusion that cooperation was dead. In a very real sense, it was the Truman Doctrine that pushed Jan Massryk out of his Czechoslovak palace window in February 1948. (American diplomatic historian Thomas G. Paterson suggested the push begin a year earlier. In Thomas G. Paterson, et. al. American Foreign Policy. Vol. II (Since 1900) D. C. Heath, Lexington, Mass., Second Edition. 1983. He observed: "...the United States in 1946 abruptly severed an Export-Import bank loan to press Benes to remove the Communists from his government." P. 443. He was quoting from his own monograph, Soviet-American Confrontation. pp. 129-130.) He was the last holdout for cooperation between east and west and Czechoslovakia was the last country where cooperation was being practiced.
It is popular for western historians to argue that the Soviet military installed Communist governments in eastern Europe. That view is contrary to the facts, at least until the Truman Doctrine declared a life and death struggle between east and west. The only country in Europe, except for occupied German territory, where a foreign power installed a civilian government by military force was Greece. And in that case, the military force came from Great Britain and the United States. (The early stages of this war are well researched in: Heinz Richter. British Intervention in Greece. From Barkiza to Civil War. February 1945 to August 1946, translated by Marion Sarafis. London, Merlin Press, 1986.)
Sometimes historians argue from a moral perspective. Western sponsored governments are democratic and Soviet sponsored governments are "totalitarian". Even that argument does not stand up to scrutiny. In Italy and France the Communists accounted for about one third of the voting public for a decade after the Communists were ousted from the government. The remaining two thirds controlled the government. Within that two thirds a bare majority controlled the coalition. The result was that about one third of the voting public controlled the destiny of the entire country. In Italy that meant the Fascists "were restored to their former positions.... Not only the small Fascists regained their jobs. The larger figures in Mussolini's party-all except the greatest hierarchs-returned in full force and began to occupy leading positions in the administration and in private economic activity." (Hughes. United States and Italy. pp. 162-163.)
Furthermore, the Italian constitution of 1948 called for the establishment of regional governments to reduce the power of the central government. De Gasperi suspected that the establishment of such constitutionally mandated governments would give the Communist majority in north-central Italy control of those areas. "Hence they simply refrained from taking any action at all: the constitutional provisions in question remained a dead letter." (Ibid. pp. 154-155.)
Even when the United States government was directly involved in establishing civilian rule in the US zone in Germany, democratic principles were ignored when the peoples' demands conflicted with US economic ideology. The US military supervised the election of constituent assemblies in the newly established states within the American Zone. Included in the new constitutions were a number of articles that appeared to be acceptable to the military governor Lucius Clay but they were rejected by the State Department. In October 1946 Clay wrote to the State Department arguing for those articles. He wrote: "We are advised by our experts who have been working continually with the assemblies that these changes cannot be obtained by suggestion. If they must be made we must be prepared to do so by military government decree. We fear that this would be disastrous to the work accomplished to date." (Jean Edward Smith, Editor. The Papers of General Lucius D. Clay. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1974. Vol. I, pp. 270-272.)
Soviet historians reported that one of those articles called for the nationalization of large industry and at least the Hessen government refused to remove that article from the constitution. Gen. Clay ordered that article to be put to a plebescite and seventy percent of the voters endorsed it, but the United States prevented enforcement of that article. (Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917-1980, Vol. I. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1981. P. 69.) Gen. Clay supported the Soviet claim in his memoirs. He wrote: "Our own policy was to maintain neutrality between the German political parties advocating different patterns of economic life, although it was our duty under our directive to point out the merits of free enterprise.... In approving the state constitutions which authorized public ownership of industry, I made it clear that measures in a single state which prejudged future German government could not be implemented." (Lucius D. Clay. Decision in Germany. Doubleday, New York, 1950. P. 293.)
The principle of democracy in the ideal can be very simple. In practice it is more elusive. While it can be argued that little more than thirty percent of people controlled the governments of Western Europe, it can also be argued that at least thirty percent of the people in eastern Europe honestly supported their new governments.
This survey has been limited geographically. A more complete survey which would include
Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, and Poland as well as Greece, Austria,
Finland and occupied Germany would also support the thesis that the Soviets were very
cooperative with US and British interests in western Europe. The US and Britain were not
sympathetic to Soviet Interests in Eastern Europe and the "iron curtain" which divided Europe
was the result of the latter fact. A fuller survey may also suggest that cooperation with the
Soviet Union may have been possible. The "one world" which may have resulted would have
been different from the American model but it may also have been a "better" world for those
who live behind the "iron curtain".