Whatever naiveties they held about the possibilities for independence in a bipolar world were blown away upon the expulsion from the Soviet camp that drove them into neutrality.That their independence endured, even becoming the defining feature of their accomplishments, is testament to the talent of their statesmen, the irrepressible need to survive, and their intense desire to effect greater change.It culminated in a total embargo of trade with Yugoslavia, and it is not surprising that such a personal dispute soon escalated: in 1948 Stalin had said “I shall shake my little finger and there will be no more Tito”, a threat not lost on the latter, who later replied in similar terms, imploring Stalin to “[s]top sending people to kill me […] If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second” (Wilson, 1979, pp.66-67; Fursenko and Naftali, 2006, p.25; Service, 2004, p.592).
In 1945 this was not unusual; in fact, several powers that had been closely associated with the Western Allies had, following the war, switched to the Soviet side.
The most important detail of Yugoslavia’s switch from an Allied Kingdom to a Socialist Federal Republic was that unlike Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and others, Tito’s partisans had liberated Yugoslavia with minimal help from the Soviet Red Army, and as such considered their right “to follow a more independent socialist course” as earned (Fursenko and Naftali, 2006, p.22).
This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree.
E-IR publishes student essays & dissertations to allow our readers to broaden their understanding of what is possible when answering similar questions in their own studies.
At a time when Stalin’s main focus was the consolidation of his recent conquests, a proud Tito who refused to allow “his security, military and economic apparatus to be penetrated by agents of the Kremlin” – “the real basis of the Soviet grievance against him” – would not go unpunished (Heuser, 1989, p.23; p.58).
As Duncan Wilson writes, the ‘Yugoslav way’ was “evolved by a political decision, mainly as the result of compelling economic circumstances” (Wilson, 1979, p.82).
As devastating as the blockade might have been, its effects were temporary, while relations between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union would never again be amicable.
The shortages inflicted by the Soviet blockade forced Yugoslavia to exchange one dependency with another, and in 1948 Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aleš Bebler “moaned to the British Minister of State, Hector Mc Neil, about the economic problems of Yugslavia, ‘[any] assistance which [Britain] could give towards improving their economic position would be of most vital importance’” (Wilson, 1979, pp.66-67; Heuser, 1989, p.83).
Relentless in the ideology of Josip Tito’s Communists was the pursuit of independence.