A Challenge Let Drop: Soviet Foreign Policy, the Cominform and the Italian Communist Party, 1947–8

  • Silvio Pons


Criticism of the Italian and French Communist Parties constituted one of the crucial moments in the founding of Cominform in September 1947. Since Eugenio Reale — one of the members of the Italian delegation at the Szklarska Poręba Conference — revealed these criticisms,1 historians have pondered their significance. They have been seen as a consequence of the ‘two camps’ theory in international politics, and of an attempt to induce the Communist Parties to close ranks with the USSR.2 The archive material to which we now have access allows us to shed light on areas which were obscure until recently. The limits of the documentation available should also be made clear, however: in particular, this sheds no light on the decision-making process in the Soviet leadership which led to the founding of the Cominform. Nonetheless, we are now able to trace more clearly the framework which Soviet leaders gave to the Szklarska Poręba Conference, the positions taken up by representatives of other parties during Conference debates, the reactions of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) to the criticisms, and also developments in relations between the Italian Party and Moscow in the following months. We have enough new evidence to clarify — and sometimes to modify — the interpretations which have been proposed until now. In this chapter I intend to show that although the criticism of the Western Parties had wider consequences for all the other Parties belonging to the Cominform, these were only to a limited extent the corollary of any major reorientation in Soviet foreign policy.


Foreign Policy International Situation Marshall Plan Soviet Leadership Armed Struggle 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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  • Silvio Pons

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