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Category: History

Ideas of the West of the Soviet Union in 1945

the West predstavleniye about the Soviet Union in 1945

Roberts Jeffrey

In 1945 the relation in the West to the Soviet Union was, mostly, positive. In the opinion of the West of the USSR was the state which struck a decisive blow to Hitlerite Germany. Admired courage and dedication of the Red Army which saved Europe from Nazi domination. Victories of Zhukov and other Soviet military leaders brought the western media and the public into delight which reached the highest point with capture by the Soviet army of Berlin in May, 1945. Was considered that without participation of the USSR the establishment of lasting long-term peace is impossible. Moreover, in the West trusted Stalin. He was considered the far-sighted and wise head of state, and the Soviet mode moderately authoritative and in political sense not so far from ideals of the western liberal democracies.

The favorable attitude towards the Soviet Union took place at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences which holding foretold a new world order. The Yalta conference in council - the sko-western relations was resulted by some tensions which were settled by the beginning of a conference in Potsdam in time. After it, however, the relations between the USSR and the West considerably worsened that was proved by a failure of the first meeting of Council of ministers of foreign affairs which took place in London in September, 1945. SMID was created especially for development of conditions of post-war peaceful settlement, but the London meeting came to the end without results: the parties could not reach agreement concerning recognition of the governments of Bulgaria and Romania which were under control of communists. Nevertheless, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the USA, Great Britain and the USSR resumed cooperation by the beginning of the next meeting of SMID which took place in December of the same year in Moscow.

Before friendship of the winner countries turned back "Cold War", there had to pass one and a half more years. In the West more often voices of critics and irreconcilable opponents of the Soviet Union began to sound that has an adverse effect on public opinion. Nevertheless, some more years of active anti-Soviet promotion that were required

to incite the western public resolutely against the USSR. And, even despite this, the attitude towards the USSR in the West was again sharply changed when after Stalin's death in 1953 the Soviet Union began to conduct a campaign for the termination of "Cold War". This campaign brought a certain progress: to the middle of 1955 the number of advocates of creation of the all-European security system (with the participation of the USSR) exceeded number of supporters of NATO.

Optimistic expectations of the West in relation to the Soviet Union for the first time arose in the period of the Great Patriotic War. When in June, 1941 Germany attacked the USSR, over all countries allies the wave of solidarity and sympathy for the Soviet Union swept. Persistent fight of the Red Army against Nazis gave hope for rescue and belief in a possibility of a final victory of coalition forces. In Great Britain thousands of public organizations which were engaged in fund raising for the help of the USSR were created. The Soviet delegations coming to Britain met hospitality and hospitality. The active campaign for opening of the second front in France was launched. Economic, social and political achievements of the Soviet Union treated with the same respect, as military feats of the Red Army. For years of war the number and influence of the Communist Party of Great Britain reached scales unknown earlier. It seemed, KPV have all conditions to play an important role in political life of Britain and after war. In practice, however, the greatest benefit from liking which the British people took to the Soviet Union during the war was taken by the Labour Party. In many respects because labourists at that time were associated with all Soviet, they gained a victory on elections of 1945 as a result of which Churchill lost the power.

The positive attitude of the population towards the Soviet Union could be observed also in other countries, including the United States. Actually considerable part of Americans still belonged to the USSR critically and skeptically, however the majority all

Roberts Jeffrey is professor of University college Cork, Ireland (P.A. Demidov's translation).


held the flatter opinion on the Soviet Union typical for the American media during the war. The pro-Soviet moods were warmed up by propaganda activity of the Soviet information bureau. For years of war Sovinformburo distributed about 300 thousand articles and photos among 3000 western media. Information which was contained in them for 90% was devoted to military subject, however also illumination of other aspects of life of the Soviet people took place.

During war the western political elite also began to treat the USSR more warmly. In Great Britain there was a belief that it is possible to cooperate with the Soviet Union. It was, according to Martin Foley, the hypothesis presenting "to the USSR as the partner". It was meant that as a result of war the essence of the Soviet mode strongly changed: it allegedly became more liberal, more philanthropic and even more capitalist, otherwise, the Soviet Union became more and more similar to the West — at least, potentially. The Soviet and western post-war cooperation was based on this opinion.

USSR as Partner played an important role in emergence of a formula Stalin's perception as pragmatics and the realist who sought for long-term cooperation with the West to provide control of Germany and post-war restoration of infrastructure of the USSR. Among representatives of the British establishment, Martin Foley writes, the consensus concerning a formula USSR as Partner was established. In spite of the fact that during "Cold War" Churchill separated from the pro-Soviet and pro-Stalin views which he shared during World War II howl ny, a formula USSR as Partner, Foley notes, it supported.

In the United States of times of the president Roosevelt there was a similar situation: many counted on establishment of the long-term relations with the USSR. According to polls, in 1945 75% of Americans held the opinion that the USSR could become the reliable partner of the USA in maintenance of post-war world order. Danielle Ierguin called such point of view "The Yalta postulates". In the USA the thesis about convergence of the United States and the Soviet Union was supported with a statement that both countries resulted from revolution and actively opposed an imperialism and colonialism. Though the USSR was still considered as the authoritative state, Stalin's dictatorship in the opinion of Americans was an inevitable and temporary deviation from a way to the ideals of the western liberal democracy caused by weight of war and need to resist to Hitler. Even Stalin terror came true: was considered that thus Stalin managed to clean the country from "the fifth column" and a dictatorial grasp to rally the country.

However closer to the end of war the pro-Soviet moods in the west of began to give way to caution. It was not clear how influential there will be the Soviet Union after war. The popularity of communism growing in Europe insinuated that the USSR — even taking into account dissolution of Komintern in 1943 — refused the idea of world revolution. In process of advance of the Red Army to the West some of its actions caused concern. Numerous messages about mass rapes by Red Army men of the German women and failure to provide of support by the Red Army to the Warsaw revolt in August, 1944 were the most disturbing. The political and diplomatic tension was enhanced also by the disputes connected with United Nations agency, the post-war fate of Poland, suppression of the guerrilla movement of the Greek communists by Great Britain and activity of the occupational modes. Subsequently the value of these quarrels was repeatedly exaggerated to make an impression as if "Cold War" began upon termination of war "hot" at once.

However at that time both the population, and ruling circles in the West were still positive to cooperation with the Soviet Union. Success of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences and United Nations agency in June, 1945 demonstrates to it. Agreements were reached also on many aspects of occupational policy in Germany, including trial over the high-ranking Nazis which took place in Nuremberg in 1946. Taking into account the attitude towards the USSR existing in the West in 1945, it is possible to tell with confidence that there were all prerequisites to that cooperation between the countries of the coalition continued also after the victory. For many years "Cold War" this fundamental truth was forgotten. Promoted it and behavior of the western politicians who strongly tried to make an impression as if always called into question a possibility of cooperation with the Soviet Union and even expected "cold войну".

Since 1945 when forming the Soviet ideas of the West the attitude towards the USSR only negative aspects were taken into account, as a rule. Analyzing a political situation in the West, the Soviet commentators emphasized growth of hostility to the USSR from the western media and political elite. Similar comments found reflection in estimates of Sovinformburo and articles in the internal bulletin of the Central Committee "Questions of Foreign Policy" which began to be published 1944 at the end. Thanks to progress of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences the Soviet pessimistic estimates of the relations with the West any time did not receive broad circulation. However they began to prevail after SMID meeting failure in September, 1945 which was apprehended very negatively and forced Stalin to take a hard line in the relation

Roberts Jeffrey

western states. Tension fell down after success of the Moscow meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in December, 1945. At this meeting of SMID the negotiations on problems of peace treaties which reached the culmination at the Parisian peace conference in the summer of 1946 were resumed

But the worst fears of the Soviet Union about distribution in the west of anti-Soviet moods once again were confirmed when in March, 1946 Winston Churchill delivered a notorious fultonsky speech. Here It should be noted that though Churchill also urged to take a hard line (and such point of view became widespread among the western political figures still the previous year) in relation to the USSR, in his speech there was no appeal to "Cold War". There were no instigations to expansion of an anti-Communist campaign there and though Stalin quite so interpreted Churchill's statements. Actually the West declared on the USSR "Cold War" only a year later when in March, 1947 Truman's doctrine was read. But in March, 1946 the situation was presented to the Soviet Union differently, and the Soviet foreign policy was more and more caused by fear of bad intentions of the western political figures in questions of post-war settlement.

Thus, we face a paradox. In the West the attitude towards the Soviet Union was not such hostile as thought in the USSR. On the contrary, in many respects it was positive and began to worsen only in 1946-1947, up to disintegration of the coalition. However since fall of 1945 the behavior of the USSR was defined by ideas of hostility of the West more and more that resulted in obstinacy of the Soviet Union in questions of foreign policy. Turned out to be consequence of it excessive and times aggressive assertiveness and inflexibility of the USSR that, in turn, disturbed the West and warmed up the worst fears of the western politicians and the public.

The moral of this fable is that if both parties estimated intentions of each other more correctly, they could suppress the well-founded fears and fears and to avoid "Cold War". At least, it would manage to be softened. With some share of convention, it is possible to draw a parallel with the present. Today, 65 years later, we observe a similar situation: Russia exaggerates scales of the western hostility. As a result the rossy-sko-western relations worsen that allows some western politicians to speak about new "Cold War".

Robert Johnston
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