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Tito and Stalin


Orders from Moscow

After 1945 communists took power in some countries without Soviet help. This happened in Yugoslavia where a communist leader called Tito led a successful war against occupying German forces between 1941 and 1945. At first. Tito seemed to be highly regarded by Stalin.


In April 1945 Tito went on a tour of the USSR and was treated as a great hero. There was, however, an underlying tension between Tito and Stalin. The Yugoslav leader did not see why he should follow orders from Moscow.


Tito and Stalin argued in 1948. There were two immediate causes of this rift between Yugoslavia and the USSR: Yugoslav foreign policy was at odds with Soviet plans. Tito wanted to control the small neighboring state of Albania. In late 1947 the Yugoslavs annoyed Stalin by sending their troops into Albania. Tito was greatly offended by the way the Soviets recruited agents in Yugoslavia and asked them to report direct to Moscow. Many senior members of the army were asked to become Soviet spies.


The conflict between Stalin and Tito was announced to the world June 1948. Yugoslavia was thrown out of Cominform, the Soviet-led organization for world communism. Stalin took action to bring Tito into line. Economic sanctions were used - the USSR and other East European states stopped trading with Yugoslavia.


Stalin was confident that Tito could be overthrown. At the beginning of the split he said. I will shake my little finger and there will be no more Tito. Stalin hoped that Yugoslav communists would turn against their leader. Tito dealt skillfully with his enemies. Local communists who sided with Stalin were arrested. People in Yugoslavia rallied round their leader.


Tito turns West

Tito believed that the USA and other Western countries would support him in his dispute with Stalin. He was right. Western countries were keen to help Yugoslavia survive the economic blockade. In December 1948 the British provided a $30 million trade deal. Over the next few years the Americans gave considerable financial support.


With Western help Tito survived the early days of the split with Stalin. Having failed through other means Stalin began, in 1949, to threaten war. In the early 1950s the West began to give direct military help, as well as money. In 1951 the Americans provided the Yugoslav armed forces with equipment worth $60 million dollars.


Stalin spent his final years making sure that no other East Europe leaders tried to follow Tito. Some were accused of Titoism and executed. According to some sources Stalin was making plans to have Tito poisoned when he himself died in 1953. After the death of Stalin, the new Soviet leader, Khrushchev, ended the dispute with Yugoslavia in 1955. This was a victory for Tito, who continued with his independent foreign policy.