Helion's Cominform Crisis

Author/Artists: Bojan Dimitrijevic


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 98 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-804510-28-5

After WW2, the Soviet Union sought to basically put all of eastern Europe under its control. While this worked in much of the area, in Yugoslavia, things did not go as Stalin had planned. Yugoslavia had a very strong dictator in the form of Tito, who had lead a large Yugoslav partisan army in their defeat of the Germans.

Initially, like the other Soviet-dominated states, Tito needed Soviet support in rebuilding his military forces. While Stalin did initially provide replacement tanks, other vehicles, guns, and ammunition, it came with a price. That price was Soviet 'advisors' in fairly high military positions. This was initially tolerated as Yugoslavs were sent abroad to various Soviet military schools as well as being educated in other Soviet bloc nations. Basically it was supposed to be one big happy communist family. Indeed, Yugoslavia also hosted military students from other nations such as nearby Albania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

However, Tito and his generals grated at what they saw as a haughty take-over of their military by the Soviet Union. This caused a rift, which, by 1948, resulted in the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Cominform or the communist brotherhood of nations. With this expulsion, all Soviet advisors left. It also resulted in the cessation of deliveries of equipment and spare parts. Fortunately, Tito was quickly rebuilding Yugoslavia's military manufacturing capabilities.

Thus began seven years of hostilities, between Yugoslavia and those nations that bordered the country. Border incursions became more and more frequent with firing into the nation occasionally killing border guards. Naturally, this was not a good thing and there were retaliatory raids made.

One of the benefits of this whole situation is that Yugoslavia became more and more open to the west. The US and NATO saw this as an opportunity and started supplying equipment under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). It is how Yugoslavia got jet fighters and more modern western equipment, mostly from the US. Eventually the crisis started to wind down after the death of Stalin in 1953 and by 1955 Khrushchev visited Yugoslavia and offered an apology for their treatment of the country.

So what we have here is another fascinating look at an early Cold War crisis about which many westerners know little or nothing. The author has certainly done his research on this one and provides us a level of detail that makes for a great read. It is a book that is very much worth picking up and reading.

April 2023

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