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9-10-2015, 07:28

The Cold War in the Balkans, 1945-1956


During the first ten years after the Second World War, events in the Balkans contributed significantly to the shaping of the Cold War world. The outbreak of fratricidal bloodshed in Greece in December 1944, which later escalated into a full-scale civil war, became the first major conflict of the Cold War. In May 1945, even before the German capitulation, an ideologically induced confrontation over control of Trieste threatened to draw the Communist Yugoslav People’s Army and the British and American forces into an armed conflict. As the Second World War ended, a fault line between ideologically opposed groupings was emerging in the Balkans.

Three years later, as a result of the conflict between Moscow and Belgrade, and Yugoslavia’s expulsion from the Soviet 'camp’, the region witnessed the first strategic re-alignment between the two blocs. The ensuing five-year confrontation between Yugoslavia and the USSR and its allies created a schism that destroyed forever any view of the Communist movement as a monolith. Furthermore, the split encouraged Yugoslavia’s leader, Josip Broz Tito, together with India’s Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, to search for a multilateral Third World alternative to the bipolar Cold War world and, eventually, help create the Non-Aligned Movement of states. Finally, as recently opened East European archives have confirmed, the tentative Soviet-Yugoslav normalisation that followed the death of Iosif Stalin in 1953 had a significant impact on the process of de-Stalinisation in the USSR and Eastern Europe.