Russia's European Satellites

November 4, 1953

Report Outline
Signs of Unrest in Soviet Borderlands
Major Developments Since Death of Stalin
Economic Consequences of Soviet Domination
American Policy on Satellite Resistance
Special Focus

Signs of Unrest in Soviet Borderlands

Recent Shifts in Communist Party Line

Signs of unrest and disaffection in the Soviet borderlands of Eastern Europe have appeared at frequent intervals since the death of Stalin in March and in recent months there have been strange happenings, not yet fully understood by the outside world, in all of the satellite states. Earlier reports of concessions to workers and peasants were largely discounted, but since the East Berlin riots of mid-June more and more weight has been given to accumulating evidence that Communist policies are in process of revision throughout Russia's European empire.

Local Communist governments have been openly confessing past “mistakes,” granting political amnesties, and abruptly proclaiming new political and economic policies which they would have branded as heresies a short time before. Unlike previous shifts in the Communist Party line, the recent changes have been announced for the most part by the very leaders who had imposed the policies being jettisoned. While the personnel of several of the local regimes has been reshuffled, no violent purges on the pattern of the past have been staged in any of the satellite states.

These and other developments have raised perplexing questions for western observers: What do they portend for the hierarchy in the Kremlin, for the peoples of the satellite states, for the western world? Is the apparent change from a “hard” to a “soft” policy in the satellites directly linked to a similar shift within Russia itself? Is Moscow directing the present course or are local Communist governments being forced to yield to menacing internal pressures? Has popular discontent risen to a point where violent upheavals can be expected?

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