Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 18. August 10, 1950
Yugoslavia and the IUS . . . — Slavs, Slaves and Students
Yugoslavia and the IUS . . .
Slavs, Slaves and Students
"Tito! Tito! Tito!"
Reminiscent of the cries of young blackshirts for their Duce, the cry rings out in Belgrade. All the enthusiasm that had built up the great Partisan resistance, that had helped free Yugoslavis, and set her on a new, democratic course, has been perverted into the dangerous idollsation of a single man.
As long as they thought of this little Serbian peasant as a "Commo," conservative "western" students classified him in the prejudiced bookshelves of their minds along with Uncle Jo, and spoke of him with similar scorn, But when a breach opened between Yugoslavia and her neighbours, the automatic classification, too, changed. When our local vocals rose to blackguard WFDY for, they hoped, the last time—they spoke fervently of the rights of the young Yugoslavs who had been expelled. The Belgrade catch-cry nearly broke the air in our own Gym.
The reason for the expulsion of the People's Youth of Yugoslavia from WFDY (Bulletin Jan. 1950), and of the Student Section of the PYY from the International Union of Students (Circular July, 1950), was an immediately different one from that for which the Conform broke with Tito, although they must be discussed together. The subject is of some importance for New Zealand students, as the British National Union of Students' governing body suspended membership from IUS (Birmingham University "Guild News" 2.3.50) allegedly because of the "unconstitutional" Yugoslav expulsion, and has circulated a detailed report entitled "Students in Yugoslavia," giving the findings of a British delegation to that country early this year, and supporting the NUS decision.
This report has been widely circulated among student organisations in English-speaking countries, with the evident aim of influening delegates to the IUS Congress next month, at which NZUSA, NZSLF and VUCSA will all be represented.
Many students will remember a talk given to the Socialist Club in 1947 by Dr. W. B. Sutch, who had served as economic adviser to UNRRA in Europe. His impressions were most revealing. Like the Vichy-ites, he pointed out, many of the pillars of the status quo in all parts of the Continent, welcomed the Nazis as an effectual force to discipline the workers and the Left. That was, after all, the original role of the Nazis in Germany itself.
Resistance to the invaders was due solely to the Left and honest Centre groups: the result being that, with the Allied victory, collaborators fell with the Hitlerites, and a virtual revolution took place in most countries, the Left emerging as the popular leader of new governments. Even in France and Italy this was, you will remember, the case.
In Yugoslavia, like other Balkan states long the scens of terror under petty despotisms, a strong left Government took over under the leadership of the Communists But whereas in most of these countries the governments began to break up big estates, nationalise big industry with worker management, inaugurate a new era in industrial and agricultural methods, education, social security, housing—in. Yugoslavia, small peasants were not encouraged to develop their land, or to collectivise in co-ops where this was an obvious solution towards increased prosperity. They gradually became the debtors of entrepreneurs who had not been expropriated, who grew wealthier, and on whose support the Government began increasingly to rely.
This line failed to correspond either with popular wishes or with official international Communist opinion. Inside, there was growing opposition—although vast numbers still held a diehard faith in the one man who seemed to symbolise their resistance and victory. By 1948 resistance to the Government had crystallised. Suddenly General Jovanovich and Colonel-General Zujovich, both famous leaders in the Partisans (the former a close associate with Tito), were executed without trial in August (v. Press). They were known to be critics of certain trends in Belgrade policy. Closely following on these executions was that of Hebrang, a prominent student leader and member of the Communist Party Central Committee. PYY admits hundreds of arrests of students opposed to the Government ("Guild News," 2.3.50).
At the same time came the final break with other European Governments. The Cominform tabulated criticisms of government policy in Yugoslavia, and finally expelled Tito's Party as having betrayed the purpose of a Communist Party.
But the Tito Government had started on an unpopular road, and were driven by the logic of circumstances into more and more unpopular acts. Internal criticism, the life-blood of democracy (and highly prized too, strangely enough, by Communists), was suppressed. But the "western" governments at once embraced Tito in the greater Marshall Plan. The State Department had already shown by its attitude to Franco, Chiang and Paul of the Hellenes, that it was not fussy who it financed, provided he was anti-Communist.
In the February 18 issue of the "Central European Observer" (edited in London by Rev. Stanley Evans), U.S. columnist William Wolf, recently returned from Yugoslavia, published an interview with a State Department official working there: "The strategy calls for two principles of action: giving as much economic assistance as possible to Tito, and working for the spread of Tito-ism' . . ." Luce's "Time" (31.10.49) gave the show away with this story: "(U.S. Ambassador) Cavendish Cannon sniffed trouble in the air before the Cominform split burst open, then begged his superiors to give Tito's government the encouragement and limited support it needed to keep the rebellion thriving."
The split was, then, known before it started. Maybe there is something in the evidence adduced at the Rajk Trial at Budapest last year, and analysed by Derek Kartun, who was present in his "Tito's Plot Against Europe," that certain persons high up in Tito's confidence have been but agents within the Communist movement for such anti-red forces as Horthy's White Guards, the Gestapo, and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services . . . .
Certainly Titoism has led Yugoslavia away from both Socialism and anything that is recognisable as democracy. Certainly the bulk of the finely-produced Tito propaganda now flooding this country bears the heavy imprint "'Printed in the U.S.A." Certainly its assertions fail to tally with known facts .. . .
"Tito! Tito! Tito!" Gradually the democratically elected leaders of the youth, student, trade union and consumers' movements have been replaced by government stooges. WFDY's and IUS's and WFTU's arguments with their Yugoslav affiliates were purely on this ground. IUS does not expect or desire non-elective, unrepresentative student organisations to belong to its ranks. For that reason Franco's phoney Falangist student group is not invited to join. For the same reason the Students Section of the PYY was expelled.
Today, Yugoslavia is alone, with Greece and Spain, as the only lands where the Stockholm Anti-Atom Bomb Appeal (endorsed by VUCSA), is not permitted to be circulated. The Jan. 7 issue of a Rumanian 5-language weekly, contained a letter from Vojvodina, describing terrible economic and political conditions. These things do not make sense of the story brought back by British N.U.S. President S. Jenkins and his delegation. Jenkins had already made himself famous at the 1949 Council Meeting of IUS for his attempts to split "west" from "east"—then unsuccessful. Now he is making some headway, on a specious cry of "victimisation." As interpreter to the delegation, interestingly enough, waa A. V. Sherman, former British Foreign Office official in Belgrade.
This NUS report eulogises the Tito regime in a surprising manner. Not so surprising, perhaps, when we consider that two members of this delegation visited India last year and reported without an unfavourable remark on the notoriously bad student conditions in that country. IUS points out in a circular last week, that "Some chapters (of the report) bear a marked resemblance to material published directly by official Yugoslav agencies . . .(and) many allegations based merely on statements of Belgrade spokesmen."
Students in New Zealand have no tickets on Tito. What we want is, primarily, world student unity on a working basis for co-operation, exchange, discussion, united action for peace. And we want the Yugoslavs to be in too, but we want them to elect their own representatives. We don't have to follow the Party Line to express and act on this wish.