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With Stalin, Against Tito

Stalin Tito
Stalin – Tito

In 1948 Tito's Yugoslavia famously split with Stalin and the Soviet Union after it had refused to attend a Cominform meeting in Bucharest. In Montenegro, "as elsewhere in Yugoslavia" writes Roberts "the fundamental belief that 'Cominformism had to be torn up by the roots' gave rise to an extremist culture in which sons were encouraged to denounce parents, wives to divorce husbands and siblings to approve each other's execution."

As the level of political and social paranoia grew, people were arrested simply for failure to report suspect conversations, and for reading or listening to material that was deemed to have pro-Soviet content. Overall about a third of the total Communist Party membership in Montenegro, some 5,000 people, are thought to have aligned themselves with the pro-Soviet tendency, a level of support far beyond that existing anywhere else in Yugoslavia. So grave was the threat to overall Yugoslav security that in the summer of 1948 a full division of the security service (UDBa) was seconded to Montenegro to engage the growing number of rebels who had taken to the hills and to close the borders with Albania.

Why was there such a high level of support for Stalin in Montenegro? There were of course many reasons but for Roberts the single most important one was an enduring love of Russia.

…for Montenegrin Communists, the centuries-old devotion to Russia had been heightened by their new-found admiration for the Soviet people as the instigators of the October Revolution, for Stalin himself as leader of the international Communist movement, and finally, as proclaimed by official propaganda, for the Soviet Union's glorious role in the Second World War. Added to this was the fact that in Montenegro traditional mores – a lethal combination of dogmatism and idealism – had given rise to a more rigid and in that respect more Stalinist view of Communism.

[pp: 406, 407 & 405]

Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro. 2007. [C.Hurst & Co]

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