The East European Communist Parties to 1945
THE COMMUNIST PARTIES that came to power to Eastern Europe in the period 1944-48 owed their status to the overwhelming presence of the Red Army (the Yugoslav and Albanian cases are possible exceptions). All of these parties were very small in 1945; none could conceivably have won a free election. Since the communist parties were weak almost to the point of insignificance in the interwar period, they have been largely ignored in previous chapters. Yet they did exist and they did have histories; their pasts are in fact quite important in explaining their postwar characteristics.
The parties will be dealt with separately on a national basis. Even though all (except the Albanian) were attached to the Comintern and for the most part followed the Soviet line, their experiences, quality of leadership, and type and number of supporters, varied enormously. On the other hand, there are a number of general statements that can be made about their histories. It seems most appropriate, however, to leave the conclusions until the end and to proceed to discuss the individual parties.
The experience of the Communist Party of Hungary represented both the peak and the nadir of communist achievement in interwar Eastern Europe. The Hungarian Soviet Republic established under the leadership of Béla Kun in 1919 was certainly the peak--the only communist state outside of the Soviet Union in the period 1917-1945. On the other hand, the defeat of the communists was so complete, the strength and vengefulness