The Prague coup of February 1948 appeared to have given Stalin mastery over an eastern Europe which, against the background of the intensifying cold war, was being refashioned on the Soviet model. Yet, as the events of the summer were to show, Stalin already felt his monopoly of power threatened, but threatened from within as much as from without, from the heretic as much as from the infidel. On 28 June 1948 the Yugoslav Communist Party was expelled from Cominform.
Beneath the surface there had always been tension between the Yugoslav communists and Moscow. This could be said for almost any east European communist party but the CPY, thanks to its war record and to the fact that all its leaders had spent the war in Yugoslavia and not in Moscow, felt more self-confident and independent. Moreover, as a victor power Yugoslavia did not have to play host to an Allied Control Commission which might limit the local government’s freedom of action. Yugoslav leaders were consequently amongst the few who voiced their frustration with ‘Grandfather’ Stalin.
Many of the sources of frustration first appeared during the war itself. The communist partisans had expected at least some military assistance from the Soviet Union, no matter how hard pressed the latter might have been. They were to a large degree disappointed; at one point an exasperated Tito had telegraphed to Stalin: ‘If you cannot help us, then please do not hinder us.’
After the war Stalin made disparaging remarks about the partisans, the pride of the Yugoslav party, comparing them unfavourably with the Bulgarian army which, said the Soviet leader, had a ‘proper’ officer cadre and a general staff. More pointedly, in the latter months of the war, when disputes arose between the partisans and the Bulgarian military who were fighting alongside them, Stalin intervened in favour of the Bulgarians.
For his part Stalin was alarmed by what he considered Yugoslav partisan excesses. He had been concerned by the creation of the first proletarian brigade