THE decisive developments of 1948 in Poland were foreshadowed during the summer of the previous year. The offer of Marshall Aid was made in June 1947, and a few weeks later Soviet pressure had to be exerted to prevent Czechoslovakia and Poland from accepting it. Stalin appears to have decided about this time that his policy towards Eastern Europe needed tightening up and that some organization was required to co-ordinate the activities of the Communist parties in the Soviet bloc and ensure ideological solidarity. The result was the inauguration of the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) in September, at a conference called for the purpose in south-western Poland. It was attended by representatives of the Communist parties of the Soviet Union, six East European States, France, and Italy.
Somewhat ironically Gomułka, the senior Communist official of the host country, was the one person present who was opposed to the Cominform's creation. According to a participant at the conference Gomułka's report on that occasion was marked by coolness towards the whole project, absence of the usual adulatory remarks about the Soviet Union, and the expression of reservations regarding land collectivization, particularly in relation to Poland.1 In Soviet eyes, no doubt, Gomułka's attitude was judged not only by his inevitably reserved speech to the conference, but by his article in Nowe Drogi the previous January and by the more explicit remarks he made to the PPR Central Committee a month after the conference. On that occasion he stressed the difference between the Communist Party and the PPR, which, he said, included sincere democrats who did not consider themselves to be Communists.2