September 7, 1947 – Is Europe Going Red? – Communist Influence In Post-War Europe – Past Daily Reference Room
With the slow process of reconstruction and rehabilitation from the War still going on, a new threat to the relative peace, only two years old, was taking shape. Call it a war of ideologies, a war of popularity or a war of economic recovery, the encroaching influence of Moscow and the Communist Party was being felt all over Europe; from the East with Hungary, down to Greece, to Italy and to France, the Communist Party was starting to have a foothold in the political climate of formerly occupied countries.
And much of it was based on a strong desire not to go back to the Europe of before the War. The former allies were no longer in a position to maintain colonies, maintain military strength or to convince the people most affected by the war that austerity was the only alternative.
In Italy, a very strong Communist Party was flexing its muscles in the election process. In France as well as Greece, Communist influence was strongly present within the unions and Communist Party candidates were running for offices which would have a direct bearing on the future of those countries. In Hungary, national elections were held in which the Communists, with support of the occupying Russian Army, took a majority of popular votes and controlled 1/4 of the Hungarian Parliament. A coalition government was formed, headed by Communist Mátyás Rákosi. Despite protests of widespread voter election fraud, the new government was formed and it would wind up being the last free and competative elections to be held in that country until 1991.
In Greece, the issue was Moscow versus the Truman Doctrine which was one of economic and social aid and containing Russian influence in the affairs of Greece. But the issue here was over Greece installing a Royalist government, which the U.S. was very much against. Under threat of withdrawing American aid, pressure was put on Foreign Minister Saldaris, himself a staunch Royalist, to yield, by permitting the formation of a two-party cabinet in which the Royalists still had the majority. But the Greek government was now supported by the U.S., as the new Hungarian government was supported by Russia.
All this, and several other points are discussed in this episode of The Story Behind The Headlines with Cesar Serchinger, as it was broadcast on September 7, 1947.