To Comrade Togliatti

J.V. Stalin

27th of November 1947


Stalin’s letter to Togliatti about the meeting with Nenni took place in a critical period of the Italian history. In 1947, with the launch of the “Truman doctrine” and the Marshall Plan, Italy was under a heavy and multilateral offensive headed by US imperialism.

Behind the philanthropic help to Italy, a country destroyed by the war wanted by the Mussolini fascism, the ruling circles of the US imperialism aimed to extend and strengthen their dominant position and to occupy the air-naval strategic bases in order to include Italy in the imperialist and reactionary bloc, preventing its placement in the anti-imperialist and democratic bloc.

The North American plan developed at different levels (economic, political, ideological and military) and with different tactics (violence, blackmails, pressures, corruption, divisive politics, etc.).

In May 1947 USA, thanks to the servile attitude of the Christian Democratic government of De Gasperi and the support of the Vatican, the USA obtained a preliminary condition for their strategy: the removal of the communists and the socialists from the government (the same thing happened in France) and the formation of an alliance with the right parties.

This event radically changed the political situation, setting Italy at the service of the North American imperialism and worsening the life conditions of the workers.

The second objective of the anti-communist and reactionary forces directed by the North American circles was to disintegrate in every possible way the unity of the working class, of the trade union and cooperative movement, of the organizations of the women and the young people, of the progressive and democratic forces, that had been reached during the war of liberation from fascism.

This criminal politics was carried out using the right current that existed inside the PSI (Italian Social Party), led by the corrupt Joseph Saragat, that produced a division inside this party forming a Labourist group financed and directed by the US imperialism.

The aim of the Social Democratic right was to cover the rapacious imperialist politics and to force the PSI to abandon the unity of action with the PCI (Communist Party of Italy), in view of the 1948 political elections. The electoral campaign was run with open US interference, military pressure and use of millions of dollars to support especially the DC (Christian Democratic party) in a climate of anti-communist hysteria, police repression and fascist provocations.

In this scenery can be understood the great attention that Stalin and the leading group of the VKP(b) reserved to the Italian questions and therefore to the relationships with Pietro Nenni, who represented the left wing of the PSI.

In that period Nenni was a consistent supporter of the peace and the friendship with USSR (in 1951 he was honoured with the Stalin Prize for peace); he defended a politics of the sovereignty and independence of Italy, fostered a politics of close alliance with the communists and agreed to form the Popular Democratic Front with the PCI, the trade union CGIL and other mass organizations, to stand for elections with a unique list.

These positions were in accordance with the interests of the Soviet Union and the popular democracy countries, that developed a politics directed to undermine imperialism, to stop its warmongering plans, to eradicate fascism and to consolidate the positions of the proletariat in the international arena.

Particularly meaningful are some points which arise from the informative letter of Stalin.

a) The Soviet party advised the Italian comrades to not rush to establish the unique party (PCI-PSI) of the working class, because was better to develop the unity of action for a resolute struggle against the bourgeoisie and the DC. At the international level the VKP(b) leadership considered that it was preferable to have an autonomous position of the PSI, in order to develop a positive influence on other European socialist parties. In reality the unique party was never realized, and after the Khrushchev report and the affirmation of revisionism in 1956 the distances between the parties increased more and more. While Togliatti followed the illusory “Italian pacific way to socialism”, Nenni pursued a centre-left government with the Christian Democratic party.

b) On the mistakes of the PSI and PCI: Stalin did not say which of the two parties has committed more mistakes, but he says that both have committed mistakes. It is not by chance that a few months before, Zhdanov, in the first meeting of the Cominform, harshly criticised the unbridled parliamentarism, the legalism and the immobility of the PCI, that had not organized a serious action of resistance while it was expelled by the government, remaining on a defensive position.

c) On the danger of a new world war. For the Soviet leaders it was not imminent, but it served as a blackmail against the Italian left. Also in this case, the remark is an implicit criticism of the passive and weak position of the PCI.

d) Finally, we have to observe that Nenni’s prevision about the development of a revolutionary situation in Italy was completely wrong. Before and after the 1948 elections, which were won by Christian Democratic party, and even after the fascist attack on Togliatti (July 1948) there were important struggles, mass strikes, great demonstrations against the politics of hunger, reaction and war waged by the bourgeoisie. But it did not open a revolutionary situation, and it was not the beginning of decisive struggles from the proletariat, if only because the leadership of the PCI did not want to make a revolution, but accepted the capitalist system.

From that time began a long period of bourgeois dominion that endures in Italy, as well as endures the struggle of the Marxist-Leninists for establishing a State and a government of popular democracy.

The Editorial Board of “Teoria e Prassi", Italy.

As you know, Pietro Nenni has asked us to organize his, Nenni’s meeting with the representative of the CC of the VKP(b). This meeting has taken place one of these days.

At the meeting Nenni has informed about situation in Italy and has asked a number of questions to which our representative has replied as instructed by the CC of the VKP(b).

We would like to inform you, for your reference, about the contents of the meeting of Nenni with the representative of the CC of the VKP(b).

Describing current situation in Italy, Nenni stressed its complexity and sharpening during the recent period. He considers it very possible that de Gasperi might soon manage to involve the Saragatists and the republicans into the government, and that the socialists and communists are unlikely to return to the government until the elections which will take place in March 1948. Nenni also considers it possible that de Gasperi might attempt to postpone the elections, under American pressure. Taking all of this into account, Nenni describes the following possible perspective for socialists and communists: either the left bloc will win the elections or there might be a revolutionary situation in the country. Nenni says that it’s possible that in the nearest future socialists and communists will organise a general strike under the banner of the legal recognition of the rule of workers Soviets (councils) in the factories. If the left bloc will come to power, Nenni predicts that in both cases Americans will stop import of bread and coal into Italy. In connection with this Nenni has asked about the possibility for Moscow to supply bread and coal in exchange for other goods.

On the issue of unity with communists in Italy Nenni expressed opinion that despite certain oppositional moods among certain socialists, this unity will strengthen. Both parties will participate in the election as a united bloc and will have mutual lists of candidates. Nenni’s party supports further deepening of cooperation with communists. But he, Nenni, thinks that it is too early for creation of a single workers party in Italy, because this can put off the middle class who are usually following the socialists but will not follow the united workers party. Nenni reminded that after his coming out from underground he raised the issue of a united workers party. But at the moment, he thinks, it would be more beneficial to have two separate parties that are closely linked, because, among other things, this will give his party the opportunity to influence socialists in other countries in the interests of left democratic forces. Nenni asked if this idea of his was correct.

Nenni marked a number of mistakes made by the socialists and communists during the last 2 years. He thinks that the left have wasted their time waiting for the improvement of the situation after the occupying forces had left the country, and having been afraid that the situation in Italy might become similar to that in Greece. These mistakes have become especially clear to him during the last few weeks when the people’s mass movement is successfully opposing the actions of reactionaries that the left wing forces could not achieve previously. Nenni said that these mistakes were probably not less, but more fault of the communists.

Further Nenni said that his party intends at the upcoming party conference to oppose strongly the French right wing socialists, both on the issue of fighting for peace and on the issue of the restoration of the International.

During the conversation Nenni spoke of the imminent danger of the new war and wanted to know the opinion of the CC of the VPK(b) if he correctly analyses the situation in the world, is he correct in thinking that world already now stands at the brink of a new world war.

At the end of the conversation Nenni asked for help to his party in the upcoming elections by providing paper.

Our representative gave the following answers to Nenni’s questions:

  1.  If coordination of activities between the socialists and the communists will be solid enough, we think there is no need to rush with the creation of a united workers party.
  2.  Both Italian communists and Italian socialists have made some mistakes but we have no materials in order to judge who has made more mistakes.
  3.  We can support Nenni’s party with paper at a low price.
  4.  We do not think that war is near. The USA is unable to wage a war against the Soviet Union at the moment because it cannot convince the American people of the necessity of such war. Noise about the new war has a purpose of raising the spirits of the reactionaries, of curbing the US working class and of frightening the Soviet Union and our allies, in order to make us complacent. But the USSR does not give in to blackmailing.
  5.  We think that Nenni’s position on the creation of the Socialist International is correct.
  6.  We think that the main instigators of destroying the unity among the working class are the Labourists, and that is why left wing socialists should oppose them in particular.
  7.  In case the left wing bloc will come to power in Italy, the Soviet Union can guarantee sufficient bread supplies. As for the coal, in the next three years the Soviet Union will not have too much excess of the coal, but we think that the countries of people’s democracy, Poland in particular, can already now provide a big help to Italy with coal. We will try to clarify this issue with the countries of people’s democracy.


(Sent on the 29th of November 1947)

(Printed in 2 exemplars)

Source: RGASPI F. 83, Op. 1, D 14, LL. 84-86.

Translated from the Russian by Irina Malenko.

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