This is one of those exciting history books that reads like a novel. Churchill made an inspired choice in deciding to support Tito and his Communist Resistance Army. However, it was a relationship that was not just unlikely, but one with potential fault lines. – Much Recommended.
NAME: Flashpoint Trieste, The First Battle of the Cold War FILE: R2633 AUTHOR: Christian Jennings PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury, Osprey BINDING: soft back PAGES: 352 PRICE: £9.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, World War 2, Second World War. Tito, Churchill, Yugoslavia, Communist Resistance, Germans, Soviets, Victory in Europe, dividing the spoils, new nations, Cold War ISBN: 978-1-4728-2173-7 IMAGE: B2633.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/y8bdt4eo LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This is one of those exciting history books that reads like a novel. Churchill made an inspired choice in deciding to support Tito and his Communist Resistance Army. However, it was a relationship that was not just unlikely, but one with potential fault lines. – Much Recommended. World War Two was not the slow moving accident that became the Great War, but it had its share of unlikely Allies and chaotic development. The end of the war was even more chaotic and rapidly led to the Cold War. Trieste became one of those pawns of the new war and its first battle. What made it even more chaotic was that Tito was also at odds with Stalin and determined to take a robust independent line in Yugoslavia's interest after 1945. The difficulty for the Allies was that they were suffering from the naive political attitude of the US. This attitude failed to recognise the dangers from the Soviets in the way that Churchill recognised the grave risks. As Stalin began to move his boundaries West, the US began to take fright and an anti-Communist approach became established. This approach could not differentiate between flavours of Communism, becoming inflexible and unimaginative. Yugoslavia was a collection of states that was almost an afterthought. As a monarchy it had held together, but with difficulty. The various religions and ethnic groups were not natural bedfellows. When the Germans invaded the Balkans the resistance that developed was a number of groups that followed the divisions of Yugoslavia. Not only did they fail to co-operate, but they actively fought each other. Churchill recognised the complex situation and decided to support Tito's Communists because he saw them as the most determined and functional group that had clear objectives in fighting the Germans. He saw them as the best and most economic way of tying down the maximum number of German troops and resources. The result was that Britain and Tito worked well together against a common enemy. That mutual appreciation survived the end of WWII and the Cold War, with Tito becoming the first post-war Communist leader to make an official visit to Britain but that did not mean that relations were always good. Tito was looking to defeat and eject the German invaders and build a new united Yugoslavia that had adequate ports and infrastructure to support a developing economy in peace. This focus on Yugoslavian interests was one reason why he was prepared to fight the Soviet Union if necessary after 1945, not wanting to exchange one invader for another. Although the Serbs shared common heritage and religion with Russia and political concepts with the Soviet Union that did not mean that they would accept life as a Soviet satellite or province. Had the Western Allies followed the advice of Churchill, there would have been a clear understanding of what would follow the unconditional surrender of Germany. However, Churchill had several reservations about the US and Soviet view of what the surrender should be and there is evidence that he was attempting to negotiate a surrender of the Italian Fascists, leading to the killing of Mussolini to prevent those discussions being used by the Italian dictator as a captive. The result was that Stalin thought he had a free hand to expand Russia westwards by installing puppet administrations in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and all the other states that had been occupied by the Germans during WWII. He also expected half of Germany and Austria. Churchill correctly saw that as a base from which to expand Russia to the North Sea and the Channel. The US had a different perception and Churchill saw a pragmatic solution to post war reconstruction. Somewhere in that confusion, Britain saw Trieste being part of Italy and Tito saw it as a key port for Yugoslavia. The author tells the complex story of how that all worked out. In that, there is everything a novelist could hope for as a plot and cast of characters. There are three well-chosen photo plate sections that include some full colour images. It is a compelling mix of spies and partisans of Italy and Yugoslavia, an SS General, US interventions, British SOE agents and the atmospheric environment of the Cold War. History doesn't get any more thrilling, its a real page turner.