World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace

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World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace
(Światowy Kongres Intelektualistów w Obronie Pokoju)
Session of the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace in Wrocław, 1948.
Host countryPoland
Date25 August 1948 (1948-08-25)
28 August 1948 (1948-08-28)
Venue(s)Wrocław University of Technology

The World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace (Polish: Światowy Kongres Intelektualistów w Obronie Pokoju) was an international conference held on 25 to 28 August 1948 at Wrocław University of Technology. It was organized in the aftermath of the Second World War by the authorities of the Polish People's Republic and the Soviet Union, and aimed against American imperialism.

The congress was part of Soviets and Stalin’s goal of slowing down the Western nuclear weapon program by the West, by influencing the world public opinion through framing of the communist powers as supporters of peace, and on the opposite side, portraying the West as a threat to peace.[1]


The Congress was officially proposed by Polish communist Jerzy Borejsza, and conceptualized by the Soviet Union.[2][3] It was held on 25 to 28 August 1948 at Wrocław University of Technology.[2] It cost the organizers about 100 million Polish zloties.[4]


The Congress was part of the Soviet-supported Poland movement[clarification needed] aimed at slowing down the development of nuclear weaponry by the West[citation needed] (at that time, USSR did not have nuclear weapons of its own, although it was engaged in a crash program to develop them).[2] Polish historian Wojciech Tomasik claimed that the Congress was an example of the Soviet Union hijacking the concept of "defending peace", to justify its own policies.[3] The aim of the Congress was to influence world public opinion, portraying the Eastern Bloc countries as supporters of peace and the Western Bloc countries as a threat to it.[2][3][5] Dąbrowska in her memoirs stated that "the Congress was not aimed at preventing the war in general, but at preventing an American-Soviet war from talking place now, at the moment in which the USSR is in the inferior position."[3]

Some Polish activists and politicians initially saw the congress as a neutral event that would boost Polish relations with the West.[2] However, in reaction to a strongly anti-American speech where the Soviet delegation leader, writer Alexander Fadeyev, attacked writers and intellectuals such as John Dos Passos, T. S. Eliot, André Malraux, Eugene O'Neill and Jean-Paul Sartre, a number of western delegates such as Huxley or Curie declared themselves offended.[4][2] Some, including Julian Huxley (then director of UNESCO), Léger and Taylor left the conference in protest.[3] Huxley accused the Congress of intolerance to non-Communist viewpoints and stated "such behaviour cannot lead to peace, and may help to promote war".[6] Writer Ilya Ehrenburg then gave a conciliatory speech on behalf of the Soviet delegation, and Borejsza convinced almost everyone to remain at the Congress.[7]

A number of other speeches shared much of the anti-American rhetoric.[4] Journalist François Bondy noted that the Soviet delegation was particularly unfriendly and aggressive towards many of the Western delegates, and their actions sowed much discord into the conference, ruining the attempts by Polish delegates to salvage the neutral tone of the event.[3] The final act of the conference was a resolution to defend world peace.[4] The resolution applauded democracy which saved the world from fascism, and criticized the governments (but explicitly, not the people) of United States and United Kingdom, arguing that a small group of greed-motivated individuals in America and Europe "inherited" the evils of fascism, and are planning a coup d'état against the world's peace.[4] Only 11 delegates voted against (7 out of 32 from the US, and 4 out of 32 from the UK).[4] Another source notes that 371 out of 391 delegates voted in support.[3]

Simultaneously with the Congress, another Wrocław event occurred: the Exhibition of the Regained Territories, another international event, this one used by the Poles to explain the territorial changes of Poland after World War II and the securing of the so-called Regained Territories.[4] Together, the Conference and the Exhibition aimed to convince the world that the border change was beneficial to Europe and the world peace.[4]

The Congress elected a permanent International Committee of Intellectuals in Defence of Peace (also known as the International Committee of Intellectuals for Peace and the International Liaison Committee of Intellectuals for Peace), with headquarters in Paris. The Congress called for the establishment of national branches and the holding of national meetings similar to the World Congress. In accordance with this policy, a Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace was held in New York City in March 1949.[8]


A large number of notable individuals, primarily supportive of left-wing policies, participated in the conference. They included:

Albert Einstein sent a letter which was read to the delegates – but only after it had been censored[by whom?] to remove the call for a world government that would safeguard the uses of nuclear energy.[2][3] Henry A. Wallace, former Vice President of the United States under Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Progressive Party's candidate in the 1948 U.S. presidential election, also sent a message of support.[10] Overall, the Congress was attended by about 600 individuals from 46 countries.[4]

Julia Pirotte, a photojournalist known for her work in the French Resistance, covered the event.


The conference was one of the precursors to the Soviet-dominated World Peace Council organization, which for decades would attempt to influence the world's peace movement to support a more pro-Soviet and anti-American stance.[5][14]

In the United States, a pro-American, anti-Soviet Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace was held in New York City in March 1949.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vladimir Dobrenko (2016), Conspiracy of peace: the cold war, the international peace movement, and the Soviet peace campaign, 1946-195
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "O kongresie na Politechnice po 50 latach..." Pryzmat. 2008-06-30. Archived from the original on June 30, 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "60 lat temu we Wrocławiu obradował Światowy Kongres Intelektualistów &#124". 2008-08-25. Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "Ziemie Odzyskane i miłośnicy pokoju". 2008-09-18. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  5. ^ a b Encyclopedia of the Cold War. Taylor & Francis US. 15 May 2008. p. 962. ISBN 978-0-415-97515-5. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  6. ^ Lawrence S. Wittner, The Struggle Against the Bomb, Volume One: One World Or None. Stanford University Press, 1993 ISBN 0804721416 (p. 176)
  7. ^ Piotr H. Kosicki. Catholics on the Barricades: Poland, France, and "Revolution," 1891-1956. Yale University Press, 2018. p. 182. ISBN 9780300225518
  8. ^ Report on the Communist "peace" offensive; a campaign to disarm and defeat the United States (1951)
  9. ^ a b c d e Tony Judt. Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944–1956. University of California Press, 1992. p. 224. ISBN 9780520086500
  10. ^ a b c d e f Geoffrey Roberts. "Averting Armageddon: The Communist Peace Movement, 1948–1956." The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. Stephen A. Smith, ed. Oxford University Press, 2014. p. 324–325. ISBN 9780191667510
  11. ^ a b c Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius. "Remapping Socialist Realism: Renato Guttuso in Poland." Art beyond Borders: Artistic Exchange in Communist Europe 1945–1989. Jérôme Bazin, Pascal Dubourg Glatigny, Piotr Piotrowski, ed. Central European University Press, 2016. p. 143. ISBN 9789633860830
  12. ^ a b c d Klefstad, Terry. "Shostakovich and the Peace Conference" (PDF): 4. Retrieved 20 August 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b c Harriet Atkinson. The Festival of Britain: A Land and Its People. I. B. Taurus, 2012. p. 55. ISBN 9781848857926
  14. ^ Geoffrey Roberts (31 August 2011). Molotov: Stalin's Cold Warrior. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-57488-945-1. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  15. ^ Hugh Wilford (2008). The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. Harvard University Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-674-02681-0. Retrieved 24 August 2012.

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