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World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace
Date 25 August 1948 (1948-08-25)
28 August 1948 (1948-08-28)

The World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace (Polish language: Światowy Kongres Intelektualistów w Obronie Pokoju ) was an international conference held on 25 to 28 August 1948 at Wrocław University of Technology. It was a propaganda conference organized by the Polish and Soviet communists aimed at the "American imperialism".


The Congress was officially proposed by Polish communist activist, Jerzy Borejsza, but in reality it was most likely conceptualized and approved by the Soviet Union.[1][2] It was held on 25 to 28 August 1948 at Wrocław University of Technology.[1] It cost the organizers about 100 million Polish zloties.[3]


A large number of notable individuals, primarily supportive of the left-wing policies, participated in the conference. They included: Pablo Picasso,[3] Louis Aragon,[2] Frédéric Joliot,[3] Irène Joliot-Curie,[3] Julian Huxley,[3] Bertolt Brecht,[3] Jorge Amado,[3] György Lukács,[2] Fernand Léger,[2] Roger Vailland,[2] Salvatore Quasimodo,[2] Paul Éluard,[3] Olaf W. Stapledon,[3] Leon Moussinac,[3] Jorge Amado,[3] Alan J.P. Taylor,[2] John Haldane[3] and Julien Benda. Some Soviet delegates included Alexander Alexandrovich Fadeyev,[3] Ilya Ehrenburg,[3] and Mikhail Sholokhov.[3] Polish representatives were, among others: Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (leader of the Polish delegation),[3] Maria Dąbrowska,[3] Zofia Nałkowska,[2] Tadeusz Kotarbiński,[3] Józef Chałasiński,[2] Andrzej Panufnik,[2] Kazimierz Wyka,[2] Stanisław Lorentz,[2] Stanisław Ossowski,[2] Władysław Broniewski,[3] Władysław Tatarkiewicz,[3] Julian Krzyżanowski,[3] Antoni Słonimski,[3] Hugo Steinhaus,[3] Julian Tuwim[3] and Jerzy Zawieyski.[3] Borejsza was the Congress' secretary general.[2]

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.[1][2] Overall, the Congress was attended by about 600 individuals from 46 countries.[3]


The Congress was part of the Stalin-supported peace movement aimed at slowing down the development of the nuclear weaponry by the West (at that time, USSR did not have nuclear weapons of its own, although it was engaged in a crash program to develop them).[1] Polish historian Wojciech Tomasik noted that the Congress was one of the examples in which the Soviet propaganda hijacked the concept of "defending the peace", to justify its own policies.[2] The Congress aim was to influence the world's public opinion, portraying the communist powers as supporters of peace, and the Western ones, as a threat to it.[1][2][4] Dąbrowska in her memories 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."[2]

Some Polish activists and politicians initially saw the congress as a neutral conference that would boost Polish relations with the West.[1] However, soon after a strongly anti-American opening speech by Soviet delegation leader, Fadeyev, a number of western delegates such as Huxley or Curie declared themselves offended.[1] Some, including Huxley (then director of UNESCO), Léger and Taylor, left the conference in protest.[2] A number of other speeches shared much of the anti-American rhetoric.[3] Journalist Francoise 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.[2] The final act of the conference was a resolution to defend world peace.[3] 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.[3] Only 11 delegates voted against (7 out of 32 from the US, and 4 out of 32 from the UK).[3] Another source notes that 371 out of 391 delegates voted in support.[2]

Simultaneously with the Congress, another Wrocław event occurred: the Exhibition of the Regained Territories, another international event, this one used by Polish propaganda to justify the territorial changes of Poland after World War II and the securing of the so-called Regained Territories.[3] Together, the Conference and the Exhibition aimed to convince the world that the border change was beneficial to Europe and the world peace.[3]


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.[4][5] In the United States, a pro-American, anti-Soviet Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace was held in New York in March 1949.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "O kongresie na Politechnice po 50 latach...". Pryzmat. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 "60 lat temu we Wrocławiu obradował Światowy Kongres Intelektualistów | Aktualności o polskiej nauce, badaniach, wydarzeniach, polskich uczelniach i instytutachj badawczych". 2008-08-25.,203868,60-lat-temu-we-wroclawiu-obradowal-swiatowy-kongres-intelektualistow.html. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 "Ziemie Odzyskane i miłośnicy pokoju". 2008-09-18.,35762,5709093,Ziemie_Odzyskane_i_milosnicy_pokoju.html. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Encyclopedia of the Cold War. Taylor & Francis US. 15 May 2008. p. 962. ISBN 978-0-415-97515-5. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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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