Ambassador Storer to the Secretary of State.

No. 259.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that I have received from the I. and R. foreign office a communication giving the views and decision of the Hungarian Government on the subject of its control of emigration from that country, as well as its explanations of sundry of the frequent complaints of the rigorous and arbitrary treatment accorded by the functionaries of that government to persons seeking to emigrate. This communication seems of such importance that I beg to inclose a copy and a translation for the careful perusal and subsequent instructions of the Department.

[Page 55]

As will be seen, this letter discusses on principle the right or the Hungarian Government to carry out its own internal laws and regulations with regard to its own citizens—both those who leave the country for the first time, and that numerous class who have already in the past gone to America, have come back for a longer or shorter period to their native country without having acquired legal American citizenship, and who wish to go to America a second time.

The laws and governmental decrees and regulations of Hungary on this subject have been long since transmitted to the Department by me, and afford in complete detail the basis of the present attitude of the government of that country toward its own citizens.

It will be observed that, so far as all emigrants of Hungarian nationality are concerned, the Hungarian Government will not allow its right as an independent country to make such arrangements as will necessarily and avowedly give rise to a complete monopoly of this traffic to be called into question, and will, with all the official and police influence in its power, enforce that monopoly. The fusion of interests between the Hungarian Government and the Cunard company to the exclusion of all competing vessels, to which I have so often referred, remains complete, and, to judge from the instructions of the Department at the instance of the American Line and Red Star Line, is becoming effective.

It will also be observed that the Hungarian Government asserts that it has repeatedly and in the strongest terms instructed all its officers and all the magistracy of that Kingdom to maintain the utmost care not to molest or interfere with persons desiring to emigrate who are not Hungarian citizens, and to pay the utmost respect to treaty rights.

This is undoubtedly the fact, but it is to be presumed, for reasons already given the Department at different times—for instance, in my No. 186 of the 29th of November, 1904a—that such instructions are largely disregarded; at least that if there be the slightest question in any case, it will always by the officials and police be resolved in favor of the government and the Cunard company.

The remarks of the Hungarian Government tending to explain the difficulty of investigation and identification by its officers of persons who display documentary evidence tending to show rights of American citizenship, arising from manifold differences of language, have a substantial basis of truth. A large proportion of cases arising on applications for passports, or on complaint and demand for protection, show inaccuracies and differences in name and spelling most liable to mislead and often giving rise to grave suspicion. It has occurred that a former passport contained the alleged name of the bearer spelled in one way, his naturalization paper spelling it in another, while the new application spells and writes it still in a third. Quite often these signatures are in quite dissimilar handwriting, and the names otherwise distorted.

Attention, it will be seen, is also called by the Hungarian Government to the variety in form and wording of the various official documents relied on to prove American citizenship. The Department will remember the various changes in minor details in the form and decoration of passports in past years. From what I have had submitted [Page 56] on applications for passports made to me during the last eight years, it is my opinion that no two States of the Union have any identical form of certificate of citizenship, and in many cases the same form is not used in all counties in the same State, or even all courts of the same county. The substance and effect of the law may be there expressed, but the varieties of wording and expression, of general appearance, of armorial decoration, and seals are often enough to cast a doubt as to the genuineness of the certificate even in the mind of an English-speaking official. I have no doubt that this excuse for misunderstanding and delay in many cases is a sincere and justifiable one, and in such cases the penalty must be borne by the person who seeks to prove his American citizenship.

Taking up the individual cases alluded to by the Hungarian Government, I beg to say that the letters of complaint of the embassy spoken of as addressed to the foreign office “as my letters Nos. 128, 131, and 149” were written in January, 1905, under the instructions of the Department. * * *

I have, etc.,

Bellamy Storer.
[Inclosure. Translation.]

The Minister of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Storer.

With the esteemed notes of the 31st of December, 1904, Nos. 124 and 125, it has pleased his excellency the ambassador of the United States of America, Mr. Bellamy Storer, to ask for the interference of the undersigned with the Royal Hungarian Government in cases in which prepaid tickets for the journey to America via Antwerp and Bremen have been confiscated from emigrants and American citizens.

The undersigned has not failed to transmit these communications, as well as the esteemed notes Nos. 128, 131, and 149, which have analogous cases to their subjects to the Royal Hungarian ministry of the interior with the request to make careful investigations of these cases of complaint and to communicate the result.

The reply of the said Royal Hungarian central office (ministry of the interior) has now reached this office, and though the same does not comprise all the cases above referred to, the undersigned, in compliance with the request of the Royal Hungarian Government, thinks that he should not delay to inform his excellency the ambassador of the United States of America of the point of view in principle from which the latter looks at this question, as well as of the result of investigations of the cases which have been cleared up to this date.

The regulation of the Hungarian emigration by means of law had the intention on the one hand to restrict emigration and on the other to assist those Hungarian citizens who could not be prevented from emigrating and to protect their interests.

For this reason the Royal Hungarian Government orders the seizure of letters, printed matter, and ship tickets which are sent to Hungary by unlicensed enterprises and secret agents, in accordance with the terms of Article IV [VI] of the law of 1903. As these measures are taken only against Hungarian citizens and are practised on Hungarian territory only, they represent an internal home affair of Hungary, which is beyond protest on the part of a foreign government.

If, therefore, the described mode of procedure has been modified in the case of bona fide holders of prepaid tickets who have received the same by mail from their relatives, this has been done solely in the interest of the Hungarian citizens concerned. For the reasons above given, the introduction of this modified practice can not be regarded as something done out of consideration for the interests of the navigation companies and their open and secret agents nor a concession to foreign governments.

The matter is a different one if foreign citizens are concerned thereby. The utmost regard has been paid to the treaty rights of foreigners both in Article IV [VI] of the law of 1903 and in all ordinances issued by the government for its putting in effect. The duty of the observance of greatest regard as to foreigners has been repeatedly called to the attention of the officials in the strongest terms, and their attention has also repeatedly been called to the fact that foreigners are not obliged to exhibit passports or other proofs of identity unless this [Page 57] seems to be necessary for police reasons. The mode of procedure by the authorities in this regard is strictly supervised, and severe disciplinary punishments are insured in case of neglect.

On this occasion attention must be called to the fact that the procedure of the Hungarian authorities in the case of citizens of foreign countries is hampered in an extraordinary degree by the difficulty of fixing the identity of persons from the documents exhibited in doubtful cases, in consequence of the difference of language; and in most of these cases the same can only be finally decided by the superior authorities. In cases of former Hungarian citizens who have acquired the citizenship of the United States this identification is still more complicated by the fact that the authorities are strongly misled by the variety in form and mode of expression, as well as the legal effect, of the American certificates of naturalization. It has occurred, for instance, that a Hungarian authority took such persons as American citizens who held only a so-called “first paper” and whose citizenship was not recognized afterwards by the consul-general of the United States of America at Budapest. In addition to the above there has also been observed with regret the circumstance that Hungarians who had sojourned for some time in the United States regard themselves as American citizens or pass themselves off for such ones, and on this ground take advantage of the authorities of the United States, and that they also try to deceive both the Hungarian authorities and those of the United States by the purchase of forged documents.

As confirmation of the above said the following cases may be mentioned:

The consul-general of the United States at Budapest interfered last year in the case of one Sebastian Rucz, from whom the Stadthauptmannschaft (office of the town militia) at Iglo had taken away his American certificate of naturalization.

From investigation made in this connection it was shown that the certificate of naturalization was issued in the name of one of Markus Rusini and certainly belonged to him. Rusini immigrated into the United States at an age of 18 years, while S. Rucz, according to his own subsequent confession, was at that time already 24 years old. The consul-general at Budapest afterwards refused to recognize S. Rucz as an American citizen and retained the document to have an investigation of the matter made at Washington to ascertain thereby who the intermediary was by whose aid S. Rucz got possession of the certificate of naturalization of Rusini.

The other case concerns the complaint of Josef and Lizzie Harvan, known to his excellency the American ambassador from the communication of the undersigned No. 9971, ex 1905. The latter (Lizzie Harvan) made complaint that she and her daughter, being 4 years of age, had been prevented from going back to America, while investigations turned out that it was not her daughter whom Mrs. Harvan attempted to smuggle over the frontier, but a relative of Hungarian citizenship, 14 to 16 years old, and who held no passport.

These cases show already that the watchfulness of the Hungarian authorities is founded on good reason and that the same is especially well applied in cases where former Hungarian citizens, naturalized in the United States, go to America accompanied by emigrants.

The Hungarian Government, at its regret, becomes aware for some time that the secret emigrant agents of the navigation companies are recruited in an increasing measure from Hungarians established in America, who use their certificate of naturalization of the United States only for carrying out in an easier way their unlawful and often cheating maneuvers. For this reason cases increased where American citizens had to be sentenced to punishment on condemnation for soliciting persons to emigrate. Josef Gerzsan, of New Haven, for instance, was sentenced to thirty days’ imprisonment and a fine of 300 crowns; Moritz Wilhelm Weisz, of Montana, to five days’ arrest and a fine of 60 crowns; and the American citizen, Leopold Schreter, to two months imprisonment and a fine of 600 crowns.

The gathering of further data is continued, and the Royal Hungarian Government declares its willingness to communicate their result to his excellency the ambassador of the United States of America at a later date for the information of the United States authorities.

After having made these introductory remarks, the undersigned has the honor to pass on to the different cases of complaint, whose result of investigation has been established up to this day. First of all, what regards the list of those 21 persons whose complaint formed the subject of the note of his excellency the ambassador of the United States of America, of December 30, 1904, No. 123, it may be allowed to remark that those persons were without exception Hungarian citizens. As they were in possession of tickets of the Belgian Red Star Line, a company not licensed for transportation of emigrants in Hungary, it was not only the right of the local authorities, but their duty, to proceed against them in accordance with the law. If these emigrants were not satisfied with the steps taken against them by the authorities, they should have made complaint, as Hungarian citizens, direct to the superior Hungarian authorities.

On this occasion it may also be laid down that the Red Star Line is that navigation company which practices an unbridled emigration propaganda, which attracts especially women and minor girls, by spreading the untrue assertion that no passports are required for women traveling on its ships; that complaints have been made repeatedly against this company’s ships; that on board of this company’s ship Vaderland, 11 Hungarian citizens have [Page 58] died, and that the result of the investigations made in the last-mentioned case is in contradiction to the information (of a deeply compromising character) which the Hungarian Government in this connection has received from America.

Concerning the case of the American citizen Mrs. Anna Tirpak (see esteemed note of February 17, 1905, No. 131), the result of investigation has shown very considerable exaggerations in the complaint. It is true, indeed, that on the 25th of November, 1904, Mrs. Tirpak, coming to Budapest from Kassa, was brought to the police there. But after having stated that she was an American citizen she was brought, still on the same day, to the American consulate-general, and, as her American citizenship was recognized at this office, at once set free.

The statement that she was forcibly brought back to Kassa by the police is a pure invention.

Similar severe treatment was endured, but quite through their own fault, by the American citizens Esther Schenker and Ella Burger. (See esteemed note of January 19, 1905, No. 128.) The said ladies, traveling from Kassa to Antwerp, when invited to show their certificates of identity, on the 10th of November, 1904, did not produce American documents, but a certificate issued by their Hungarian parish. The officials therefore took them for Hungarian emigrants, who intended to leave the country without the prescribed passport, and brought them back to their former place of residence, Miskolcz, on which occasion 280 crowns were taken from them to prevent them from escaping over the frontier. This amount was returned to them on the 17th of November, 1904, against a receipt. Miss Schenker made request for the return of her ship ticket from the Royal Hungarian ministry of the interior only at a later date, whereupon the same was returned to her on the 6th of January, 1905. Contrary to their allegation of having made repeated fruitless appeals, the said ladies have made complaint neither to the ministry of the interior nor to any other authority, and departed unmolested for America in February, 1905.

The undersigned will communicate to his excellency the ambassador of the United States of America the result of the remaining investigations, which are still going on, as soon as the same will be known to this office, and avails himself, etc.

For the minister.

Lad. Müller, M. P.