Memorandum by Archduke Otto of Austria to Major General Clayton Bissell, Assistant Chief of Staff, G–2, United States Army2

Mr. Tiber Eckhardt,3 member of the Hungarian Parliament, and I have received in the first days of this month detailed and reliable informations from our political friends in Hungary concerning the recent political and military developments. The outstanding facts are the following:

A. In the political field:

(1) In August 1943, after the collapse of the Fascist regime in Italy,4 the Small Farmers (Peasant) Party together with the Christian Popular Party and the Socialist Party had addressed a Memorandum to Regent Horthy4a asking for:

Immediate severance of Hungary’s ties to the no more existing Axis and a declaration of neutrality in the present war;
A change of policy in favor of the Allies.

The Memorandum also stated that only by accepting risks and sacrifices can the future of Hungary be saved. The Memorandum was signed not only by the leaders of the three aforementioned Parties, but also by prominent non-partisan Legitimists (Cardinal Seredy, Senator Count Sigray) and by such Conservatives as Count Stephen Bethlen (former Prime Minister). The Regent reacted favorably to the Memorandum and received a member of the Peasant Party for personal discussion of its content.

(2) A formal anti-Nazi coalition has been concluded in autumn of 1943 between the Small Farmers (Peasant) Party, the Christian Popular Party and the Social-democratic Party, thus uniting on a parliamentary basis the peasant and labor masses in Hungary. Their program for collaboration is: Constitutional Government, progressive Democracy, timely social Reforms, complete withdrawal from the Axis and a pro-Allied foreign and military policy.

In November and December this coalition has conducted in the Budapest Parliament a vivid campaign during the debate on the budget. This debate brought much popularity to the coalition which [Page 849] is rapidly growing in membership. Neither Party has been obstructed in its work of organization by the Kallay5 Government.

There can be no doubt that a complete change of Hungary’s present pro-Axis policy could be legally and constitutionally effected. The constructive forces represented by the above-mentioned oppositional parties, form a majority of the electorate in Hungary. They could take over power in perfect order, excluding chaos and Bolshevisation.

(3) The action of the United Opposition advocating the urgent renewal of friendly relations with Hungary’s southern neighbours, the Jugoslav nations, has also met with some success. Serb refugees are being granted friendly reception in Hungary and as a first step of appeasement, the Kallay Government has indicted the Hungarian officers guilty of acts of violence committed in occupied Jugoslav territory.

(4) In January 1944 the Small Farmers (Peasant) Party has published its program concerning the restitution of Transylvanian independence, with equal rights to the three component nations. Hungarians and Rumanians of Tranyslvania have responded favorably to this appeal. No information has been obtained concerning the third nation, the Saxon’s reaction.

B. In the military field:

[Here follows information regarding Hungarian Army and Air Forces.]

  1. Copy transmitted by General Bissell with his covering memorandum of February 20 to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn), with the comment that “Archduke Otto visited me on February 8. He left with me the attached paper containing data on the political and military situation in Hungary.” Archduke Otto of Habsburg was the eldest son of the late Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary and was pretender to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones.
  2. Tibor Eckhardt, President of the Independent Smallholders Party; in exile in the United States during World War II.
  3. For correspondence on the overthrow of the Fascist regime in Italy, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, pp. 314 ff.
  4. Adm. Nicholas (Miklós) Horthy, Regent of Hungary.
  5. Nicholas (Miklós) Kallay, Hungarian Prime Minister, March 1942–March 1944.