740.0011 Stettinius Mission/3–1944

Memorandum by the Division of Southern European Affairs9

As an Axis satellite Hungary not only participated in the Nazi attack on Russia, but declared war on the United States and other United Nations, and accepted the German invitation to occupy substantial territories belonging to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. In addition, of course, Hungary profited from the Vienna award of 194010 by which Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy required Rumania to give up a large share of Transylvania.

Although the Hungarians argue that they could not have done otherwise, they now see their mistake. They want to get out of the war and have for months now been trying to get their soldiers home from the front. The Germans are suspicious and dissatisfied with Hungary’s attitude, but so far have not occupied the country.

The Hungarians now say that Hungary is not an enemy of the United States or Great Britain and will not offer resistance to Anglo-American troops, that the Hungarian Government adheres to the Atlantic Charter11 and trusts the wisdom and motives of the American and British Governments and that the present Hungarian attitude is [Page 851] serving the Allied cause in many respects, but that the whole nation will rise to defend itself against Russian attack. They can not, they say, accede to unconditional surrender terms, as that would in effect mean giving themselves over to the Russians.

As in the case of the other small Axis nations, the particular problems in connection with Hungary are, first, to find a means of getting that country out of the war and, second, to determine how much we (and the British) shall have to say in Hungarian affairs. Our instrumentalities for resolving the first are dependent upon the answer found for the second. We believe that the British and ourselves should accept definite responsibilities for ensuring to these countries an application of the principles for which we profess to be waging this war against Nazism.

Although Hungarian claims to territory now occupied in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia presumably will not be entertained, at least until Hungarian forces are withdrawn from the areas disputed, the question of Transylvania (see memorandum on Rumania12) may be difficult to evade in case the Russians put it forward in connection with their claim to Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina13 or the Hungarians and Rumanians should use it as a cause for armed conflict. We are not well informed as to the British view on this subject, but our own studies have pointed to the conclusion that Hungarian troops should be required to withdraw from that part of Transylvania occupied on the basis of the Vienna Diktat of 1940 and that probably some form of autonomy for the entire Transylvanian area may prove to be the solution best suited to serve the interest of international security and of future collaboration and peaceful relations among the Danubian states.

  1. Prepared for Under Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., in connection with his departure for London for discussions with members of the British Government, held April 7–29. For a report on this mission, see pp. 1 ff.
  2. Signed August 30, 1940; see Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. x (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1957), p. 581. See also telegrams 3826, August 30, 1940, from Berlin, and 509, September 6, 1940, from Bucharest, Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 501 and 505, respectively.
  3. Joint statement by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, August 14, 1941; for text, see ibid., 1941, vol i, p. 367.
  4. Dated March 1944, vol. iv , section under Rumania entitled “Negotiations leading to signing of armistice with Rumania …”
  5. For activities of the Soviet Union and seizure of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 444 ff.