Briefing Book Paper
Hungary: Background Information
1. Execution of the Armistice
The provisional Hungarian Government signed an armistice with the three principal Allied Governments on January 20, 1945.1 Enforcement of the terms, with which Hungary has thus far complied more or less satisfactorily, rests with the Allied Control Commission established by the armistice. Executory and administrative functions of the Commission have been in the hands of the Soviet military authorities, who have made decisions without reference to the views of the American and British representatives. It is hoped that provision will now be made for the active participation of the latter in the work of the Commission, especially since military considerations, after the surrender of Germany, are no longer paramount.
2. The Economic Situation
Hungary’s economic life was badly disrupted by military operations and by Nazi looting. Soviet requisitioning on a large scale and heavy demands under the reparation clause of the armistice are making the situation even more difficult, so that Hungary will be able to produce this year only a fraction of its normal production. Probably Hungary will have no surplus of agricultural or industrial products for export to other European countries or the United States.[Page 367]
3. The Political Situation
The present “Provisional National Government” is a coalition regime representing all important anti-Nazi parties. Real political power is in the hands of the party organizations and leaders, the strongest of which are the Communists although their popular support in terms of numbers may not be great. The Soviet Government has not attempted to install a purely leftist regime as in Rumania. We believe nevertheless that the three powers should reach agreement on the application in Hungary of the Yalta Declaration,2 so that the forthcoming elections may be truly free.
- Executive Agreement Series No. 456; 59 Stat. (2) 1321.↩
- On Liberated Europe. See vol. ii, document No. 1417, section v .↩
- By the Vienna Arbitration Award of November 2, 1938, which was engineered by Germany and Italy, Hungary received some 5,000 square miles of southern Slovakia. Hungary joined the Anti-Comintern Pact on February 24, 1939.↩
- Not printed.↩
The proposal referred to was sent by Grew to Harriman in telegram No. 1168 of May 28 (repeated to the American Representative in Hungary as telegram No. 57 of the same date), as follows (file No. 740.00119 E. W./5–2845):
“During the discussions in Moscow on armistice terms for Hungary full agreement was not reached on the wording of Article 18 concerning the Allied Control Commission. In accepting the text of that Article as it appeared in the terms signed on January 20, the American Ambassador in Moscow reserved this Government’s position in identical letters addressed to the Soviet and British Governments. These letters stated the opinion of the United States Government that Article 18 should have included an additional provision as follows: ‘Upon the conclusion of hostilities against Germany and until the conclusion of peace with Hungary the ACC will supervise the execution of the Armistice according to instructions of the Governments of the U. S. A., the U. S. S. R., and U. K.’, and that since such a clause was not included the United States Government might consider it necessary to confer at a later date with the Soviet and British Governments regarding the detailed manner in which Article 18 should be implemented during the period following the cessation of hostilities against Germany.
“In view of the end of hostilities with Germany, the United States Government considers it appropriate to reopen at this time discussion among the three Allied Governments on the subject of the organization and functions of the ACC for Hungary in this second period.
“The United States Government presents the following proposals as a basis for discussion among the three Governments:
- “(1) The ACC, the functions of which should remain limited to the enforcement of the terms of armistice, should operate henceforward under standing instructions of the three Allied Governments, whose principal representatives on the ACC would have equal status, although the Soviet representative would be Chairman.
- “(2) ACC decisions should have the concurrence of all three principal representatives, who would refer to their respective Governments for instructions on important questions of policy.
- “(3) All three Allied Governments should have the right to be represented on the sections and subcommittees of the ACC, but need not be represented in equal numbers.
“In submitting the foregoing proposals we are desirous of reaching an agreement which will eliminate all misunderstanding respecting the rights to which the American Representative on the ACC is entitled. Although the ACC statutes agreed upon in Moscow on January 20 expressly provided that during the first period the U. S. and U. K. representatives should have the right to receive oral and written information from the Soviet officials of the Commission on any matter connected with the fulfillment of the Armistice Agreement, to receive copies of all communications, reports and other documents which might interest the U. S. and U. K. Governments, and to be informed of policy directions prior to their issuance in the name of the ACC to the Hungarian authorities, these provisions, as General Key informed Marshal Voroshilov on April 30, have not been carried out. There has moreover been but one full meeting of the ACC since its establishment.
“The U. S. Government has been aware that in this first period military operations were conducted in or near Hungarian territory, and that direct military responsibility in Hungary lay with the Soviet High Command. Since military considerations were recognized as overriding, this Government was willing temporarily to subordinate its own interests and responsibilities in Hungary to the common interest and responsibility of the successful prosecution of Allied military operations. This Government has been none the less concerned over the failure to accord to the American representative the rights and prerogatives guaranteed by the ACC statutes. These grounds for complaint will of course disappear if the ACC operates henceforth as a tripartite body.
“In as much as the surrender of Germany has now greatly reduced the importance of the factor of military responsibility, the U. S. Government is especially desirous of reaching with the Soviet and British Governments as soon as possible full agreement on the organization and functions of the ACC in the second period along the lines suggested in the present communication.”
Harriman reported on June 2 (telegram No, 1876, file No. 740.00119 Control (Hungary)/6–245) that this proposal had been transmitted to the Soviet Government on June 1.↩
- At Budapest. Not printed.↩
- The reservation referred to is not printed.↩
- Colonel General Béla Miklós.↩