760F.64/3–746: Telegram

The Ambassador in Czechoslovakia ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State


345. Clementis, whose return to Prague has been delayed by the death of his father, today gave me the following résumé of his visit to Budapest and of the present status of the Zecho-Hungarian negotiations. He said that after the agreement for the exchange of minorities (limited to a per capita basis) had been signed35 he had suggested to Gyöngyösi that they endeavor to solve the problem of the excess Hungarian minority in Zecho which Gyöngyösi agreed was now the only serious problem standing in the way of the most friendly relations between the two countries. Gyöngyösi suggested that if their discussion was to have any prospect of success it was desirable that representatives of all of the Hungarian political parties be present. Accordingly a meeting was arranged which was attended by representatives of all of the Hungarian political parties at which Clementis outlined the 3 following solutions as the only alternatives satisfactory to the Zecho Govt:

That Hungary agree to receive 200,000 Hungarians from Zecho who would be permitted to take all of their property with them and who would be fully compensated by the Zecho Govt for such property as they might be obligated to leave behind.
That the Zecho Govt resettle these 200,000 Hungarians in other parts of Zecho—presumably in the area being vacated by the Sudeten Germans.
That the issue be submitted at the Peace Conference or to the 3 Great Powers for determination.

As part of his argument Clementis pointed out that the people of Zecho were in no frame of mind to grant minority rights to the Hungarian minority after the “tragic experience” they have just been through as the direct result of having granted such rights in the past. He then argued that the Hungarian representatives should not attach too much importance to promises they might have received from unauthorized individuals in Great Britain and the US that these 2 powers would support Hungary at the Peace Conference in demanding a cession of territory from Zecho. He expressed to them the opinion that the British Govt would not wish “to be a party to another Munich” and that it was most unlikely that the American Govt would support an enforced cession of territory by one of the victorious Allies to a country which had been a member of the Axis.

[Page 365]

At the close of 3½ hours of discussion Gyöngyösi speaking without objection from any of the other Hungarian representatives who were present stated that the Hungarian Govt could not voluntarily consent to receiving 200,000 Hungarians from Zecho, even on the fair terms proposed by Clementis, but added that if the 3 Great Powers suggested to the Hungarian Govt that it should accept this solution and make the suggestion in such a manner as to make it clear that the Hungarian Govt was acting on the advice of the 3 Great Powers his Government would be prepared to act accordingly.36

Clementis then informed me that he desires the British and Soviet Ambassador and myself to inquire of our respective governments whether they would be prepared to inform the Hungarian Govt that they would welcome a solution of the Zecho Hungarian difficulties by the acceptance into Hungary from Zecho of 200,000 Hungarians on the terms outlined above. Clementis was most earnest in arguing that if the American, British and Soviet Govts could be induced to make the desired démarche he was reasonably certain that one of the “sore spots” of Central Europe would be removed and that excellent relations between Zecho and Hungary would result. He pointed out that the Zecho Govt was evidencing its good faith by not insisting that all Hungarians be removed from Zecho and in reply to my inquiry as to the number who would remain be said about the same number as would be transferred under the per capita exchange plus the number involved in his proposal which he estimated at 300,000.

Sent Dept 345, repeated Budapest 22.

  1. On February 27, 1946.
  2. Telegram 565, March 22, 1946, from Budapest, reported that Clementis’ account of his meeting with Gyöngyösi did not correspond with a version provided by a Hungarian spokesman. The Hungarian version stressed, in particular, that Gyöngyösi, with the concurrence of all the Hungarian political leaders present, unconditionally rejected Clementis’ proposal. (760F.64/3–2246)