840.4016/5–746: Telegram

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


727. For the Secretary and Riddleberger.46 President Beneš asked me to call to see him this morning. He said he was becoming increasingly concerned at the insistence of the Hungarian Govt on creating what he described as a state within a state by seeking minority rights for the Hungarians residing in Czechoslovakia. He pointed out that the prewar German and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia had opened the gates to the Nazis in 1938 and 1939 and expressed the [Page 369] opinion that as the German minority was being transferred to Germany under the Potsdam decision,47 the Hungarian minority should likewise be transferred to Hungary. He argued that as Hungary was transferring its German minority to Germany, the Hungarian minority from Czechoslovakia should take the place of these individuals and that, therefore, the claim of the Hungarian Govt that there would be no space available to receive its minority from Czechoslovakia was not made in good faith, but was advanced solely for the purpose of maintaining a Hungarian bridgehead in Czechoslovakia. He indicated on the map that a Hungarian bridgehead in Slovakia might be as dangerous at some time in the future as was the German bridgehead in Bohemia at the outbreak of the last war.

Beneš then stated that in the course of the talks between the Czechoslovak representatives in Paris and Molotov, when the former had stressed the desire of the Czechoslovak Govt to transfer its Hungarian minority to Hungary, Molotov had indicated his acquiescence but had added “I must first find out how the Americans feel about it as without the Americans I can do nothing.” Beneš added with obvious relish that he had repeated Molotov’s remark at a Cabinet meeting yesterday for the benefit of the Communist members of the Govt who had been visibly “shocked” to learn that the Soviet Govt did not regard itself as omnipotent.

At the close of his remarks Beneš referred to the fact that the Soviets had “received all of the credit” in Czechoslovakia for the Potsdam decision authorizing the transfer of the German minority to Germany and expressed the hope that if a favorable decision is arrived at in Paris authorizing the transfer of the Hungarian minority to Hungary, the decision would be conveyed to him immediately “so that this time the US will at least share in the credit.”

Sent Paris 107, repeated Dept 727.


[Prime Minister Nagy and a delegation of Hungarian officials visited the United States between June 11 and June 19, 1946. During his stay in Washington, Nagy raised the issue of Hungarian-Czechoslovak relations; see the memorandum of conversation by Tihany, June 12, the memorandum of conversation by Barbour, June 13, and telegram 1210, June 28, from Budapest, pages 308, 312, and 316, respectively.]

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[At the meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers at Paris, April 25–May 15 and June 15–July 12, 1946, a draft peace treaty with Hungary was prepared for submission to the Peace Conference. The Foreign Ministers considered proposals from the Czechoslovak and Hungarian Governments regarding the definition of the frontier between the two countries and the settlement of the question of the exchange of populations between them. Documentation regarding the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is presented in volume II. These issues were also discussed during the Paris Peace Conference, July 29–October 15, 1946; see volume III. The peace treaty with Hungary, which was approved by the Peace Conference and was subsequently signed in February 1947, provided for the cession by Hungary to Czechoslovakia of a small portion of territory (article 1 paragraph 4) and obligated Hungary and Czechoslovakia to undertake bilateral negotiations for the solution of the Magyar minority problem in Czechoslovakia (article 5). For text of the Treaty of Peace with Hungary, see Treaties of Peace with Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania and Finland, Department of State publication No. 2743 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1947).]

  1. The Secretary of State was in Paris for the meetigns of the Council of Foreign Ministers. James W. Riddleberger, Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs, was serving as a Political Adviser at those meetings.
  2. At the Tripartite Conference of Berlin, July 17–August 2, 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union agreed upon the transfer of German populations from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary; see Part XIII of the Report of the Conference, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference) 1945, vol. ii, p. 1511.