864.00/2–2247: Telegram

The Minister in Hungary (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State

secret   urgent

276. Prime Minister asked me to call this afternoon and I had more than an hour’s talk with him. He began by saying he might shortly cease to hold office as Prime Minister. He said Smallholders Party was unanimously resolved not to surrender Béla Kovács1 by waiving his [Page 270] Parliamentary immunity on charges of complicity in the conspiracy. Communist Party was in his opinion equally resolved to insist on such waiver and surrender. This conflict appeared to be irreconcilable and Leftist bloc served notice of intention to withdraw from government if its demands re Kovács were not met.

Incidental to this direct conflict but logically unconnected with it was fact that Soviet Minister2 had told Hungarian Foreign Minister that testimony examined by Soviet military in course of their own investigation of individuals under arrest showed Kovács had been cognizant of espionage activities directed against Soviet forces by certain individuals now under arrest. Prime Minister said he could only explain Pushkin’s statement to Gyöngyösi as form of pressure since no mention had ever been made by Hungarian Communists of this alleged espionage involving Kovács. He added that legal writ demanding waiver of Kovács’ immunity and surrender likewise failed to refer to any such charge.

In reply to query as to probable next development in political crisis, Nagy said that upon withdrawal of Leftist members from Cabinet, he would be obliged to resign and he doubted whether any new coalition government could thereafter be formed. In that event, it was likely President would be under obligation to determine whether new general election should be held since it was also clear that Leftists would not permit any government of Smallholders majority to function. Beyond saying Smallholders opposed holding election before end of occupation and that he would not take responsibility for holding such election Prime Minister declined to speculate.

Nagy asked me whether in view of threat of Leftists to resort to mass action, US Government was prepared to call on Chairman of ACC3 to take measures to insure maintenance of public order. I said there had not been time to inform my government fully of latest phase of political crisis in Hungary and I was therefore unable to speak officially of your action in hypothetical case mentioned. I said, however, that so long as Hungary remained in armistice status it was manifestly incumbent upon ACC to insure public order. I added that if Hungarian Government has reason to fear disturbance of public order, it should advise Chairman of ACC accordingly and at same time send copies officially to other representatives on ACC of any communication addressed to Chairman on such topic. In this way, US representative [Page 271] could solicit instructions from his government on basis of official advice from Hungarian Government. Nagy received this statement with evident relief.

  1. Only a short time before the events described here, Kovács, a deputy in the Hungarian National Assembly, had resigned his position as Secretary General of the Smallholders Party.
  2. Georgi Maksimovich Pushkin.
  3. Marshal of the Soviet Union Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov was Chairman of the Allied Control Commission for Hungary, but throughout 1947, Soviet Lt. Gen. Vladimir Petrovich Sviridov was present as Acting Chairman.