864.00/2–2847: Telegram

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


307. In conversation Feb 26 with Gyöngyösi and Pushkin at instance of former as reported by Foreign Minister to Political Committee Smallholders Pushkin told Gyöngyösi he could see no reason for resignation of Cabinet. Re mytels 298 and 301 Feb 26.1 Momentary consternation resulting from Soviet arrest of Kovács had led to talk in political circles of necessity of resignation of Govt. Gyöngyösi also stated to Political Committee there was no need in Pushkin’s opinion for withdrawal of any members of Cabinet in consequence of Kovács’ arrest by Russians.

In subsequent confidential conversation with Prime Minister Gyöngyösi told Nagy that he had not reported to Political Committee that Pushkin complained of cool attitude of Smallholders Party towards Russians, blaming certain reactionary elements within party hostile to Soviets. This statement by Pushkin coincides with reported indications from Rákosi to Nagy that harmony of coalition remains endangered by propaganda of anti-Communist Smallholders. Both Prime Minister and other leading Smallholders expect Leftist Parties will make further demands for purge of Smallholders which incidentally seems to have begun with dismissal of Li [apparent omission] Partay as managing editor of Smallholders weekly Reggel and his replacement by Ervin Gaspar, Smallholders Left Wing govt member.

In light of analogous and more advanced developments in other Soviet dominated countries in eastern Europe, recent events here so far do justify impression that Soviet authorities remain prepared to intervene directly when necessary to check any serious effort to thwart plans of local Communists. Such effort was manifestly developing over Béla Kovács case under pressure of Smallholders rank and file, whatever [Page 272] may be thought of wisdom of Smallholders in choosing this particular issue on which to make a stand.

It is increasingly evident that Communists and Soviets intend to so frame their plans that when occupation troops depart difficulty of maintaining Communist control will be minimized. Consequently hope of shaking off sub-control by political methods following occupation is growing dim. It is quite possible that Hungarian people will then face alternatives of violent disturbances amounting perhaps to civil war or on other hand of sullen acceptance of Communist control with decreasing prospects that it can be shaken off and attendant growth of combined anti-Russian, anti-Communist and anti-Semitic feeling which will be fertile ground as opportunity offers for eventual true reaction. Nagy may have had this in mind when he said to me Feb 22 that he feared Hungarian people will have to suffer much more in future.

  1. Telegram 298, February 26, from Budapest, not printed, reported that Béla Kovács would voluntarily appear for questioning at Hungarian political police headquarters but would refuse to waive parliamentary immunity. This compromise procedure had been approved by the leadership of the Smallholders Party. Telegrams 295 and 301, February 26, from Budapest, neither printed, reported that Kovács had been arrested by Soviet occupation authorities on the charge of having participated in an armed conspiracy against the Soviet Union (864.00/2–2647). The circumstances of the arrest of Kovács are described in Ferenc Nagy, The Struggle Behind the Iron Curtain (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1948), p. 369. Kovács was never seen again and died in Soviet captivity.