740.00119 Council/3–1247: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State, at Moscow1

secret   urgent

492. Secdel 1325. For the Secretary. Schoenfeld and Weems feel that since Hung press has published US note Mar 52 and Soviet Chairman’s reply Mar 83 it is desirable to keep public interest alive by prompt US answer to Sviridov. They add that “unaccustomed haste and timing”4 with which Soviet reply was made suggests Soviet awareness of being on defensive and emphasizes expediency prompt action by US in following up advantage. We concur in desirability expeditious rebuttal Soviet position and accordingly there is quoted below a suggested text of communication we will instruct Budapest to transmit to Soviet ACC Chairman if you approve. As with our earlier note we would make this communication public upon receipt report of [Page 280] delivery. Copies would also be furnished British and Soviet FonOffs. (urtel 718 Mar 75).

In this draft we are not suggesting further specific action toward solution Hung political situation but merely reiterating previous position and accordance recommendations from Budapest pointing out circumstances in situation not taken into account in Soviet rejection joint investigation. We feel that further steps of positive nature should be taken if possible.6

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of March 8, 1947 in reply to the note which I addressed to you on March 5 concerning political developments in Hungary and, on instructions from my Government, to transmit the following comment of the United States Government thereon.

“The United States Government has carefully considered the Soviet views set forth in your communication. However, it is noted that your letter fails to take account of the following circumstances alluded to in my note of March 5.

  • “(1) Investigation of the plot against the State has to date been conducted only by Communist-dominated police organs. While the Smallholders Party has endeavored to obtain agreement to a Parliamentary investigation, on an inter-Party basis, of allegations concerning the involvement in the conspiracy of members of the National Assembly, the Communists have declined to accept such a procedure;
  • “(2) Of four representatives of political parties, who, with a jurist chairman, comprise the people’s court, which is now conducting trials of certain individuals alleged to have been involved in this plot, three are representative of parties aligned in a minority bloc as against one representative of the majority Smallholders;
  • “(3) Concerning the arrest of Béla Kovács, although normal arrests by occupation forces for the purpose of maintaining the security of such forces could not of course be objected to on the grounds of unwarranted intervention, the arrest of Mr. Kovács by the Soviet authorities cannot, on the face of it, be considered of such a nature. It is noted that the arrest was not made until the Hung Communist party had, without avail, resorted to numerous strategems to obtain the waiver of Mr. Kovács’ parliamentary immunity and his arrest by the political police. During that period there was no indication that he might be suspected of activities against the Soviet occupation forces.

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“In the circumstances, the United States Government cannot, in the light of all the information available, agree with the interpretation of Hungarian political developments contained in your communication under acknowledgment. It seems clear to the United States Government that minority groups under the leadership of the Hungarian Communist party are attempting to seize power through resort to extra-constitutional tactics. In the opinion of the United States this clearly threatens the continuance of democracy in Hungary. In such a situation, the United States Government considers that the powers signatory to the agreement concluded at Yalta in regard to liberated Europe7 are obligated to undertake concerted action to investigate political conditions in Hungary. The need for such consultation and investigation becomes all the more imperative because of the fact that there is disagreement between the Soviet and United States Governments on a matter of so basic importance to Hungary. In my Government’s view it cannot be contended that such an investigation would, as you suggest, improperly impair the legal rights of the Hungarian courts nor that my Government’s concern with regard to the case of Béla Kovács constitutes an infringement of the right of the Soviet occupation authorities to take reasonable measures for the maintenance of the security of the occupation forces.”

  1. The Secretary of State was at this time in Moscow for the Fourth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, March 10–April 24. In telegram 820, Delsec 1302, March 14, from Moscow, not printed, the Secretary of State approved the proposed communication contained in this telegram (740.00119 Council/3–1447).
  2. See telegram 211, March 3, to Budapest, p. 273, and footnote 1.
  3. Ante, p. 277.
  4. The quotation is from telegram 365, March 9, from Budapest, supra.
  5. Not printed; it reported the receipt from the Soviet Government of a copy of General Sviridov’s communication of March 8 (864.00/3–747).
  6. In draft, this telegram contained at this point the two following sentences which were excised by the Acting Secretary of State:

    “We are considering possibility and advisability recommending to you submission of matter to United Nations Security Council but such action may be difficult particularly in view uncertainty extent to which Hung PriMin will be able to support us in face Soviet pressure. Meanwhile you may wish consider desirability your making further effort obtain Soviet concurrence in tripartite investigation by raising matter in CFM.”

  7. The reference here is to the Declaration on Liberated Europe, included as Part V of the Report of the Crimea Conference, which was issued as a communiqué at the conclusion of the tripartite heads of government meeting at Yalta, February 4–11, 1945. For the text of the Report, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 968.