864.00/3–2147: Telegram

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

secret   urgent

479. We have assumed that Dept’s objectives in despatching March 5 and March 17 notes re Hungarian political situation were: (1) to support democratic development in Hungary as against Communist aggression supported by Soviets, and (2) to make clear US position with regard to such aggression. Concerning these objectives, I am inclined to believe, on basis present indications, that we are achieving our purposes.

Publication of our notes, although accomplished with difficulty, has succeeded in clarifying US position concerning subversion Hungarian democratic institutions to minority power purposes, and should, in combination with action suggested mytels 458 and 459, March 19,1 provide us with firm foundation vis-à-vis both Hungary and Soviets as regard a future action. As to support for democratic elements, I believe it is now clear that Hungarian Govt as presently composed is unable, and in many cases unwilling, to cooperate effectively at this time in resisting minority pressure. On other hand, masses of non-Marxist population have been unquestionably heartened by our notes, and are beginning again to exert pressure on their leadership which may in long run prove determining factor.

An interparty conference yesterday to consider Leftist demands for Hungarian Govt declaration repudiating contentions our notes [Page 289] decided no such statement would be issued, although Smallholder press may make some adverse editorial comment of our notes. I believe this decision and Foreign Minister’s statement to Smallholder deputies prior to conference that he would resign if Smallholders agreed to such declaration, are indications that pressure from below is having effect on Smallholder leaders, and that our action to date has been at least partially successful. I also have impression that, under impact our notes, Communists are proceeding cautiously pending outcome, our action.

In view of foregoing, I recommend that we reply briefly to Sviridov’s March 18 note along lines that, (1) we regret Soviet refusal to accept our proposals in face of manifest abuse Hungarian constitutional provisions and democratic processes; and (2) before taking any further action in matter, we wish to observe developments in Hungary during immediate future; and (3) in meantime, we renew our request contained in our March 5 note, and in numerous previous communications to Soviet Govt, and which was not touched upon in Soviet reply on March 8 and March 18 that Soviet authorities here be instructed to refrain from unilateral action in matters concerning Hungarian internal political affairs.

This course would, to my mind, have advantage of avoiding involvement in futile wrangling which might weaken our position. At same time, expression of our desire to observe developments during immediate future would serve as notice to Communists that our opposition to their misuse of democratic processes persists, to Smallholders that genuine leadership on their part will have our support in future, to Hungarian public that our interest in Hungarian affairs is maintained, and finally to Soviets that we do not condone their abuse of ACC powers, and that we maintain valid basis for reopening this question should future developments warrant.

If Dept approves this course, Legation would appreciate being enabled to submit proposed text for such note.2

[Page 290]

My British colleague has intimated hope re London 1704, March 18, to Dept, repeated Budapest as 16,3 that I would advise him of my recommendations for future action since British Govt’s support of our action is necessarily facilitated by such information received in advance. I will, therefore, apprise him informally of substance of above recommendations, and suggest Dept may wish to act similarly. Thus far, there has been no forthright reference in local press to British notes supporting our position, and local Social Democrats in particular have been correspondingly misled.

Sent Dept, repeated London 51, Moscow 56.

  1. Neither printed, but see footnote 11 above.
  2. In telegram 367, April 7, to Budapest, not printed, the Department replied to Minister Schoenfeld’s proposals as follows:

    “We have given careful consideration to suggestions urtel 479 Mar 21. However, we feel that objectives our notes Mar 5 and 17 have in main been accomplished in that they have re-emphasized US continued interest in Hungary and have assisted in checking deterioration Smallholders majority position. We doubt that third communication along lines you suggest, which would be in essence recapitulation points we have already made, would add to forcefulness those previous representations or that further note necessary at this time as additional expression US interest Hungary. Accordingly, we do not contemplate further action politically in absence subsequent developments. We will, however, continue to press for expeditious extension additional economic assistance.” (864.00/4–347)

  3. Not printed. It reported that British Acting Under Secretary of State Warner had told the American Embassy that the American note of March 17 had caused the Foreign Office some embarrassment. The Foreign Office was not in entire accord with its substance and was concerned as to what could be done if the Soviet authorities again rejected the proposed investigation. The British representative on the Allied Control Commission for Hungary had, however, been instructed to inform Gen. Sviridov that the British Government still favored an investigation (864.00/3–1847).