Editorial Note

On January 14, 1948, Lieutenant Colonels Bernard Thielen and Peter J. Kopcsak, Military Attaché and Assistant Military Attaché, respectively, of the Legation in Budapest, while on a routine trip of official nature, were arrested by Soviet troops in Hungary and abducted across the Hungarian frontier to Vienna where intervention of American authorities effected their release. In a note to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on January 19, 1948, enclosing the gist of [Page 288] sworn statements by Colonels Thielen and Kopcsak regarding the circumstances of their arrest and detention, the Legation in Budapest expressed the view that the case involved a violation of Hungarian sovereignty by Soviet military authorities; for the text of the note, see Department of State Bulletin, February 22, 1948, page 244. On January 21 the Legation in Budapest received a note from the Soviet Minister in Budapest which charged that Colonels Thielen and Kopcsak had refused to submit proper identification papers and had violated generally known rules in entering a Soviet military area without previous permission. The Soviet Minister expressed the hope that the “offenders be punished, lest such incidents occur in the future”. On February 7 the Embassy in Moscow delivered a note to the Soviet Foreign Ministry protesting the arrests of Colonels Thielen and Kopcsak and requesting that appropriate orders be issued to Soviet troops to ensure that Hungarian sovereignty be respected and that such incidents did not occur in the future. The Legation in Budapest concurrently delivered notes to the Soviet Legation in Budapest and to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry; for the texts of the notes of February 7, see ibid., pages 247–248. In a note of March 1 to the Embassy in Moscow, not printed, the Soviet Foreign Ministry rejected the American protest and denied that Soviet military authorities had acted improperly or had infringed Hungarian sovereignty. The Hungarian Government had earlier similarly rejected the American protests. (121.5464/3–148)