811.20200(D)/1–2648: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Hungary

secret   urgent

78. In line Deptel 1215 Nov 281 and view expressed paragraphs 1 and 4 urtel 108 Jan 20,2 Dept believes that issue re Leg Bulletin, which may also arise other curtain countries, should be faced uncompromisingly at this time and Hun demands rejected, even though such course [Page 290] may eventually result in forceful blocking by Hun authorities of distribution. Dept has considered possible advantage to be gained by US in making concession which might be useful Molnar,3 but in view FonMin’s apparently uncertain tenure office (London’s 218 Jan 20 rptd Budapest 6)4 feels that such gesture would be wasted in existing circumstances and that, in any event, such consideration outweighed by desirability maintaining uncompromising stand against Communist anti-Amer pressure and encroachments basic freedoms. Therefore, following is proposed, if you agree, as substance US reply to FonOff’s notes Jan 18 and 21 (Legtels 114 Jan 21, 94 Jan 18,5 and previous):

Begin: FonOff notes Jan 18 and 21 concerning Leg Radio Bulletin have been referred my Gov. Consideration has been given to two points which FonOff has raised, namely, contents of Bulletin and distribution of copies. As US Min stated conversation with FonMin Molnar Jan 14, contents of Bulletin and specifically those items referred to in FonOff’s Jan 9 fall into two categories: (1) policy statements by high ranking, responsible US Gov officials and (2) press comments and Amer public opinion on significant national and international developments.

My Gov rejects FonOff contention that contents of Radio Bulletin “directed against Hun democracy and neighboring states impairing by prejudicial attitude friendly relations between Hun and other states”. Bulletin not directed exclusively to Hungary or to any particular segment Hun population but is textually same as Bulletins issued US Embs and Legs in practically all countries and is available to all persons interested in public statements Amer opinion.

As to second point raised FonOff note, Leg agrees that in general Bulletin is destined for professional categories of persons, including those mentioned in FonOff note. However, in addition, Leg feels it cannot agree to deny Bulletin to persons in other categories who may express an interest in receiving it. Therefore, in circumstances, Leg regrets unable comply request set forth FonOff notes that list addresses be compiled jointly by Leg and Hun FonOff. End

If Hun Gov by way reaction foregoing US reply resorts measures closing mails and forbidding reading or possesion copies Bulletin, Leg should nevertheless continue for time being prepare sufficient copies Bulletin that it may be available to anyone who may call for it at Leg or for such other disposition as the Leg may be able make of it in circumstances. In this connection, Dept believes contention that Hun press laws not applicable Leg Bulletin (Deptel 1215 Nov 28 and Legtel 98 Jan 19)6 questionable except so far as preparation and distribution document on Leg premises concerned and that, as in case films, authority Hun Gov to control distribution outside Leg cannot in any event be effectively contested.

[Page 291]

[The remaining portion of this message was concerned with personnel assignments in connection with the preparation of the Bulletin translations at the Legation in Budapest.]

  1. Not printed; it stated the opinion of the Department that any demand of the Hungarian Government for the licensing or censorship of the Department’s Wireless Bulletin should be refused on the grounds that Hungarian Government press decrees were not applicable to the Legation (864.918/11–2547).
  2. In communications to the Legation on January 18 and January 21, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry requested that henceforth the distribution of the Department’s Wireless Bulletin be limited to a list of addresses agreed upon between the Legation and the Foreign Ministry and that the Bulletin avoid publication of comments directed against Hungary and the neighboring states. In telegram 108, January 20, from Budapest, Minister Chapin expressed the view that to accede to the Hungarian requests would: (1) constitute a damaging precedent exploitable in other Communist satellite states; (2) serve as a basis for future demands of the Hungarian Government further to limit the distribution and content of the Bulletin; (3) substantially reduce American prestige in Hungary; (4) be taken as evidence of diminishing American interest in Hungary; (5) cause further demoralization of the remaining anti-Communist elements within Hungary (111.33 Information Service/1–2048).
  3. Erik Molnar, Hungarian Foreign Minister.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Neither telegram under reference is printed; see footnote 2, p. 289.
  6. Neither printed.