Vienna Legation Files: 233 Vogeler, Robert: Telegram


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


1305. Re Legation telegram 13032 Mokma3 and I saw Foreign Minister by appointment 3 pm (throughout interview Minister appeared very nervous whether this indicates anything specific I do not know). I read left with him strongly worded aide-mémoire (copy Department) making following points:

All known facts point conclusively detention Vogeler by Hungarian police
Police statement to Foreign Minister denying knowledge must be as unsatisfactory to Foreign Minister as to me
Detention and refusal to divulge charges must be considered serious matter for both
I request opportunity be informed nature of charges and for Mission Consular Officer visit Vogeler to satisfy us his welfare that he has opportunity reply charges and engage counsel satisfactory him.

Foreign Minister replied he now able tell me Vogeler arrested last Friday by security police. Does not know where arrest occurred. Police have evidence including alleged Vogeler confession he engaged sabotage and espionage and involved Geiger escape attempt. Stated Geiger had implicated Vogeler. Also British subject Sanders (who detained last night and who Foreign Minister admitted to me is also detained).4

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I replied without seeing alleged evidence and opportunity talk with Vogeler unable pass judgement on nature evidence but fully confident Vogeler not guilty sabotage or espionage. Rather that former whole purpose visit Hungary was conclude arrangements making local factory more productive more profitable. Had told me of his negotiations this regard and I have no knowledge any espionage activity and completely disbelieve allegation.

As to Geiger case Vogeler had told me when former disappeared two weeks ago feared Geiger attempt escape and he would be suspected but stated he had nothing to do with matter.

I said case giving great concern our Government and refusal police furnish information sooner deeply disappointing me personally in view my recent arrival5 with sincere desire foster friendly relations and assurances all Hungarian officials. I had met their desire cooperate this end. To my remark this case and others in Hungary and other people’s democracies make one suppose those countries always assume foreigners are spies he chided me this Hot happy approach suggested we stick to case in point. I replied very glad stick to case in point. I hoped immediate opportunity Consular Officer see Vogeler. Minister said Hungarian law permitted visit and engage counsel only after completion police investigation. I urged on respective law and regulations Government must always have right exercise mercy and simply humanity demands earliest visit Consular Officer. Minister replied not in his province but would take up with competent authorities secure earliest permission Consular visit inform me soonest. Also disclaimed authority but promised consideration proper quarters my suggestion possibly best way prevent this case develop into serious dispute both Governments expel Vogeler and prohibit his return.

Efforts see Rakosi6 still fruitless.

Urgent sent Department 1305 repeated Vienna 133.

  1. This message is missing from the Central Files of the Department of State. The classified portion of the Budapest Legation files for 1949 was accidentally destroyed in 1964.
  2. Not printed; it reported that Hungarian Foreign Minister Kàllai had admitted to Minister Davis that Vogeler was under arrest and was charged with espionage and sabotage against the economy and safety of the Hungarian state. Vogeler was also being charged with implication in the attempted illegal departure from Hungary of Imre Geiger, the General Manager of the Standard Electric Corporation of Budapest (364.1121 Vogeler, Robert A.).
  3. Gerald A. Mokma, Counselor of Legation in Budapest.
  4. On November 22 the Hungarian Ministry of Interior issued a statement to the press announcing the arrest of Vogeler. Geiger, and Edgar Sanders, a British citizen and a representative in Hungary of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. It subsequently became known that other Hungarian citizens; including some government officials involved in the negotiations with Vogeler, had also been arrested.
  5. On May 13 President Truman accepted the resignation of Selden Chapin as Minister to Hungary and nominated Nathaniel Davis as his successor. Davis was confirmed by the Senate on August 31 and presented his credentials on October 21.
  6. Minister Davis for some days sought unsuccessfully an interview with Mátyás Rákosi, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (the Communist Party in Hungary).