364.1121 Vogeler, Robert A.: Telegram.

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Secretary of State

secret

5009. Rumbold1 raised with us earlier today matter of Vogeler (US) and Sanders (Britain) arrested and held incommunicado by Hungarian authorities. He had been informed by British Legation Budapest that US was considering retaliation shutting down Hungarian consulates in US if Hungarian authorities continued refusal to release Vogeler and that Davis was recommending joint Anglo-American action. Rumbold said that proposed action not open to British in any event as there are no Hungarian consulates in UK, and that protest by timed [precisely timed] joint Anglo-American action of any sort appeared too complicated to effect. He added however that Britain would wish to take “parallel” action and would wish to exchange information regarding proposed individual actions so as to “keep in line”.2

Accordingly he asked Department be informed that Foreign Office was considering and if it had sole voice would suspend current negotiations with Hungarian representatives in London on three union [minor] trade agreements (one involves certain debt payments, another is over question of Hungarian purchase certain British shareholdings) so long as Hungarian authorities refused British Consul access to Sanders. He pointed out that Treasury and Food Minister would have voice in decision to suspend any such negotiations and that question had been put up to these departments who had expressed some opposition but had not yet given final answer. He said that in fact, pending decision among interested governmental elements, no meetings were being held with Hungary on these agreements though Hungary had not been given reason therefor.

Rumbold said Britain did not intend in any event to ask flatly for Sanders’ release but proposed to press demand for right of Consul to see Sanders and obtain full report from him. Rumbold explained that while Foreign Office was convinced Sanders had not engaged in espionage activities he might have been otherwise sufficiently injudicious to give grain of validity to Hungarian charges. Rumbold referred [Page 492]in passing to an earlier instance concerning British subject where such proved to be case.

Later Rumbold called to say Hungarians had just told Foreign Office that they themselves were suspending trade talks. Hungarian representative gave no reason but referred vaguely to hope talks would be resumed some time next year. Foreign Office now at a loss as to what to do in Sanders’ case.3

Sent Department 5009, repeated Budapest 34.

Holmes
  1. Sir Horace Anthony Rumbold, Head of the Southern Department, British Foreign Office.
  2. In his telegram 1341, December 8, from Budapest, not printed, Minister Davis reported that British Minister Wallinger had suggested that the American and British Governments coordinate any eventual public statements made in connection with the Vogeler-Sanders matter or any retaliatory steps taken against the Hungarian Government (364.1121 Vogeler, Robert A.). Telegram 712, December 14, to Budapest, repeated as telegram 4510, December 17, to London, not printed, stated that the. Department had no objection to coordinated action in the Vogeler and Sanders cases but believed it would be desirable to avoid identifying the two cases (364.1121 Vogeler, Robert A.).
  3. Telegram 5042, December 19, from London, not printed, reported that Hungarian authorities had informed the British Board of Trade orally of a willingness to continue the trade negotiations. The British Foreign Office was able to take the action originally contemplated. The Hungarian Legation in London was informed that all trade and financial negotiations would be suspended until the British Consul in Budapest was given access to Sanders in conditions of privacy and until the British were convinced that Sanders was being treated decently (364.1121 Vogeler, Robert A.).