264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./1–350

The Minister in Hungary ( Davis ) to the Hungarian Foreign Minister ( Kallai )2

Excellency: I have the honor to refer to the note which I communicated to you on December 20, 1949,3 and to the Hungarian Government’s reply thereto on December 24,4 concerning the case of Mr. Robert Vogeler, an American citizen.

The Government of Hungary has clearly failed in this case to live up to its obligations under the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between the United States and Hungary5 and to the accepted standards of international practice in regard to the right [Page 981] of consular officers to extend protection to nationals of their country. This right is in no way limited by the fact that a United States national may be accused of violating Hungarian law or detained on such charges or by the nature of the accusations levelled against him. Indeed it is precisely in the case of those nationals who are accused of crime and detained that the exercise of the consular right of protection is most urgently required. Yet the Hungarian Government has for more than forty days denied all access to Mr. Vogeler. Another American citizen, Mr. Israel Jacobson, was, moreover, held incommunicado for nearly two weeks by the Hungarian police and has now been expelled from Hungary without the charges against him having been officially made known to me in spite of repeated requests on my part.6

The Hungarian Government, in its note of December 24, accuses Mr. Vogeler of “espionage and sabotage” and arbitrarily states that Mr. Vogeler is guilty of these charges even before he is afforded any sort of public hearing or judicial examination. The question arises whether it is now accepted judicial procedure in Hungary that the police shall draw up the charges, produce a “confession” and hand down the verdict, before a case is even brought before a court of law. The United States Government states categorically that it cannot recognize as just or in any way conclusive as to the facts of the case such arbitrary judgment by the police or any subsequent action by a court which, without impartial examination and weighing of the evidence, merely endorses a verdict of guilty announced a priori by the police authorities.

My Government has seen no shred of evidence which would indicate that the charges lodged against Mr. Vogeler, or those directed by the Hungarian press and radio against Mr. Jacobson, as anything but unfounded. Mr. Vogeler has been engaged in strictly legitimate private business mutually advantageous to his company and to the Hungarian economy. Mr. Jacobson has been engaged in the humanitarian work of caring for thousands of indigent men, women and children of Hungarian nationality for whom the Hungarian Government was not providing. The Hungarian Government has been fully cognizant of the activities of both of these men over a long period and has permitted them to continue because it profited by those activities.

Apparently it has become increasingly inconvenient to the Government of Hungary that the Hungarian people should have contact with representatives of the free world. It suits its purpose, moreover, that these contacts should be severed in a manner which represents quite normal and necessary business practices as “espionage and sabotage”. [Page 982] Under these circumstances, in which any United States businessman or relief administrator in Hungary may be subject to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, the United States Government has found it necessary to refuse to permit private American citizens henceforth to travel in Hungary.

In view, moreover, of the serious restrictions placed by the Hungarian Government on the exercise of consular rights recognized under international law, as prescribed in the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between the United States and Hungary, the Government of the United States finds it inappropriate to continue to permit the maintenance of separate Hungarian consular establishments in Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City.

I am accordingly instructed by my Government to inform you that recognition of the Hungarian Consul in New York City is withdrawn and that the consular establishments in New York and in Cleveland are required to cease all operations and to close on or before 12 o’clock midnight, January 15, 1950. You are further informed that all consular functions which the Hungarian Government may wish to perform within the United States must thereafter be conducted through the Legation of Hungary in Washington, D.C.

The Government of Hungary is again reminded that, as long as the rights and interests of the United States and its nationals continue to be so grossly violated in Hungary, other relations between the United States and Hungary cannot fail to be seriously affected.

A copy of this communication is being brought to the attention of the Minister of Hungary in Washington.

Accept [etc.]

Nathaniel P. Davis
  1. Telegram 739, December 30, 1949, to Budapest, not printed, authorized Minister Davis to delay presentation of this note for several days in order to afford the Hungarian Government a final opportunity to revise its stand before action was taken to close the Hungarian Consulates in New York and Cleveland (364.1121 Vogeler, Robert A.). Attempts by the Legation in Budapest to elicit some positive reaction from the Hungarian Foreign Ministry were of no avail, and this note was handed to Hungarian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Andor Berei on the morning of January 3, 1950. The text of this note was released to the press by the Department of State that same day.

    In a reply of January 7 to the Legation in Budapest, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry reasserted the right of the Hungarian Government to investigate Vogeler for espionage; denied that Hungary had violated the U.S.-Hungarian Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Consular Rights of 1925; and reviewed previous exchanges with the Legation in connection with the Vogeler case. For the text of the Hungarian note of January 7, see Information Department, Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Documents on the Hostile Activity of the United States Government Against the Hungarian People’s Republic (Budapest: Hungarian State Publishing House, 1951), pp. 167–170. On January 14 the Hungarian Legation in Washington informed the Department of State that the Hungarian Consulates in New York and Cleveland had been closed as of that date.

  2. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, January 2, 1950, pp. 21–22
  3. For text, see ibid., January 16, 1950, p. 96, or Documents on the Hostile Activity of the United States, pp. 162–163
  4. For the text of the treaty under reference, dated June 24, 1925, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, p. 341, Department of State Treaty Series No. 748, or 44 Stat. (pt. 3) 2441.
  5. For documentation relating to the arrest, detention, and release in late December 1949 of Israel G. Jacobsen, Director in Hungary of the American Joint Distribution Committee, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, pp. 451 ff.