264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./1–1950: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Hungary


26. Ur 42 Jan 19 rptd Vienna 14 Prague 5 London 6.1 Since Rakosi interview confirms no hope obtaining Vogeler’s release prior trial, our efforts shld be directed toward securing acquittal, even though this [Page 983] considered unlikely, or commutation sentence and expulsion after probably conviction, as has just occurred in case Swed cit tried and convicted in Czecho.

With this objective in mind, we consider further publicized acts retaliation on our part prior trial wld be likely increase Hung obstinacy and jeopardize eventual expulsion Vogeler. On other hand we incline to belief additional measures known to Hung Govt but not publicized wld demonstrate our determination intensify pressure until Vogeler released and hence might increase chances favorable action immed fol trial. Commerce is now denying licenses for exports to Hung. This measure, however, affects only limited range commodities subject license and cannot therefore be expected have appreciable effect on Hung Govt’s attitude. We expect also explore, without public announcement but in manner which will doubtless become known to Hung Govt, other possible measures econ retaliation against Hung in US and West Ger. Finally, we are considering prompt measures re restitution whereby further delivery goods to Hung can be refused and restitution problem disposed of conclusively without entailing US breach Art 30 Peace Treaty.2 Details will be cabled soonest. Ur comments these steps requested.

Recognizing that there is little chance of their acceptance, we nevertheless believe it is now desirable formally to present our demands for legal safeguards in connection with trial. Demands listed in immed fol tel.3 represent this Govt’s views of minimum safeguards required for protection Vogeler’s rights. In event Hung Govt rejects these you are authorized negotiate for and accept less under protest, obtaining maximum possible.

Shld Hung Govt question legal propriety of demand for Amer lawyer (ur 11 Jan 4 rptd Vienna 64), you might call attn Reichstag trial in which Dimitrov demanded right to be represented at trial by foreign lawyers of his choosing; naming 2 Bulgs, an Amer and others, and add that while Nazi Supreme Court denied request it permitted such lawyers to be present at trial, send communications to court, publish communications and with the assistance of Ger counsel of record to participate in the proceedings.5 Wld Hung court deny what even Nazis permitted as elementary justice?

[Page 984]

If it is argued Hung law does not permit foreign lawyer participate you shld call attn to fact US courts interpret US Constitution to permit choice of lawyer by accused even outside bar of jurisdiction, and to internatl rule of comity by which all courts in exercise own discretion permit foreign lawyer to appear pro hoc vice. You shld state that such practice exists all US courts which otherwise are also governed by statutes confining court practice to lawyers admitted to practice at local bar. Distinction is thus drawn between practice of profession and appearance in single case. Similar contention shld be made re demand Amer doctor.6

Hung Govt may inquire who is retaining Amer lawyer on Vogeler’s behalf, or may assert Hung auths will designate counsel for Vogeler or that Hung auths will insist Vogeler himself make choice. In any such event, you shld state that wife, other members family and friends concerned his welfare have right and insist upon right retain Amer lawyer his behalf, which US Govt supports. Dept conferring with IT&T officials who in turn will clear with Vogeler’s wife and other members family, re arrangements for Amer legal and medical experts in event Hung Govt shld accept US demands. Instrs will fol soonest re retention Hung legal counsel.

Immed fol tel contains verbatim text note which, if you concur, shld be communicated Hung FonMin at earliest opportunity. We plan not to release note at this time.

Leg Budapest and Emb London shld immed bring substance foregoing and text proposed note attn Brit colleague and FonOff respectively.7 Dept understands from Brit Emb here that Brit Govt prepared take parallel action re Sanders.8

Sent Budapest rptd Vienna, Prague, London.

  1. Not printed. In it Minister Davis reported that he had had a long interview on the Vogeler case that day with Mátayás Rákosi, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Hungarian Workers’ Party. Davis reported that Rákosi would not listen to any arguments in Vogeler’s behalf, confirmed the determination of the Hungarian Government to hold the Vogeler trial within a few weeks, seemed genuinely to believe that Vogeler was guilty of espionage and confident of Hungary’s ability to prove it, continued to refuse a visit by American consular officers to Vogeler, and assured Davis that the trial would prove Vogeler’s guilt and the involvement of members of the American Legation “who can expect the usual treatment of diplomats who overstep their legitimate duties.” (204.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./1–4950) Minister Davis’ note of February 1 to Hungarian Foreign Minister Kállai (infra), included a review of this conversation with Rákosi.
  2. The reference here is to the Treaty of Peace with Hungary, signed at Paris, February 10, 1947; for text, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1651, or 61 Stat. (pt. 2) 2065.
  3. Telegram 27, January 26, to Budapest, not printed, contained the draft text of a note from Minister Davis to the Hungarian Foreign Minister. The draft text was revised as a result of an exchange of messages between the Department of State and the Legation; see footnote 6, below. For the text of the note as delivered to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on February 1, see infra.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Georgi Dimitrov, Bulgarian Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Bulgarian Workers’ (Communist) Party, died in July 1940. In 1933, Dimitrov, then an exiled leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party and officer of the Communist International, was one of several persons tried by a German court in connection with the burning of the German Reichstag building. Dimitrov was acquitted and deported.
  6. The draft text of the note contained in telegram 27, January 26, to Budapest (see footnote 3, above) included a request for permission for an American doctor to ascertain Vogeler’s physical condition and treatment. In his telegram 58, January 28, from Budapest, not printed, Minister Davis suggested that such a request would all but make certain the Hungarian rejection of the note. Davis urged the request be made in a separate, subsequent note (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./1–2850). Telegram 32, January 30, to Budapest, not printed, agreed to the deletion of the request but affirmed the Department’s belief that such a demand was an essential step against the contingencies that might occur in connection with Vogeler’s trial (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./1–3050).
  7. Telegram 572, February.1, from London, not printed, reported that the British Minister in Hungary, Geoffrey A. Wallinger, had asked the British Foreign Office to make a last minute effort to persuade the Department of State to “tone down” the proposed American note regarding Vogeler. The Foreign Office apparently agreed that the note was too strong in parts but did not feel in a position to intervene (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./2–150).
  8. Edgar Sanders, a British citizen and a representative in Hungary of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, was, like Vogeler, arrested by Hungarian authorities in November 1949 on suspicion of espionage and subsequently held incommunicado. Telegram 716, February 8, from London, not printed, reported that the British Foreign Office expected to allow the British Minister in Budapest to make a “primarily oral” request for a British lawyer to assist in Sanders’ defense (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./2–850).