124.643/2–2750: Telegram

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


150. While I have long favored smaller staff (Legtel 1326 November 30, 1337 December 61) it seems to me that to reduce our staff under threat implicit in Hungarian note (Deptel 88, February 252) is to lose so much face our continuance here on any scale would become meaningless. Once we admit their right or ability interfere our organization, [Page 994] we are at their mercy. One does not negotiate with Hungarian regime. One states position and they state theirs, maintaining it thenceforth by mere repetition. Having publicly and repeatedly asserted US Legation is mere spy organization, any agreement as to size staff they will tolerate will mean only we are here on sufferance, branded as spies but allowed remain so long as by their dictum innocuous ones. I would prefer continue to reduce staff but at accelerated tempo without attempting agreement on ultimate size, facing complete break on Sofia precedent3 rather than go “hat in hand” to ask what staff they would approve. Furthermore the attempt to negotiate, almost certainly foredoomed to failure, would be used publicly presume admission guilt. What can we expect Hungarians to accept as our proper function other than innocuous desuetude.

Hungarian staff, while 3 reported contemplating resignation and 2 believed attempted escape over weekend, majority have expressed desire sit tight since other employment unlikely in case resignation. Legation recommends against reduction Hungarian staff except by attrition, but should such action be unavoidable, separations should be based on length service as well as nature work. For instance drastic reduction must consider abolition USIE activities (employing 20 Hungarians), FPO program (6), commissary (10, who not on State Department payroll), consular section (6), economic section (4). In event break would suggest protecting power (presumably Swiss) take over entire remaining alien staff temporarily on ground much work winding up of affairs, familiarizing, protecting Legation work records, pending cases, and widely-scattered US real property, some of which construction proceeding under contract. Reduction could then proceed gradually by release from neutral Legation. This admittedly slender reed seems offer more personal security than abrupt dismissal or resignation from American Legation.

Minimum TO which would be mere token representation could be Chargé 1, other FSO 1, consul and about 11 FSS plus present USIE, so long that activity permitted, 1 service attaché plus 1 enlisted man. The desirable minimum staff would be minister, counselor, 2 other FSO’s, 1 consul and about 15 FSS, not counting USIE. In both cases plus reduced FSA custodial and translating staff. Service attachés hope retain 4 officers plus 8 other Americans but these figures high in proportion size entire mission. More realistic would be 2 officers, 1 warrant officer, 2 radio operators and 3 other enlisted personnel.4

  1. Neither printed.
  2. Supra.
  3. The reference here is to the severance of diplomatic relations with Bulgaria, February 21, 1950; for documentation on this subject, see pp. 503 ff.
  4. Telegram 132, March 20, to Budapest, not printed, instructed the Legation to plan for the earliest transfer of all the surplus personnel listed in the telegram printed here. Minister Davis was authorized to inform Hungarian officials concerning current and anticipated Legation staff reductions to the extent that the Minister considered desirable (124.643/3–2050).