264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./3–450

The Legation in Hungary to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

The Legation of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Hungary and has the [Page 996] honor to refer to the Ministry’s note of February 23, 1950,1 in which the Hungarian Government, on the basis of its proceedings against Mr. Robert Vogeler, raises certain questions regarding the staff of the Legation and inquires whether the United States Government is willing to reconsider its prohibition of travel by United States nationals to Hungary and its closing of the Hungarian consulates in New York and Cleveland.

The Legation of the United States is instructed to inform the Ministry for Foreign Affairs that the United States Government does not recognize the proceedings against Robert Vogeler, which were completely ex parte and were characterized throughout by demonstrably preposterous falsehoods, as confirming in any way the validity of the charges brought against him or against other United States citizens.

In view of the character of this “trial” and of the wholly groundless charges against personnel of the Legation, the United States Government considers improper and irrelevant the inquiries contained in the Hungarian Government’s note. If the Hungarian Government insists on the withdrawal from Hungary of certain United States officials as persona non grata, it has the right under international law to do so. However, the above-mentioned allegations are clearly not a proper basis for such a demand.

The United States Government has no intention, in the existing circumstances, of altering its decisions prohibiting the travel of United States citizens in Hungary and closing the Hungarian consulates in New York and Cleveland. As to the first, the sentencing of Mr. Vogeler to prison on false charges merely confirms this Government’s conviction that it is unsafe for American citizens to visit Hungary under present conditions. As to the second, the closing of the Hungarian consulates in the United States was based and continues to be [Page 997] based on the Hungarian Government’s refusal to permit United States consular officers in Budapest to perform their normal protective consular functions.

With regard to the over-all number of diplomatic officials and other employees at the American Legation in Budapest, the United States Government knows of no rule of international law or practice under which the Hungarian Government would be entitled to limit or fix that number. The United States Government, moreover, wholy rejects the allegations concerning the Hungarian employees of this Legation which are set forth in the note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These employees have been engaged in no activities to which objection could legitimately be raised.

The Hungarian Government, by its recent actions detrimental to the rights and personal safety of American citizens, by its treatment of American interests in Hungary, and by its restrictions on the exercise of protective functions by American consular officers, has itself created a situation prejudicial to the conduct of normal diplomatic, consular, and commercial relations. Because of this situation, the United States has already reduced the staff of the Legation below that which it would consider necessary for the conduct of normal relations with a friendly government. The United States Government will continue to adjust the composition of Legation staff in accordance with its own judgment of its requirements and, in doing so, it will of course take into account the arbitrary attitude of the Hungarian Government.

  1. In the note under reference here, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry drew attention to testimony during the Vogeler–Sanders trial implicating Military Attaché Col. James B. Kraft, Assistant Military Attaché Lt. Col. John T. Hoyne, and Assistant Air Attaché Maj. Donald E. Griffin, all members of the Legation in Budapest, in alleged acts of espionage against Hungary, and asked whether the United States was “willing to draw the consequence logically deriving from” the implication. The Hungarian note further asked whether the United States was willing to reconsider measures recently taken to prohibit the travel of American citizens in Hungary as well as the closing of the Hungarian consulates in New York and Cleveland. Finally the note described the Legation staff in Hungary as excessive and asked that it be reduced. For the text of the Hungarian note, see Documents on the Hostile Activity of the United States Government, pp. 179–182.

    In a similar note of February 23 to the British Legation in Budapest, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry drew attention to trial testimony implicating several current members of the Legation in espionage and also asked for a reduction in the staff of the British Legation. The brief British Legation reply of February 28 simply transmitted the text of a statement of February 21 by the British Foreign Office which denounced the Vogeler–Sanders trial, presented Sanders as the victim of sinister pressures, and stated that the United Kingdom Government had factual evidence that the trial testimony was “a compendium of distortions and lies.”