264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./5–1250: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Acting-Secretary of State


2611. The Secretary saw Mrs. Vogeler in his office this morning.1 She outlined to him in some detail the terms of an offer allegedly emanating from the Hungarian Government and given to her by a purported intermediary in Vienna. The text of this offer (which is substantially that described by her to Erhardt;2 Vienna Legtel 85,. repeated Department 6693) will follow.4

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The Secretary expressed to Mrs. Vogeler his strong doubts as to the bona fides of the offer and indicated to her that in any event the offer involved such questions of principle and practicability as to rule out the possibility of its ultimate acceptance by the US Government. He urged her to give no publicity to the offer as that would only jeopardize the continuing US efforts with the Hungarian Government to effect Vogeler’s release. She said that she had already decided against publicity as a threat to ultimate implementation of the proposal.

Mrs. Vogeler, however, persists in her conviction that the offer is bona fide and must be followed up. She talks of going to Washington to see the President. Embassy and Scudder are endeavoring to persuade her abandon convictions re validity and potentialities offer.5

The Secretary told Mrs. Vogeler he did not share her concern over her husband’s ultimate release, indicated his increased optimism, and referred to similar expression of optimism to Mrs. Smith in San Francisco and recent release of her son.6

Following is test of release given press following interview with Secretary.

Mrs. Vogeler has agreed follow lines this release in her press conference later today:

“Secretary of State, Dean Acheson took time out from a crowded official schedule today to see Mrs. Lucille Vogeler. She asked to see him, and an appointment was made for 8:45 this morning. She wished to express her concern for her husband who continues to be in prison in Hungary.

“Secretary Acheson expressed understanding and sympathy for her concern for her husband. He remarked upon her patience and courage through difficult months which have passed since Mr. Vogeler’s arrest. Mr. Acheson assured her that the US Government sharing her deep concern, is continuing to give closest attention to her husband’s [Page 1007] plight, and will persist in its efforts to assist him, to gain access to him and to effect his release and return to the US.”

Sent Department 2611, repeated Vienna 106.

  1. Mrs. Vogeler, who traveled to London from Vienna, had requested a meeting with the Secretary of State in order to discuss a plan for securing the release of her husband. The Secretary was in London in connection with the Tripartite (United States–United Kingdom–France) Conference of Foreign Ministers, May 11–13 and the Fourth Session of the North Atlantic Treaty Council, May 15–18.
  2. John Erhardt, Minister in Austria.
  3. Not printed.
  4. The principal conditions for the release of Vogeler according to the offer reported upon in telegram 2621, May 12, from London, not printed, were: (1) a guarantee by the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation of a sum up to $2 million; (2) permission for Hungary to import from the United States “non-secret” goods currently banned for export to Eastern Europe, presumably to be paid for by the sum specified in the previous item; (3) prohibition by the United States, Britain, and France to the granting of transit privileges or asylum to bearers of Hungarian passports seeking to enter Germany or Austria (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./5–1250).
  5. Telegram 2691, May 16, from London, not printed, reported that Mrs. Vogeler had a further conversation with an official of the Embassy in London. She appeared to have abandoned her plan to visit the United States to see President Truman and had agreed to avoid further personal publicity. Mrs. Vogeler’s conversation with the Secretary of State seemed to have revived her courage and patience and convinced her to await the outcome of official American efforts to achieve the release of her husband (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./5–1650).
  6. On May 11 it was reported that the Communist Chinese authorities had released American servicemen William C. Smith and Elmer C. Bender; see footnote 1, p. 1000.