Secretary’s Memoranda: Lot 53 D 444: Secretary’s Memoranda—June 19501

Memorandum by Mr. Aaron S. Brown, Assistant to the Director of the Executive Secretariat, to Mr. Lucius D. Battle, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State


Reference your memorandum of June 20 concerning Ambassador Bliss’ inquiry about the Crown of St. Stephen.2 The following information has been obtained from EE—Yost3 and McKisson:4


Since reports of the possible release of Vogeler in the near future were leaked to the press a few clays ago by the British,5 a minor furore has been raised over the allegation that the Crown of St. Stephen would be turned over to the Hungarian Government as ransom for Vogeler. The fact is that the U.S. has never mentioned or even contemplated the use of the Crown in this connection. Neither have the Hungarians made any demand in this regard. In the negotiations for Vogeler’s release, we have offered the Hungarians (1) permission to reopen their New York and Cleveland consulates, (2) lifting of the ban on travel of Americans to Hungary, (3) restitution of certain items belonging to Hungary which are now in Germany.

The Crown is also in Germany, but we have no intention of turning it over to the present Hungarian Government. The widespread discussion of the possibility that the relic might be used under (3) above is, however, causing the Department considerable concern. It would be most unfortunate if the question of the Crown were now to be [Page 1014] injected into the Vogeler negotiations. In view of the excitement over the Crown, the Department fears that the Hungarians will suddenly demand it as a further condition for Vogeler’s release, if only to cause us embarrassment. Consequently, we consider the present rumors concerning the Crown prejudicial to the success of our efforts in the Vogeler case and hope that they may be stilled.


While it is desirable, in view of the above, to restrict public discussion of the Crown as narrowly as possible, it is recognized that the situation will have to be explained to Ambassador Bliss. Therefore, it is suggested that the Secretary emphasize that the Department’s views are strictly secret. He might then inform Mr. Bliss that we have never considered St. Stephen’s Crown a subject for inclusion in the Vogeler negotiations and that the rumors are without foundation. He might assure Mr. Bliss that the Department earnestly hopes that the current public agitation of this matter will die out and that we will not be forced into public comment regarding it which might adversely affect Vogeler’s chances of release by goading the Hungarian Government into demanding the return of the Crown.6

Aaron S. Brown
  1. Lot 53 D 444 is a comprehensive chronological collection of the Secretary of State’s memoranda and memoranda of conversation for the years 1947–1953, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.
  2. In the memorandum under reference here, not printed, Battle recorded that former Ambassador Robert Woods Bliss had telephoned him that morning from Boston. Ambassador Bliss said that he had just arrived in Boston by train and had read in the newspapers that the negotiations with Hungarian authorities over Robert Vogeler involved a demand that the United States return the Crown of St. Stephen (a part of the Hungarian royal regalia) to Hungary. Ambassador Bliss said he was “horrified” by the thought of any such action and wanted Secretary of State Acheson to know of it as soon as possible. Ambassador Bliss also said that he planned to discuss the matter with Secretary Acheson during the Secretary’s trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts (Secretary’s Memoranda, Lot 53 D 444, Secretary’s Memoranda—June 1950). Secretary Acheson delivered a foreign policy address before the Harvard Alumni Association in Cambridge on June 22. Battle accompanied the Secretary on his trip.
  3. Charles W. Yost, Director of the Office of Eastern European Affairs.
  4. Robert M. McKisson, of the Office of Eastern European Affairs.
  5. In a memorandum to Under Secretary of State James C. Webb., dated June 22, not printed, Office Director Yost observed that on June 18, information concerning the American-Hungarian negotiations for the release of Robert Vogeler was leaked to the press in Vienna, presumably by an official in the British Legation there. Subsequently a flood of speculative and inaccurate reports appeared in the press in the United States and abroad. Yost expressed the view that the reports had a most damaging effect on the course of the Vogeler negotiations, and he suggested they were the cause of the Hungarian decision not to go through with the promised release (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./6–2250).
  6. The manner and content of the Secretary of State’s communication to Ambassador Bliss, if any, has not been determined. In telegram 636, June 27, to The Hague, sent also to Lisbon and repeated to Budapest, Vienna, and London, not printed, the Department of State informed that the current speculative press reports regarding the Crown of St. Stephen were wholly without foundation since the Crown had never been mentioned in the course of the Vogeler negotiations. The position of the United States Government continued to be that the time was not opportune for any decision on the disposition of this special property. The missions were requested to avoid all comments to the press and also, insofar as was possible, any discussions with foreign government officials or exiles, regarding the Vogeler negotiations (264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./6–2350).