264.1111 Vogeler, Robert A./9–1150

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

No. 174

Reference is made to my telegram No. 106 of September 111 reporting on a conversation on that day with Undersecretary of State Andor Berei in continuation of our prolonged negotiations for the release of Mr. Robert Vogeler from prison and his expulsion from Hungary and to enclose a memorandum of that conversation.2

Both from Mr. Berei’s uncompromising attitude in the matter of radio interference and from his raising at this late date of the question of the Crown of St. Stephen it is a reasonable conclusion that the Hungarian government has no intention at this time of releasing Mr. Vogeler except at the price of a complete surrender by the United States government to the wishes and whims of the Hungarian government. In regard to the matter of radio interference it will be observed from this and previous conversations that while Mr. Berei has been careful outwardly to stand on the position taken by the Hungarian government from the very beginning of our negotiations, in fact he had gradually shifted from a position permitting a cooperative effort to solve a mutually unsatisfactory situation to one requiring the United States alone to act in the matter. It thus becomes clear that [Page 1020] the real objective has been all along to force the United States to abandon its broadcasts in the Hungarian language from transmitters in Germany on 250 meters. The situation is ironical in that our continued use of that wave length serves little practical purpose since the Hungarian government’s own station, Radio Petofi, effectively blankets our broadcasts. Yet, to surrender use of that wave length under pressure would be a submission which could only whet the appetite of the Hungarian Government for further demands on us.

Mr. Berei’s raising of the question of the Crown of St. Stephen is less easy to analyze at the present moment but it would seem not unreasonable to suppose that he is using it as a second line of defense on which the Hungarian government could fall back in the event of our surrender in the matter of radio broadcasting. Without this, or some other new obstacle, Mr. Berei would have been left with no ground for further delay in implementing our agreement in the not impossible event that I had been able to tell him that because of effective blanketing by Radio Petofi the United States was abandoning Hungarian language broadcasts on 250 meters.

Trying to look at the matter objectively but inevitably affected by the bitterness engendered by Mr. Berei’s behavior it seems probable to me that the Hungarian government has deliberately dangled before our eyes the possibility of obtaining Mr. Vogeler’s release for the sole purpose of ascertaining how high a price we were prepared to pay. The Hungarian government must be perfectly well aware that the United States cannot submit to blackmail in the matter of the Hungarian Crown. In raising that issue, then, it seems to me that it has given clear indication of its determination not to release Vogeler at this time. Whether the question of the Crown has been in the back of the Hungarian mind from the beginning, or whether it was implanted there by irresponsible press despatches from Vienna last June (or indeed whether those despatches were inspired by Hungarian agents) I have no way of knowing. I can only say at this time that there has been no previous reference to the Crown in any discussions I have held with any Hungarian official.

There is irony in this situation also, the Crown being of little intrinsic value itself and as a symbol of monarchial sovereignty not an object to which the democratic United States or Communist Hungary can attach any great sentimental or symbolic value. Regaining possession of the Crown would be a very considerable internal political triumph for the regime. Our retention of it gives the regime a useful propaganda weapon. Either way, we seem to be the losers.

If the foregoing reasoning is correct the conclusion is inevitable that the Hungarian government looks upon Vogeler with complete cynicism [Page 1021] as a pawn to be traded in the game of international politics. In indicating a willingness to trade him it has not obtained from us an offer which it considers satisfactory. I can only repeat what I have said before that sooner or later the Hugarian government will doubtless desire something from us which is considers of sufficient value to give up Vogeler in exchange for it. What that something will be I cannot predict. At one time during my negotiations with Mr. Berei I was led to believe that the re-opening of Hungarian consulates in the United States was considered by the Hungarians as of sufficient value. It now appears that I was played for a sucker.

Nathaniel P. Davis
  1. Supra.
  2. Not printed.