No. 723

264.1111–Vogeler, Robert A./1–2451

Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert M. McKisson, Office of Eastern European Affairs


Subject: Vogeler Case.

Participants: Mr. Jacob K. Javits, House of Representatives;
Mr. Kiefer, GEA;
Mr. McKisson, EE.

Mr. Kiefer and Mr. McKisson called on Mr. Javits this afternoon at his request to discuss Hungarian restitution. Mr. Javits explained at the outset that his interest in this subject stemmed entirely from its possible conection with the Vogeler case. He agreed that the matters to be discussed would be held in strictest confidence since they would necessarily involve reference to classified information and since unauthorized publicity at this time might further prejudice Mr. Vogeler’s situation.

Mr. Javits inquired specifically whether looted Hungarian property in the US Zone of Germany available for restitution to Hungary was of such value that the US Government, by continuing to withhold restitution, could exert effective pressure on the Hungarian authorities to release Mr. Vogeler. In reply, Mr. Kiefer and Mr. McKisson briefly outlined the status of Hungarian restitution and expressed the view that restitution was not an effective means of bargaining in the Vogeler case, as the property in question was valued at less than $100,000. At Mr. Javits’ request, Mr. McKisson then reviewed the principal developments in the Vogeler case, including the abortive agreement of June 162 and the subsequent [Page 1440] stalemate which has been reached in the negotiations concerning Mr. Vogeler because of the new demands brought forward by the Hungarian Government as added conditions for his release.

Mr. Javits further inquired as to the feasibility of applying economic pressure against Hungary and referred in particular to such measures as the embargoing of trade and seizure of Hungarian assets here. It was pointed out to him in this regard that pre-war Hungarian assets in the US were already blocked and that Hungarian assets accumulated here since the end of the war were not large. The difficulties inherent in any proposal for embargoing trade with Hungary, such as the relative ineffectiveness of any ban on US or Hungarian trade alone and the certain reluctance of western European countries to join in exerting economic pressure against Hungary where their own interests or nationals were not directly involved, were also called to Mr. Javits’ attention and discussed briefly. It was also pointed out to Mr. Javits that any steps to institute an effective trade embargo against Hungary at this time would undoubtedly be construed as an overt act of economic warfare and would give rise to broad policy issues affecting East-West political and economic relations and the West German economy in particular.

Mr. Javits asked whether the Department planned to submit the Vogeler case to the UN. Mr. McKisson replied that the Department did not contemplate raising this case as a separate item in the UN but considered it as coming within the scope of the general case relating to the suppression of human rights and freedoms in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Rumania, which has already been considered by the UN General Assembly at its last three sessions. In this connection, Mr. Javits’ attention was called to the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on November 3, 1950,3 which invites members of the UN, and particularly those members which are signatories to the Peace Treaties, to submit to the Secretary-General all evidence they may have regarding the violation of human rights and freedoms in the three satellite countries. Mr. Javits was informed that the Department was assembling and would submit in due course appropriate evidence in this regard and that the evidence [Page 1441] in the Vogeler case was also being prepared for possible submission at an opportune time. The point was stressed, however, that any publicity on this score or on current negotiations in the Vogeler case could only hamper and perhaps nullify continuing US efforts to obtain Mr. Vogeler’s release. In these circumstances, it was the Department’s present intention to defer the submission of evidence on the Vogeler case until such time as Mr. Vogeler’s release might be effected or such action would be least likely to prejudice his chances of release.

Mr. Javits agreed that publicity would probably be harmful and render further negotiations extremely difficult if not impossible, but inquired whether any real prospect remained of getting Mr. Vogeler out. Mr. McKisson replied that, while the immediate outlook for effecting Mr. Vogeler’s release did not appear very bright, the Department had in no way given up hope in the matter and would continue negotiations to that end as long as there was any reasonable basis and possibility of agreement with the Hungarian Government in the matter.

Mr. Javits expressed his appreciation for the opportunity of having a frank, off-the-record discussion of this case. Mr. Kiefer and Mr. McKisson expressed themselves similarly.

  1. Copies of the Legation in Hungary’s notes 143 and 144 and four Legation aides-mémoire incorporating the views and language authorized by the Department of State regarding restitution, the reopening of Hungarian Consulates, and the resumption of travel by private American citizens in Hungary, all of which were delivered to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on May 26, 1950, were transmitted to the Department as enclosures to despatch 549 from Budapest, May 26, 1950. These notes and aides-mémoire constituted the elements of the abortive agreement of June 1950 with Hungarian authorities on the proposed release of Vogeler from prison. These documents are not printed, but see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, pp. 1007 ff.
  2. For text of the resolution under reference (U.N. doc. A/1486), see Department of State Bulletin, November 27, 1950, p. 872 or American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1950–1955, vol. II, pp. 2080–2081.