105. Telegram From the Director of the Munich Radio Center of the International Broadcasting Service (D’Alessandro) to the Assistant Program Manager for Policy Application of the United States Information Agency (Zorthian)1

Unnumbered. Reur unnumbered on Hungarian developments.2 By this time you will have seen MRC news copy backfile to Washington. In absence of any comment to the contrary am assuming that it squares with present thinking. We are in continuous touch with Delaney/Vienna3 and everything he has given us that was usable is contained in our backfile to you. Delaney standing by all night to pick up what he can get from returning travelers, correspondents, etc. and if there is anything new you will get it automatically via our newsroom. MRC programming and engineering staff on alert basis and prepared to open up Munich and Tangier repeats of all originations, should developments warrant. Hungarian breakfast show will not be prefed to Tangier as usual and will instead go live at 1145 AM CET. Tangier alerted and will be given specific requirements via telex, if and when repeats are to be replaced. Consulate coderoom will remain open until we tell them to shut down so don’t hesitate put through any urgent guidances.

Believe Ike should make statement within next few hours since people will most certainly be looking for same, especially in view of his remarks on Polish events.4 Am appending a suggested draft. Otherwise have no particular line to suggest at this time. Agree that our reliance should be on fullest news coverage and pertinent official and editorial reaction. [Our?] position extremely delicate. This story is far from over and entire Iron Curtain population looking to United States for our reaction. We certainly in no position to encourage revolters, especially in view of explicit statement that US would not intervene militarily under any circumstances.5 Conversely unless we can suggest alternatives we are in no position to discourage or describe as futile [Page 275] sacrifices Hungarians are making. Middle course which would yet make clear US identification with just aspirations of Hungarian people and condemnation of intervention, amounting to aggression of Soviet force against civilian population of Hungary, appears only course for VOA to follow. Material to expose fraud of Fascist reaction counter revolutionary verbiage used to describe [garble] Hungarian citizens who have rebelled against communist aggression.

Believe that parallels with Poland would serve no useful purpose at this time and should be avoided. Incidentally some of the repeats of Washington originations sound pretty tired because of lack of recent news of Hungarian developments.6 Realize this presently beyond your control but believe way should be studied to correct situation in the future.

Herewith suggested draft for Ike statement on Hungarian events:

The people of the United States are deeply shocked to learn that the armed forces of the Soviet Union are being used against the civilian population of Hungary, on the eve of what we had hoped would be better days for that unhappy country. Gunfire cannot be a final answer to the legitimate demands of a people for a decent standard of living and the restoration of the basic freedoms which are the birth right of the people of Louis Kossuth. We shall follow with deepest concern the tragic events that are even now continuing in the hope that the aspirations of the Hungarian people for a better life shall not be denied.

  1. Source: Department of State, USIA/IBS Files: Lot 63 A 190, Materials on Munich Radio Center. Confidential; Priority. Enclosure to a letter from the Director of the International Broadcasting Service of USIA, Robert E. Button, to Aldo D’Alessandro, June 7, 1957.
  2. In his telegram to D’Alessandro, October 23, Zorthian requested advice as to what line to take and indicated they were handling developments with “extreme care” and were relying heavily on news coverage and “responsible” editorial reaction. (Ibid.)
  3. Robert F. Delaney, information officer at the Embassy in Vienna.
  4. See Document 99.
  5. In his appearance on the interview program “Face the Nation” on October 21, Dulles excluded the use of force to assist Poland to win its freedom. He urged the necessity of acting prudently to avoid a misstep. See The New York Times, October 22, pp. 1 and 6, and the Washington Post, October 22, p. 1.
  6. Telephone and telegraphic contact with the Legation in Budapest was lost on the afternoon of October 23. Throughout October 24 the Department of State depended in large measure on news ticker reports derived from Radio Budapest. Contact was reestablished at 6:30 a.m., October 25, and the first telegram was received at 7:15 a.m. Communications with the Legation were uncertain at critical moments during the crisis.