147. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

1006. Embtel 1003.2 Soviet declaration troop withdrawal Budapest3 corresponds with what Zhukov told me last night with addition qualification which he did not give concerning request by Hungarian government. However, since according radio last night and this morning Nagy has made such request there would seem to be no essential difference between two statements. Soviet press despatches this morning from Budapest nonetheless contain no reference to any request from Hungarian government, and situation as to actual Soviet actions in this respect remains confused.

As previously observed from here (Embtel 969)4 Soviet policy is reacting to fast developing events outside its borders and depending on these events can and indeed does shift accordingly. It is thus more than possible Soviet policy on withdrawal troops Budapest made to me last night about 7 o’clock by Zhukov and repeated in declaration may be subject to change. For example, if Nagy government has completely lost control and what is termed in declaration “black reaction [Page 349] and counter-revolution” has taken over, this position on troop withdrawal may well be reversed. However, general line declaration which will be further analyzed subsequent message5 certainly at time its issuance would indicate Soviet Union preparing cut losses Hungary and accept high degree if not complete independence satellites in general. (Incidentally, due error words Embtel 1003 “as if to say” should not be included, since Zhukov actually said “let them deal with it themselves.”) While subsequent events may change this policy, and in any event Soviets might attempt to dilute in actual implementation, document is important Soviet policy statement in further expansion 20th Party Congress decisions.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/10–3156. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. Document 145.
  3. See Document 141.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 123.
  5. In telegram 1016 from Moscow, October 31, Bohlen concluded that the declaration indicated Soviet acceptance of the “basic concepts of national Communism.” He maintained that the Soviets apparently hoped to forestall a repetition of the Hungarian situation in Poland and Romania. He viewed the Soviet withdrawal of forces from all of Hungary as the first test of the Declaration. (Department of State, Central Files, 660.61/10–3156)
  6. In telegram 523 to Moscow, October 31, the Department of State summarized the state of affairs in Hungary as follows: “Dept inclined feel Soviets willing depart Hungary if Nagy or a communist government can retain power. Pending such development indications are that Soviet troops may remain at quiescent state at installations outside Budapest in hope that pressure, while not provoking additional disorders, will strengthen hand ‘socialist’ elements.” (Ibid., 764.00/10–3056)