148. Telegram From the Legation in Hungary to the Department of State1

200. Legtel 198.2 In dramatic overnight change, it became virtually certain in Budapest this morning that this Hungarian revolution now fact of history. Personal observations, newspaper stories, and radio content tend to confirm complete Soviet troop withdrawal from city, apparently under Hungarian protection. TASS report that Soviets would begin negotiations on removing troops from Hungary confirmed [Page 350] Nagy’s statement (Legtel 1763) which population obviously mistrusted completely at first. Crucial point, however, in our belief, was actual beginning of withdrawal of troops from Budapest.

During events of past week, Legation was doubtful that what has happened could be achieved without strongest Western support. That it is taking place is additional evidence of tremendous strength of popular movement, which undoubtedly having profound effect on Soviet policy. Appears logical premise that Soviets, having unilaterally decided to abandon military position in city without guarantee of ultimate nature of government that springs up behind, must be seriously considering departure from Hungary within relatively short period.

In view attitude Hungarian army, Legation believes public order will be reasonably maintained. Partisan ferreting out of AVH units already beginning this morning, however, with some sporadic shooting audible, and will probably go on for some time. Virtually no looting has occurred, as far as Legation is aware, nor has any evidence of anti-Semitic outbursts become known to Legation.

Question of political future, of course, much more cloudy. Legation informed that Social Democrats now meeting to choose members coalition group. Also informed by partisan that nothing less than American-type western democracy would satisfy population. Present coalition, in any event, appears as transitional government pending emergence of more permanent political parties. Speed and nature of this process by no means clear as yet.

Future US role in Hungary also not clear, but seems certain to be very different from past. Hungarian radio phoned this a.m. for foreign news bulletin and Legation attempting obtain same by Telex from Vienna.

Our initial view this morning, which may only be highly preliminary, is that would be desirable for President to make statement in very near future. This might indicate US willingness to initiate some type of immediate economic aid, to be followed by broader political and economic discussions. Suggestions for statement follow.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/10–3156. Confidential; Niact. Sent also to Vienna for Edward T. Wailes who was then on his way to Hungary to assume his post.
  2. Telegram 198 from Budapest, October 31, reported that the Soviets had withdrawn from Budapest except for some key locations. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 176 from Budapest, October 29, summarized Nagy’s October 28 speech. (Ibid., 764.00/10–2956)
  4. Telegram 201 from Budapest, October 31, suggested the following statement:

    “Entire world has been watching dramatic events in Hungary, as Hungarian people, as on many other occasions, have given their lives for independence from foreign masters. It appears today that new Hungary is emerging before world: A Hungary which we hope from our hearts will reap full benefits of nationhood. To witness this historic moment of national re-emergence of great people is emotionally rewarding experience.

    “The US has already joined with many other countries in sending medical assistance to Hungary’s wounded. We shall give immediate consideration to economic assistance, and hopeful within short time for increased contacts with Hungary in all fields.” (Ibid., 764.00/10–3156)