182. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Beam) to the Secretary of State1


  • Recognition of New Hungarian Government.

The present status of this question is as follows:

Prior to leaving Washington Minister Wailes was instructed not to present his credentials upon arrival until he had received further instructions from the Department. Mr. Wailes arrived in Budapest on November 1 and on November 3 the Department authorized him to present his credentials, inasmuch as the Nagy Government seemed to be evolving along satisfactory lines.2 The Soviet attack began at 5 A.M., Budapest time, November 4 and Mr. Wailes was, of course, unable to act. After the fall of the Nagy Government, the Department instructed him not to present his credentials to the new regime pending further notice.3

Mr. Wailes has been continuously in touch with the Hungarian Foreign Office but as far as we know with no other Hungarian authorities. Istvan Dobi, the President of Hungary, to whom Wailes’ letter of credence was addressed, does not appear to have been eliminated and may nominally hold the same position.

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The decision taken tentatively in the Department is that Minister Wailes should continue to function without presenting his credentials as long as he is able to do so,4 particularly for the reason that his continued presence affords additional protection to Cardinal Mindszenty, who has taken refuge in the Legation, and enhances staff morale. Mr. Wailes has expressed his concurrence with this position.

We are proceeding on the assumption that should the Hungarian regime refuse to deal with Minister Wailes because he has not presented his credentials, he should be withdrawn and the Legation be left in the hands of a Charģe d’Affaires. It would be inadvisable for the following reasons to break relations and withdraw our Legation:

It would be disadvantageous from an intelligence-gathering point of view;
We may be able to exert some influence on the future course of events by our presence in Budapest;
U.S. withdrawal would be interpreted by the Hungarian people as abandonment of their cause.5

An anomalous situation exists in the UN at present. The Hungarian Minister-Designate to Switzerland was named by the Kadar Government as their representative to the UN and his credentials were telegraphed to the Secretary-General. These credentials were ruled as legally acceptable by the United Nations but in the General Assembly debate on Friday6 a number of delegations questioned whether any credentials issued by the Kadar Government could be regarded as valid. In this situation, we instructed our Embassy in Bern to withhold issuance of the visa for which Mr. Marjai, the Hungarian Minister-Designate, had applied.7 Withholding of recognition of the proposed Hungarian UN representative would seem justified as a means of exerting pressure to bring about the admission of UN observers to Hungary in accordance with the General Assembly resolution.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/11–1256. Secret. Also sent to the Acting Secretary through Murphy.
  2. See Document 161.
  3. He was instructed in telegrams 200, November 4, and 211, November 7. (Department of State, Central Files. 123–Wailes, Edward T.)
  4. At the Secretary’s Staff Meeting on November 6, Phleger suggested that the presentation of credentials be delayed and Murphy agreed that this should be the case until developments could be assessed better. Exactly one week later the matter was taken up again. At this meeting, the decision was deferred again. (Ibid., Secretary’s Staff Meetings; Lot 63 D 75) Wailes was informed in telegram 232, November 13. (Ibid., Central Files, 123–Wailes, Edward T.)
  5. In telegram 272 from Budapest, November 12, Wailes advised against the closure of the Legation, advancing arguments A and C. (Ibid.) The Department expressed itself in Topol 778 to Paris, November 9, as believing it counterproductive to terminate relations with Hungary and the Soviet Union. (Ibid., 764.00/11–856)
  6. November 9.
  7. Telegram 714 to Bern, November 9, ordered the withholding of the visa for Jozsef Marjai until further instructions. (Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/11–756)