185. Notes on the 46th Meeting of the Special Committee on Soviet and Related Problems, Washington, November 13, 19561
- State—Mr. Jacob D. Beam, Chairman
- Defense—Colonel Oscar R. Schaaf
- Defense—Mr. Roger Ernst
- CIA—Mr. Laughlin Campbell
- Office of Spec. Asst. to the President—Mr. Oren M. Stephens
- USIA—Mr. Alfred V. Boerner
- OCB—Mr. Paul B. Comstock, Staff Representative
- State—Mr. Edward L. Freers
- State—Mr. Robert O. Blake
- State—Mr. Philip Burris
- State—Mr. John E. Horner
- State—Mr. Frank S. Collins
- Office of Spec. Asst. to the President—Mr. Francis G. Williamson
- CIA—Mr. Arthur M. Cox
- CIA—Mr. Emmons Brown
- CIA—Mr. Cord Meyer, Jr.
- USIA—Mr. E. Lewis Revey
- OCB—Mr. Warren A. Kelsey
Allegations Against RFE. Mr. Freers stated that Mr. Beam had asked him to take over the Chair for this meeting and that since he had nothing to bring up he wondered whether anyone else had. Mr. Comstock said that he thought that Mr. Beam wanted a discussion of the allegations made in Germany and elsewhere that RFE had stirred up the Hungarians to revolt and that the U.S. had then abandoned them.2 Mr. Freers mentioned that a Presidential statement on the subject was being prepared for issuance at his first press conference after the election on November 14,3 and Mr. Boerner mentioned that Mr. Streibert had told the President that VOA was innocent of such actions.
Mr. Meyer said that he wished to make four points about these charges. First, the chronology of events refutes them. The October 23 rally was a demonstration of sympathy with Poland and the shooting [Page 437] had turned this demonstration into a riot. The legal government of Hungary had accepted the demands of the populace and the uprisings had been spontaneous. Second, RFE has never promised Western armed assistance in case of revolt nor incited the Eastern European populace to any action on the basis that such assistance might be forthcoming. Third, during the revolt we cross-reported events in Poland and Hungary; that is, we gave the Hungarians news about Polish events which Budapest did not give them and which may have encouraged them in their revolt, but this was straight news reporting and was done with the authorization of the Department of State and was consistent with policy. Fourth, we are insistent that RFE should not lecture the Hungarians nor give them tactical advice. An implication might have been made that Nagy should accept the demands of the populace but this does not bear out the allegations.
Mr. Boerner said that VOA had concentrated on reporting what went on in Hungary. As a check, he was having the Hungarian language scripts translated and analyzed.4 He pointed out that when Pravda first made the charge that the West was stirring up the revolt, the Hungarian communist newspaper Szabad Nep had refuted this accusation.5 Mr. Meyer added that the Kadar Government had blamed the revolt on conditions brought about by the Rakosi clique and this, too, refuted the Pravda charges. Pravda had later weakened or withdrawn its accusation.
Mr. Campbell said the President’s statement might well take a positive line; that is, we have always preached freedom and it was not this but the Soviet mishandling of the Hungarians which caused the blood bath. Mr. Freers said that the draft statement he had seen did make that point.
Mr. Boerner said that his organization had a Hungarian defector, an eyewitness of the revolt, who was prepared to say that VOA and RFE had not incited revolt, and Mr. Meyer said that his organization had three refugee leaders of revolutionary committees who would say the same and who are sending a protest to the West German Free Democratic Party which had been particularly critical of the American-sponsored radio stations. The present situation was compared by Mr. Boerner to that after the East Berlin riots of June 17, 1953, when we had been accused of both action and inaction. He also mentioned critical views expressed on a domestic American television program.[Page 438]
Mr. Burris raised the question, to whom do we address our argument? The Pravda charges have already been pretty well met but we must consider the feelings of the refugees and of such people as the Germans, the Swiss, and also domestic sentiment. The Western European criticism seemed to be directed not so much toward the content of the radio broadcasts as to the fact that we did not follow them up with effective action to help the Hungarians. Mr. Freers said that the Yugoslavs and Indians, on the other hand, had criticized our activity rather than our inactivity but we had always made it plain that we were opposed to the use of force. Mr. Boerner said that a long statement would sound too defensive. It should be a brief general statement to the effect that the demands for liberty had been so great that it had burst all bounds. The Presidential statement could not meet criticism in Germany fully but it would meet domestic American criticism. At this point, Mr. Beam entered, took the Chair, and read a draft of the President’s statement.
- Balloons. Mr. Beam asked whether balloons were now being released over Eastern Europe and . . . replied that, by agreement with the State Department, none at present were going over Poland or Hungary, but that they were being released over Czechoslovakia and East Germany. Colonel Schaaf asked whether any were reaching the Soviet troops massed on Poland’s borders, and . . . replied that they did in East Germany.
- Mongol Troops. Mr. Beam asked whether it was true that “mongol” troops were being used by the Soviets in Hungary and whether this fact was being exploited for propaganda purposes. Mr. Campbell said that it was being so exploited in Western Europe but not in Asia. Mr. Blake made the point that troops from all of the Soviet Union’s races were formed into mixed units and that therefore there were bound to be “mongols” in any large body of Soviet troops.
- Olympic Games. Mr. Campbell mentioned that the Hungarian Olympic performers were defecting en masse.
Hungary and the UN. Mr. Brown asked what action on Hungary was being taken in the United Nations. Mr. Beam replied that it had been suggested that the UN observers go to Europe immediately but that we considered it more advantageous to get an investigating team started which would not have to go to Hungary to perform its work, since it would have access to documents, refugees, etc. Moreover, Mr. Hammarskjold might try to get to Budapest on his way back from Cairo. We hope that he would be able to do so since the advantages of having a UN official in the country at present would outweigh the consideration that the present Hungarian Government might gain some prestige thereby. In answer to questions why we preferred the [Page 439] investigators to the observers, Mr. Beam said that we had nothing against the latter but since it was obvious they were not going to get into Hungary the investigators offered better prospects.
Mr. Blake gave the names of persons tentatively selected for the investigating team and Colonel Schaaf said that we should make the point that the communists were afraid to admit the observers.7 Mr. Meyer inquired whether any UN action was possible about the Soviet mass deportations from Hungary.8 If the UN were on record against such deportations this would be a restraining factor. Mr. Beam mentioned that Italy might introduce a resolution condemning Soviet actions in Hungary but before taking our position on that we wanted to see what was in the resolution, since we would not want the British and the French condemned in the UN as aggressors in the Near East. Telegrams from Budapest9 showed that there was no real government in Hungary but only Soviet occupation and this gave Mr. Lodge good material for exploitation.
- Labor Boycott. Mr. Meyer stated that the international labor boycott of Soviet goods and services was becoming effective and that longshoremen in New York had refused to load the baggage of couriers. Mr. Blake mentioned the possibility of retaliatory Soviet action against our couriers.
- Recognition of the Kadar Regime. Mr. Meyer asked whether we were going to recognize the Kadar regime. Mr. Beam replied that we do not want our new Minister to present his credentials but that we also did not want to have to withdraw our diplomatic staff from Hungary. Consequently, the Minister will probably eventually leave and the delegation [Legation] in Budapest would be headed by a Chargé d’Affaires. Ambassador Thompson had suggested a private U.S. approach to the USSR with a proposal that we would recognize the Hungarian Government as an interim government until Soviet troops were withdrawn, recognize Hungarian neutrality, and extend economic help.10 The Department was doubtful about such an approach, however, since the Soviets might come back with a corresponding move on the Near East. An approach by a neutral such as Sweden would be preferable.
- Attitude on Neutral Nations. Mr. Meyer asked whether any progress had been made in representations to those countries who had abstained on UN resolution on Hungary. Mr. Beam replied that a letter [Page 440] was being sent to Nehru to counteract Bulganin’s letter to him,11 and Mr. Blake added that we were trying to encourage a statement from some Arab nations condemning Soviet action in Hungary. President Chamoun of Lebanon had expressed an interest in this.
- Use of Hungarian Defector. Mr. Boerner again mentioned the Hungarian defector his organization now has and who is being surfaced shortly. This man is a professional photographer who took a lot of pictures of the fighting and wrote a blow-by-blow eyewitness account. Good use could be made of his pictures and story. The Nagy regime had been anxious to get him out and had issued him a diplomatic passport. He is to appear shortly before the Senate Internal Security Committee, but another sponsor would be desirable.
- Miscellaneous Points Briefly Touched Upon.
- Mr. Boerner inquired about Nagy’s whereabouts and Mr. Beam said that they were unknown.
- Mr. Beam inquired whether jamming had been lifted in Poland. Mr. Cox replied that it had and also that internal jammers were out of action in Hungary.
- Mr. Meyer inquired about Anna Kethly’s activities and Mr. Beam said that the Second International is now sponsoring her.12
Assistant OCB Staff Representative
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 100.4–OCB/11–1356. Top Secret. Drafted by Kelsey.↩
- Telegram 1828 from Bonn, November 10, reported Bundestag speeches and Free Democratic Party press releases critical of RFE’s role in the Hungarian revolt. (Ibid., 940.40/11–1056)↩
- The President made a statement on Hungary at his press conference on the morning of November 14. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956, pp. 1095–1108.↩
- VOA broadcasts to Hungary between October 23 and November 5 were reviewed by Andor Klay, Supervisor, Hungarian Unit, Division of Research for USSR and Eastern Europe. (Memorandum for the record by Jean Jerdaman, December 17; ibid., P/PG files: Lot 60 D 605 IPS General)↩
- See footnote 7, Document 132.↩
- See Document 183.↩
- Telegram 281 from Budapest, November 13, reported the first substantiation of Soviet deportation of Hungarians on a significant scale to the Soviet Union. (Department of State, Central Files, 661.64/11–1356)↩
- Telegram 276 from Budapest, November 13, described the Kádár government as “certainly completely Soviet-dominated.” (Ibid., 764.00/11–1356)↩
- See Document 181.↩
- Telegram 1242 to New Delhi, November 11, contained Eisenhower’s response to Nehru. The President expressed his hope that India would find it possible to support actions in the United Nations dealing with the Hungarian situation. He went on to say that “Bulganin’s reply does not overcome the stark fact that a foreign power is intervening militarily to repress brutally the desire of the Hungarian people to exercise their fundamental rights to freedom and independence.” (Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/11–1156)↩
- Kéthly met with Murphy and Beam, among others, the following day to outline her activities in seeking U.N. accreditation. Her major objective was to secure Soviet withdrawal under U.N. supervision, and she emphasized as well the need for International Red Cross control of the distribution of medical and other relief aid. In his memorandum of the conversation, Klay observed that “Notably absent from her account were any remarks tending to confirm allusions attributed to her in some press reports as to an alleged responsibility of American propaganda agencies for inciting the Hungarians to revolt.” (Ibid., INR Files: Lot 58 D 766, Hungary)↩