205. Notes on the 55th Meeting of the Special Committee on Soviet and Related Problems, Washington, December 6, 19561


  • State—Mr. Jacob D. Beam, Chairman
  • State—Mr. Edward L. Freers
  • Defense—Colonel Oscar R. Schaaf
  • Defense—Mr. Roger Ernst
  • CIA—Mr. Laughlin Campbell
  • USIA—Mr. E. Lewis Revey
  • OCB—Mr. Paul B. Comstock, Staff Representative


  • State—Mr. Robert O. Blake
  • State—Mr. Howard Trivers
  • State—Mr. Philip Burris
  • State—Mr. John E. Horner
  • State—Mr. Ralph S. Collins
  • State—Mr. William Nunley
  • OCB—Mr. Warren A. Kelsey
[Page 496]
Human Rights Day Proclamation. Mr. Nunley submitted to the Committee a draft proclamation of Human Rights Day prepared in the State Department for issuance by the President.2 He asked the committee’s opinion whether the proclamation’s references to Hungary could be considered inflammatory. Mr. Blake said he thought it was not inflammatory but that he thought one phrase looked a little bit like urging the Hungarians to keep on fighting. . . . Mr. Cox said the broadcasting of the proclamation by the RFE would raise the same policy question raised by previous RFE broadcasts. Mr. Campbell mentioned that the policy is to maintain pressure against the USSR on the Hungarian question in the UN and elsewhere. . . . Colonel Schaaf expressed the view that the proclamation would certainly not incite the Hungarians to revolt. The discussion concluded with the decision that certain phrases should be deleted from the draft.

UN and Hungary.3 Mr. Beam said that State Department was drafting a condemnatory resolution, of which the first part was directed against the Soviets and the second part against the Hungarian Government. The draft is to be circulated among other delegations over the weekend.4 The resolution further provided for the suspension but not the revocation of the credentials of the present Hungarian Government. Mr. Blake asked whether they could speak in the UN under this suspension to which Mr. Beam said that he thought they could. Mr. Cox asked what the suspension accomplished, to which Mr. Beam replied that it was a form of censure of the Hungarian Government.

Mr. Beam said he thought that the UN Fact-Finding Group might well activate itself now and appeal to the nations of the world for material on the Hungarian situation, for example, from diplomatic reports from Budapest. Straightforward, objective, eye-witness accounts were desired. In answer to a question from Mr. Cox, Mr. Beam said that the function of the observers was to get material and for the fact-finders to interpret it. There was a possibility that the observers might soon go to Europe, but the Austrian Government was getting cold feet about admitting them. Mr. Cox asked why, in view of the fact they had taken a rather hard line against accusations they were violating their neutrality. Mr. Beam said it was possible the observers might still be admitted to Austria. Mr. Ernst said that Austria should not be allowed to overrule the UN on considerations of interference with [Page 497] internal affairs of other countries. Mr. Beam said the Austrians had from the beginning made it clear that they did not want the observers to come to Austria if they were not going on to Hungary.5

Reverting to the question of the credentials of the Hungarian delegation, Mr. Cox inquired why we were not going further and pressing for outright expulsion of the delegation. Mr. Beam said that it was desirable to have Hungarian representatives there to hear the speeches and resolutions made on the subject; Mr. Blake said that if the delegation was expelled the Hungarian Government would give even less cooperation to the UN; and Mr. Freers said that the logical next step would be a breaking of diplomatic relations which was undesirable, especially since we needed to keep our Legation in Budapest. Mr. Beam added that the UN itself was dealing with the Kadar Government on the question of relief. Colonel Schaaf questioned whether all this offsets the desirability of disciplining the Hungarian Government for its defiance of the UN. Mr. Blake mentioned that a logical implication of expelling the present Hungarian Government from the UN would also be the expulsion of the USSR. Mr. Campbell mentioned that failure to expel the present Hungarian Government undermined our arguments against the admission of Red China. Mr. Revey said we might want to lift the suspension some time—how and when would we do it? Mr. Beam said that it could be done if they admitted the observers. Mr. Campbell said that more than that would be required after a condemnatory resolution. Mr. Cox said that he thought expelling the Kadar Government’s representatives would be a blow to the Soviet Union which was the real culprit. Colonel Schaaf asked whether, if the UN expelled the Hungarian representatives, this necessarily meant that Hungary would break diplomatic relations with the U.S. Mr. Blake inquired whether it was thought that expulsion would really help anything, to which Mr. Cox replied he thought so since Hungarian refugees were of the opinion that the Kadar Government should not be recognized.

Paper on Possible Further Actions in View of Soviet Defiance of the UN. The committee then discussed a draft of the above-mentioned paper, which had been circulated at the last meeting.6 With regard to Para. 16a,7 Mr. Campbell pointed out that the NSC paper called for action in the UN and elsewhere, whereas this draft referred only to UN action. Mr. Beam agreed that the draft should be reworded to take care of this discrepancy. Colonel Schaaf inquired whether this was to [Page 498] be a report or an outline plan of operations to which the reply was that it was the former. With reference to the question of UN action, Mr. Ernst inquired how much support would be forthcoming in the UN for a resolution ordering the Secretary-General to present himself at the Hungarian border or to fly directly into Budapest with advance notice he was coming. Mr. Beam said there would not be many votes for such a resolution.

On Para. 16b, Mr. Campbell raised several questions, inquiring whether anything in the Hungarian Peace Treaty gave us the right to take any action in view of the absence of law and order. He also said that evolutionary measures would not bring about free elections and that the paper might make that comment. In reply Mr. Blake said that we have pressed for free elections ever since 1945 without thinking that our urging would actually produce such elections and that we shouldn’t stop now. Mr. Beam said that the Kadar Government had indicated it would agree to some kind of elections but that “anti-Socialists” would be excluded. He thought that the paper might include references to the peace treaty provisions for free elections. He then asked for comments on Para. 16c(1) concerning a possible embargo. Mr. Comstock said the paper seemed to be saying that the Battle Act was not effective but asked whether this had been cleared with the Department’s economic people. Mr. Freers said it had not been. Mr. Ernst said that even if the effects of the embargo were limited it would create some difficulties for the Soviets to which Mr. Blake said that the balance of difficulties might be in the other direction. Mr. Comstock said that the vital point was that general participation could not be counted on. Mr. Beam said he would have the Department’s economists go into this paragraph.

On Para. 16c(2), a new discussion arose over the desirability of expelling the Kadar Government’s representatives from the UN. Mr. Campbell said he thought we were all agreed that relations should not be broken with the USSR but that they might be broken with the Kadar Government. Mr. Beam said he thought the State Department disagreed with him there. Mr. Trivers suggested that the right of the Kadar Government’s representatives to vote and speak in the UN might be suspended. Mr. Beam said that he thought this might be involved in the suspension of credentials. He furthermore said he thought the Kadar regime, bad as it was, wanted to get the Russians off its neck and this purpose would not be served by such a rupture. Colonel Schaaf asked whether the expulsion of the Hungarians might not serve as a warning to the Soviets that it could also happen to them, to which Mr. Beam answered in the negative. Colonel Schaaf again made the point that the UN loses prestige if its members defy it. Mr. Cox said that for a long time the U.S. had maintained diplomatic relations with Hungary but had voted against its admission to the UN, [Page 499] why then should Hungary’s expulsion from the UN entail a rupture of relations with the U.S.? Mr. Freers said that it was a political judgment that this was likely to happen in view of the evident fact that the present Hungarian government would like to get rid of our Legation in Budapest. Colonel Schaaf and Mr. Cox expressed doubt whether the presence of the Legation in Hungary was any deterrent to the Soviets or the Kadar regime. Others present disagreed with this opinion. (At this point Mr. Beam left and Mr. Freers took the chair).

Mr. Ernst commented that Para. 16c(2) seemed to come down too heavily on the repercussions of severance of diplomatic relations. Mr. Freers replied that the reference to severance of diplomatic relations was a general one and that severance with the USSR now would be an extreme action. He said, however, that the wording could be softened.

There was still another discussion on the desirability of expelling the Hungarian UN representatives, with Mr. Cox doubting whether this would lead to the expulsion of our Legation from Budapest or that the presence of our Legation there served as a deterrent to the Soviets. Mr. Freers said that it would be necessary to check on what the suspension of credentials involved and whether or not it suspended the right to vote.

On Para. 17 Mr. Cox said he disagreed with the policy assumption implicit in the statement that a demand for Hungarian neutrality would lead to a Soviet demand for the withdrawal of American troops from Western Europe. He said he thought the proposed courses of action should not be influenced by counter-proposals the Soviets might make. After some discussion this sentence was deleted and it was agreed to substitute one to the effect that the chances of obtaining Hungarian neutrality were to be explored through UN or diplomatic channels.

On Para. 18 Mr. Campbell said that we should not talk about economic aid to Hungary now until the conditions of Soviet withdrawal and free elections had been fulfilled. Mr. Freers said there was some advantage to involving ECE, a UN organ, in economic aid since this would be more acceptable to the Soviets. After discussion it was agreed to leave sub-paragraph ii out and make sub-paragraph iii conditional on fulfillment of sub-paragraph i.

Colonel Schaaf once again urged the desirability of expelling the Hungarian representatives from the UN and after another brief discussion on this the meeting closed.

Warren A. Kelsey

OCB Staff Representative
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 100.4–OCB/12–656. Top Secret. Drafted by Kelsey.
  2. Not found. The President did, however, issue a statement on “Human Rights Day in the Light of Recent Events in Hungary,” on December 10. It stated, in part: “The recent outbreak of brutality in Hungary has moved free peoples everywhere to reactions of horror and revulsion. Our hearts are filled with sorrow. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the courageous, liberty-loving people of Hungary.” For full text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956, pp. 1119–1121.
  3. See the editorial note, infra.
  4. December 8 and 9.
  5. On December 8, Austria informed the Secretary-General of its willingness to admit observers. (U.N. doc. A/3435/Add.1) Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia declined to do so.
  6. The draft was not found attached to the notes of the 54th meeting by Kelsey, December 4. (Department of State, Central Files, 100.4–OCB/12–456)
  7. Of NSC 5616/2, Document 196.