209. Circular Instruction From the Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts 1



  • U.S. Reaction to Events in Hungary

Joint State–USIA Message. For Personal Attention Chief of Mission and Principal Officer. It has been reported by some of our Missions that especially in Western Europe there has been a lack of understanding by Governments, the press, and the general community regarding United States reaction to the recent events in Hungary. This is said to include an underestimation of the United States efforts in the United Nations and elsewhere to prevent or end the Soviet suppression and violence directed against the Hungarian people. It has been suggested that the United States was so preoccupied with events in the Middle East that it failed to grasp the significance of developments in Hungary. It would be appreciated if Chiefs of Mission and Principal Officers would give this matter their personal attention and this should be supplemented by efforts on the part of other members of the [Page 507] staff, especially the Public Affairs officers and USIA representatives, to get across the story of the vigorous reaction of your Government and the substantial efforts it has made incident to tragic events in Hungary.

It should be remembered, of course, that events in Hungary happened with extraordinary speed, symptomatic of spontaneous public upheavals, but throughout the development we remained in as close touch with the situation as was humanly possible to do.

[Here follows a summary of United States actions in the Hungarian situation.]

Chiefs of Mission, Principal Officers and their staffs, of course, should work closely with USIA in keeping this information, as well as future actions and statements by the United States Government on the developing Hungarian situation, before the public. In this task, all media should be used and where practical, special reviews or roundups should be developed and exploited. In close collaboration with the posts, USIA should make appropriate contacts with government officials, leaders of public opinion, press and other media people to ensure that the widest possible audience get a clearer picture of the attitudes and actions of the American people and the American Government towards the situation in Hungary.

It is realized, of course, that there are many countries where the problems here set forth do not exist. There are also, no doubt, situations where official and public attitudes will militate against full exploitation of the United States position. It is left to the discretion of the Chiefs of Mission, Principal Officers, and USIA representatives how the situations in the various countries can best be met.

The following should be implicit in efforts to publicize and create an understanding of the United States role in the Hungarian situation:

That the United States has from the beginning and will continue to work with and through the United Nations on this problem.
That the primary concern of the United States is for the welfare and safety of the Hungarian people and that suffering and bloodshed in their struggle for freedom and self-determination be kept at the minimum.
That we will continue to focus critical world opinion on the tragic events in Hungary so that their struggle for freedom will be seen as the struggle of people everywhere who are and wish to remain free.
That the United States will continue to pursue vigorously all peaceful means to free the Hungarians from their brutal communist bondage.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 764.00/12–1256. Official Use Only.