125. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the Presidentʼs Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1


  • The Crown of St. Stephen, Again

A delegation of Hungarian-Americans called on Harry Dent recently to express their concern over the possibility that the US might be [Page 294] planning to return to the Government of Hungary the symbolic Crown of St. Stephen. One of the members, Dr. Eckhardt also delivered a letter from Cardinal Mindszenty for the President urging that the Crown not be returned.2 Mr. Dent has sent you a memorandum enclosing the letter and additional material left by the delegation (Tab B).

At the same time, Laszo Pasztor sent HAK a letter also urging that the Crown not be returned (Tab C).3 Pasztor was in the delegation that called on Dent. Mr. Dent asked you for your thoughts on the nature of the reply he must make to the delegation.

Your reply memorandum to Mr. Dent at Tab A4 suggests that he express the appreciation of the President for the letter, and that HAK has also received Mr. Pasztorʼs letter. In addition, the memorandum contains talking points indicating that there are no present plans to return the Crown.

I am unaware of anything which has happened to change our standard position on this issue. However, in June, Henry was interested in it, and we provided him with a memorandum (Tab D)5 on the subject outlining the proʼs and conʼs of returning the Crown (or placing it in the hands of the Vatican, à la Cardinal Mindszenty). As far as I know, he has not taken any decision that would alter the standard line set forth in your memorandum to Mr. Dent.


That you sign the memorandum to Mr. Dent at Tab A.

P.S. Senator Doleʼs man just called me (November 29) to say that Dole had gotten an earful at a recent meeting of ethnics and that any move on the Crown would cost the President 2 million votes. I told him there were no plans to change the position on the subject. He urged us not to move without consulting Dole. I said we would of course keep that in mind but in any case nothing is afoot.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 693, Country Files—Europe, Hungary, Vol. I. Limited Official Use. Sent for action. Haig initialed the memorandum to indicate he had seen it. Tabs A–D are attached but are not printed.
  2. In a November 5 letter, Mindszenty wrote to Nixon: “From Western Press reports and from other serious sources we got the information that the present Administration in Washington intends to hand over the Holy Crown of St. Stephen to the atheistic, illegal Hungarian regime, or to that similar in Moscow. I donʼt easily believe these rumors, spread by the Press, because Mr. President promised me in 1970 not to hand over to these followers of Satan our holiest and greatest national relic and pride.” (Ibid.)
  3. Pasztor was director of the Heritage Groups Division of the Republican National Committee.
  4. Haig signed the January 3, 1972, memorandum to Dent.
  5. Document 116.