151. Telegram From the Embassy in Hungary to the Department of State1

3819. Subject: Crown of St Stephen. Ref: (A) Budapest 375 (B) State 255571.2

1. FonMin Puja informed me today that, in response to his report to the Hungarian Government of our last conversation, the government has agreed with our plans for the return of the Crown. Puja said that the government had agreed to the proposals we had outlined to him, including a joint communique and pre-agreed statements at the return ceremony.

2. Puja said that the government also agreed with our tentative scheduling suggestions. He added that the Government of Hungary would like to fix both the date and the name of the chief U.S. delegate as soon as possible.

3. Finally, Puja asked me to meet with Deputy Minister Nagy Nov 3 to arrange the details of the return. I, of course, agreed to do so.3

4. When Puja asked whether we could be more definite on specific dates, I told him that for reasons not connected with the substantive question of the return of the Crown, it is not possible for us at this time to agree definitely on a date or to identify the chief U.S. delegate.

5. Comment: Puja was extremely pleased with developments. He had secured in record time the approval of the government leaders for our proposals before they left for Moscow last Saturday. He wants us to work out the details as quickly as possible and we will be pressing ahead on this. End comment.

6. Prior to meeting with Puja, the DCM and I met with Ambassador Bartha to outline in greater detail the return scenario we envision. I made to Bartha all rpt all the points in para 3 of State 255571 and gave him the text of the suggested joint communique. I also emphasized to him the importance of the opinion of Hungarian-Americans and passed to Bartha the suggestions for an amnesty and a public statement to the effect that Hungarians abroad would be granted visas to see the Crown. [Page 461] I also sought assurances from Bartha concerning the permanent public display of the Crown in Budapest. For obvious reasons I was not as specific as the language in para 3c of reftel concerning the date and U.S. delegation head.

7. Bartha’s personal response was as follows. (He explained he must now seek the government’s approval before he can respond officially.)

A. Place of return: Full agreement with U.S. plans.

B. U.S. delegation: Full agreement. Would appreciate concrete information.

C. Date of return: Full agreement. Would appreciate confirmation.

D. Hungarian participants: Full agreement to participation of Cardinal Private, Protestant leaders, and leaders of Jewish community. He suggested representatives of women’s and youth organizations. We told Bartha that we wanted as little party involvement as possible. Bartha said he understood completely. He added that, for planning purposes, there is no thought being given to attendance by any prominent party leader.

E. Nature of public ceremony: Full agreement. Bartha said he does not have government approval but he believes that Parliament is the correct venue.

F. Permanent display: Bartha told me that the Crown will be displayed in a manner similar to the display of the British Crown Jewels in London, with one exception: No admission will be charged. It is the plan of the Hungarian Government to put the Crown on public permanent display as soon as possible. In reply to my allusion to the possibility that the Crown would be given to the Russians, Bartha assured me in unequivocal terms that there is no such possibility: “I can assure you that that question is utterly ridiculous. The Russians have their own jewels. These jewels are treasured relics of the Hungarian nation. We have been struggling for a long period to get them back. We will not now give them away. In fact, we have a law which requires that the Crown remain in Hungary.” In reply to question from DCM, Bartha stated that this law is still in force. He agreed specifically to our reporting these assurances to Washington.

G. Media participation: Full agreement with participation by foreign and domestic (press, radio, television) media representatives.

H. Joint communique: I gave Bartha the text of our joint communique and Bartha agreed with its thrust. He or Nagy may suggest some change in the wording.

I. Remarks at return ceremony: Bartha thought, on a personal basis, that the remarks should be short. They should give a brief historical background of the Crown and allude to its role in the future as a factor in improved bilateral relations.

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8. Bartha assured me that Hungarians from all over the world would be welcome in Hungary to view the Crown. He said there were no political prisoners in Hungary so the question of a political amnesty is difficult. Bartha said that the Government of Hungary looks upon the Crown’s return and its continued presence in Budapest as a gesture to build bridges among Hungarians throughout the world.

9. Bartha stressed the importance of fixing a date. He said our timing is good and the Hungarian Government would like to effect the return before Christmas.

10. Comment: We now have all elements of our maximum position on the table and a favorable reaction to them from the Hungarian working level. We also have an official favorable response to our plans from the highest level of the Government of Hungary.

11. The last step is official approval of our specific scenario. We foresee no major problem in obtaining it after we have reviewed the details with Nagy.

12. It seems clear that the Hungarian Government is willing to do everything it can to meet our requirements, and that it would welcome a visit by a high-ranking U.S. official in connection with the Crown’s return. It would be most helpful if we could fix the date and chief U.S. delegate as soon as possible. If it becomes necessary to change the President’s travel plans, and therefore our present plans for returning the Crown, would it be possible for a major figure in the administration, such as the Secretary, to schedule a brief stop in Budapest some time before Christmas in connection with travel to Europe for some other reason, such as the NATO Ministerial?

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840070–0933. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 375 from Budapest was not found. For telegram 255571 to Budapest, see Document 150.
  3. In telegram 3840 from Budapest, November 3, the Embassy reported Kaiser’s conversation with Nagy and Bartha regarding additional details on the return of the Crown of St. Stephen. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840070–0927)