|G. Baross: Hungary and Hitler|
Prior to the Treaty of Trianon Hungary did not have an independent foreign policy. All diplomatic activities were so-called mutual affairs of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and based upon an agreement reached in 1867 with the Austrian Empire in the frame of the compromise. All foreign affairs were led by the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in compliance to the interests of the Monarchy as a major power of the world. These interests were not necessarily identical with Hungary's. This is a fact which is by now known all over the world and which was illustrated by the Minister President of Hungary Count Istvan Tisza's protests in 1914 against the declaration of war against Serbia.
After the signing of Trianon peace treaty on June 4, 1920, the foreign policy of the new "independent" Hungary under the changed geopolitical auspices of Europe consisted of seeking the means and ways to change the inhuman regulations of the Treaty of Trianon which threatened a slow death to the country's existence.
Let us make a brief survey of the changed situation in Europe, but from the Hungarian viewpoint, however.
To the east of the mutilated and unprotected Hungary the Soviet Russian Empire began to organize and, after her diplomatic successes of 1935 when she was accepted as a member of the League of Nations, she developed her Communist imperialistic intrigues. At the time these matters did not affect Hungary.
To the west stood the Entente which consisted of the English and the French who had constructed the systems of the peace treaties signed at Paris. Also there was the Little Entente which consisted of Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Yugoslavia who aimed to enforce the stipulations of the peace treaties and enforce and strengthen the status quo. They definitely formed a hostile ring around the country.
Also in the west was the new German Republic created on the debris of the German Empire. Political and economic crises were the order of the day in that country. Our immediate neighbor, Imperial Austria, changed and became the Austrian Federated Republic whose political and economic future was rather difficult. Both these countries were of dubious value in any foreign political relationship.
To the north there was Poland who began to develop once she had surmounted the problems of entangled territorial questions; Hungary had enjoyed friendly relations with Poland for several centuries and it was firmly hoped in those days that Poland would enter into favorable foreign relations with Hungary once she was able to organize and stabilize her internal and external situation.
To the south Hungary was barred from Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece by the hostile countries of Rumania and Yugoslavia. All three, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Hungary, suffered in the First World War on the losing side. Bulgaria still had some disagreeable, unsolved territorial questions with Rumania and Yugoslavia; on the other hand, Turkey secured outstanding diplomatic successes in 1928 at Lausanne which, of course, would have been of great interest also to Hungary. A relationship with Greece, who had great internal troubles, seemed to be of no particular interest or value.
Also to the south was Italy. There, Mussolini was successfully putting down all internal turmoils but neither was he satisfied with the stipulations of the peace treaties (especially in territorial respects), and he was cognizant of other shortcomings of the forced regulations. He had already manifested his friendly feelings toward Hungary by 1921.
In the ten or twelve years following the signing of the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary's diplomatic activities in the general European scene were limited to a great extent. Soon, however, there were favorable signs for possible revisions. For instance, in 1921, by popular suffrage the old Hungarian town of Sopron, which had been allocated to Austria by the Treaty of Trianon, was returned to the mother country. In the same year the Minister President of France, Millerand, communicated to the Hungarian Government in a note that there were possibilities for the modification of the selected clauses of the Treaty of Trianon. It had been proven in 1923 at the international conference held at Lausanne that the peace treaties could be changed. Aristotle Briand, French Minister President, also followed this trend, and planned the formation of the federation of the Danube countries. In 1927, in a major public speech, Mussolini emphasized Hungary's right to a revision of the Treaty of Trianon, and he soon concluded a friendship pact between Hungary and Italy. Hungary received loans from the League of Nations at Geneva in 1921 and so in 1930. In 1931 a friendship pact was concluded between Hungary and Austria. The Hungarian foreign policy and diplomacy made use exclusively of classic methods of approach in her efforts to change the opinions towards the peace treaties: namely, she addressed notes to the various countries. The influential powers, however, were impressed tremendously by the general staff of the Little Entente: Benes of Prague, Titulescu of Bucharest, and Pasic of Belgrad; and these powers formed the opinion that Hungary was serving German imperialistic aims. The Hungarian diplomats were rather careful about the wording of these notes, especially since they realized that in the eyes of the Entente Cordiale the credibility of the Little Entente was unshakable. In Hungary, it is a well-known fact that the Little Entente used all the back doors to get into the government offices of Paris, London, and Washington; that it officially and
unofficially disseminated distorted news about Hungary with great success, and for money the press in almost every country was entirely at their service. The Hungarian Government was reluctant to follow a similar road; who knows whether it was out of caution, fear, or inexperience, or hope for justice. Neither did the Hungarian Government follow the example of Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey, Germany, or Italy even though they did prove that with tenacity and endurance great successes can be attained. The Hungarian Government was under the constant pressure of public opinion and could not table the demands for a revision of the Trianon peace treaties: the revision, of course, was the sole logical aim of the Hungarian foreign policies. Hut the Government did nothing which was particularly auspicious to reach such an aim. They always moved in circles. They did not even make a concentrated effort to develop Hungary's military defenses.
Two major facts later changed these trends of the Hungarian foreign policy. One was that Count Istvan Bethlen as Minister President led the country for ten years on the so-called "Golden Middle Road," as he and his followers named it. Then in 1933 Adolf Hitter took over the power in Germany and with this act the political atmosphere of Europe underwent radical changes.
In 1932 Gyula Gombos moved into the chair of Minister President. He recognized the great dangers which were threatening the country; to the east there was the ever increasing power of Soviet Russia, and to the west there was the newly formed Third Reich with its imperialistic tendencies. He decided that he would attempt to defend the country efficiently against both of these. He selected neither the approach of under cover agents and bribe nor intrigue; instead, he openly began laying the foundations for a defense alliance to be headed by Italy, and negotiated with Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey, and even with Yugoslavia. He also tried to gain France's approval for a reorganization of the Hungarian Army. He paid two visits to Hitler which gave him the opportunity to sound out the intentions of the "Fuehrer" and these findings fortified his actions and efforts to develop a defense block. His personal negotiations conducted in Vienna, Rome, and Ankara, and the steps undertaken upon his initiative by our legations in Warsaw, Sophia, and Belgrad became known throughout the world through the news media.
It was Gombos' successor, Minister President Kalman Daranyi, who was in charge of the country's affairs when the Anschluss was carried out in March 1938; these actions left no doubts as to the ruthless methods and intentions of Hitler, especially after details of the happenings at the Hossbach Conference became known. Daranyi quietly evaluated the situation and foresaw the immense dangers accumulating, but also noticed that the Entente had not tried to avert this danger or
prevent it even after the occupation of the Ruhr country. The formation of the defense block of countries started by Gombos became a futile dream because of the seizure of Austria. Italy also oriented her policies more and more in the direction of the Third Reich, and the Danube Confederation of countries, also promoted by Mussolini, suffered shipwreck due to the attitudes of the French Government. Daranyi's foreign policy was limited to the performance of activities which he did not welcome: paying visits to Berlin to secure certain economic benefits for Hungary, and leaving the Italian affairs to his Minister of Foreign Affairs Kanya. Reluctantly he also followed the Italian and German examples of establishing an approach to Yugoslavia. He did not try to gain the sympathies of the Entente but, after having delivered a major speech concerning the economic life of the country at the city of Gyor, he made steps towards developing Hungary's armed forces.
It was during the term of office of his successor, Bela Imredy, a liberal, mercantilist, that the Munich Conference and the First Viennese Arbitrage decisions took place. Both these events indicate that the Entente was only slightly oriented to the preparatory move made by Hitler, and indicate also that the Little Entente held political and military positions of no great importance. At the same time there arose great hopes in Hungary that through actions of the Third Reich she would eventually regain territories that had been detached from the mother country by the Treaty of Trianon. Imredy, who even sent commercial attache's to the Hungarian Embassy in London, soon became aware of the fact that Berlin and Rome did not trust him. He shifted his policies towards the totalitarian systems (Author's remark: later its political motives became quite obvious). He never initiated any effective policies towards the western powers or powers overseas, and his diplomatic activities were limited to paying visits to Hitler and Mussolini and to legislation concerning the Jews.
In February 1989, Count Pal Teleki took over the Minister Presidency; this outstanding Hungarian statesman, with his immense scientific background and knowledge, clearly saw the dangers of the Third Reich's imperialistic drives but he also knew the weaknesses of the West. He wanted to make use of the German tendencies to make gains in Hungarian territorial questions but at the same time he wanted to persuade the Entente powers of the justice of Hungary. He reached the Second Viennese Arbitrage with the help of Berlin and Rome, and there, however, the surrounding symptoms only proved to him that the Germans were playing a treacherous game. Although he had Foreign Minister Count Csaky sign the three power Anti-Comintern Pact, he refused to participate in the German-Polish war. Upon the initiative of Germany and Italy he concluded a friendship pact with Yugoslavia; even though this had been a long time wish of the Hungarian public, he
also knew that by no means through these actions could he prevent the coming turmoil. He did not neglect, at the same time, to make use of his very valuable Anglo-Saxon relationships and connections, and by using his tremendous prestige, he gave detailed information supported by scientific data about his aims and activities to the British Government. Upon the advice of the French diplomat Count De Vienne, he sent a Hungarian politician to the United States. With these measures he wanted to prove the truthfulness and justice of his foreign policy and to secure a greater understanding and corresponding statements. With his illness he was not able to take the excitement of the international situation; thus, when, in contradiction to his previous statements, Hitler declared war on Yugoslavia, and when threats reached him from England, Count Teleki escaped in death. Hungary lost in him a great and iron-willed statesman of immense knowledge and experience.
He was succeeded in the Minister Presidency by the unshakable and very clever Laszlo Bardossy. Bardossy had been our Ambassador to London and later to Bucharest. After the death of Count Csaky, he obtained the portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Teleki Government, but his experiences in the foreign political fields were of rather short duration. As far as his experiences in the internal affairs of the country were concerned, they could be considered nonexistent. He plunged head-first into the tremendous currents moving the entire world in those times; these were currents and factors such as the start of the German-Polish war, the French and British declaration of war on the Third Reich, the sending of Hungarian troops to the Serbian border south of the Danube, and the steps taken by England and the bombing of Hungarian cities. These were followed by such events as the demands which Moscow addressed to Berlin emphasizing her interests in the Balkans, the German troop concentrations on the Soviet Russian border, and on June 22, 1941, Germany's attack on Soviet Russia. These events were followed by the declaration of war on Russia by the Finns, Italians, Rumanians, and the Slovaks. The Japanese delivered a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the consequence of which was the declaration of war by the United States on Japan. This was followed by a declaration of war by the Germans and Italians on the United States. In this tremendous burning holocaust which was taking over the rule of the world, the sole aim and task of Bardossy was to try to keep Hungary from drifting into this cataclysm. His efforts were unsuccessful, and on June 27, 1941, he reported to the Houses of Parliament that Hungary had entered into a state of war with Russia; this, of course, was followed by England's declaration of war on Hungary. Acceding to pressure by Germany and Italy, Bardossy declared war also on the United States. Finally in this desperate situation, having no other means left, he tried to resist the ever increasing demands on Hungary by the German
military machine for renewed bloody sacrifices. It cannot be considered a diplomatic gesture towards the Western Allies that he had a secret radio transmitter established in the Regent's Palace.
Bardossy was swept out of office probably by some inner political forces, which are yet unknown, and was replaced by Miklos Kallay. Regardless of his political standing, Kallay was received by the public with great doubt and mistrust because his knowledge, experience, and opinions were not thought to meet the requirements of the responsible position of head of the government. Abroad the Germans and the Italians also expressed their mistrust. In neighboring Rumania and Croatia vicious attacking statements were heard. In England Eden made a statement requesting the reconstruction of Czechoslovakia and promised the initiation of such actions to Benes; he also frequently received the Rumanian and Yugoslav politicians. In Slovakia anti-Hungarian feelings were developing. Only the United States, that is to say Washington, manifested sympathy towards Hungary, and stated that the United States did not want to use armed force against her, because under duress she had been forced into the war. In this very precarious atmosphere, Kallay decided to conduct a doublefaced policy. He visited Hitler at his general headquarters stating that there were complaints against Rumania, and he acceded to Hitler's wish to draft 80,000 Hungarian ethnic Germans into SS troops, and to the step-up of food supply shipments to Germany. He visited Pope Pius XII and also Mussolini to whom he spoke of his plans for peace but only received evasive answers in reply. He communicated to Washington that Hungary had started hostile actions against the Russians because they had bombed one of our cities. He wanted to make a friendly gesture towards the Germans with this statement; on the other hand, he refused to declare war against Chile in spite of the strong demands of the Germans. Also he didn't comply to their urging for a settlement of the Jewish question. Hut he emphasized in the Houses of Parliament that he was going to continue the fight against the Soviets on the side of the Germans. These and simiar statements by Kallay were known by the general public and were received with mixed emotions. In the following, I would like to describe those activities of his which remained unknown to the general public but which played in Ankara, Berne, and Lisbon.
The initiale of the negotiations conducted in Ankara was Antal Ullein-Reviczky, head of the press division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ullein spent his vacation in Spring 1943 on the shores of the Bosphorus at his father-in-law's who was a retired English diplomat. In talking about the Hungarian situation both were of the opinion that the Hungarian Government
should send an unofficial and trusted person to Ankara to get in touch with English diplomats and to orient them about the details of the Hungarian question. Kallay sent the trustworthy newspaper man Andras Frey to Ankara, giving him the authority to communicate to competent officials that Hungary was not going to resist the English and American Armies; that Hungary was ready to turn against the Germans in accordance with a plan that would be worked out in advance by the Allies, and that this proposition was not aimed to preserve their political status but wanted to save the Hungarian nation.
The English, receiving these proposals, dwelt lengthily upon them and communicated to Frey through a Hungarian-born English citizen Gyorgy Paloczy-Horvath, who was pretty well-known for his doublefaced activities in Hungary, that it was advisable to send two high ranking Hungarian officers to take up negotiations. This request was discarded by Kallay mostly because of the antipathetic personality of Paloczy-Horvath. Instead, he sent Dezso Ujvary, Hungarian Consul General at Istanbul, to negotiate with the British. He delegated a younger officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Laszlo Veress, to assist him. The two Hungarian diplomats, after lengthy waits and repeated urgings, finally met with Bennet Sterndale, Councilor of the British Legation at Ankara, and communicated to him that Hungary was not going to resist British armed forces if they crossed the Hungarian border, but would turn over immediately all the airfields and railroad lines to them. Also she would accept the orders of the High Command of the Allied Forces, and was ready to take up connections with the same through the radio.
Finally on September 8, 1943, on the yacht of the English Embassy anchored in the Bosphorus, Ujvary and Veress met with Sir Hugh Knachbull-Hughson, the English Ambassador, from whom they received the preliminary conditions according to which:
1. Hungary communicates through official diplomatic channels that she accepts the conditions of the Allies;
2. That this agreement is kept secret until the Allied Armed Forces are about to reach the Hungarian frontier;
3. That Hungary will gradually reduce the number of her armed forces fighting on the side of the Germans;
4. That at the same time she will reduce the economic support granted to the Third Reich;
5. That Hungary will resist if the Germans want to occupy her;
6. That in the given case Hungary will turn over all her resources necessary for the conduct of warfare to the Allies;
7. That Hungary is ready to receive at a given moment the Allied Air Force;
8. That she will establish radio connections with the Allies and that Hungary will not negotiate with anybody else.
Veress took these "preliminary conditions" to Budapest in the form of a protocol for ratification where it was received with very mixed emotions. Kallay saw great benevolence in them because they did not request the immediate
cessation of hostilities against the Russians, and did not require an immediate attack on the Wehrmacht. On the other hand, some of the other Ministers were of the opinion that the protocol was nothing but a camouflaged demand which repeated the decisions reached by the English-American conference held in Casablanca in January 1948, according to which only one condition was permitted and that was the unconditional surrender.
Also the Government was of the unanimous opinion that to accede to the demands of the English would entail an immediate occupation of Hungary by the Germans. Therefore, the formal ratification of the protocol was postponed.
The Minister of Interior Ferenc Keresztes-Fischer urged with great emphasis the acceptance of the so-called preliminary conditions and, since the British did not require a signature to this document from Kallay nor from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ghiczy, they reached a decision to authorize Consul General Ujvary to sign. Baron Wodianer, our Ambassador to Lisbon, notified Sit Reginald Campbell of this fact and with this communication the negotiations of Ankara reached an end.
The secret negotiations conducted at Berne were led by our outstanding and excellent English Ambassador Gyorgy Barcza. Barcza, after having requested his retirement in 1941 for political reasons, had settled down in Switzerland and intended to live there as a private citizen. Nevertheless, he retained his great prestige in Hungarian diplomatic circles. At first Kallay, perhaps because of mistrust, did not want to authorize him to take up negotiations with the British and American foreign representatives stationed in Switzerland. The Minister President was of the opinion that Baron Antal Radvanszky, an official of the Hungarian National Bank, was more suitable for such negotiations since he was able to travel to Switzerland under the pretext of business affairs. Thus he gave orders to Radvanszky to seek contact with Allan Dulles and Royal Taylor, two American diplomats stationed in Berne. Contact was made and the Americans communicated to him that his statements were sent to Washington. Later, upon the urging of former Hungarian Minister President Count Istvan Bethlen, Gyorgy Barcza received authority to negotiate with the English in Switzerland. Barcza traveled immediately to Rome where he obtained an audience with Pope Pius XII and met his old friend Osborne d'Arcy, British Ambassador to the Vatican. He presented a memorandum to Osborne giving details about the Hungarian situation; Osborne, on the other hand, put up the question:
"What would be the opinion of Hungary about the creation of a state federation under the leadership of Archduke Otto Hapsburg?" He promised Barcza that he would send the memorandum immediately to Lisbon, and that he was going to make preparations
for his negotiations in Switzerland.
Barcza traveled from Rome to Montreux, Switzerland, and immediately communicated his arrival to Royal Taylor whom he knew from the time of his stay in Budapest (Author's remark: Taylor was a commissioner of the League of Nations in the Hungarian capital.). He requested the American diplomat to communicate to him all the news which would arrive for him from the Allies.
In May Taylor notified Barcza that a certain "Mr. H." would visit him. At this meeting, which took place at the end of May, Barcza communicated to Mr. H that he was an "English-oriented Hungarian," and was living in Montreux as a private citizen but able to get in touch with the Hungarian Minister President Kallay at any time. He also stated that before the Anglo-Saxon powers reach the Hungarian frontier, the Hungarians would not be able to undertake anything because we would be running the risk of immediate occupation by the Germans, and he also emphasized how important it would be that law and order be maintained in Hungary at the end of the war. Finally, he transmitted an Aide Memoire to Mr. H in which he gave details about the policies followed by the country and gave reasons for them. Mr. H promised that he would channel the memorandum to competent authorities and hinted about continuation of the negotiation in the future. These negotiations were renewed and Mr. H communicated that the English acknowledged the fact that the Hungarians could not quit then because of the precarious situation, that they were not thinking of a punitive peace treaty, and they were not opposed to the fact that Horthy and his Government continue the affairs of the country in that transition period. A similar statement was made also by Allen Dulles who represented Washington and who met with Barcza in the middle of July. He added, however, that no territorial promises were made to smaller Allies. (Translator's remarks: He hinted that the Czechs and Rumanians did not receive any promises pertaining to Hungarian territories.)
|G. Baross: Hungary and Hitler|