|Mark Imre Major : American Hungarian Relations 1918-1944|
The international reputation of Hungary and her regime could improve only very slowly and, as a result, revision had very small prospect. But the overwhelming majority of Hungarians could never acquiesce in the Judgment of Trianon. Time and time again their spokesmen argued against the injustices of the Treaty. They pointed out that since its provisions were arrived at without Hungary having been consulted, it could hardly be called a treaty, but only a "ukase". They argued that the principle of self-determination of nations was not adhered to, principally because the people involved in the transfers of territory had never been consulted. The fact that the governments of the Czechs, Rumanians, and Serbs rejected the idea of plebiscites for the disputed areas for many Hungarians constituted the best proof that these regions did not desire to separate from Hungary at all. It was argued furthermore that the Treaty left nearly one out of every three Magyars outside the country, and that the boundaries of the new Hungarian state were illogical, both from the geographical and the ethnographical standpoint. They pleaded that there was neither historical nor economic justification for dissolving Hungary, which had existed for the past thousand years and which had a high degree of geographic unity because of its location within the Carpathian Basin. Hungarian historians have always been quick to point out that, in contradiction to the principle of national self-determination, the successor states were multinational entities. They point out that peoples were put into one state (for instance, in the cases of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia) on the basis of linguistic relations, without any political, economical or cultural foundation for the action.(20) Furthermore, the Hungarians argued, nationalism is not the only form of self-determination. It can be political, economic, and religious self-determination, and so on. In the late eighteenth century the United States itself had an economic basis of self-determination and not a national
one. So the Wilsonian ideas of self-determination, carried out as nationalism, were far from the American political ideas.(21)
Why Hungary accepted the peace treaty is an open question. Many historians argue that, in June of 1920, Hungary had no choice but to accept the peace treaty. They argue that the more powerful Germany, as well as the other states, accepted the peace treaties for the same reason. This argument is not accepted by others, who point out that the Hungarian treaty was signed a year later than the other treaties and at a time when the United States had, as we have seen, already rejected the peace treaties. Japan, Argentina, and some other Latin American states did the same. Moreover, Poland refused her signature on the Treaty of Trianon arguing that she had not been at war with Hungary. It is also a fact that after Italy, the Soviets were the next power to identify themselves openly with the Hungarian demand for revision of the unjust Trianon Treaty in the 1920's. The fact has almost passed into oblivion that the Fifth Party Congress, held in the Soviet Union in 1924, included in its program the approval of the demand "that the Hungarian-populated Czechoslovak, Rumanian, and Yugoslav territories be reannexed to Hungary.(22) In England, too, there was a loud debate about the Treaty of Trianon, both in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons. MP Adam Herber, supported by others, declared in the House of Commons, "The Treaty of Trianon is a vindictive one and it holds the seeds of future wars."(23)
In connection with the ratification of the Trianon Treaty, Hungarian Communist historians have produced a most unusual version of the famous "stab-in-the-back" theory. They claim that the "reactionary regime" of 1920 accepted the Treaty of Trianon
in return for imperialist support against socialist revolution in the country. In doing this, the Communists argue, the rulers of Hungary betrayed their people, "stabbed them in the back." Stating this, they argue that the Entente was looking for a Hungarian government which from the very beginning could accept the peace treaty. (24)
As a matter of fact, Hungary accepted the peace treaty with reference to Millerand's Covering Letter and to Article XIX of the League of Nations, which promised the possibility of peacefull revision when injustice was done.(25) The government declared:
"The Hungarian Government does not consider itself able to refuse signing the Treaty of Peace." As we have seen, this act was accomplished on June 4, 1920, in the Grand Trianon palace, located in the park of Versailles.
In fact, the Treaty of Trianon was "cruel and unjust," to use the words of Jaszi.(26) Its princnples were mistakes of the historians and philosophers of those nations whose politicians committed the error. Hungary realized this, and she tried to remove this error from the very beginning. The first question was, how could it happen that Hungary, which was the symbol of liberty some decades earlier, was now war-guilty before the jury of the nations? President Wilson assessed Hungary's position in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the following words:
Dominant in a larger country than Bohemia, perhaps politically more capable than any Slavonic people, the Magyars, though crushed by superior force on the field of battle, have been able to win a specially recognized and highly favored place in the dual monarchy. Although for a long time a land in which the noble was the only citizen, Hungary has been a land of political liberties almost as long as England herself has been.(27)
Theodore Roosevelt, on his visit to Hungary in 1910, found this country the most progressive and, in her dynamism, the most closely resembling the United States in all of Europe. President Roosevelt praised the Hungarians for their role in Europe's history in a speech delivered in the Hungarian Parliament. The Cathollc Hungarian's Sunday, vol. 81, no. 28, printed the following excerpt of that speech:
I feel it my duty to say thanks to the Hungarian Nation for protecting Europe against the barbarous invasions of the East. In point of fact, Hungary protected not only Europe, but the
whole New World, as well as the United States of America, which, at that time, was in Europe's womb. Had I not known this, I would not consider myself to be an educated man. But, I know it and I say thanks to the Hungarians for protecting my nation although it was not yet born.
Arthur Griffith, the founder of the Sinn Fein, the organization which fought for the independence of Ireland, wrote a series of articles on the "Resurrection of Hungary", which originally appeared in The United Irishman, a Dublin newspaper. They were published in a book in 1902 entitled The Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel for Ireland. A second edition was published in the same year, and a third edition appeared in 1918. Hungary's position was given to the political program of the Sinn Fein as an example. Griffith wrote in the preface to the first eaition "The despised, oppressed, and forgotten province of Austria is today the free, prosperous and renowned Kingdom of Hungary."(28)
Perhaps, after World War I, Hungary had maneuvered her self into a most unfavorable situation. Karolyi's efforts to reverse the position in October, 1918, were incredibly naive. President Wilson preached the necessity of democracy, but when Karolyi tried to follow his advice he was insulted for his pains by the French general in command in Belgrade. The Liberal-Socialist experiments in disbanding the old army and organizing a new force on democratic lines only led to chaos and weakness. and allowed Hungary's neighbors to press forward into her territory. While she never could have organized a successful resistance to the whole treaty, as Turkey did, yet it is quite possible that, had she a determined military force at the end of 1918, she might have made considerably better terms for herself. When at last she did undertake a more active resistance, it was highly unfortunate for her that this should have been done in the name of the Third International. The help which Moscow had promised never came,
and the Western Powers were only frightened by the spectre of Bolshevism and strengthened in their resolve to exorcise it. Finally, when the reaction came, it came again in such form as to give an easy handle to Hungary's enemies. Hungary realized this situation. She saw war-time propaganda, especially Czechoslovak propaganda, as the chief cause ot the harsh peace treaty. (29) Hungary, between the world wars, fought with all her might against this propaganda with a counter-propaganda, under the slogan: "Justice for Hungary". Yet this idea, "Justice for Hungary" originated with an American journalist. On April 7, 1920, an unknown American journalist went for information to the Hungarian Peace Delegation in Neuilly, France. The Delegation proceeded to give him statistics, maps, and other data. Instead of taking them, the journalist stated frankly that it would be too much to assume that the Americans would be willing to devote days and hours to the study of statistical data, maps, and arguments concerning a matter so remote as Hungary's case. He suggested that the American public could never be interested in these details. One or two catchwords, like "Justice for Hungary", would be much more effective than a whole volume of notes and information.(30) The most prominent advocate of the movement for revision of the Trianon Treaty was also a non-Hungarian. In fact, it was an Englishman, Lord Rothermere, the newspaper magnate, who became interested in the consequences of the mistaken Paris Peace Treaties. He went incognito to Hungary with an expert staff to inspect the new frontiers. Finding them more foolish than he had expected, he published on Easter Sunday, 1927, an article about them in his paper, the London Daily Mail, under the head line: "Hungary's Place Under the Sun". From then on, the
London Dally Mall published a series of articles about the injustices of Trianon. Hungarian public opinion replied to the campaign with enthusiasm. Lord Rothermere suddenly became "the Saviour of Hungary". The English Government was somewhat vexed by the campaign. The London Daily Mail stated on August 20. 1938, that it had received a request from the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States for copies of Lord Rothermere's articles, as well as the Daily Mail editorials dealing with Hungary, for further study. (31) As a result of this campaign, a group of about two hundred forty members of the House of Commons in England, composed of men from each of the three parties, to the annoyance of the Foreign Office came out for a revision of the Trianon Treaty. France declared "any step toward revision of the Peace Treaties is courting war". Thomas Masaryk, President of Czechoslovakia, called Lord Rothermere a dilettante in Central European politics. But, in the Parliament at Prague, he stated his feelings in a softer view:
I myself admit without hesitation that the peace treaties are in need of some explanation. This, however, must be done in a loyal, open and honest way. Agitation which has a hostile tendency, which arrays an army of untruths and even lies will not achieve the desired correction.(32)
The shrillest voice, however, came from Austria and Germany. On July 27, 1928, the Vienna Daily, the Neue Freie Presse, wrote in an article:
Not only six million Austrians, but also 70 million Germans are the pledge that the plans of Lord Rothermere shall never come true. We say this not in the name of the German Government, but most certainly in that of the German people.(33)
A month later the Kolnische Zeitung in Cologne, Germany. wrote in reply to the Austrian paper: The Germans of Western Hungary, and wherever they may be, are supported by 70 million Germans. Germany, however, fully sympathizes with Lord Rothermere's campaign for the restitution of purely Hungarian territory on the basis of self determination of the peoples.(34)
Historians usually refer only to the territorial and material losses of Hungary at Trianon, but they do not make mention of the cultural loss, which was great. The Hungarian Protestant churches suffered the greatest losses. For instance, the Hungarian Lutheran Church had lost all of her three colleges.(35) Since there was little hope of regaining these colleges, it was to be feared that the Lutheran Church would remain without any school for the training of their clergy. This fact gave another interesting aspect to Hungarian Revisionism. The Hungarian Protestant Churches and the whole nation discovered the fact that the United States was in the main a Protestant country. Hungarians deduced that the Treaty of Trianon was an offense against religious toleration and against Protestantism, placing so many Protestants under the Orthodox yoke of Rumania. They stated that Transyl vania was the most important outpost and fortress of European Protestantism. It was in Transylvania that, for the first time in the history of continental Europe, a law was enacted which secured liberty of conscience and freedom of religion for every man, woman, and child living in Transylvania.(36) Furthermore, it was Transylvania, alone in the entire history of Protestantism, which had a Unitarian ruler, an enlightened one, Gabriel Bethlen, who made Transylvania the country of religious toleration in seventeenth century Europe. Now it was natural that the Hungarian Protestant churches cried for help to their American brothers. American Protestantism responded seriously. In February, 1920, the
Evangelic Church of the United States sent a Committee to Hungary, under Professor John A. Morehead, to study the situation of the Evangelic Church there. Returning to the United States, Professor Morehead delivered many speeches about the sad situation of the Hungarian Lutheran Church. He collected 800,000 dollars for the relief of the Hungarian Lutheran Church and made a foundation for the maintenance of a Lutheran College to be established at Budapest.
In the same month, a group of the Bishops of the Methodist Church arrived at Budapest. Dr. John L. Nueton, the head of that committee, declared at a reception given by the Hungarian Prime Minister to the Committee: "The American heart has always beat for those fighting for truth. I, for my part, have always been friendly-inclined to Hungary, one of the pioneers in the struggle for religious liberty".(37)
The American Christian Church also formed a committee for the protection of religious minorities in Transylvania. Dr. Brown, the Chairman of that Committee, gave an account of his investigation in Transylvania on July 24, 1920, in the big hall of the Protestant Church at the Deak ter of Budapest. Dr. Brown stated on that occasion that he would carefully study the Foreign Ministers' communications relating to the status of religious minorities in Transylvania, and that the Hungarians might be assured of the Western Protestant nations' sympathies as to this question. He had become convinced that Hungarian Protestantism possessed strength. He pointed out that the information he had sent to different Protestant churches about their Hungarian brethren had in great measure already influenced public opinion in the Western Protestant states. "I have personally convinced myself", he said, "that Rumania is East and Transylvania is West". (38) One of the members of the mission, Joel H. Metcalf, went to London to give an account of his Transylvanian experiences. Another,
Rev. Sydney B. Snow, said that with profound regret he would remember the terrible suffering the Transylvanian Hungarians had to endure at the hands of occupying Rumanians.
Indeed, the American Protestant Churches worked well on Hungary's behallf. The members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives heard from their own prominent church leaders that something unjust was going on in Central Europe because of the Versailles Treaties. Hearings began as early as 1921 in the different committees and subcommittees of the Senate and House of Representatives about the facts caused by the Treaty of Trianon. Among others, Professor Eugene Pivany, Chairman of the American-Hungarian League for Hungary's Territorial Integrity, had the honor of appearing before the Senate's Committee of Foreign Relations on September 25, 1919, through the intervention of Senator Harding, later President of the United States. It is remarkable that no other conquered nation, neither the Germans, the Austrians, nor the Bulgars or Turks, had the honor to appear before the Senate of the United States. As is well known, on November 19, 1919, the United States Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, and it was probably due to these hearings that the United States did not make any reference to the territorial changes of Hungary in her separate peace with Hungary in 1921. (39)
The most prominent critic of the Treaty of Versailles was William E. Borah, the Senator from Idaho, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Again and again, Borah emphasized that there could be no hope of improvement until the European states altered their evil policies. The most serious defect was their faith in the Treaty of Versailles, which Borah asserted was based upon militarism, secrecy, injustice, and imperialism. Under the terms of the treaty an impractical division of the territories of European nations had been fostered. "What Europe
needed after the war was unity. And what it got was dismember ment."(40) The League of Nations was not curing these ills, but perpetuating them by maintaining the status quo. It seemed to Borah that the Treaty of Versailles and its static territorial adjustments were the best way to start a new war. He was convinced that, in reality, permanent peace would not be possible until the way was cleared by a revision of the Treaty of Versailles. Borah charged that M. Clemenceau was the man responsible for the misery of Europe because he stood in the way of the American attempt to modify the peace treaty. His animosity for France was most strikingly shown when Clemenceau visited the United States in November, 1922. Borah refused to serve on the committee to greet him and arraigned French policy in the Senate, charging militarism at home and imperialism abroad.
Senator Borah not only expressed his feelings toward the Paris peace treaties on the whole, but at times he entered into details on the Trianon Treaty. On November 6, 1927, he gave an interview to Hungarian journalists touring the United States and stated among other things that he was pleased that the United States did not ratify the Trianon Treaty because of the stipulations contained herein. He stated furthermore that he was in possession of a great many facts, figures, and other data concerning the treaty and that he continued his interest in Hungary and her problems, particularly that of the Trianon Treaty.(41)
Exactly a year later, on November 6, 1928, the Budapest paper, Az Est (The Evening), published a cable from its American correspondent as follows:
Senator Borah, who is spoken of as a possible Foreign Secretary in the event of Hoover's victory, received me in Baltimore and made the following statement:
"For a long time I have been thinking of the Hungarian problem. I may state that America sympathizes with Hungary's endeavor to regain her rights. I firmly believe that the Trianon Treaty cannot remain in its present form. I consider the action of the Hungarians, in which the whole nation joins like one soul, to be a very fine thing".(42)
Two years later, on June 14, 1930, the Budapesti Hirlap (The Budapest Newspaper) published another interview granted by Senator Borah to its special correspondent, George Ottlik. It should be stated in this connection that Ottlik, who was well-known in the United States, came for a tour of the United States as a member of a group of European press correspondents, under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Ottlik's interview with the Senator was of great significance in the journalistic world in Hungary, since he enjoyed the complete confidence of the Hungarian Foreign Office. He had frequently accompanied important official Hungarian delegations to Geneva, and his opinion carried considerable weight. He was also the Hungarian correspondent for the London Times.
According to Ottlik, it was Senator Borah who asked the first question as to whether the diplomatic situation in Hungary had improved, and whether better prospects existed in connection with its claims for revision. To this Ottlik replied that as far as he was able to judge, nothing had changed on the diplomatic front in Europe with the exception perhaps of the conclusion of the Hague and Paris agreements. He believed that the resulting liberation from reparation charges might be considered as a change in the mentality of the Allies. If this were really so, it might also mean that the Allies recognized that it was unjust to demand reparations from a country which had lost two-thirds of its territory and two-thirds of its population. Ottlik availed himself of the opportunity to ask Senator Borah whether he did not believe that America, even though insisting upon standing aloof from European complications,
could assist Europe in bringing about changes which were absolutely necessary. The Senator answered this question as follows:
America had a share in the drafting of the peace treaties; on account of this I deem America to be morally responsible for their development and consequences. I am convinced that, in spite of her insistence upon a policy of standing aloof from all further complications, she may well use her moral weight in telling Europe what she thinks of these questions and what American public opinion would consider a just settlement of the problems which created new danger zones in Europe. I am confident that such an American policy would not be without effect upon European public opinion, all the more because the United States of Europe cannot be established before the aforementioned changes take place. I have always had the impression that Briand, with his plan to found the United States of Europe, does not follow today any other aim than to provide new securities and guarantees for the actual conditions of power and political situation and the actual European frontiers. I do not think, however, that this is possible. I have always considered the Treaty of Versailles and its kindred treaties to be dangerous to the peace of Europe; I believe that their revision would put your continental peace upon a considerably safer basis.(43)
In reply to a question from the Hungarian correspondent as to whether Senator Borah intended visiting Europe in the near future, the latter replied that he would like to do so and hoped that in the spring of 1931, after the short session of Congress, he might go to Europe, in which case he would certainly visit Hungary. The Hungarian press had not been silent in its reaction to the statement of Senator Borah, and articles had appeared in the more prominent newspapers attempting to analyze its probable effects.
Gustav Gratz, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, remarked in an article on Europe and the United States in the Budapesti
Hirlap: "America is today the banker of the world as Britain was before the war. It would be hard if France and the Little Entente do not take American opinions into consideration".(44) The writer believed, furthermore, that American public opinion could be allied with that of Hungary in an endeavor to modify the Covenant of the League of Nations and in creating a new spirit which would eliminate the one-sided privileges of victorious states.
Senator Borah determined his policy toward Hungary in October, 1931, when Pierre Laval, the premier of France, visited President Hoover in Washington to discuss economic problems and French security. It was not to the White House nor the State Department, but to the Idaho senator's office that the thirty French journalists accompanying Laval flocked for an interview. Borah put his foot down against any French security pact, rumored as the real purpose of Laval's visit. France would have to determine for herself whether she was in danger of attack; Borah would not quarrel with her judgment. Europe would have to consent to a peaceful revision of the peace treaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary or there would be another war. Questioned more closely on this, he admitted he wanted the arrangements relating to the Polish Corridor, Danzig, and Upper Silesia changed "by arbitration": he also wanted the restoration of Hungary's boundaries as they were before the Trianon Treaty, making possible Hungarian economic integration. He reiterated his hostility to any plan for collective security because it meant "making eternal the status quo."(45)
Borah's remarks created a sensation. When they were recounted to Laval, he replied acidly: "I have not come to engage in polemics with Senator Borah and to discuss the revision of the Versailles Treaty."(46)
Senator Borah undoubtedly was right when he stated that in the case of revision the whole Hungarian nation was joined like one soul. Between the world wars, every Magyar had inherited the subconscious conviction that the Carpathian Mountains were the God-given wall against the East, against barbarism, against Asia, Europe's eternal menace. No one could be in Hungary very long without knowing that "nem, nem, soha" meant ''no, no, never", and that it referred to the boundaries fixed by the Treaty of Trianon. Hungary considered her revisionism as a fight for justice and never forgot the fact that when the United States concluded peace on August 29, 1921, all mention of the new frontiers was omitted.
20 For a good, scholarly written work on the minority question in Eastern Europe, see C. A. Macartney, National State and National Minorities (New York: Russel and Russel Publ., 1934).
21 For fuller details on this question, see Baron Julius Wlassics, "The Right Of Self-Determination," The Hungarian Nation, I, No. 4, 65 (Budapest: Quarterly, Pub. in English, 1920).
22 Tibor Eckhardt, Regicide at Marseille (New York: American Hungarian Historical Society, 1964), p. 145.
23 The Hungarian Question. p. 145.
24 For fuller details, see Gyula Juhasz, Magyarorszag Kulpolitikaja, 1919 - 1945 (Hungary's Foreign Policy, 1919 - 1945) (Budapest: Kossuth Konyvkiado, 1960); or J. Adam, Gy. Juhasz, and L. Kerekes, eds., Magyarorszag es a Masodik Vilaghaboru, Titkos Diplomaciai Okmanyok a Haboru Elozmenyeihez es Tortenetehez (Hungary and the Second World War, Secret Diplomatic Documents on the Origin and History of the War) (3d ed.; Buda pest: Kossuth, 1966).
25 In early 1920, negotiations took place between France and Hungary. In connection with these negotiations, on April 15, 1920, France addressed a note to the Hungarian Government. The French High Commissioner in Budapest, Maurice Fouchet, declared that France was determined to support Hungarian claims aimed at correcting some of the territorial provisions of the Treaty of Trianon. In return Hungary was expected to give important concessions to France. These included leasing the Hungarian State Railways and Railway Locomotive Works, the exploitation of navigation on the Danube by a French concern, the building of a Danube port in Budapest by Schneider-Creusot, and the transfer of control over the Hungarian Credit Bank to a French financial syndicate. This bank owned a considerable part of Hungarian industry. The French-Hungarian negotiations provoked Italian and British protests, and Hungary's neighbors were greatly alarmed. Lloyd George declared in the House of Lords that the Hungarian peace treaty was rather a formality and he was convinced that a revision of it would take place within a year.
M. Millerand, Prime Minister of France, delivered the peace terms to the Hungarians on May 6, 1920, with the letter mentioned above. It is quoted in Montgomery, Hungary, The Unwilling Satellite, pp. 50 - 51. For further details of the acceptance of the Trianon Treaty, see also "The Peace Debate in the Hungarian National Assembly," The Hungarian Nation, I, No. 4 (1920), 1ff.
26 Oscar Jaszi, "Neglected Aspect of the Danubian Drama," Slavic Review, XIV (July, 1934), 65ff
27 Woodrow Wilson, The State (Boston: Hearth and Co., 1898), p. 336.
28 Anhur Griffith, The Resurrection of Hungary (Melbourne: Cassel and Co. 1904), Preface.
29 On the war-time Czechoslovak propaganda in the United States, see Victor S. Mamatey, The United States and East Central Europe 1914-1918. A Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957).
30 Papers and Documents, p. 221 (name is not givenJ.
31 U. S., Nat. Arch., Micr. No. 708, RO11 No. 10 0207.
32 U. S., Nat. Arch., Micr. No. 708, RO11 No. 10.
35 The Colleges at Pozsony and Eperjes were given to Czechoslovakia, the College at Sopron to Austria. This latter city returned to Hungary by plebiscite in 1921.
36 The Diet Or Torda enacted this law in 1571.
37 The Hungarian Nation, I, No. 8, 76.
38 Ibid., p. 177.
39 For the Senate hearings, see Inquire 191g (Washington: Govemment Publishing, 1920). For the text Or the treaty of peace between Hungary and the United States, see Appendix III.
40 Fort Waine News, March, 1922. Quoted in John Charles Vinson, William E. Borah and tlle Outlawry of War (Atlanta: Foote & Davies, 1957, p. 50.
41 13. S., For. Rel. 864.00 P.E~./l~.
43 U S., For. Rel., 711.6412/27.
44 U. S., For. Rel., Department of State, 864.00 P.R./36.
45 Chicago World Exminer, October 24, 1931, quoted in Marian C. Mckenna, Borah (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961), p. Z75
|Mark Imre Major : American Hungarian Relations 1918-1944|