|Hungary - The Unwilling Satellite|
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT considered dissolution of the Austro- Hungarian monarchy one of the worst blunders of the peacemakers after the first World War. He planned a Danubian confederation with the idea of unifying the Danubian region. He was not interested in dynastic restoration, but certainly would not have objected to it if it had facilitated reconstruction. I have been told that both he and Mr. Churchill had agreed before Russia entered the war that American troops should occupy the Balkans, Hungary and Austria, but that Mr. Benes, when informed of it, hastened to negotiate a Czech- Polish customs union in order to strengthen his bargaining position toward the other prospective members of the Danubian confederation, and concluded as early as June 25, 1941, a secret agreement with the Soviets.
At the Moscow Conference (1943) Molotov immediately brought up the bogey of the cordon sanitaire and sabotaged the sound idea of a Danubian federation. The communiqué issued by the Moscow Conference contained a special declaration on Austria, and many people wondered why that little country had been singled out in this manner. Those who were familiar with the background were able to understand. There was, first, the wish to open the way for the Austrian people themselves, as well as those neighboring states which will be faced with similar problems, to find that political and economic security which is the only basis for lasting peace. (Italics mine) The New York Times, probably on higher inspiration, commented November 6, 1943, on that passage as follows: It is no doubt open to many interpretations, but its implications seem to point in only one direction, and that is co- operation for 'political and economic security' between Austria and her neighbor states. When Austria- Hungary was broken up into its component parts, a great economic unit vanished from the scene . . . but all the many schemes for closer political and economic co- operation among the central European states launched before the war led to nothing, and the one structure that did arise, the Little Entente, was too narrow and exclusive and fell apart at the first blow.
The declaration of the Moscow Conference is therefore a promise that renewed efforts in that direction would find support from all the three powers, including Russia, which previously had opposed all 'federation' plans in eastern Europe.
In the same declaration there was a statement reminding Austria that she had "a heavy responsibility for having participated in the war on the side of Hitler." This was Molotov's way of reintroducing the arbitrary discrimination which, applied by the peace- makers after the first World War, had rendered a Danubian confederation impossible. Today we understand much better the ways of Moscow. It is not certain that the Soviets are opposed to a Danubian confederation. It is, however, quite certain that they will only allow it to materialize under their own aegis and not as a creation of the West. I should not be surprised if the Soviets made, before long, great efforts to bring it about in order to chain Hungary and Austria to their system, of which a chief pillar is, of course, Czechoslovakia. On December 31, 1944, Jan Masaryk said quite frankly: We want a strong and democratic Poland but only a Polandwhich will collaborate with the Soviet Union. We have neither time nor inclination for a different solution of the Polish question. We want a decent and democratic Hungary which will let us live in peace, but again only a Hungary which will collaborate with the Soviet Union. The same is true for Yugoslavia, Austria and Rumania.
I want to make clear that I am not concerned with the non- Slavic nations of central Europe alone. It would be a foolish policy to say: "Let the Slavic countries go where they belong." As long as it is not proved by genuine elections, held in an atmosphere of real freedom, I shall not believe that the majority of Slavic nations - - Poles, Slovaks, Czechs, Serbs Croats, Bulgarians and Slovenians - - are in any way more pro- Soviet than the majority of Hungarians, Rumanians and Austrians. On the contrary, I think that the elections in Austria and Hungary, which simply crushed the communists, were typical of the entire region.
The Russian armies looted and took away everything; they transformed regions of agricultural abundance into deserts of famine and starvation. We and the British at the Potsdam Conference gave them a legal title for some of their looting by enabling them to call "German assets" everything in which Germans or Germany had acquired a share, or where they had taken a hand in developing production for their war economy. Wholesale pillaging, as we have shown, is an important tool in making these countries ready for the role they are destined to play within the expanded Soviet orbit. The Russian- occupied countries are being proletarianized and leveled down to Soviet standards.
One of the chief means of accomplishing this end is the so- called "land reform," which has been set up under Soviet supervision in Poland east Germany, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Hungary and even in Bulgaria. I use the word "so- called" because genuine land reform consists of partitioning oversized estates into holdings which are capable of maintaining themselves. Genuine land reform does not permanently reduce production, but under Soviet land reform the holdings into which every large property is broken are too small for the proprietors to maintain themselves. The purpose is to enforce gradually collective farming, ultimately replacing the former owner by a bureaucrat.
Under the Potsdam formula as interpreted by Russia, practically everything is subject to seizure, since every larger business within Germany and German- occupied countries was taken over by the Nazis. Businesses belonging to Americans are subject to seizure because the Germans took them over during the war, and hence, to the Russians, they are German assets. The oil wells in Hungary belonging to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey work under permanent threat of being taken over by the Russians; the Russians have kicked out a part of the American personnel in charge and insist on having oil pumped as fast as they can so that if ultimately the wells have to be returned, there won't be much left. The American personnel were barred for some time from the plant because they objected to Soviet exploitation of the wells, knowing that it would result in great damage and possible ruination.
As Colonel Townsend showed in the case of Hungary, the Soviets have a fine system of increasing reparations by levying penalties for actions that they control; thus the actual amounts are subject to almost unlimited expansion. The army lives off the country meanwhile; the Soviets make no effort to furnish food, clothing or anything for the subject peoples. Much of the supplies, medicines, clothing, etc., sent from the United States and other countries and distributed by communist officials, finds its way into the black market. Thus with what the Soviets take officially and what their army takes unofficially, there is little left.
The general plight of the Hungarian people was further aggravated by mass deportations started with consent of the three major powers. At Potsdam the Big Three admonished Soviet- Polandand Czecho- Slovakia to carry out their mass deportations of Germans and Hungarians (from Slovakia) in a "humane and orderly" manner. Anne O'Hare McCormick, in an article in the New York Times, referring to the expulsion of the German population from Sudetenland stated: "The exodus takes place under nightmarish conditions, without any international supervision or any pretense of humane treatment. We share responsibility for horrors only comparable to Nazi cruelties." To complete the picture of the developments in Hungary I wish to quote as a final note a statement of Prime Minister Ferenc Nagy of Hungary made to the press upon his arrival in the United States as a refugee. The harsh treatment of Hungary at the peace conference and the consistent pressure and terrorism of the Russian power of occupation has finally broken the backbone of that brave little nation and has forced it temporarily to play the inglorious role which Stalinand the politbureau have assigned it.
The statement made to the press on June 17 by Premier Nagy appeared in the New York Times of June 18, 1947 as follows: A year ago, when I first came to Washington, I was the leader of the freely elected majority in the Hungarian National Assembly and the head of a coalition government. Since that time, the majority has been overruled by the joint pressure of Soviet Russia and the Communists in Hungary; some of my closest collaborators have become actual or virtual prisoners; others are sharing exile with me. The only duly elected government in Russian- occupied southeastern Europe has fallen victim to totalitarian aggression.
The Hungarian coalition government was broadly representative, as required by the Yalta Agreement, and made strenuous efforts to be friendly with Soviet Russia. While trying to maintain the independence of the country and to establish freedom and democracy, the paramount aim was to assure a peaceful evolution to the Hungarian people, worn out by the hardships of war and the armistice period. It was our earnest hope that, with the coming into effect of the peace treaty, a political and economic system based on Western concepts of democracy would be consolidated.
Although my party had won a clear- cut majority in the elections of November, 1945, we decided to maintain the coalition government and, taking into consideration the facts that the sovereignty of Hungary was limited by the armistice agreement and the country was occupied by the Red Army, we were ready to make concessions to the minority as well as to the Soviet Government.
I admit to having appeased the Communists and Soviet Russia, in the hope of being able to save my people from further troubles, meanwhile maintaining the basic political structure as it had resulted from the elections. But I must emphasize that on several occasions I also resisted; the best proof thereof is that, until the recent coup, political and economic conditions in Hungary differed greatly from those prevailing in other oppressed countries in southeastern Europe.
Our position was extremely difficult, however. The rigged Rumanian elections in November, 1946, further consolidated the Russian position in south- eastern Europe; and the way toward cooperation with Czechoslovakia was blocked by the ruthless treatment of the Hungarian minority in that country. Thus we were isolated, the more so because the Allied Control Commission, the supreme authority under the armistice agreement, was actually a Russian agency.
When the Foreign Ministers agreed on the definite terms of the peace treaty, in spite of all of its undue hardships and shortcomings, we hoped that the treaty would soon come into effect. This would have enabled the duly elected majority to proceed with greater freedom toward the achievement of its aims: to consolidate the radical reforms in our economic and political life and to make Hungary a country of happy, free and self- governing human beings.
But our hopes did not materialize. In December, 1946, the Communist- controlled police discovered an alleged conspiracy to overthrow democracy in Hungary. At first the police produced evidence and statements which made me agree to the prosecution of the case. However, now that I can have no further doubts as to the methods and aims of the Communists and their police, I can say that I do not believe in the existence of a conspiracy aimed against the democratic form of government.
Among those accused there might have been some people who had talked and written fantastic and childish things, but the leaders or the rank and file of the Smallholders party did not plot against the country.
The signature and eventual coming into force of the peace treaty being in sight, I had to play for time once more, and with the inter- party truce of March 1947, we still succeeded to save the basic results of the elections: The majority in the National Assembly.
As a result of the direct intervention of the Soviet Union, however, I was ousted from my office, and a new Government was imposed upon the Hungarian people.
The events in Hungary, as well as in many other countries in southeastern Europe, make it definitely clear that the Soviets and Communists do not seek fair and genuine cooperation, but dominance. To them, the coalition is only a means to save the appearance of representative government, and nothing short of unconditional surrender is considered by Russia as a friendly gesture.
As a consequence of Russian and Communist conspiracy, Hungary has lost her independence. The Hungarian people are no longer responsible for the words or deeds of their imposed rulers. Whatever might be said or done on behalf of Hungary by her present and eventual rulers, the Hungarian people, deprived of their freedom, are no longer responsible.
I sincerely hope that American public opinion, having been fully informed by the American press on present events in Hungary, will judge with more understanding and sympathy the very similar events which forced her in Hitler's time into the same degrading situation in which she has been placed now, mainly because of her geographical position and the policy of appeasement on the part of the Western powers.
|Hungary - The Unwilling Satellite|