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In order to obtain on the spot support for Hungary, Count Csaky Chef de Cabinet of the Foreign Ministry flew to Munich on the very day of the Conference. He carried a letter of accreditation from Regent Horthy addressed to Mussolini, and another letter from Prime Minister Imredy listing Hungary's claims.

Csakyobtained an interview with Mussolini during the afternoon of September 29 and put forward the demands of Hungary: cession of the Magyar ethnic areas and plebiscites for the Slovaks and Ruthenes.

Mussolini, promising to present these demands as coming from himself, was interested most of all in areas claimed by Hungary unconditionally. He thought that their transfer might be put through immediately, with luck. Otherwise he would stipulate for settlement within thirty days. If even this minimum program was not acceptable, he confidentially suggested that military action might be the solution.1

As a result of his conversation with Csaky Mussolini raised the question of the Hungarian inhabited areas but not that of the plebiscites, and submitted a draft for the solution of the Hungarian and Polish questions. It read:

"The heads of the Governments of the four Powers declare that the same principles which have permitted the solution of the problem of the Sudeten Germans should be adopted also for the analogous problems of the Polish and Hungarian minorities with a maximum delay of one month and according to a procedure which might be fixed through the usual diplomatic channels or by means of another meeting of the heads of the Governments of the four Powers here present."2

The British objected to the formula on the ground that it did not exclude the use of force, and themselves produced the following alternative:


"The heads of the four Powers declare that the problem of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia, if not settled within three months by agreement between the respective Governments, shall form the subject of another meeting of the heads of the Governments of the four Powers here present."3

This formula was adopted by the Conference, and attached to the agreement as a Declaration. In consequence, the entry into effect of the proposed international guarantee of the new boundaries of Czechoslovakia was postponed until "the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia has been settled."4

Exchange of Notes between Prague and Budapest

As a result of the Declaration, a series of diplomatic exchanges were started between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. These exchanges took place during the first week of October. Their purpose was to prepare the ground for direct negotiations. This was not an easy task, nor was it undertaken in an atmosphere free of disturbing influences.

Foremost among them was the difficult position of Czechoslovakia. The Prague Government found it quite difficult to handle the German, Polish, and the Hungarian questions simultaneously. In addition there were the negotiations with the unsatisfied Slovaks who now labored to change the structure of Czechoslovakia into a Federal State of Czechs and Slovaks. Meanwhile, the undefined attitude of Ruthenia added another element of uncertainty.

To all these came the reshuffling of the SirovyGovernment and the resignation of President Benes.

The Hungarian Government, too, found itself in a rather precarious position. The pro-German "right radicals," whose number at the last elections increased considerably, regarded Munich as a failure of the Government of "moderates" to secure immediate satisfaction of the Hungarian claims. Large elements of the Army supported this view. The feeling was strong in Hungary that "Horthy and Imredy have been too weak and unaggressive in the crisis of the past weeks, and that now. . . Hungary runs the risk of losing the Hungarian districts of Czechoslovakia."5

The outcome of the inner political struggle hinged now to a large extent on the success or failure of a speedy settlement with Prague.

On the external scene Hungary's veiled claims to Slovakia and Ruthenia rendered the situation very complicated. The future of these two territories was becoming an international problem.


Yugoslavia and Rumania, while reconciled to an ethnic revision, viewed with alarm the continued Polish-Hungarian efforts to establish a common frontier. Italy's Ciano favored the plan. The attitude of France and of Britain seemed to be equivocal. That of Germany was definitely cool.

Hungarian policy and its support

.-While the countries mentioned were engaged in defining their position regarding the larger question of a possible Polish-Hungarian common border, the Czechoslovak and Hungarian Governments commenced the preliminaries to direct negotiations.

The Hungarian Government adopted a policy guided by four principles:

The Hungarian notes to Prague were geared to this policy. As Budapest was deeply suspicious of all delaying tactics, the urgency of the settlement was repeatedly stressed, and with the passage of time the tone of the notes gradually became less conciliatory. Measures of direct pressure were not introduced, however, at this stage.

In order to create a peaceful climate for the forthcoming direct negotiations, on October 3, Hungary invited the Czechoslovak Government to take certain steps immediately, namely:

In the same note Hungary proposed that direct negotiations be commenced on October 6 in Komarom. In view of the governmental changes in Prague, the Hungarians later consented, somewhat reluctantly, to the postponement of the negotiations till October 9.

Hungary's repeated pleas for a speedy settlement enjoyed the support of London, Berlin, and Rome. To round out the picture, here are the main features of this support.

In London, the Hungarian Minister asked that Britain use her friendly influence in Prague to promote the success of the negotiations. As a result, Halifax asked Ambassador Newtonto


urge upon the Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs "the importance of initiating conversations with the Hungarian Government without delay and of bringing them to a conclusion as soon as possible."8

In Berlin, according to a circular dated October 1, "very far-reaching German diplomatic support has in principle been promised" to Hungary. The German view was that "incontestably Hungarian areas should pass to Hungary; even Germany has established no strategic frontiers but only ethnic frontiers." In addition, Hitlerlaid down the policy that "should Hungary mobilize, it is not our intention to hamper the Hungarians or even advise them to use moderation."9 In the question of Pressburg Germany held reservations.

The directing of Italy's foreign policy was in the hands of Count Ciano, subject of course, to revision by Mussolini. Ciano, who for some time had been thinking about the feasibility of an Italian-Yugoslav-Hungarian bloc to oppose German penetration into Southeastern Europe, favored the idea of a Polish-Hungarian common frontier in Ruthenia. However, the question of Slovakia was something else; he was against the Hungarian plans. He told the Germans that "Italian policy regarding Slovakia did not contemplate handing over that region to Hungary." Rumania and Yugoslavia pronounced against it. "Italy did not wish to displease Yugoslavia in this matter."10

Behind the scenes the most ardent supporter of Hungary was Poland. After the satisfaction of her claims, Poland again took the initiative to co-ordinate her policies with those of Hungary. A1though Kanya resented Becks settling of the Teschen affair without keeping Hungary posted, on October 5 he sent Csakyto Warsaw to confer about the common line to be followed.

Beckat this time "was already prepared to let the Slovaks go their own way, but was strongly in favor of a coup in Ruthenia."11

The Hungarians, too, began to show inclination toward accepting the Slovak decision, whatever it might be, although they still considered the voluntary adhesion of Slovakia, including Ruthenia, "as the most practical solution of the Slovak question."12

As a result of the conversations, joint action for the re-incorporation of Ruthenia into Hungary was intensified. This was discernible both from the pronouncements of Polish diplomats in the Western capitals and from the activity of Hungarian irregular forces in Ruthenia. For, ironically enough, the Hungarian Government seems to have given secret consent to the use of the so-called "Ragged Guard," a rightist organization.


The volunteers of this irregular force, numbering approximately one thousand selected men, were encamped opposite the Czechoslovak border and made, in disguise, occasional incursions into Czechoslovak territory. Although their task was primarily that of propaganda, the operation certainly did not contribute to the "peaceful atmosphere" of the negotiations.13

Czechoslovak policy and its support

- On October 5, after the re-organization of the Government, Prime Minister Sirovydescribed his country's foreign policy in a radio speech as simply one of friendly relations with all States, especially with its neighbors. He also referred to the country's other great problem, namely the coming transformation of the State into a Federation of Czechs, Slovaks, and Ruthenes.

The same evening President Benes, in his farewell speech, compared the emerging "national state" with the former Czechoslovakia. He spoke of the "national state" as one with a "strong moral basis such as it did not previously possess."14

As regards the satisfaction of Hungarian claims, the outgoing Foreign Minister, Krofta addressed on October 1, a note to the Hungarian Minister. Kroftastated that the "Czechoslovak Government were ready to open negotiations to arrive at an amicable agreement," and suggested the establishment of a commission of experts to discuss the whole question.15 Two days later he made it clear verbally to the Hungarian Minister that the cession of Czechoslovak territory was a "definite and early intention" of his Government.16

The Hungarian Government, obviously pleased by the exit of Benes, had watched with some anxiety the appointment of the new Foreign Minister, Frantisek Chvalkovsky. Serving now in Rome, he was an experienced diplomat who had previously seen service in Tokyo, Washington, and Berlin. What is more, he was allegedly pro-Axis, or at least inclined to follow a pro-Axis policy. His appointment raised the fear in Budapest that Czechoslovakia would soon become a German customer, and as such would be shielded against the Hungarians by Germany herself. The fear was not without foundation.

Under these circumstances the Hungarian Government felt even more anxious to seek a speedy settlement. To its relief the necessity of this had already been urged upon Chvalkovsky by Mussolini and Ciano, as well as the British and German Ambassadors, before his departure for Prague.


Chvalkovsky described on these occasions as "imminent" the settlement of the Hungarian question, presuming that the Hungarian claims referred to the border areas. Yet, he considered the future of the Slovaks as "first and foremost a domestic affair."17

In this spirit the Czechoslovak Government renewed through British and German channels its assurances to the impatient Hungarians concerning the sincere desire of Czechoslovakia to reach an early agreement. At the same time both London and Berlin were asked to use their moderating influence at Budapest, for the Prague Government thought it imperative that the agreement involving transfer of territory "should not be done under pressure from Hungary."18

As a matter of fact, Prague considered the presence of Hungarian irregulars on Slovak soil as sufficient reason to refuse symbolic cession of two towns, demanded in the Hungarian note of October 3. Two more demands contained in the same note were evaded for various reasons, only the one concerning political prisoners was fulfilled.19

In the face of the insistent Hungarian notes to Prague, the British had complied with the Czechoslovak request for moderation. After expressing through Knoxtheir "appreciation of the manner in which the Hungarians have hitherto put forward their claims," they conveyed the hope to the Hungarians that the latter "will in the future refrain from making demands in such a manner or of such nature as to prejudice the prospects of that peaceful settlement which the Czechoslovak Government have announced their anxiety to reach." As an added step, Knoxwas asked to communicate to Kanya the text of Sir T. Inskips statement on the British guarantee.20

Whether the British had acted on confidential information or on a hunch, is unknown, but the forewarning was timely. In view of the repeated postponement of the opening of direct negotiations, and of Czechoslovak troop movements toward the Hungarian frontier, Budapest was at the time seriously considering military intervention to implement her demands.21

German support to Czechoslovakia came in another sphere, namely on the question of Slovakia. Although Germany favored the weakening of the Prague Government by advocating an autonomous Slovakia, she opposed Hungary's wider claims there. Speaking to the Italian Ambassador in Berlin, State Secretary Weizsacker confided that the Germans "did not wish to hand over Slovakia to Hungary the more so as Hungary. . . had herself put forward only a demand for self-determination or autonomy for the Slovaks."22


Weizsacker's interpretation of this demand was obviously not quite identical with that of Hungary.

Last but not least, Yugoslavia and Rumania had sided with Czechoslovakia on the Slovak and Ruthene questions.

Yugoslavia contented herself by registering in Berlin and in Rome her opposition to Hungary's designs on Slovakia. Her concern about Ruthenia was somewhat less.23

Rumania, on the other hand, took very active steps to offset Polish support of Hungary. Her Foreign Minister, Comnene, after intervening in the capitals of the four Powers, had brought about a joint representation of the Rumanian and French Ambassadors and of the Yugoslav Minister in Warsaw. In course of this representation, made on October 7, the Rumanian Ambassador was "especially energetic," and even hinted that "Rumania would have to reconsider her relations with Poland in the event of her continuing support of Hungarian claims in Ruthenia."24

The factors described in the foregoing were all working toward a limitation of Hungary's larger claims when finally the Czechoslovak Government informed Budapest of its readiness to commence direct negotiations. The delegation, said the Czechoslovak note of October 7, would have the authority to discuss, among others, the four points contained in the Hungarian note of October 3.

Negotiations in Komarom: Claims and Counterclaims

The delegates convened at Komarom (Komarno) on October 9, 1938. Hungary was represented by Foreign Minister Kalman Kanya and by Count Paul Teleki, Minister of Education, an internationally known cartographer and scholar of ethnic problems. The two were assisted by a staff of experts, armed with statistics and maps.

The Czechoslovak delegation consisted almost entirely of Slovaks. The latter, having declared the autonomy of Slovakia three days before, insisted that the Slovak frontiers were their concern. The delegation was led by Msgr. Tisohimself, Prime Minister of Slovakia, and included Ferdinand Durcansky, Minister of Justice in the Slovak cabinet. The Prague Government was represented by Dr. Ivan Krno, Political Director of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Ruthenia, now also autonomous, was initially represented only by an observer, Dr. Zidovski, until subsequently, on October 11, Edmund Bacinsky, Minister of the Interior of the Ruthenian Government, was appointed as official representative by Prague and joined in the negotiations.25


The Hungarians, as it was expected, decided to ask for the same terms that were given to Germany in Munich: ethnic frontiers on the basis of the census of 1910, and plebiscites in the other contested areas. Accordingly, they asked for the fulfillment of the demands contained in the note of the 3rd and for the unconditional cession of the ethnically Magyar areas. In addition, they had put forward the demand for plebiscites in the remainder of Slovakia and Ruthenia hoping that, if accepted, the Slovaks might, and the Ruthenes certainly would, vote for a return to Hungary.

On the first two points of the Hungarian note there was practically no discussion, since an amnesty for the political prisoners had been already issued, and soldiers of Hungarian nationality were being discharged from the Czechoslovak Army. Furthermore, the Slovak delegation agreed to hand over the railway station of Nove Mesto (Satoraljaujhely) and the town of Sahy (Ipolysag) for token occupation.

At the same time the Slovaks insisted that the question of the future of Slovakia and Ruthenia fell outside the scope of the Munich Agreement. They were unwilling to discuss this matter.

There remained the ethnic claims of Hungary. The Slovaks did not argue the principle but were unable to agree on the figures presented by their opponents.

In the course of the protracted discussions the Hungarians presented the following case:

The Treaty of Trianon had granted to Czechoslovakia 62,937 square kilometres, or 22 per cent of Hungary's territory, and according to the census of 1910, 3,575,685 persons of whom 1,702,000, or 46.6 per cent, were Slovaks; 1,084,000, or 30 per cent, Hungarians; 436,000, or 12 per cent, Ruthenes; 266,000, or 7.5 per cent, Germans; 22,000 Rumanians, and 68,000 others.26

According to Hungarian statistics, the territory transferred to Czechoslovakia counted 13 towns and 830 villages where the Hungarians surpassed the 50 per cent proportion. The total territory of these towns and villages was 12,316 square kilometres. In 1910 they had a total population of 907,278, of whom 818,401, or.90.2 per cent were of Hungarian nationality; 61,373, or 5.7 per cent were of Slovak nationality, and 19,641, or 2.2 per cent were Germans.

The Hungarians transmitted to the Slovak delegation the map of the Magyar ethnic zone alongside the border, with the requested new frontier marked. The line proposed by Hungary included twelve out of the thirteen towns and 812 out of the 830 villages


with Hungarian majority. Counter-balancing the villages of Hungarian majority that fell beyond the requested line, there were several villages of Slovak or mixed population on the Hungarian side, for one reason "because of their enclaved situation, for another, to trace the new borderline as reasonably as possible."27

The territory of which the retrocession was asked measured 14,153 square kilometres with a population counting 1,090,569 inhabitants of whom 848,969, or 77.9 per cent, were of Hungarian nationality, 147,294, or 13.5 per cent, were of Slovak nationality, and 63,927, or 5.9 per cent, were Germans.

Beyond doubt, there existed an ethnic line, by and large coinciding with the geographical line where the foothills of the mountains ended and the plain began. In the rural areas north of this line the population was Slovak, to the south, Hungarian. Nevertheless, the population of those towns that lay exactly on the ethnic line, in the mouths of the valleys, was very mixed and included people who were bilingual or of mixed origin. These could equally well be described as belonging to either nationality.

In addition, there were a large number of Jews whom both regimes counted on their own side for statistical purposes.

Thus, with regard to the string of towns of which Hungary had asked the restitution, the ethnic line was blurred. Accordingly, the towns were hotly contested.28

Slovak propositions.

The first proposition of the Slovak delegation consisted only of a promise of autonomy to the Hungarians of Slovakia within the Czechoslovak State. As Prague had already accepted the principle of cession of the ethnic areas, this offer seems to have originated exclusively with the Slovak Autonomous Government. The delegation pointed out in support of this offer that the Munich Agreement did not exclude such a solution. The offer was rejected at once by Kanya, who said that "he had come to negotiate, not to joke."29

After the Hungarian refusal to accept autonomy the Slovak delegation demanded a short interruption; subsequently it offered the "Velky Ostrov Zitny" or "Csallokoz," the island surrounded by the branches of the Danube between Bratislava and Komarom. The area of the island of Csallokoz, without counting the four villages near Bratislava, which did not figure in the offer, was 1,840 square kilometres with a population of 121,000, of whom 117,000 were Hungarians. This offer, too, was rejected by Hungary.

As the next step the Slovak delegation made a new offer on October 13, carrying, according to Hungarian figures, a total area


of 5,405 square kilometres where the population in 1910 numbered 349,026 inhabitants, 341,987 of them Hungarians.

According to the terms of this offer 724,698 persons of Hungarian nationality would have remained in Czechoslovak territory. The second Slovak territorial offer represented only 38.3 per cent of the territory and 31.7 per cent of the population demanded by Hungary.

On their side and on the base of the statistics of 1930, the Slovaks maintained that according to the Hungarian demands, Slovakia would have to cede 11,268 square kilometres of her territory with 1,120,000 inhabitants, and Carpatho-Ruthenia 1,982 square kilometres with a population of 218,000 inhabitants. Thus, by surrendering to Hungary 670,000 Hungarians, Slovakia and Ruthenia would lose more than 650,000 inhabitants of Slavic race.

The second Slovak territorial offer was geared to the above estimates. According to the Slovak delegation the second territorial offer proposed to cede to Hungary 5,784 square kilometres with 395,000 inhabitants, among them 45,000 Slovaks. The 300,000 Hungarians still to remain in Slovakia would have balanced the Slovak minority living in Hungary, and estimated by the Slovak delegation to be 300,000.

The deadlock.

During the negotiations, the Hungarians had repeatedly pointed out that, contrary to the assertions of the Slovaks, ethnic conditions outside the actual border zone were irrelevant. In the Hungarian view, the Slovaks south of the main ethnic line, including a considerable number in central Hungary, were descendants of voluntary immigrants. They were citizens of Hungary who did not desire to join Czechoslovakia, and their Magyarization was spontaneous. At any rate, the Hungarian figure of those who declared themselves to be Slovaks according to mother tongue was only 104,819 in 1930.30

In addition, Teleki argued that the Czechoslovak proposals were based on economic, not ethnic considerations.31 According to him the past twenty years proved that only the frontiers based on ethnic considerations are stable ones.Ways and means could always be found, Teleki said, to solve the problems of trade and traffic, if there was good will.

After the exchange of opinions the Hungarians asked for a recess to formulate their definitive position with regard the second Czechoslovak offer. When the meeting re-convened at 7 P.M., Foreign Minister Kanya announced that in view of the "unbridgeable abyss" which existed between the legitimate demands


of the Hungarians and the Slovak counter-proposal, the Hungarian Government, on its part, "considers the negotiations terminated" and that "it will seek an urgent settlement of its territorial claims" by the four great powers, signatories of the Munich Protocol.32

Had the Hungarians waited a little longer, they might have come to an advantageous arrangement with the Ruthenes, for during the days of the conference events in Ruthenia took a turn favorable to Hungary. The two main political groupings, namely the slightly pro-Hungarian Ruthene Council and the Slavophile Ukrainian Council finally reached an agreement about the future of Ruthenia, proposing to demand a plebiscite for the whole area, rather than to have it partitioned by a cession.

Although the "Ukrainian" Edmund Bacinsky was appointed by Prague to the job of representing Ruthenia in Komarom, the head of the newly formed autonomous coalition government, strongly pro-Hungarian Andras Brody, insisted on his right to perform that task. Prepared to negotiate with Hungary independently of the Slovaks, Brody flew to Komarom on October 13. He arrived "just in time to see the two delegations parting in anger."33


Notes to Chapter III

1. Macartney, p. 273.

2. British Documents, II, 635.

3. Ibid., p. 629.

4. Ibid

5. ForeignRelations U.S., I, 719.

6. Documents on International Affairs, II, 353.

7. Translated from the documentary collection of Andre Balasko (ed.), "II. Frontieres Tchecoslovaques," La Documentation Internationale Politique, Juridique et Economique, VI (Mars-Avril 1939), pp. 25-26. Hereafter cited as La Documentation.

8. British Documents, III, 1 14.

9. German Documents, IV, 55-56. The question of Pressburg (Bratislava) was delicate. Now capital of Slovakia, this Danubian port had a niixed population of Slovaks, Germans, and Hungarians, neither of whom possessed a clear majority. Hungary claimed it on historic grounds. The reserved attitude of Germany had caused a new strain.

10. German Documents, IV, 30.

11. Macartney, p. 282.

12. GermanDocuments, IV, 32.

13. Macartney, p. 279.

14. Documents on International Affairs, III, 331-333.

15. British Documents, III, 76.

16. Ibid, p. 81.

17. German Documents, IV, 37-38.

18. Ibid., pp. 31, 36. Cf. also British Documents, III, 115.


19. German Documents, IV, 36.

20. British Documents, III, 116. In answer to a question in the Parliament on Oct. 4, Sir T. Inskip Minister for Co-ordination of Defense, said that the formal treaty of guarantee had not yet been drawn up, but Britain had a "moral obligation to the Czechs." In the event of "an act of unprovoked aggression against Czechoslovakia" the British "would certainly feel bound to take all steps in their power to see that the integrity of Czechoslovakia is preserved." Ibid., n. 3.

21. German Documents, IV, 44-45.

22. Ibid., p. 30.

23. German Documents, V, 311-312.

24. British Documents, III, 138.

25. For a complete list of the members of the respective delegations see the accounts of the Komarom negotiations in Magda Adam, ed., A muncheni egyezmeny letrejotte es Magyarorszag kulpolititaja 1936-1938 (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1965), pp. 738-772.

These detailed annotations reveal the unpreparedness of the Slovaks and their reluctance to meet the Hungarian demands. Their reluctance was understandable: The newly formed government sensed the political disadvantages of territorial cession as an initial act of its existence. Speaking of the Slovak delegation, Macartney said: "They had not been initiated into the history of the earlier negotiations, nor even supplied with the material prepared for the use of the Czechoslovak delegation, and their sole armour was a terrified and stubborn determination not to be over-reached." Macartney, p. 284. As for the assertion of Laffan et all, that Ivan Parkanyi, Ruthene Minister in the Prague Government, accompanied the delegation to represent Ruthenia (Survey III, 85.), there is no evidence of this in the minutes. In fact, the same source puts Parkanyi on the same day in Uzhorod, attending the meeting which led to the creation of a coalition government for Ruthenia. Survey III, 126.

26. These and the following data were taken from La Documentation, pp. 26-28.

27. Ibid, p. 26.

28. Macartney, p. 285.

29. Survey, II, 85.


30. Stephen D. Kertesz, Diplomacy in a Whirlpoot,. Hungary between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1953), p. 270.

31. The Czechoslovaks afterwards told Newton British Ambassador, that the proposals had been based "on ethnical results of the 1930 census tempered where necessary by strategic, economic and transit considerations." British Documents, III, 171.

32. See Document No. 29a.

33. Macartney, p. 287. According to Macartney's information, derived from conversations with Hungarian diplomats, both Kanya and Teleki were inclined to continue the negotiations. They believed that the Slovaks would offer still another proposal. (This assumption later proved to be correct. Newtonwas told by the Czechs that the second territorial offer "had not been submitted as their last word." British Documents, III, 171.) The decision to terminate the negotiations was produced in a meeting of Kanya and Teleki with Prime Minister Imredy in Budapest between the morning and the evening sessions of the Komarom conference.


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