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I have referred to the causes why the Hungarian people and their leaders became desperate when their country was subjected to the Treaty of Trianon. The shock suffered from drastic mutilation seemed unbearable to the nation. There was hardly a family whose members had not been separated from one another, from their relatives and close friends; cut off from their work-places, their businesses or land, or altogether transferred under alien, generally quite oppressive rule.

Refugees living in railroad cars, the roaming jobless youngsters, veterans of the World War with nowhere to go, swore to retake at any cost their homes, lying now in foreign countries. Penniless, they were losing their patience. They joined in irregular formations of the "Ragged Guards" and for years they had to be arrested on various borders to prevent them from starting trouble. Count Stephen Bethlen, Prime Minister of Hungary for ten years (1921-1931), spent most of his intelligent work on the political and economic stabilization of the remaining chunk called Hungary. He exhausted his popularity, but put the country on the road toward progress. Until 1932, when Julius Gombos became the Prime Minister, the revision of the Treaty of Trianon had never been included in the programme of the Government, for expectations of the people were not to be aroused. The Government represented a minimum programme only: the defense of the rights of the Hungarian minorities under foreign rule-and even that remained unattainable.

It soon became obvious that no change in the status quo could be effected for more than a decade except by the use of force. A few districts in the West of Hungary, bordering on Austria, had a population with a German majority. There, the Peacemakers applied the ethnic principle again to the detriment of Hungary - and in an exaggerated way. In the so-called Burgenland a sizeable Hungarian population was included when it was assigned to Austria. This was not meant to be a reward to Austria (also one of the defeated countries), it was to stir up hostile feelings in Hungary against Austria in order to keep the two non-Slav neighbors disunited. The transfer of the entire Burgen


land was to be effected in August, 1921, but the "Ragged Guard" and other irregular detachments (mostly ex-officers), who had been fighting Bela Kun's Communists, drove back whatever forces the Austrians sent into the Burgeniand. At the height of the crisis, through Italian mediation, a Conference was arranged in Venice by Nitti, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, where Austria and Hungary agreed on a plebiscite to be held in December of that year (1921). In conformity with the plebiscite's result, the major part of the Burgenland, with a population of 291,618, was then peaceably ceded by the Hungarians to Austria, while the town of Sopron and its environs, with 48,191 inhabitants, according to the popular vote, remained in Hungary.

A few conclusions, still worth remembering, can be drawn from the success of the Burgenland plebiscite:

1. This, the only plebiscite held in territory detached from Hungary, offered a result different from the one reached by the Allies. They evidently had been wrong in denying plebiscites everywhere. There can be no doubt that important areas, particularly those contiguous with mutilated Hungary and inhabited by a Hungarian majority, would have decided to stay in Hungary.

2. The basic principle to be observed in our era, if peace and a stable order are to be rebuilt, is correct observance of the ethnic principle. Following the 1921 plebiscite, a fair settlement made past grievances quickly forgotten on both sides of the frontier. Friendly relations shortly developed between Hungary and Austria, helpful to Western interests also, for Hungary assisted Austria in her struggle against absorption by Hitler. This friendship survived Naziism and the second World War. As President of "First Aid for Hungary," I witnessed, in 1956, the gratifying generosity with which the Government and the people of Austria received the Hungarian victims of Soviet barbarism. The application of the principle of self-determination had brought lasting friendship to that troubled area.

3 Italy, the first country among the victorious Powers to help Hungary following the tragedy of Trianon, earned the lasting sympathies of the Hungarian nation, whose feelings are not dependent on mercenary considerations. There is a widely shared misbelief in the English-speaking world that it was "Fascist Italy" which detected a soft spot in her heart for Hungary, (labeled "feudal"). Italy had extended her helping hand to Hungary in 1921, before Mussolini's


advent to power (in 1922), and it was a democratic opponent of Mussolini, Foreign Minister Nitti, who had understood that the Western Allies were pushing their carving knife much too deep into the live body of the Hungarian nation. Irrespective of whether Italian internal policies stood Right or Left, there did exist a solid ground for Italian friendship with Hungary: their joint interest in the defense of the area north of the Adriatic Sea against inroads by pan-Germanism and pan-Slavism.

4. The so-called "Hungarian problem" never existed before Trianon. It was created by the Allies, who - once their victory was assured - in contravention of their solemn pledges, discarded the ethnic principle: the only reason given for the breaking up of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The revision of the untenable Trianon Treaty has been opposed with the argument that Hungary will never be satisfied unless her ancient boundaries are restored. This is patently untrue and the plebiscite of 1921, in which Hungary acquiesced, proved it. Hungary has properly understood how much happier and stronger an ethnically compact nation is than a conglomerate of divergent peoples. But what the self-respecting Hungarian nation has never ceased to demand is the right of self-determination for the Hungarians detached without consultation from their mother-country. In a decent Danubian order there may be no national privileges, but no one shall be held in bondage either.

The Hungarian movement for the revision of the Trianon Treaty was not initiated by the Hungarian Government. In fact, it did not Originate in Hungary. It was the English Lord Rothermere who became interested in the consequences of the mistaken Paris Peace Treaties. He came incognito to Hungary with an expert staff to inspect the new frontiers. Finding them more foolish than expected, he published a thunderous article about them in his paper, the London Daily Mail, under the headline: "Hungary's place under the sun." This happened in the spring of 1927, and the copy reached Budapest at Easter time. The unvarnished truth, coupled with the demand for justice for Hungary and stated by so influential a person, set free an outburst of repressed feelings, of renewed hope and of deep gratitude. The nation, abandoned by the West and nailed to the cross of Trianon by her neighbors, regained faith in its future redemption Lord Rothermere, hardly known by Hungarians previously, suddenly became the


idol, the Saviour. Hallelujah! The bells of Easter were sounding in every heart: "Justice for Hungary!"

Stirred to action by the elementary eruption of the tortured people's deep-seated emotions, I shortly met Lord Rothermere in Paris, not only to express, as best I could, the Hungarian people's esteem and gratitude, but also to consult him about his eventual plans on how to direct the aroused Hungarian energies toward constructive and realistic national goals. There and then, it was agreed that we Hungarians would organize a broad popular movement, based on Article XIX of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to carry out a campaign among the victorious Powers for the peaceful revision ot the Trianon Treaty through orderly processes of international law. For publicity abroad, we could count on Lord Rothermere's newspaper empire.

The instrument of this policy, the "Hungarian League for Revision," was set up within a month, on a broader basis than had ever existed in Hungary. The membership consisted of the leaders of all the political parties, religious denominations, economic and other professional organizations, chambers, cultural associations and labor unions. The latter contributed a major part of the League's funds; they understood in their workshops what it meant to be cut off not only from a large part of your people, but also from nearby raw materials and markets. It was quite fortunate that, encouraged by understanding in Britain - but not by Britain - some patriotic organizations with irredentist leanings also joined the League and thus placed themselves under constructive leadership. Members of the Government, however, preferred to abstain from formal adherence in order to avoid difficulties with the Little Entente. Leadership in the League was tactfully but firmly exercised by its President, the distinguished author, Francis Herczegh, who despite his advanced age, devoted much of his inspired work to the accomplishment of the League's purpose. In perfect harmony, I assisted him in the good work as the Executive Vice-President until March 1941, when I left Hungary for America - these 14 years of voluntary labor have given me much satisfaction in an increasingly disintegrating world.

The hope for a peaceful revision of the intolerable Trianon Treaty definitely restored legality and a stable order in Hungary. The numerous restless elements, ex-Army officers, the jobless youth, the despairing refugees, incurably homesick, clung to this idea as the last hope for


the betterment of their miserable fate. No victorious king has ever been given such spontaneous acclaim as was showered on Lord Rothermere, when he revisited Hungary the following year. The Hungarian will to live, in the midst of the ugly mess created by the Paris Peacemakers, was not directed at revenge in any way. The ex-officers' groups gave up their plans of armed invasion and no individual attempt at terrorism was ever conceived in Hungary. It was the hope attached to Article XIX of the Covenant of the League of Nations which induced the Hungarians not to take the road which the Yugoslavs were soon to choose. No act of violence was committed between the two World Wars by Hungarians against any of their oppressors. But the people of Hungary stood unanimously and firmly by their single demand: the equitable revision of the unjust Trianon settlement by peaceful means. This was not warmongering, it was the only possible peace policy. It eliminated all adventurism in Hungary. Restored self-reliance enabled the downtrodden Hungarian nation to avoid the pitfalls of Naziism longer than any of her Little Entente neighbors. Yet, this mature policy, based on a valid principle of international law, was denounced by the French - Little Entente Alliance as a provocation of war. While Hitler, unauthorized, was throwing off, as he pleased, the shackles of the Versailles Treaty, Hungarian policy, aimed at the revision of the Trianon Treaty, and pursued in legality and decency, was to be rebuffed, if need be, even by preventive war. In June, 1934, during his visit in Belgrade, Barthou coined the phrase: "Any step toward revision of the Peace Treaties is courting war." Had he been alive, President Wilson might have been startled by this travesty of his policy. The justified action against those responsible for the Marseille regicide degenerated, in Laval's concept, into an attempt at the political blackmail of Hungary by the time the showdown in Geneva was reached.

Hungarian revisionism was to be stopped short by the Little Entente, certainly not because it would endanger peace, but because the conviction was spreading in the West that the shabby treatment of Hungary had been a bad mistake. In 1934, in the House of Commons in Eng]and, there was a group of about 240 Members, composed of men from each of the three parties, which, to the annoyance of the Foreign Office favored a revision of the Trianon Treaty. In the House of Lords prominent Members, led by Lord Newton, had been voicing strong criticism of the unjust Trianon Treaty from the time of its signing. In


Italy, Mussolini had always approved the Hungarian demand for revision, and also insisted in his conversations with Sumner Welles (1940) on the territorial claims of Hungary. Aldo Dami, the Italian scientist, took the stand that Hungarians should not be forcibly dispersed in five countries. He published a detailed plan ("La Hongrie de Demain") similar to that of Lord Rothermere's, which, by applying the ethnic principle in the border areas, would return two million Hungarians to their motherland. As often happens in France, writers of the younger generation attacked the cruel verdict imposed on Hungary, and in the tradition of Emile Zola, demanded that justice be restored.

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."1 It is a fact that after Italy the Soviets were the next Power to identify themselves with the Hungarian demand for the revision of the unjust Trianon Treaty. This Soviet tactical stand of taking sides with the underdog remained unchanged as long as Russian aspirations did not include the Danubian Basin. Only after the Teheran Conference (1943), where the road leading to the heart of Europe was thrown wide open for invasion by the Red Army, did the Soviets turn their coat inside out.

To win popularity in Hungary, it had been Bela Kun, the Communist dictator, who had driven the Czechs out of Northern Hungary in 1919. No other Hungarian regime, prior to the period of the second World War, had ever resorted to force of arms to recuperate lost territory. Yet, by the end of the second World War, it was the Hungarian "feudal regimes" which were castigated for their revisionist policies as warmongers and imperialists by the Soviets. It seems to have become Hungary's tragic share in the Great War of the twentieth century to be used and abused by the victorious Powers, whoever they may temporarily be, for providing handouts and gratuities to her three neighbors, earning thereby for Hungary the lasting enmity of the three profiteers.

This was the cliniate in which the Marseille regicide was to be discussed in Geneva.

1 Endre Jonas, Trianon, a European Problern (Zurich: Danubian Press, 1960), p. 14.

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