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While the investigation of the Marseille crime was being carried on, Hungary felt the need to demonstrate that she was not isolated in a hostile world. General Julius Gombos, the Hungarian Prime Minister, embarked confidently on visits to friendly governments. His first official visit was paid, at the end of October, to Poland. It had been arranged under less strained circumstances, and now became more timely than ever. Before leaving for Warsaw, Gombos told the press: "Never in Hungarian history did our people accept murder as an instrument for the realization of their policies." He then added that Hungary would demand with utmost energy that "the whole truth" be revealed. This demand was a polite warning to Belgrade and, perhaps, even to Rome. It meant that any attempt to put undue blame on Hungary would be repudiated, and also that a full account would be made on how and by whom terrorism was introduced in the life of Croatia, which caused the murder of her ablest leader. Hungary had nothing to fear if the whole truth were told as to why the Croat national movement degenerated into revolutionary action, even terrorism.

Prime Minister, Julius Gombos, was a Hungarian patriot and a former captain in the Austro-Hungarian Army's General Staff. We established close comradship in 1919, while fighting together against Bela Kun's Soviet engineered Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Then, elected to the Parliament, we struggled for overdue democratic reforms and for a revision of the unjust Trianon Peace Treaty. Affable and trusting, Gombos gave me his full support during the entire Marseille crisis. Our friendship, however, broke up later. In 1935, when influenced by Herman Goering, Gombos evidenced authoritarian tendencies.

Prime Minister Gombos was warmly received in Poland. Polish-Hungarian friendship was a thousand-year-old popular tradition. But this time, there was an immediate menace also, which urged the Poles to not allow Hungary's standing and usefulness to be undermined. The farsighted Marshall Pilsudski and his Government were unwilling to stake the Polish national existence on the faith which France placed in the Soviets.


Barthou had allied France witb the Slav countries. He also had established the formula that confronted with the evident Nazi menace it was useful to find a military counter-weight in the East, which from the internal point of view carried no obligation. But the Poles - though also of Slav stock - did not approve of the inclusion of the Soviets into any alliance in which Poland was implicated. The French Left, however, after Barthou's death, was going one step further, and - qualifying the Soviets as the staunchest opponents of the Nazis-they preached that the Soviets would save France and Europe from the Germans. The Polish papers retorted that everyone who did not accept the Bolshevik alliance as the best guarantee of peace soon would be regarded in France as an enemy. Even if prodded by France, Poland had no desire to grant free passage through its territory to the Russian Army. Since France was eager to celebrate her marriage with the Soviets, she was now pushing visibly toward a divorce from Poland. Even in the international world one cannot afford to live in bigamy.

From all this muddle around an alliance with the Soviets, the British stayed aloof, perhaps because they did not know where to stand. In one of his editorials in October (1934), Wickham Steed wrote in the London Times that he was asked repeatedly to explain British policy. He had to reply that it could not be explained, for it did not exist. Slightly annoyed, Mr. Eden wrote about Sir John Simon, the Foreign Secretary at that time, that his "brilliant analytical mind hated to take decisions."1 But neither could Mr. Eden's general policy be considered as dynamic. Since it was based on the inviolability of treaties, irrespective of whether they were just or unjust, and eventually extorted at gun point. Eden's rigid adherence to the status quo strengthened immobilism in Europe, even when changes would have seemed imperative. His excessive reserve explains his predilection for the role of "an honest broker."

At that time there was also much speculation in America about the value of the Soviet pledges. But it took the two English-speaking Great Powers, another World War, and the Teheran Conference before they definitely accepted the misbelief which the astute French had erroneously reached a decade earlier; namely, that the Soviets could be trusted.

Prime Minister Gombos and Marshal Pilsudski had different views

1 Facing the Dictators, p. 139.


from the French, and they were rather pessimistic on what Europe might expect from Soviet "good will." Pilsudski's sound comprehension of the lurking danger proved most helpful to Hungary in the coming stormy weeks at Geneva. It made me confident that in the uneven struggle, forced on Hungary, the Polish Marshal stood on the side of decency, even though in post-war Europe Poland and Hungary had followed politically different lines.

Polish-Hungarian friendship did not fit into the Little Entente system - directed against Hungary but friendly to Poland. The bad split in Europe, caused by the Paris Peace Treaties of 1919, persisted and had widened by 1934. The Little Entente, in defense of the status quo, could usually rely on collaboration with Poland, whose independence was restored in 1919, while Hungary was dismembered at the same time. So Hungary stood for a revision of the unfair settlement from which Poland and the three Little Entente powers had profited. Was there now a change of Polish policy in the offing? The Rumanian press showed signs of nervousness and the Czechoslovak papers became quite irritable over the Hungarian Prime Minister's friendly reception in Poland. Mr. Benes countered the Polish attitude toward Hungary by affirming in the Prague Parliament a policy of rapprochement with the Soviets. Throughout the vicissitudes of the coming years, the beguiled Mr. Benes was to repeat his pledge of undying friendship with the Soviets to the very end, even in February 1948, when the Big Brother, with a single blow below the belt, knocked him out of political existence.

In Yugoslavia - another member state of the Little Entente - the initial excitement had died down by the end of October, to give place to firm determination. On October 23, the Regents appointed a new Cabinet in Belgrade, headed by Mr. Uzunovitch. I was glad that Yeftitch, with whom I got along well, had been retained as Minister of Foreign Affairs. On the other hand, the presence of the imperious General Peter Zhifkovitch in the Cabinet, as Minister of the Army and the Navy, filled me with the anticipation of coming evil. On October 28, the new Prime Minister solemnly declared in Parliament that "Yugoslavia will keep cold-blooded and reserved but not indifferent or inactive." He assured the Deputies that "Yugoslavia is using all her energy to have the Marseille crime completely uncovered, the responsibilities established, and the indispensable sanctions (!) applied." I


noted with uneasiness that the word "sanctions" was used now, for the first time, in an official Yugoslav statement, instead of "punishment," which applies to guilty individuals, whereas "sanctions' are taken against delinquent countries in conformity with the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Commenting on Uzunovitch's views, the Journal de Geneve (October 30) expressed the opinion that it was quite natural for Hungary to receive the Croat refugees kindly, for the Croats, like the Hungarians, were being treated as a minority by the centralist Yugoslav Government. But recently "Belgrade has obtained what it requested (from Budapest) and agreements have been concluded regulating the border traffic. Diplomats with an inside knowledge are aware that in consequence of Mr. Eckhardt's mission to Geneva, personal relations between the delegates and also the general atmosphere have improved." The Swiss paper expressed the hope in conclusion that the present turn in the opposite direction, reported by the Little Entente and in a part of the French press, would be only temporary.

At the end of October, a loose end must have been discovered in Laval's master-plan, for he made it known that his visit to Mussolini would be postponed "because of insufficient preparations." This delay gave Prime Minister Gombos the opportunity to call meanwhile on Mussolini in Rome (November 6), and also to pay his respects, although a Protestant, to Pope Pius XII. Before the start of the contest in Geneva, it seemed advisable to bolster Hungary's international position which, as far as Italy and the Vatican were concerned, could hardly have been any friendlier. According to the New York Times (November 7), the meeting of the Hungarian Prime Minister with Mussolini was "distinguished by the greatest cordiality." The two leaders made a general review of the present European situation and of the notable changes which had occurred since March, when they last saw each other. The rift between Italy and Germany - caused by the assassination of Dollfuss - the rapprochement between Italy and France and some cracks in the united front of the Little Entente were openly discussed since each country of the Little Entente had reacted in a totally different manner to the possibility of the annexation of Austria by Germany. On his way to Rome, Gombos stopped over in Vienna for an intimate talk with the Austrian Chan-


cellor, Schuschnigg, and he had another successful conference with him on his return voyage, on the Semmering, (November 10).

Home again, Gombos refuted, in a short statement, as "unfounded allegations" the press reports about a cooling off of Hungary's friendship with Italy and repudiated the "campaign of defamation" in full swing at that time against Hungary in the Little Entente and the Leftist Western press. But in strictest confidence he passed on to me, with some misgiving, the information that he found it impossible to discuss with Mussolini the problems connected with the Marseille case, for, the moment that Gombos approached that subject, Mussolini turned mute. Similar Italian reserve must have caused the "insufficiency" of Laval's diplomatic preparations.

On November 17, in the morning, a call from Prime Minister Gombos asked me urgently to a conference with him and with members of his Cabinet. We met in the lovely Sandor Palace, built and decorated in the best Empire-style on the hill of Buda, overlooking the Danube. We reviewed at first our relations with Yugoslavia, which had been satisfactory since last June, after we had agreed on changes in the border control. We were unanimous in deploring the crime of Marseille which reversed the desired rapprochement between Hungary and Yugoslavia. In September, after the elimination of the border incidents, Hungary had also concluded a new trade agreement with Yugoslavia. The Minister of the Interior gave a detailed account on the removal of the Croat refugees from Jankapuszta. These refugees - never more than two score - had not been kept under constant police surveillance, but gendarmes dropped in occasionally at Jankapuszta to look over that unruly crowd. Mr. de Kanya, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, informed us that, wishing to give full satisfaction to the Yugoslav demand for better security, he had decided not only to have the group of Croats in Jankapuszta disbanded, but to get rid of them once and for all. Police Chief, Hetenyi, was given the order to get them out of Hungary without delay. The ailing Mr. de Kanya surprised me with the news that he also had made the unpleasant trip to the remote Jankapuszta to make sure that the troublemakers were gone.

Beyond all doubt, the record of the Hungarian Government was clean. It had to grant asylum to the Croat political refugees - in fact, there was no government anywhere in the world which did deny asylum to the Croats. When, on the other hand, their activities on Hungarian


soil became a threat to good-neighborly relations with Yugoslavia, the Hungarian Government acted not only correctly, but also with energy. In this affair, we felt that no responsibility of the Hungarian Government could be established.

Our conference, however, did not end on this happy note. In the last three days, the Yugoslav authorities had started expelling Hungarians from their territory. The expellees were arriving now in Hungary in growing masses; they had to leave their homes within 24 hours - some within 10 hours - with all their possessions left behind. Moreover a number of Hungarians were arrested for no valid reason. On November 16, the New York Times reported, for the first time, that 105 Hungarian farmers had been expelled and that they spoke of a "reign of terror" being started in Yugoslavia. The paper added that Yugoslavia was "concentrating public anger against Hungary." Obviously, harsh pressure, bordering on terrorism, was being applied against Hungarians. I felt that for some reason the Yugoslavs were suddenly overplaying their hand. While accusing Hungary of harboring terrorists, they were committing acts of terrorism themselves, and on a large scale. This did not make sense, nor was it in their interest. In view of the degenerating situation, I accepted the urgent assignment to Geneva as the Chief of Hungary's Delegation to defend our rightful interests.

We like to speak in retrospect of "good old days," but things were not so good in mid-November, 1934. The League of Nations, in charge of the plebiscite in the Saar territory, was kept in suspense by rumors of a Nazi "putsch" being planned there, which induced France to mobilize a couple of Army Corps on the German border. There was a protracted war, fought in the desolate Gran Chaco between British and American oil interests by the troops of Bolivia and Paraguay, which the league of Nations was expected to stop. At the Naval Conference in London, a sharp dissension had developed between the British and the Japanese, while the Disarmament Conference in Geneva was stymied by the "benign Mr. Litvinov"- with exactly the same arguments as are presented now, by the Soviet delegate, who repeats Litvinov's old demands for general, total disarmament and no controls. The world picture was further enlivened that autumn by minor conflicts: clashes between Albanians and Greeks in the Northern Epirus; armed riots by Basque and Catalan revolutionaries in Spain; the arrest of the Papal Delegate, Msgr. Ruiz y Florez, in Mexico; and


an omen, seemingly unnoticed by the Little Entent - an overwhelming electoral victory of the Nazis in Danzig.

The murder of Dollfuss had aroused deep indignation against Hitler. He had to placate Europe to protect his master plan - the speedy rearmament of Germany - to which everything else was to be subordinated. To gain funds for rearmament, he established, in the beginning of November, a new bar against debt payments to Americans and then set in motion the diplomatic apparatus to improve his sullied reputation. The New York Times informed the world (November 9, 1934) that the German Ambassador, Hassell, had guaranteed to the Italian Government that "Germany unrestrictedly recognized the independence of Austria" - and added: "Chancellor Hitler's personal promise that henceforth he would follow a strictly hands-off policy where Austria was concerned." Next day, Franz von Papen made his debut before the Anglo-American Press Association in Vienna. It was the hunting season in Austria and the German Ambassador, with a macabre sense of humor, assured his audience that he was gunning only after deer, "his only victims."2 In a provocative tone, he denied that Hitler aimed at the annexation of Austria, for "Germany only seeks spiritual unity with the 31 million people of German race beyond her frontiers." He presented the "Anschluss" as a sort of "bogey of the unduly nervous." With almost every pledge already broken in Hitler's short reign, his Ambassador concluded with a sort of mockery: "Since the Anschluss is forbidden by treaty, there is of course no question of Germany's trying to bring it about." The Ambassador got away with this nonsense particularly in the British Foreign Office. With a sigh of relief the British Minister to Budapest told me that he found this statement rather "reassuring."

At the same time, Hitler's personal emissary, Joachim von Ribbentrop, arrived in London on a confidential mission. He pretended to be sounding out the British Government on Germany's newest diplomacy: the restoration of friendly relations all over Europe and, particularly, the eventual return of Germany to the League of Nations. At the same time, he informed the British Government "tactfully" that Hitler had started the rearmament of Germany. No consent or answer was requested by Hitler, so not much was said in London about it, and Ribbentrop's visit was played down. By sheer coincidence, an alarming

2 New York Times, November 10, 1934.


speech was delivered by Winston Churchill a few days earlier. He denounced (November 11) in pathetic terms the aerial unpreparedness of England, finding herself now in a more critical position than in 1914, menaced by invasion of her territory from the air. Churchill's speech made hardly any impression. In 1930, he had demanded 5000 airplanes to discourage the upcoming of Hitler. Churchill had expensive ideas. Much later, in 1947, in his Fulton speech, be wished to constrain Stalin by the development of America's armed might. Who would listen to him in times of peace? After all, wasn't Churchill considered a "warmonger"?

There was a great deal of trouble in the world in the summer, 1934. Because of this, I declared in the Hungarian Parliament (July 12) that a new peace conference must be held since it would be good policy to bold peace conferences before, rather than after wars. In addition, a new menace, the Marseille case, was to be handled in Geneva.

Next to the Marseille affair, only the plebiscite in the Saar Valley was to be placed on the agenda of the coming Council meeting. These two completely separate problems were somehow connected by the League's mechanism. The Chairman of the League's Special Committee for the Saar was the respected Italian Ambassador, Baron Aloisi, who would also represent Mussolini in Geneva, when the Marseille case came up. France, anxious not to lose the Saar completely, was thus dependent to a considerable extent on Mussolini's good will. Laval had just summoned the German Ambassador to tell him that the Saar plebiscite was not a bilateral issue between Germany and France, but an international problem under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. The Duce could not be offended by France a mighty good reason for Laval not to put him into the dock.

Doumergue's successor, Prime Minister Flandin, was given a huge vote of confidence (November 13) in the Chamber of Deputies, and thereby - as far as France was concerned - the go-ahead signal was given to Laval also for his scheme. In pursuit of it, he received (November 16) Count de Chambrun, the French Ambassador to Rome, for a second conversation within two days to give him detailed instructions concerning an early renewal of negotiations with Italy. If Chambrun was successful, Laval would visit Rome. French papers, reflecting Laval's views, explained that the difficulty in these negotiations came from Italian revisionism, particularly in Central Europe, in


the form of support given to discontented Hungary. It was explained that France would lose the support of the three countries forming the Little Entente if she were to yield to the demand for revision of the Hungarian peace treaty, which might constitute a precedent for a demand to revise the German Peace Treaty also. Laval emphasized that Chambrun should make Italy understand that French-Italian rapprochement could only be realized in correlation with Italian-Yugoslav rapprochement. Italy must abandon the Hungarian claims if she wanted to win the friendship of France. These press reports on Laval's policy served as a melancholy reminder of how bills, run up by the big Powers, are often presented to lesser clients.

Laval also received on this day (November 16) Mr. Fotitch, the Director of the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who came to see him in company of Mr. Spalaikovitch, the Yugoslav Minister to France. The final arrangements for the Geneva campaign against Hungary were then discussed. P. J. Philip reported on this meetinga that Laval told Kosta Fotitch that "since the documentation on Hungarian responsibility was incomplete," the Yugoslav Government should confine itself to placing the information in its possession before the League's Council "without formulating any charge." This advice, however, was disregarded -according to Mr. Philip - due to pressure of public opinion in Belgrade and of members of the Little Entente "who also came under the influence of the excitement against Hungary." With some naivete, Mr. Philip remarked that even Czechoslovakia has decided to support Yugoslavia unreservedly. Obviously, he was unaware of the neferious role which Benes had been playing.

Mr. Philip did admit, however, that the tone of the Belgrade press had roused the greatest uneasiness. Lava! therefore felt an urgent need of being on the spot in Geneva. He promised to Belgrade and Prague to administer through the League "an object lesson" to Hungary and thus finally put an end to the whole treaty-revision movement in Central Europe.

The official information handed on this day to the press only stated that the Yugoslav Government intended to submit in a few days the results of its inquiry to the Council of the League of Nations and demand that international rules be set up against terrorist organizations in order to avoid a repetition of the tragic Marseille events. There

3 New York Times, November 19, 1934.


was little enthusiasm in London for this Yugoslav intention. The doubt was expressed, on good authority, that an investigation by the League might receive exaggerated publicity and cause a tension detrimental to European appeasement. Heedless of the deteriorating situation in Europe, the British Foreign Office wished to calm down all emotions by admitting no change whatsoever.

The brewing storm did not leave me much time to study the findings of the Hungarian investigation. Police Chief Hetenyi again gave me the assurance of his innocence and piled a huge stack of papers on my desk to fascinate me with the colossal amount of work which his zealous investigation had produced. I was interrupted in my studies, on November 19, by an official notice from Belgrade that Mr. Yeftitch, the Foreign Minister, had left for Geneva with a document which contained the data collected in Marseille, Paris, Belgrade and Sofia during the investigations. I read with considerable interest in the communique that Mr. Yeftitch's document "enumerates the facts which point to the responsibility of Hungarian authorities for the support given to terrorists participating in the Marseille murders and for a series of other terrorist acts which were prepared in Hungary."

Not a single true fact, no damning evidence had been brought up, as yet, in the abundant publicity abusing Hungary. I was most anxious to find out at last what proofs of Hungary's guilt our detractors could concoct. I took the train to Geneva and continued, in the sleeping car, with members of my small delegation, to study the contents of two suitcases filled with documents and reports which on my ]ast day in Budapest our Foreign Office and Counter-Intelligence had sent over. on November 22nd, in the evening, we rolled into the station at Geneva, where I was met by our Minister to the League, Mr. Laszlo Tahy, a nice country squire. On the platform, quite aroused, he handed me the text of the Yugoslav note which Mr. Fotitch, in the name of the Yugoslav Legation, had presented that afternoon to Mr. Avenol, the Secretary General of the League of Nations.

I glanced through the note. In a harsh tone it repeated the propaganda accusations of "Hungarian connivance" in the Marseille regicide, as voiced in the Little Entente press hostile to Hungary. But again, not a single fact, no evidence whatsoever, was included in the note, except a promise to submit to the Council of the League of Nations a memorandum at an unspecified later date. The document, advertised


in the November 19 Belgrade communique, obviously was too weak to be exposed to the daylight. Without naming any guilty person or any concrete act, the Yugoslav note invoked the important Article XI, Paragraph 2, of the Covenant and submitted to the authority of the Council the "situation which gravely compromises relations between Yugoslavia and Hungary and which threatens to disturb the peace and good relations between nations."

The Yugoslav note, while strongly worded, did not invoke the first Paragraph of Article XI, but only the second, the so-called "friendly paragraph" which declared it to be "the friendly right of each member" to bring to the League's attention any circumstance which threatened to disturb international peace. No memorandum with evidence of Hungary's "connivance," not even a request for an investigation based on Paragraph 1 of Article XI, was submitted to the League. Obviously, the Little Entente was aware that there existed no damning evidence against Hungary. At that moment I knew that the noisy action conducted against Hungary was nothing else but a political frame-up. Right there, I decided not to yield an inch to the perpetrators of this ugly performance.

It seemed clear that I had to perform one duty immediately - even before I could consult in the late evening hours with my government in Budapest. It was imperative that I reject without delay the empty, general accusations against Hungary to prevent erroneous impressions and bad publicity based on one-sided information. So, that first evening in Geneva, I called a press conference and met a number of newspaper correspondents and reporters in my hotel, whose interest had been roused by the serious tone of the Yugoslav note. I felt sore and indignant and drafted a short but firm declaration which determined my entire later strategy in Geneva.

I expressed, as a personal opinion, my satisfaction with the League of Nations jurisdiction in the Marseille affair. I asked that it be dealt with urgently and that the entire background of the crime be objectively clarified. I then protested against the campaign of slander and called it a premeditated political action conducted against Hungary: it was designed to divert attention from the real causes of the Marseille tragedy and was aimed at ruining the moral integrity of Hungary, which, disarmed, was believed to be an easy prey.

The promptness of my retort proved very useful indeed. It was


published, together with the Yugoslav note, and prevented objective newspapers from taking a stand as long as the facts behind the Yugoslav accusation remained unknown. My declaration was strong, but I had to give a definite warning that I would refuse to be intimidated by whatever forces were being mobilized against Hungary.

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