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The functions of the League of Nations had very little in common with those of a court, where justice was sought and cases were decided by objective judges upon their merits. Not the dispensation of justice but the maintenance of peace was the main duty of the League of Nations, and the same is true of the role of the present United Nations. As a policy, the parties to a conflict were therefore treated by the Secretariat and the Council as potential troublemakers; they were allowed to give vent in acrimonious speeches to their hurt feelings and grievances, but meanwhile formulas were worked out and compromises sought privately to appease both sides, if possible, or at least to pacify the more dangerous one. In the worst case, the unsolved dispute was kept in abeyance.

The claim submitted by a party to a conflict was weighed and considered by the Council members in conformity with the power, political importance, and troublemaking ability of the respective party, rather than on the basis of fairness. Herein lay the weakness of the Hungarian position. As yet, I stood alone before the tribunal of the League, confronted by the powerful French-Little Entente Alliance controlling most of the votes in the Council and influencing the League's apparatus. There was, however, a single ray of hope: the rule of unanimity in the Council, where besides its members, each party involved in the dispute was allowed a vote. Unless I agreed to it, Hungary could not be convicted. It was the interested powers themselves which had to agree to a settlement under guidance and pressures by the Council. This principle was not unwise; decisions arrived at by mutual consent will probably be respected more willingly by the interested parties than sentences by a tribunal which has no power or means to impose its verdict on recalcitrant governments.

On that first sleepless night in Geneva, pondering the course of unfolding events and the above considerations, I concluded that the most important element in winning victory or suffering defeat in Geneva was my own determination. If I lost the confidence of my country, I would resign, but I would not yield to any threat or enticement by foreign powers. If their ambition to humiliate Hungary was rejected,


our enemies might resort to war. I was resolved to accept even that responsibility - excepting her honor dismembered Hungary had so little to lose.

Another powerful factor-next to our own resolute stand - which I intended to cultivate and win over to our side, was world opinion. If hard pressed while serving a just cause, the best defense is the flight into publicity. The love of truth is just as dear to the hearts of men as is the love of freedom. Many a time have I seen false prophets retreat when publicly unmasked as hypocrites. The big newspapers from all over the world were well represented in Geneva. They had access to news on the manouvering and horsetrading which took place in the League behind the scenes. They could influence decisions through the stand of their papers. With its precise and unbiased coverage of League of Nations affairs, the French language Journal de Geneve, read day by day by delegates to the League, appeared to me as the most important paper for our cause.

I remember gratefully at this point the friendship and gallant stand of Lord Rothermere, an Englishman with an Irish imagination. Late one night, I was roused from my sleep by his telephone call from Scotland. The noble Lord, who had lost two sons in the first World War, had no desire to sacrifice his only remaining son in a second World War, which he forsaw could happen, unless the unjust peace treaties signed by Lloyd George were revised in decency and fairness. He recognized that the Hungarian Peace Treaty, concluded in Trianon in 1920, was the sorest spot in the peace structure and that it had turned President Wilson's principles into a travesty. He launched a press campaign under the slogan of "Justice for Hungary" and I joined in his work wholeheartedly from the very beginning.

In the placid atmosphere of a dairy farm pervading the self-centered British Foreign Office in the period between the two world wars, any change for better or for worse was resented officially, and, of course, the growing demand for the revision of the Trianon Treaty was sullenly rejected. This emboldened the vigilant Mr. Benes to assume the role of a champion of the status quo, particularly in fighting against any improvement in the Hungarian Peace Treaty. He clashed publicly with Lord Rothermere, but the outcome did not displease the noble Lord, who now offered me in Geneva the all-out aid of his publicity empire. This was a godsend in my uneven struggle: not only for in-


fluencing public opinion in Britain, but also in my tactical moves in the Geneva labyrinth for the promotion of our views and for the prevention of hostile actions. Nothing had helped me more in reaching an honorable settlement in Geneva than my dossier on Serb terrorism which had pushed the Croats into wild reaction. In strict confidence, I allowed one of Lord Rothermere's correspondents to look at this material, just long enough to provide him with arguments that would discourage exaggerated Yugoslav accusations against Hungary. I never used this file on the Serbs, for I had no intention of hurting that brave people. Furthermore, I was aware, that a gun is a weapon only as long as the last cartridge has not been fired.

Of course, I was also aware that the propaganda orchestra of France, joined with those of the Little Entente, would overpower my lonely efforts. I also expected that editors and commentators, unfriendly to Hungary, would not wish to depart from their policies, preconceived ideas and animosities. Some correspondents might not bother to study the background of the Marseille affair surrounded by intrigue. I also had to suppose that a number of cynical reporters would mainly go for sensations and occasionally be duped. Yet, in 25 years of public life, I had gathered the experience that there was one thing which no newspaperman could resist; namely, news? Therefore, almost every evening during the crisis a press conference was held where I reviewed the day's events and outlined what could be expected the next day. Hungarian diplomats, doubtful at first of this routine, were amazed later by the amount of favorable publicity it did gain. The flow of reliable information also cheered the Hungarians both in Geneva and back home. The Journal de Geneve noticed (November 23) that the Hungarians "do not seem to be disturbed. They accept gladly that full light be thrown on the Marseille affair."

A third task, to be organized without delay, was maintenance of liaison with the Secretariat and various delegations, particularly those represented on the Council, in order to exchange our views and information with theirs. I distributed the subjects of interest among members of my delegation, and the staff of the Hungarian Legation in Geneva. Generally, this service did function properly. On the top of the hierarchy, next to me, was our forthright, well liked Minister, Mr. Laszlo Tahy, a personal friend of the Hungarian Prime Minister. He was new in Geneva, but had many close friends among the diplomats. His


First Councilor, Zoltan Baranyay, knew everybody in the Secretariat. He had spent many years in the Hungarian Legation at Geneva, remembered all the rules of procedure, every precedent, and proved to be a valuable collaborator. But as a former professor, he was infallible. When Mr. Tahy once insisted on some erroneous information being reported to Budapest, Zoltan punished his boss by doing exactly as he was told and then enjoyed the resulting muddle.

I must also recall Miss Waldberg's contribution. As a special correspondent of MTI, the Hungarian official news agency, that charming young girl captured the attention of her colleagues in the press, of secretaries, and of quite a few diplomats. She was the prettiest girl, if not in Geneva, certainly in the League of Nations, and as bright as the sunshine. She relayed my messages, was received out of turn in the Secretariat, and brought back competent answers to delicate questions which I personally could hardly have asked. Soon, everybody called her "Miss Jankapuszta" and some diplomats only knew her by that name.

The morning following my arrival in Geneva (November 23)1 was gratified to find in the papers my statement of the evening before, rejecting the Yugoslav accusation. This was important, for the aspect under which a case is presented for the first time in the press may determine its future handling. Attack and counterattack were thus kept in balance; the accusation against Hungary of national terrorism was rebuffed as an act of international terrorism. I was surprised, but not displeased by two letters published in the press which were addressed to the Secretary General of the League of Nations, one signed by Mr. Benes and the other one by Mr. Titulescu, the Foreign Ministers of Czechoslovakia and Rumania respectively. In identical terms, each associated his country integrally with the Yugoslav request in view of the "exceptional gravity of the facts contained in the Yugoslav note which were of direct concern" to their respective countries. What these exceptionally grave facts were, was not disclosed, but it was emphasized that they were "endangering the general conditions on which peace in Central Europe depends." The Marseille murder case was thus transformed into a political affair.

It was a cowardly act on the part of three of her neighbors to gang up menacingly on Hungary, disarmed by the Trianon Treaty and kept defenseless all the time. The murder of King Alexander was


strictly Yugoslavia's concern and no injury whatsoever was inflicted on Czechoslovakia or Rumania by his assassination, which could not be brought therefore under the meaning of the Little Entente Alliance. Moreover, it had not been disclosed what the "exceptionally grave facts" were, referred to by the two allied Foreign Ministers. Hungary was to be indicted on charges not revealed to her, and generally unknown. I had to explain the unfairness of this procedure to the press. The Little Entente might not score on this point either.

The integral association of Mr. Benes with the Yugoslav request struck me as inopportune from the point of view of that clever technician. The same day, when Benes and Titulescu presented their letters to Mr. Avenol (November 22), the Extraordinary Assembly of the League of Nations had convened, and it was the turn of Mr. Benes to preside over its meetings. Having become now a party to the conflict with Hungary, Mr. Benes had disqualified himself as the President of any meeting on the agenda of which the Yugoslav request would be considered. Benes thus lost the considerable advantage which he did possess, of assisting the Yugoslavs with the authority of the Council's President. I assumed that together with his letter about this association with the Yugoslav note, he had also submitted his resignation from the Presidency of the Council. I gave too much credit to Benes in this respect.

It might be of interest to review the position of the press in various European countries as of November 22, 1934, when the campaign concerning the Marseille affair was launched in Geneva. Diverse opinions were expressed, not only concerning the contested case, but generally on terrorism in Europe and its role in recent history. The colors in the publicity picture were vivid, but the contours were distorted - not always deliberately, for the exaggerations in the press were dictated mostly by conflicting national interests and a clash of emotions, none of which is conducive to truth. As in the Japanese play, "Rashomon," the witnesses to a murder not only told inconsistent stories but in fact remembered the tragedy, each of them, differently. Imagination embellishes our lives but perverts our records which make up history.

The Little Entente press, committed to the complaint of Yugoslavia, the victim, was rather monotonous. Devoid of facts incriminating Hungary, it followed the month-old lead from Prague in


name-calling and vituperation in a shrill voice. Now, that the climax was reached, nothing worse could be done. There was a single theme, to which nothing was added: Hungary, the permanent menace to European peace, must be subdued and severely punished! Hitler and Stalin were forgotten and Mussolini deliberately omitted. There was only one black sheep in Europe: disarmed Hungary! Truly, there exists no worse detestation than the hatred for those whom we have wronged.

The Paris papers, in the role of the prosecution, gave their full support to Yugoslavia, but they also had to husband the sensibilities of Mussolini. Equal concern for these two incompatible patrons inspired such silly statements as the one in the Petit Parisien which praised the Yugoslav note of November 22 as "crushing but not aggressive." The French papers mostly served the policy of Laval, so Le Journal promised Mr. Yeftitch a formal condemnation of all demands for the revision of the peace treaties, while the Petit Journal comforted Italy by explaining that Mr. Eckhardt could risk the demand of an urgent procedure in the Council for he knew that no unanimity could be obtained there for the application of penalties or sanctions against Hungary.

The Italian press, speaking for the defense, followed the maxim of Clausewitz: the best defense is the offensive. The Giornale d'Italia expressed its regret that the so necessary discussion of political crimes was adjourned for "it may become embarrassing to more than one government." The paper enumerated a series of international crimes of recent years in which the accusers of today were the culprits of yesterday: the attempt in Vienna on the life of King Zogu of Albania committed by an Albanian refugee who found asylum in Yugoslavia; several attempts at Mussolini's life by Italian refugees protected by influential persons in France; a series of acts of terrorism, bombings, arson, murder, etc., in Italian territory adjacent to Yugoslavia by emissaries of Yugoslav organizations; terror acts in Bulgaria at the service of "a neighboring power"; the haven granted last summer in Yugoslavia to Austrians who participated in the murder of Chancellor Dollfuss, etc. The paper promised that documentation on all these facts would be presented in Geneva.

The Stampa chimed in: "The investigation of political crimes can not be restricted to a single case," and if you wish to investigate your neighbor, you must accept to be investigated by him." The Gazetta del


Popolo stirred up the hornet's nest by asking, "How have Croatia and the Croats been treated by Belgrade?" It also recalled the murder of Sarajevo in 1914, when the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the Crown Prince of Austria and Hungary, and his wife were assassinated, which started the World War. That most sinister crime had been organized by a Serbian national association and the murderer, Princip, had been glorified by the Serbian government as a national hero.

In contrast to the medley of injurious criticism on the Continent, all this excitement hardly touched the serenity of the leading British newspapers. They published the notes and statements by all the interested parties and, seemingly on official inspiration, expressed the belief that Britain would make no choice between Italy and Yugoslavia. Their sense of dignity, coupled with irresolution as to where to stand, induced the British to choose the role of an arbiter in the dispute submitted to the League. This sound decision imposed upon the British a degree of reticence, always favored by them anyway in a muddle.

I cannot pass up this opportunity to express my admiration for the Swiss press, in the columns of which decency generally precedes financial interest. Democracy does not necessarily have to become decadent. A large share of the credit for the staunch Swiss resistance to Naziism and Communism, as well as for their brilliant military preparedness during the second World War, goes to the great Swiss newspapers. Rereading now the editorials of autumn, 1934, in the Journal de Geneve, (a French language newspaper with readers of French descent,) I am deeply impressed by the perspicacity and forthright honesty of that paper which raised it far above the level of most of the newspapers in France.

One day before the Yugoslav note was published, the Journal de Geneve put the Marseille affair into its proper perspective: "What does Yugoslavia want? Certainly to put Hungary into a bad moral position. She demands that Hungary's revisionist campaign and her activities to protect her minorities (abroad) be repressed. But Yugoslavia is acting mainly under internal pressures. Croat and Macedonian terrorists have been outlawing themselves by such acts of terrorism as the one committed in Marseille. The crimes of these people must be punished, but their problems must be studied objectively. Justice should be done to every people!"


This editorial was by no means one-sided. It remarked that "the camp at Jankapuszta was dissolved, but it was very imprudent to have tolerated it at all." Hungary had to take her share of the blame for a mistake but not for a crime. The editorial then asked: "Did Hungary and Italy have a monoply of terrorism? What did the Nazis do to Dollfuss? Wherefrom did the murderer come who killed the Polish Minister, Pieracki? Last February, the Socialist upheaval in Vienna was actively supported by Czechoslovakia and it has cost many lives. The activities of the Macedonian ORIM and its relations with the Komintern and the Soviets will also have to be studied." The Soviets, according to the editorial, certainly profited from the Marseille murder: "The King was fighting Soviet influence within the Little Entente and never recognized Moscow. The Soviets also try to start a conflict between Yugoslavia and Fascist Italy. The discord in Europe provides chances for Moscow and practically transforms the Soviets into an arbiter."

At my first press conference in Geneva (November 22), on the evening of my arrival, I assured the correspondents of the newspapers that we would not be unnerved and gave them the text of a message I had just wired to the Hungarian people telling them that it was their duty to keep cool headed under all circumstances, now as well as in the future. Then I called the attention of the press to the empty accusations in the Yugoslav note. Although very grave, they had not been documented. This looked to me like a smear campaign. Prime Minister Gombos told the press in Budapest that "the Yugoslav attitude is to call a man a scoundrel and a murderer in November and add that proof will be produced in January." In its editorial of November 24, the Journal de Geneve, in the same vein, found this omission "most regrettable." The Yugoslav note "condemns without naming those who inspired or promoted the Marseille crime." That paper also expressed surprise that the Yugoslav note was only directed against Hungary, while Italy, where Pavelitch was arrested, had not even been mentioned. The action of Yugoslavia was legitimate but "it should have avoided the appearance of being inspired by political motives."

"It is astonishing" - said a second editorial - "that Rumania and Czechoslovakia should have associated themselves with the Yugoslav note. It was the King of Yugoslavia who was assassinated and the Little Entente's interests were not involved in it. By accusing Hungary


alone, the document obtains a distinctly political character. Either Hungarian revisionism will suffer a moral defeat (and the problem of Hungarian minorities will be relegated into the background), or European conscience will have to take notice of the necessity to rectify the Hungarian frontier. This seems to be the real issue in the Yugoslav-Hungarian litigation." The foresight of the Journal de Geneve was truly remarkable. The failure of the Little Entente campaign to destroy the position of Hungary in 1934 opened the door for the Vienna Awards of 1938 and 1940 which restored to Hungary parts of her former territory inhabited mainly by Hungarians.

Prime Minister Gombos also emphasized in a statement published in Budapest, (November 23), the political purpose of the Vugoslav complaint. its aim was to first discredit and then intimidate Hungary, without, however, producing any evidence of her guilt. Gombos asked that the League of Nations establish objectively, and without delay, the responsibilities for the Marseille murders, since "Yugoslavia and her friends, confident of their superior military power, accorded to them unilaterally by the peace treaties, are putting the peace of Europe in peril." Prime Minister Gombos reversed the charge that Hungary was a menace to the peace and raised the question clearly: who was threatening the peace of Europe? Disarmed and defenseless Hungary or the fully armed Little Entente which had selected Hungary as a scapegoat to be destroyed? An immediate investigation by the League had become urgently necessary, be concluded.

The battle around the Marseille affair was fought against Hungary in Geneva with all the weapons of propaganda and diplomacy at hand, In order to gain for the French-Little Entente alliance clearly defined political results. Laval was in overall command of the plot, not only because of the uncontested leadership of France within her alliance with the Little Entente, but also because of Laval's intense logic and weird cynicism which urged him up to his last hour before a firing squad to use his unquestionable talent for rationalization of whatever he believed to be opportune, even if revoltingly indecent.

In retrospect, I still find it amazing, that this spectacle could be staged in Geneva, loaded with falsehood from beginning to the end without exploding in the face of the plotters. My hands were tied; I could not expose the guilty without endangering the interests of my country. But the press knew almost every phase of the political black-


mail which preceded the showdown in Geneva. The New York Times had reported (November 20,1934) that Italy had informed France that if Yugoslavia brought any charges in Geneva openly against Italy, Rome would not be responsible for the effects of it on Italian public opinion. Since in Fascist Italy the press was subjected to Government control, this was a very thinly veiled threat, properly understood by Laval. Two days later, the NewYork Times could report that Laval had gained the assurance that Yugoslavia would withhold the bringing of charges specifically against Italy. This is why the Yugoslav memorandum accused only Hungary, and did not even mention the name of Pavelitch, although he had been arrested in Italy. The New York Times, however, expressed the belief that Laval wanted "to steer the Yugoslav memorandum into the same pigeonhole where their own (French) famous dossier on German rearmament reposes." This was a mistaken interpretation. Laval had never contemplated such a soft line; he planned to press disarmed Hungary against the wall to inflict upon her, following physical dismemberment, moral mutilation also.

As is customary in the diplomatic world - the Communists had also acquired this aristocratic habit - the first shots in the battle of Geneva were fired in a convival atmosphere. On November 21, a dinner party was given by Titulescu, the Rumanian Foreign Minister, in honor of Laval, who had just arrived at Geneva. The Little Entente Foreign Ministers and Delegates to the League were present in complete numbers, and the announcement was made after dinner that perfect agreement was reached concerning the text of the Yugoslav note. According to a confidential report, which I received next morning, Mr. Laval summed up on this occasion the purposes of the French-Little Entente Alliance, on which they had all agreed, in three points:

1. In order to keep the Alliance intact, satisfaction must be given to Yugoslavia's rightful demand for punishment of the murder of her King;

2. Blame shall be placed only on Hungary, and Mussolini must be exonerated to draw him thereby into collaboration with France;

3. Hungary's insistence on the revision of the Trianon Peace Treaty must be brought to a halt by destroying her international position. Revisionist policy which separates Italy from France and her Allies shall be discredited once and for all.

Next day, Laval, along with Benes, his assistant, visited Maxim


Litvinov, to keep the Soviet Chief Delegate posted on their plans. The shrewd Laval, of course, had noticed by then, how inadequate the documentation was which the Yugoslavs intended to submit to the League together with their note. The incongruity of the Yugoslav complaint against Hungary was criticized by Laval, the able advocate, who advised against publishing such flimsy evidence. So, at first (on November 22), no documentation was presented to the League. Laval was also dissatisfied with the harsh tone voiced against Hungary in the Yugoslav note. He insisted that it be softened, for it might upset Mussolini. But his counsel was not followed properly. The news spread in Geneva that Laval had convinced the Little Entente to delay the discussion of the Yugoslav complaint until January. Meanwhile the search for some material incriminating Hungary would be continued.

It was lucky that upon my arrival in Geneva I had pressed for immediate action by the Council. I now submitted a formal, official demand to the Secretariat, asking that the Little Entente's attack against Hungary's good reputation and honor be not left in suspense. At first, I intended to invoke the serious Paragraph I of Article XI of the Covenant, which would compel the Council to treat urgently the Yugoslav note. But I had to avoid even the appearance of intentionally broadening the rift with the Little Entente. I drafted and redrafted my letter to Mr. Avenol. But the Professor in charge of revising our French texts still objected to my final draft, thinking that it was ambiguous. I referred to, but did not invoke, the entire Article XI (which meant both its friendly and its austere paragraphs) and also mentioned - but only mentioned - the broad fourth Paragraph of Article IV of the Covenant, thus retaining elasticity and a free hand to invoke later, at any time, any one of these paragraphs. It is not easy to draft in French, the most logical of all languages, a correct sentence capable of more than one interpretation. I asked the Professor whether he was quite certain that my text was ambiguous. Reassured, I refused - to his amazement - to have any change made in the letter. The New York Times (November 25) thought that the relevant part of my letter was "shrewdly worded." Maybe this comment was not meant as a compliment, but it was the only expedient technique within my reach.

Bad news continued to pour in during these days from Hungary on provocations committed on the Yugoslav border; on the steady


increase in the number of expellees, and even on irregular Serb troops moving toward the Hungarian frontier. Violence was in the air and the situation might get out of hand if a reasonable solution of the Marseille affair was delayed. I again alerted the press. Against my desire, I said, I would have to publish my documentation on internal terrorism in Yugoslavia unless she submitted at once the much talked about evidence on Hungary's alleged guilt. This, I hoped, would expedite the consideration of the Yugoslav note by the Council.

Another problem had also arisen which had to he solved. On November 27, our alert Mr. Baranyay returned to Hungarian headquarters from the Secretariat with the news that Mr. Benes had left Geneva without having resigned from the Presidency of the Council. In a letter addressed the same day to Mr. Avenol, the Secretary General of the League of Nations, I raised the following question: "Czechoslovakia has integrally associated herself to the Yugoslav note. Would it not cause grave inconvenience to the Council, should His Excellency, Mr. Benes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia, neglect to renounce his functions as President of the Council of the League of Nations, as is foreseen in paragraph 4 of Article IV of the Internal Statutes of the Council?"

My letter was held in the Secretariat and never reached the Council, but it did cause some headache to the Secretariat. Mr. Benes, high up in the Masonic hierarchy, which dominated the Secretariat of the League, was an indefatigable worker who carried ready-made answers to annoying problems which the timorous bureaucrats in the Secretariat preferred not to approach. Benes was the apple of Mr. Avenol's eye: he relied on Benes and catered to him. Resisting all roundabout attempts at persuasion, I refused to withdraw my letter, which asked for the disqualification of Mr. Benes, unless the Secretariat made the proper announcement. To all outward appearances, Benes had tried to impose himself as judge and prosecutor of Hungary at the same time; thereby, however, he became a defendant. Sugar-coating Benes' forced withdrawal; a communique was issued finally by the Secretariat to the effect that before leaving Geneva, Mr. Benes had informed the Secretariat that he would renounce the exercise of the Presidency whenever the Yugoslav note was on the agenda.

Mr. Benes never forgave me the downgrading I had administered to his prestige in the League. The impassive Mr. Joseph Avenol, a


former French Financial Inspector, was more deft; he did not betray the embarrassment caused by my uncompromising attitude. Yet, in that given situation, I had to impress our opponents that I would not be intimidated. I believe in compromise, which very often is the only lasting solution to a conflict. But when you are cornered and in a weak position, don't yield an inch! It would be taken for an admission of weakness and concerted attack would precipitate your doom.

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