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The delay in presenting the Yugoslav memorandum supporting the accusation against Hungary caused some impatience in the diplomatic and press circles of Geneva. I was particularly annoyed, for, beyond a denial, it is hardly possible to devise an intelligent defense against general accusations which have not been specified. If Hungary was to be subjected -as planned - to continuous slander for two months more, she might face condemnation by world opinion before having had a chance to state her case. I had to intensify in the press, my counterattacks against Yugoslavia, our highly vulnerable opponent. So I resorted to every imaginable means of publicity. The New York Times reported (November 24) that in the park surrounding the Palace of the League of Nations and in hotel lobbies I held press conferences, explaining over the microphone that "Hungary cannot wait until January to remove the stain" caused by unfounded accusations. Mr. Eden who "had hoped to postpone public debate until January - was compelled to change [his] mind."1 He admits now that "with both sides demanding a discussion, delay would only have increased the dangers." My decision to expedite the public debate proved useful, for it shortened the persistent smear-campaign.

I also threatened to call my strongest card. On the morning of November 28, the Journal de Geneve reported that "in answer to the Yugoslav note devoid of all documentation, Mr. Eckhardt will reveal important facts concerning the internal policies of Yugoslavia," which had caused acts of terrorism. It may have been this warning which expedited the immediate results. That same evening, a seventy-eight-page Yugoslav memorandum, comprising forty-eight annexes and eighteen photographs, was submitted to the Secretary of the League of Nations, with the request that "the Council consider the question of the Hungarian Government's responsibilities for the terrorist action directed against Yugoslavia."

This long-awaited Yugoslav memorandum began with the accusation that preceding the creation of the Croat Ustasha there already existed in Hungary organizations preparing illegal actions. No such case was

1 Facing the Dictators, p. 125.


mentioned, however, in the memorandum, for in the said period, there occurred none about which Yugoslavia could complain. The second chapter dealt with the handling of Yugoslav refugees in Hungary since 1931, the time at which the violent Croat reaction to Serb terrorism did develop. I have to state that there had occurred no change in the routine handling of the Croat refugees in Hungary. The Croat refugees gathered in Hungary in eight localities; one among them was Jankapuszta. These refugees, at first, passed through police control, but they were not given financial aid by the Hungarian authorities. A number of them were employed by small businesses and farmers, for there was much sympathy for the persecuted Croats, with whom Hungarians had lived at peace for eight centuries. The rest were usually taken care of by the Croat, Perchetch, who had rented the farm Jankapuszta for this purpose and acted in Hungary as the chief of the Croat refugees.

There was nothing illicit or even unusual in this procedure, particularly not before the Marseille crime had occurred. What Hungary gave these refugees was far less than what the Hungarian revolutionaries received through the generousity of the U.S.A. in 1956, when they arrived in Camp Kilmer, following Hungary's fight for freedom. Hungary gave the Croats nothing more than what every civilized nation in Europe was granting to political refugees. The Yugoslav memorandum referred to the deposition of Mijo Krajl, an accomplice in the Marseille regicide, who testified in France that the Croat refugees drew lots in a Hungarian town, when, on orders of the Ustashi Command, three among them were selected to travel to Switzerland. Deceitfully, the memorandum did not include the relevant part of Krajl's deposition; which added that at the time these Croats left Hungary, they did not know and no one had told them why they were to travel to Switzerland, nor had they been informed that they had been selected for the purpose of perpetrating the Marseille or any other crime. Regardless of this, no Hungarian authority or private person was involved in this procedure.

The Yugoslav memorandum classified the members of the "terrorist bands established in Hungary" into five categories, but no Hungarian name appeared among them. The first category was composed of former Austro-Hungarian officers, most prominent among them General Sarkotitch and Colonel Perchevitch, both Austrian residents of Croat descent and not connected with Hungary in any way. Then, three


categories consisting of Croat refugees were enumerated: those with a criminal record; jobless Croat workers abroad; and Croat peasants who fled across the Yugoslav border. As a fifth category, members of the Macedonian organization, Orim, were mentioned, who allegedly gave instruction to the Croats in terrorist techniques. Again, no Hungarian official or private person was mentioned in any of these categories. A sixth, probably the most important category, however, was omitted from the Yugoslav enumeration: the Croat patriots, who had formed the Ustasha for self-denfense against Serb terrorism after their leader, Stephen Raditch, on June 20, 1928, was assassinated in the Belgrade Parliament.

The Yugoslav memorandum, however, did insist that the Hungarian authorities had knowledge of the aims and terroristic methods of these refugees. As the only evidence, it referred to a letter by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Yugoslav Legation in Budapest expressing its regrets over violent acts committed by Croat refugees in Yugoslav territory. This was an admission of guilt, accused the memorandum. Attached to the memorandum was a photograph of Croat refugees in Ustashi uniforms, equipped with daggers and hand grenades, grimly parading "in Jankapuszta." I rubbed my eyes; there were high mountains in the background of the picture, whereas Jankapuszta lies on a flat plain. It did not take much time to establish that the picture showed the Apennines at Fontecchio, near Arezzo, in Italy, where a camp for the Ustashis was located.

This disclosure of the truth had hardly occurred inadvertently. The text of the Yugoslav memorandum accused Hungary, but the picture pointed its finger at Italy. Could the Serbs, a fundamentally honest people, go to extremes in their reprisals against Hungary knowing that their accusation was unfounded? Very shortly thereafter, threatened by the invasion of Hungary and war at the instigation of General Zhifkovitch, I was able to reject offers of an unworthy compromise because I had this information.

The next paragraph of the memorandum, however, dissipated my pleasant expectations. It cited a number of cases, when Hungarian passports were given to Yugoslav citizens (which is unlawful), even to three accomplices in the Marseille regicide who had been staying for a while in Jankapuszta. Photographs of these passports were attached to the memorandum with their serial numbers, etc. This revelation


disturbed me immensely. I called up Budapest and reported to Prime Minister Gombos that during my inquiries back home no mention had ever been made of this irregularity, nor did I know that the Hungarian passports of three accomplices were genuine and not faked like the Czechoslovak papers. None of my statements would ever have been believed in Geneva, had I unwittingly denied this error.

I asked the Prime Minister to send to Geneva with utmost urgency a fully informed police officer of high rank - other than Police Chief Hetenyi, in whom I had lost confidence - and also the Chief of Hungarian Counterintelligence, both under strict orders to tell me the whole truth. The defense lawyer, I pleaded, must know every fact in the case, particularly those which might be harmful to the cause he was to defend. I felt it would be far better that I disclose our mistake and give an honest explanation for it, than to wait for our opponents to exploit it maliciously. Gombos fully agreed and promised to send the requested experts to Geneva without delay.

For the past two weeks, Foreign Minister de Kanya had been away from his office on a sick leave, and had only resumed his duties three days before the dispute in Geneva was ended. For over a decade, I had opposed the governments of Hungary for their reluctance to put through such timely changes as the land reform. But all the time, I had been collaborating in perfect understanding with Mr. de Kanya on international affairs. I now missed his wide experience and keen judgment. I also felt the need to eliminate the negative influence of scary bureaucrats who abound in every foreign office of the Old, as well as of the New, World, eager to delay timely decisions.

I therefore asked Prime Minister Gombos to give me a free hand to deal with the Marseille affair in Geneva as I saw fit, within the limits of his general instructions. He granted my request, and I remember gratefully how firmly he upheld all my decisions which some of our diplomats wished to water down. It is life-long regular practice of diplomats to seek a compromise to any and every conflict, which practice often with them becomes an ingrained habit. Yet, concessions have to be excluded by a self-respecting nation when its honor is thereby affected. Before I left for Geneva, Regent Horthy gave me a hint of his feelings: "The honor of Hungary has resisted until now every trial," was his last sentence when I took leave of him. The Admiral's expectation was perfectly in line with my resolution.


The next point in the Yugoslav memorandum brought up against Hungary was the alleged financing of Croat terrorism, including the Marseille assassinations. This accusation was quite ludicrous and completely undocumented. It was also widely known that the mint of the Ustashi currency was not in Hungary. If the Marseille regicide was carried out "in an atmosphere of luxury"- as the memorandum asserted - certainly the funds were not collected in Hungary where the Croat refugees had to earn their modest living, mostly as simple farmhands.

The Yugoslav memorandum contained serious misgivings because of the Hungarian Government's reluctance to extradite Croat political refugees at the request of the Yugoslav authorities, and to deny information on them. It reproached the Foreign Ministry because it was only on the 21st of November of the current year that it had transmitted to Belgrade a list of the suspicious Yugoslavs who had been living at one time or another in Hungary. Preceding the Second World War, did any civilized government extradite or denounce political refugees at the request of their persecutors? If guilty of a crime while in Hungary, the Croat refugees did stand trial by the competent Hungarian court. The Croat refugee Premec, enjoying asylum in Hungary, was sentenced - as mentioned - to fifteen years in prison by a Hungarian court for a crime committed in Yugoslav territory. This procedure did not fit into the Yugoslav intention to liquidate every Croat revolutionary. The memorandum objected that the Hungarian court only dealt with the case of Premec in order "to publicize the internal conditions in Yugoslavia and to establish an alibi for the Hungarian Government." Premec was convicted many months before the Marseille murders were perpetrated. Could the Hungarian Government prepare this much in advance its defense against yet unknown Yugoslav accusations?

In its summation, the Yugoslav Government complained of twenty terrorist acts committed in Yugoslavia, all of them since 1929. Indeed, terrorism was quite widespread in Yugoslavia at that time. But why should Hungary be made responsible for it? Would the real cause not be closer to home, i.e., the suspension of the Yugoslav constitution on January 6, 1929?

The memorandum condensed in three points Hungary's responsibility for the Marseille regicide: 1) the criminals were deliberately trained in Hungary for the murder of the King - a statement which


the Yugoslav Government knew to be untrue on the basis of its own investigation; 2) three accomplices left Hungary with Hungarian passports - an undeniable fact for which Hungary was responsible; 3) the Marseille regicide was the culmination of a terrorist action inspired and aided by the Hungarian Government - a little soul - searching might have led the Yugoslav Government to a different conclusion.

In its last chapter, the Yugoslav memorandum accused the Hungarian Government of a "policy of systematic negation." It concluded that the Marseille crime was nothing else, but the natural consequence of a conspiracy against Yugoslavia, organized and sustained from abroad. It ended with a declaration that the Hungarian Government had taken upon itself a grave responsibility which the Yugoslav Government considered as its first duty to denounce before the League of Nations.

Late the same evening, having glanced through the Yugoslav memorandum, I issued a short statement in time to be published in the press together with the Yugoslav accusation. I promised evidence that would prove that Hungary could not be held responsible for a plot which was decided upon, prepared, and perpetrated outside of Hungary. I emphasized that "the legal and illegal Croat revolutionary movement exists everywhere, where Croat refugees reside, for its exclusive source is the discontent caused by internal conditions in Yugoslavia."

In terms of the Yugoslav memorandum, I concluded: "The Marseille regicide was nothing else, but the natural consequence of a conspiracy organized in the very interior of Yugoslavia."

In spite of the late evening hour when it was issued, my retort was again published together with the Yugoslav accusaflon. The technical perfection of the American communication system was quite admirable. Next morning (November 29), the New York Times presented the Yugoslav memorandum to its readers and judged it as exceedingly grave because it spoke of direct responsibility of the Budapest Government. And then came an extract of my statement which charged that the murder plot originated in Yugoslavia and that it had its "exclusive source" in the discontent with the internal situation in Yugoslavia due to Belgrade's policy.

Although doubtful of Hungary's role in some respects, the Swiss press, as usual, showed much objectivity. The Yugoslav memorandum was criticized as incomplete. The name of Pavelitch, for instance, had


not even been mentioned, nor did the memorandum expose the vast terrorist organization of the Croats, spread all over the world. The Swiss press believed that a complete dossier on the Croat revolutionary movement should have been presented by the Yugoslav Government. Democratic naivete was mixed in this opinion with a keen sense of fairness. For the internal rift, bordering on civil war, was exactly that sore spot which the Yugoslav Government tried to hide most of all from the world.

Through the medium of the Swiss press, however, I was warned that the Yugoslav memorandum had raised some doubts concerning Hungary's conduct toward Yugoslavia. It stated that Budapest could not be exonerated, unless it was proven that the Croats guilty of the Marseille regicide had obtained in Hungary nothing else but asylum, to which they were entitled. The question was asked, did Hungarian authorities grant the Croat refugees valid passports, or had the papers in their possession been faked? More resented than the passports were the Hungarian official contradictions and evasions, thoughtlessly committed by the reckless "Uncle Chocho." It was also brought up that Jankapuszta had not been liquidated rapidly enough and that for a while "Hungary was playing with fire."

I knew nothing about the Hungarian passports as yet, but I could give, at my next press conference, competent answers and firsthand information on Jankapuszta. It was not a camp, I explained but a privately owned farm, rented to a Croat named Perchetch, who settled his refugee compatriots there as farmhands. Perchetch refused to disband his workers all at once, before the crops, which he did not wish to lose, had been harvested. By the end of the summer, there were still about a dozen stragglers left on the farm, who were ejected by gendarmes. Perchetch demanded a considerable sum as compensation for the losses he had suffered through the government action. It was from this last uprooted batch of Croat revolutionaries, forcibly removed to a neighboring town, that three accomplices in the Marseille Regicide had been selected by Colonel Perchevitch, who came in September from Vienna to Hungary for this purpose.

The Italian press resented much more sharply the Yugoslav accusations against Hungary than did the Swiss papers. It called attention to the fact that there were Croat refugees all over the world, the greatest number of them in America, the haven of political refugees.


They all were working against Yugoslavia, as bitterly as were the Croats in Hungary. The relevant question was: did the Hungarian Government know of the preparations to murder King Alexander? There was no evidence whatsoever in this respect. The criminals met in France; received funds and firearms in France; and committed the crime in France. Why, then, was Hungary called to task?

The Hungarian daily papers had also sent their correspondents to Geneva. They observed, as requested, a moderate tone in their reports. The semi-official Budapesti Hirlap shrugged off lightly the Yugoslav documents which "could be considered as ridiculous, if the honor of a nation were not involved."


After the presentation of the Yugoslav document, the confrontation of the litigants before the Councfl could not be delayed much longer. On December 1, before leaving for Geneva, Laval outlined his foreign policy program to the Chamber of Deputies in Paris. He followed closely Barthou's concept, who wished to encompass the European Continent in a tight network of security pacts and alliances which would encircle Nazi Germany.

In June, 1934, Barthou took the Disarmament Conference by surprise with his theory of "collective security," which only applying to the Continent was described as a "policy of blockade" by Sir John Simon on behalf of the British Delegation. At that time, Britain had not yet relinquished her support of Nazi Germany. That decision was only taken in October 1934, after the murder of Dollfuss. Even Henderson, the British President of the Conference, rejected with unusual severity Barthou's idea, which would have shut out British influence from the Continent. I watched Litvinov performing at the Conference as the most active supporter of French policy. Moscow hand branded the honestly defensive Treaty of Locarno as aggression. But now the Soviets enthusiastically endorsed the setting up of a network of military alliances to create a power-political imbalance which would impose the uncompromising will of the Franco-Russian alliance - then in the process of formation - on Europe and eventually on the world.

As long as only France and the Soviets identified themselves with this system of collective security, the European Continent would find little difficulty in securing its balance of power. These two far-distant powers, however, had to be connected. An important link in this, as yet incomplete system, was the planned French-Italian Entente, which had to be brought into harmony with the existing French-Little Entente Alliance. The stumbling block in this broad concept-antagonism between Rome and Belgrade - was heightened now by the murder of King Alexander and by the part which the Italian-sponsored Pavelitch and the Ustashis played in it.

Laval tried in a speech held in Paris to pay off both sides. He first


gave to Yugoslavia advice of moderation. The difficult job of exonerating Italy, by omitting her name from the Yugoslav complaint, had been achieved with the aid of the adroit Mr. Benes, who was enchanted with the prospect of having Hungary castigated instead. But Laval knew that Hungary, tied to Italy by the Pact of Rome, would not be abandoned easily by Mussolini. He therefore dropped the word in Rome that Austria would be left under Italian influence, but France wished to see Hungary isolated. Surrounded in the Valley of the Danube by the three Little Entente states, Hungary was to be left entirely at the mercy of the Little Entente. She was to disavow her policy aimed at the revision of the unjust Trianon Peace Treaty and establish a political regime subservient to the Little Entente.

Shrewdly conceived, Laval's policy was to intimidate Hungary and bring her down to her knees. "Nothing can change our faithfulness toward our Allies" - he assured the Little Entente. "There is a principle, the necessity of which has to be recognized by all: the maintenance of the present frontiers." He then gave a free hand to the Little Entente against Hungary by warning her that whosoever wishes to change a frontier "disturbs the peace of Europe." From now on the international action started against Hungary did not have to be restricted to the empty charge of her participation in the Marseille regicide, but also could be motivated by her policy of treaty revision.

The indictment of Hungary for a crime which she had not committed was thus superseded in the League of Nations by a political challenge. The question before the Council was shifted from "what is true" to "who wields more power." Hungary's position through Laval's strategem became more dangerous. Under the rule of unanimity the Council could not arrive at imposing sanctions against her, but it could condone violent action against Hungary if she were denoted as a threat to peace. As an immediate consequence of Laval's encouragement, Serbian armed bands, the Chetniks, under orders of General Zhifkovitch, converged on the Hungarian frontier and the number of Hungarians expelled from Yugoslavia became alarming. In the first week of December, Europe was shoved frivolously to the brink of war.

In its editorial of December 2, the Journal de Geneve called attention to other passages in Laval's speech which it considered unwise. Hitler was trying in those days to dissipate the bad impression which his decision to rearm Germany had created. Ribbentrop was sent to


France to assure Laval that Hitler desired an entente, not only with France, but with every country in Europe - not mentioning, of course, that this offer was valid only for the time while he was rearming. Laval was agreeable to such conversations, for he had not given up his ambition of achieving reconciliation with the German Reich. With him it was a premise that there did not exist, as far as he was concerned, any discord with any foreign power because of its internal policy. To the bitter end through many a disenchantment Laval stuck to this cynical view. Naziism was no obstacle to Laval's collaboration with Germany in 1934, or at any time later. Laval had no faith nor any principles, but he did wish to serve France and therefore asked for some evidence of sincerity on Hitler's part. From all the existing problems, he chose as a test case the adherence of Germany to an Oriental Locarno Pact which would also include the Soviets.

For this unfortunate choice the Journal de Geneve (December 2) blamed Prime Minister Flandin and his Cabinet, dominated by a joint front of the Free Masons. For them Fascism was the main enemy and there could be no forgiveness for them. Rapprochement with Italy was only acceptable to them if Fascist influence was counterbalanced by a binding entente between France and the Soviets. This unsound equilibrium became at that time the cornerstone of Laval's foreign policy. It precipitated the degradation of France. Intelligent Swiss advice in this respect, was not heeded by France. As envisaged by Laval, wrote the Journal de Geneve, "the Oriental Locarno Pact would allow the Soviets to intervene in all the conflicts arising among Berlin, Warsaw, Prague and the Baltic Republics, whereas the Soviets have demonstrated right now" (at the Disarmament Conference) "that they wish to aggravate every dissension in Europe. The Soviets will promote wars in Europe in which they would not participate, but which they intend to use ultimately for the launching of Communist revolutions. Laval's policy would legalize the entry of Soviet troops into the territory of their small Baltic neighbors; it would expose Poland and also Germany to the danger of becoming a corridor for the Soviet Army; and it might induce the Reich to get in line with Moscow and take a stand against France." It was amazing, concluded the paper, that Laval should qualify this dangerous maneuver as "an European duty." In August, 1939, all these apprehensions proved to be correct.

At the end of his speech, Laval extolled "Franco-Soviet solidarity,


which shall benefit every country and consolidate peace in Eastern Europe." The Journal de Geneve countered that "there is the grave danger in the Oriental Pact that it makes the peace of Europe dependent on the sincerity and loyalty of the Soviets. We believe that a system of regional peace pacts is excellent, but once and for all the Soviets must be excluded from it." This sound approach was not then and has not been since, adopted, in decisive moments of our history.

In Geneva, I had followed with much interest the futile debates in the Disarmament Conference. This was one of the few spots in the International world where the U.S.A. was represented. Ambassador Hughes Wilson outlined on November 20 the American plan concerning the control of production of armaments and of munitions which, very exaggeratedly, was considered at that time as the key to lasting peace. Since then, the recommended state control has been established by many governments, yet peace has become more elusive than ever.

For peace does not consist of paragraphs wisely or foolishly devised by peacemakers. It grows in the hearts of the millions, content with the fate they have to share; or, if forced to live under intolerable conditions, they yield to hate making the blessings of peace unattainable.

Justice, much more than Prosperity, is the indispensable prerequisite of lasting peace. There was material progress between the two World Wars, but rigid adherence to the status quo, often in contradiction to fairness, became the League of Nations' main concern. In this respect Britain had shown some leniency in Opposition to France toward Germany. But concerning Central and Eastern Europe, the Foreign Office adhered to its masterplan: the promotion of Slav policies and interests. Thus Britain remained concerning the Danube Valley in complete agreement with the French-Little Entente Alliance. The nations humiliated at the Paris Peace Conference by the victorious powers were subjected to harsh treatment and continued discrimination. They were deprived in times of peace even of the hope of a peaceful change. Could this policy lead to anything but violent reactions? In November, 1934, with Hitler in power, the good Mr. Pflugl, the delegate of Austria, still had to come hat in hand to Geneva, to ask the Disarmament Conference for equal rights and permission to set up an army for self-defense. Sixteen years after the war's end little Austria, facing the wrath of Hitler, was still held disarmed and had to beg for proper considerations of security, her most vital interest!


In these years, the Western World fell rather short in moral assets, and this defect became even uglier when camouflaged by hypocrisy. In Geneva, it was the adaptable Mr. Litvinov who won the first prize for hypocrisy. He had been throwing monkey wrenches into any and every negotiation which might have led to a better understanding among the dissenting powers, with Benes, his errand boy, carrying the Soviet intrigues to and from the delegations. Then, when the Disarmament Conference was turned successfully into a mess, he proposed that it transform itself into a permanent institution under the name of "Peace Conference." (Mr. Khrushchev has repeated by now every device used in Stalin's time to sabotage controlled disarmament, but as yet, he has not gone this far.) No wonder that MacDonald, the British Prime Minister, expressed unusual pessimism concerning disarmament in his funeral oration on the London Naval Conference (November 20, 1934).

On his way to Princess Marina's wedding, the Yugoslav Regent, Prince Paul, was informed by Yeftitch, his Foreign Minister, on the proceedings in Geneva. Prince Paul then had a lengthy consultation in London with Sir John Simon, the legalistic-minded British Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Before Mr. Eden left for Geneva, the British Cabinet discussed (December 1) the handling of the Marseille affair and favored the view of Prince Paul that, following a general condemnation of the crime, the debate in the Council be postponed until January. Mr. Eden had agreed with this view, but I certainly could not support it.

This British attitude did not mean a general acceptance of the Little Entente's designs, and I consoled myself with the experience that, as a rule, dilatory tactics were favored in delicate situations by the British Foreign Office, rather than any rapid solution. Yet, in this event, a delay would not bring about the hoped-for cooling off of emotions, it could only deepen and envenom the crisis. With the press and the Secretariat, I insisted therefore that the Council debate of the Yugoslav accusations not be postponed, for any delay would prolong the campaign of slander, against which Hungary would have to react. It might also intensify the tension inside Yugoslavia and provoke dangerous incidents on the Hungarian-Yugoslav frontier. Also, the expulsion of Hungarians from Yugoslavia demanded urgent


action. Heaps of news reached us day by day underscoring my pessimistic evaluation of the situation inside Yugoslavia.

With a sigh of relief, I then learned that on December 5 the Council would meet to discuss the Yugoslav complaint against Hungary under the Presidency of the Portuguese Ambassador, Mr. Vasconcellos, "who unites determination with courtesy." This respected diplomat, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, was liked for his objectivity. The newspaper, however, predicted that Mr. Eden would propose the postponement of the debate until January and that "Mr Eckhardt will defend - energetically as foreseen - the thesis of his country." I was not displeased with the fact that it had been noticed in Geneva that I would not be a pushover for the Little Entente. But I had no preconceived plan for the debate. My parliamentary experience had taught me that retort has to be adapted to the attack and to all the facts brought up during the debate.


In the first days of December, the Chief Delegates to the League began arriving in Geneva for the Council meeting. Preceding the expected showdown, I wished to contact some of them personally. From the five Great Powers who had been the original permanent members in the Council, Germany and Japan had withdrawn in 1933; on the other hand, in September 1934, the Soviets were accepted as a new permanent member of the Council. Next to the four Permament Members (Britain, France, Italy and Soviet Russia) there also were then six non-permanent members on the Council. From the Little Entente, only Czechoslovakia had been elected to non-permanent membership, but Yugoslavia, being a party to the conflict with Hungary, and Rumania having associated herself with Yugoslavia, both were to be invited to the Council table together with Hungary, whenever the Marseille affair was on the agenda.

The Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Yeftitch, arrived without fanfare on December 3, in the company of Konstantin Fotitch, the Permanent Delegate of Yugoslavia to the League. News from Belgrade preceded them, telling that Yeftitch had met strong opposition back home from colleagues in the Cabinet, for not being energetic enough in Geneva. It was also rumored that the Little Entente countries would not be satisfied with a simple moral condemnation of Hungary, but would curtail their relations with her by closing their frontiers.

Next day (December 4), Mr. Eden arrived in Geneva. His instructions by the Cabinet remained a strictly guarded secret, probably because they were vague and not much could be said about them. Sir John Simon, according to the press, had recommended that nothing should be precipitated, and it seemed quite probable that Eden would adhere to the preferred British method of temporization followed by a compromise. Eden was greeted in Geneva with much expectation, for he was said to be, since their college years, a personal friend of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. It was also hinted in the League's Secretariat that Eden would form a committee of the Great Powers to work out together a solution to the conflict. At this early stage of the showdown, I bad to ascertain on which delegation and to what extent I could rely.


I also had to supply some of them with factual information and to correct eventual erroneous notions of theirs.

My first exploratory visit was with the Italian Ainbassador, Baron Pompejo Aloisi. Of athletic build and with a Roman profile, he was highly regarded in diplomatic circles for his power of decision, and for his forthright, always tactful ways. For these fine qualities, he was elected President of the Subcommittee on the Saar, at the height of the conflict between Germany and France; a truly delicate task, which he absolved with considerable success. It was, first of all, from him that I expected assistance, mostly truthful information on behind-the-scenes negotiations among the Great Powers.

In September, during the Assembly meeting, the Ambassador had been helpful to Hungary and friendly to me personally. He envied me for my close relations with Gombos, the head of the Hungarian Government. "You are lucky" - he told me - "for you know what your goal is, and your Prime Minister gives you a free hand on how to achieve it. I don't know what the Duce drives at. Each morning at 8 o'clock, I call him by telephone and he gives me his instructions, but only for the day, and I have to follow them to the letter." Then, in answer to my comment on Italy's current dispute with Abyssinia, he became quite unhappy: "I agree with you that this conflict could be settled by negotiations. But I have to abstain from all talks with the Abyssinians. Just this morning, Mussolini forbade me to sit down at the same table with a Negro. So this afternoon, I have to stay away from the Council meeting where the Abyssinian complaint will be discussed, because a black delegate will be sitting at the table. I had rather jump right away into the Lake, than deviate from Mussolini's orders."

I found Baron Aloisi, this time, a very different person. I briefly Outlined my plans and asked him for his eventual comments. With an icy look he stared at the Lake, out of the window, as if I were not present at all. Believing that something in my presentation might have annoyed him, I assured the taciturn Ambassador that I would carefully avoid in Hungary's defense every argument which could be detrimental to Italian interests. Again, no answer, but he moved now to the window. I remembered the similar experience of which Prime Minister Gombos spoke, which he had had recently in Rome with Mussolini. Suddenly, I felt sorry for the embarrassed diplomat


obviously, he had strict instructions to play it dumb. An exceptionally brave man, a naval officer in the World War, he had invaded singlehandedly, as a diver, the port of Pola and sunk the flagship of the Astro-Hungarian Navy. Physical and moral courage, how different attributes, rarely present both in the same person! Quite saddened, I cut my visit short, assuring him that I would keep his delegation posted.

If you wish to retain good will, you must be careful not to become a burden to your friends. I transmitted thereafter to the Italian Delegation all the information which, I believed, could be of any interest to them, but never, during the Marseille affair, did I ask them for anything. In the Council, Aloisi spoke as well as I could expect him to, and the government-controlled Italian press lent its full support to the Hungarian cause. By not trying to engage Italy in our troubles, I retained her wholehearted assistance.

Next morning, on December 4, I payed my respects to Laval, whom I had not met before. He sat at his desk immersed in paperwork, glanced at me sideways, "Oh, that's you?" Not waiting for me to finish my first polite sentence, he stated unemotionally, in a matter-of-fact way: "I have not read the papers you have presented but I can assure you that France will remain faithful to her Allies." He extended his hand, without asking me to sit down-and my meeting with Laval had come to an end.

This small man without faith, having only a strong intellect, was ugly in his physical appearance. He called back, however, childhood memories of mine. With his olive brown skin, in his best black suit, he looked like the gypsy blacksmith on a Sunday afternoon at the faraway estate in Hungary, where I was horn. His epigrammatic rudeness was shocking, but helpful, for I knew now exactly where he stood. As curtly as is possible, he made me understand that he was not interested in who was right, or who was wrong. In fact, he was not interested in the Marseille affair, although it had cost the life of Barthou, his eminent predecessor. He was concerned exclusively with the cementing of the alliances of France, and for this purpose he was prepared to support his small Allies almost to the limit in whatever moves against Hungary they had in mind. So, I could spare my eventual efforts to try to convince him of the truth. I also could afford to avoid personal contacts with Laval. While saving time, we could thus


maintain polite appearances in Hungarian-French relations - an unsatisfactory but practical approach.

The darkest hour is just before dawn. In spite of my faith in our just cause, I had become aware that in the coming showdown, Hungary might stand all alone in a hostile world. She might by sacrificed by her intimidated friends and trampled by her enemies who were united. I had a call from the Polish Ambassador to London, Count Edward Raczynski, who wished to see me urgently; he had a message from Marshal Pilsudski, which he wanted to deliver before the next day, when the Council was to meet. Disillusioned by my recent experiences, I felt quite tense when the Ambassador entered. Poland was an ally of France - what kind of a message would I have to take?

Contacts among diplomats in Geneva were in those days rather informal, except for the Great Powers, whose Ambassadors erected ramparts of prestige around themselves. The representative of a small power was usually asked to visit the Ambassador who wished to make a communication to him. Colonel Beck, the Foreign Minister of Poland was quite anxious to have his country accepted as a great power. I appreciated so much more the Polish Ambassador's visit to my hotel.

I remember with some nostalgia the diplomats of Count Raczynski's type. They outshone the rest of society not only with their talent, but even more so with their grace. Their manners probably originated in Versailles and had been transplanted to Vienna together with the ornate Baroque art which enlivened the Catholic cultures of Central Europe. Civilized nations used to be polite, before the barbars invaded the international scene. But this style had a special cachet. It was as light as a souffle', yet solid; kind and cynical; frivolous and serious at the same time. It was virile but with a feminine charm.

There was nothing stuffy or hypocritical about the Polish Ambassador, nor did he try to save the world on this occasion. Unreservedly, he entered the fight in Geneva in the defense of a decent cause. Poland did have in Geneva, as her permanent delegate, the learned Mr. Komarnicki, who did useful work mostly in the committees. Marshal Filsudski wished to lend now more political weight to the Polish position, and had sent Count Raczynski to Geneva. I was delighted to hear from him that the Marshal had personally instructed him not to allow Hungary to be humiliated. I asked the Ambassador if he would


kindly explain "how this instruction would apply in the present conflict?"

"The demand of Yugoslavia for punishment of the criminals is justified," he said without hesitation. "We are friends of Yugoslavia and, after all, their King has been killed. Poland will stand by Yugoslavia in this respect. The intention of the Little Entente, however to humiliate Hungary is a fraud which I will not tolerate. Particularly, any time that Benes opens his mouth, I will slap him down!"

Hardly able to retain my composure, I interjected: "May I consider this, Mr. Ambassador, as an official statement of the Polish Government?"-"Yes, you may." - "May I report this conversation to my Government?"-"Please do. This is the reason I came to see you! " - From unexpected quarters Hungary received the most appreciated help. Unquestionably, part of the merit belonged to Prime Minister Gombos for having strengthened, during his visit in Warsaw, the sympathies of Marshal Pilsudski for Hungary. On the other hand, the sly Mr. Benes had also played his part in alienating Poland from Czechoslovakia. His present role of a prosecutor did not fit him well, for he was the sponsor of the Leftist Ukrainian movement held responsible for the murder of the Polish Minister of the Interior, Pieracki. Yet, with butter on his head, Benes chose to stand in the sun.

The sincerity of a government's policy may be judged generally by the attitude of its press. My fine impression of the Polish stand was strengthened by a review of the Polish papers, for they followed the same line as did Raczynski. The Express Poranny (December 4) wrote about the justified reaction of Yugoslavia, "in contrast to some governments" which wish to exploit now the abominable Marseille affair for their own political purposes. It is contrary to sound morale - concluded the paper - that political bills of this sort, not connected with the Marseille tragedy, be presented to the Hungarian nation.

Marshal Pilsudski's stand by Hungary's rightful cause was one of his last acts before he died (in early 1935). I was - and still feel - happy about this experience. The Marshal did not cultivate self-aggrandizement by demagoguery or by costly public relations, so the Western world knows little about his accomplishments. Yet, his stature will grow in European history until he may outshine all the


contemporary leaders as the greatest, maybe the only great statesman of the

Continent in his time.

For enlightened critics will judge political leaders by their lasting achievements and not by the slogans which they may have coined with temporary success. Pilsudski had achieved the impossible: he had liberated and reunited Poland as a free country, after having been partitioned among three mighty Empires for one and a half centuries. He led his gifted, but pugnacious people from the ravages of a World War to peace and consolidation; he gave them a democratic constitution with as much personal freedom as was compatible with the nation's good order under existing circumstances. As long as he lived, he successfully defended reunited Poland against her overwhelmingly stronger neighbors, the two ruthless totalitarian dictatorships: Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, in whose shadow Poland had to live.

Pilsudski also had foreseen correctly the mortal peril which Hitler's advent to power would create, and was prepared to prevent it, even with desperate means. In May, 1932, while in London, I learned that Pilsudski had reactivated his semi-secret military forces and was concentrating them around Danzig to provoke a showdown with Germany, before Hitler could get to the helm. My good friend, G. Ward Price, a foreign correspondent of the Daily Mail, had already joined the Polish irregulars splashing through slush and fog toward that Baltic port, when Tardieu, the French Prime Minister and his Conservative bloc, favorable to this Polish scheme, were defeated at the elections. It was Edouard Herriot, the victorious leader of the Radicals, who had to decide for France what attitude to assume now, concerning a preventive war by well-equipped Polish troops against revengeful but as yet unprepared Germans.

Since 1924, Herriot had been the most influential promoter of a French-Soviet alliance. In 1931, while Laval, as Prime Minister, was preparing the Treaty of Non-Aggression with the Soviets (signed in 1932), he had nothing but praise for Russia's "progress" and her military achievements. He shrugged off the subversive activities of the Third International as "unimportant" and refused to notice the tyranny which the Soviets represent. Having won the election in 1932, Herriot denounced in a vehement speech the outgoing French Cabinet of Tardieu as "adventurers" who would have plunged France over a precipice. The Polish irregulars had to be disbanded and within two


years, Hitler started his massive rearmament. Did Herriot remember this in Vichy, in 1940, when he proclaimed, as President of the Chamber, the capitulation of his country to the Nazis? Did be realize how a few skirmishes on the Baltic coast might have prevented the devastating second World War, had he, Edouard Herriot, had the vision of the impending tragedy and the intestinal fortitude of Pilsudski to accept full responsibility for a bold move which only few would understand and many deplore?

The tempestuous fate of his nation had hammered Pilsudski, the resolute aristocrat, a descendant of Lithuanian princes, into unbreakable steel. Fanatic masses were needed to liberate Poland from under Tsarism; so, still a young man, Pilsudski decided to organize the Polish Socialist Party. Under the watchful eyes of the Russian Ochrana, he published the Robotnik, a secret newspaper, which he edited, printed and distributed himself, in order to prepare the Polish masses with his courage and good humor for the coming struggle. Fearlessness made of him the idol of the working classes, but also caused his exile to Siberia, his imprisonment by the Russians in the dreaded Tenth Pavilion of Warsaw and his confinement in a German jail during the World War.

With Poland liberated, reunited, and the invading Soviets defeated, Pilsudski hoped that his task was completed. Modestly, he retired in 1923 to his country home, but was forced to retake power in his own hands in 1926, exactly as happened later, in France, to DeGaulle, because of the Parliament's incompetence. Pilsudski's vigorous abuse of the Sejm (the Parliament) was not resented by the proud Polish people, so great was their respect for him, and - they also felt - that his criticism was deserved. Up to his death, he maintained progress, decency and a balance between freedom and order. In his last years, be tried to improve the endangered security of his homeland by pacts of non-aggression, first with the Soviets (1932), then, in January 1934, with Germany. He was adversely criticized in the West, by complacent, yet sanctimonious political factors, for his Pact of Non-aggression with Hitler which, although in the long run inoperative, evidenced his keen sense of reality. Before signing the Pact, Pilsudski had informed Regent Horthy of Hungary that he could not continue to stand alone against Hitler. He had to seek a guarantee - he confided - of Polish independence now, before Germany was rearmed, for thereafter no


improvement of the Polish position could be obtained from the Nazis. His great passion, Poland, has been trampled by her enemies and abandoned by her Allies. Yet, with deep lines furrowed by conscience and exertion across his noble features, Marshal Joseph Pilsudski's lonely figure still looms tall across the dense fog which has descended upon the troubled land of the Poles, as the timeless symbol of "The Patriot," the only thing which he wanted to be.

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