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The December 10th Council meeting lasted for more than five hours; it heard at first an eloquent speech by Mr. Titulescu, the star among the Little Entente performers. Knock-kneed, completely beardless and on the fatty side, this portly Rumanian diplomat impressed me as a palace chamberlain from the Orient. He read his pompous oration, mixed with honey and poison, from a sitting position; yet his rhetoric, more than his arguments, remained impressive. He paid, at first, tribute to the memory of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, and then expressed his flowery condolences to France. "For everything," he declaimed, "that affects France also affects Rumania, as is so impressively recorded in history and evidenced by our present close relations. When France is cruelly wounded by the heroic death of Louis Barthou, an honorary citizen of Rumania, my country, as an interested party, demands in the name of the two great leaders who have disappeared: more light and proper sanctions!"

Titulescu then heaped vibrant praise on the memory of Count Albert Apponyi, the former Delegate of Hungary, held in high esteem in the League, who died last spring; only to compare that "living cathedral" to Eckhardt, his present unworthy successor, who has completely changed the style of the discussions. "Courtesy," he complained, "is being replaced today by gratuitous affirmation and provocation."

Coming to the meeting, I had been warned by the Austrian Delegate, the good Mr. Pfugl, that Titulescu had invited friendly reporters to be present at the very start of the meeting, when he would destroy with personal invectives the self control of "Mr. Tibor Eckhardt, still an apprentice in this game around the Council table." Titulescu's bombastic praise of Count Apponyi, whose life in Geneva the Rumanian diplomat had embittered more than any other of his foes, was a rhetorical counterpoint for balancing by homage to a dead Hungarian statesman the calculated insults he was to hurl at his current Hungarian opponent. Once before, he already had tried to bluff me, just as I was to deliver in the Council Hungary's plea regarding the complaints of the Hungarian minority in Rumania. He stopped me in


the corridor to eulogize almost tearfully "his closest friend," who had left us, the great Apponyi, and to express his desire to nourish similar sympathies toward me. There exists a fortunately rare, but bold type of hypocrisy which is embarrassing to an extent that it leaves you speechless. I only met one other such perfect bluffer: von Papen, at one time Hitler's Ambassador to Vienna. Two weeks before Hitler invaded Austria, he congratulated me publicly for my lecture with which he so fully agreed: namely, that in all events the independence of Austria must be maintained.

That afternoon, Titulescu changed seats at the table with Benes, to sit directly opposite me. So I directed the lovely "Miss Jankapuszta" to sit behind me and to keep smiling at Mr. Titulescu, no matter what he said. My old friend, the Austrian Pfugl, told me later that during the meeting he had telephoned to Chancellor Schuschnigg in Vienna to assure him that everything went well in Geneva. "Bent over his papers, Eckhardt is puffing at his cigar, taking no notice of the irate Titulescu, while the Hungarian's handsome secretary registers with a charming smile the rude remarks flung at her boss." It was none else but Mr. Titulescu who became disconcerted; he could not continue to hurl his invectives at the pretty girl! Gallantly, he turned away from us and addressed the rest of his speech to the gallery, where this scene caused some hilarity. Mr. Eden also had a way of cooling off the fiery Mr. Titulescu, if he became too long-winded: he quietly opened the window behind Titulescu, who could not stand any draft.

There was some impressive rhetoric in Mr. Titulescu's presentation of the Yugoslav complaint, but the logic of his arguments was less poignant than Laval's had been. He admitted that the Hungarian authorities were guilty mainly of omission and deduced that Yugoslavia asked for the help of the League and of Hungary to take measures against the guilty authorities, but did not question Hungary's honor. Essentially for home consumption, he then reverted to aggressive oratory. Mr. Benes had threatened Hungary at the previous Council meeting with war, which I rebuked as propaganda, and added: "If you have no traditions, you rely on propaganda." This remark, of course, did not apply to Rumania, nor would it apply to ancient Bohemia, but it did fit Czechoslovakia, a newborn state fabricated during the World War by emigrants in Pittsburgh. Titulescu became indignant, for he and Benes were "the two oldest servants of the League,


whose present action is based on international solidarity for the maintenance of peace, which deserves only praise and certainly no blame." Then - a shocking faux pas for an old servant of the League - he upheld the Rumanians, whom two thousand years ago Roman Emperors had settled in Eastern Europe, and so "were there to receive the Hungarians when they arrived from Asia." When Titulescu was through with his speech, Roushdy Aras bey, the Turkish Minister, rose to remark - not without resentment -that his people were also Asiatics and there was nothing derogatory in this fact.

Titulescu's performance was quite entertaining, yet harmful to the interests of the League of Nations, where, since the exit of the two revisionist Great Power - Germany and Japan - adherence to the status quo was stiffening into a dogma. An international organization, whose only purpose becomes the maintenance of an unalterable power-political system with exclusion of any change, will provoke the hostility of all the vital force - good and evil - desirous of asserting themselves. Titulescu made the doubtful prophecy that a world-wide plebiscite held on the question of revision would soon convince the discontented peoples that "they were an infinitely small group in the ensemble of peoples, at the center of which the Hungarians formed the most active and rather noisy kernel." Titulescu's enviable self-assurance was bolstered by his confidence in the Soviets, whose Ambassador, for the first time in Rumanian history, had been received on December 3 by King Carol, when at Titulescu's insistence, diplomatic relations between their countries were established. The Soviets did not plead for the revision of their frontiers as did Hungary and their reserve imbued Titulescu with faith in their friendly intentions. Six years later, however, the policy of Titulescu proved to be a colossal blunder, when in the summer of 1940, a Soviet ultimatum struck Rumania like lightning from a clear sky, imposing upon her by the force of arms a cession of her territory of considerable magnitude, which Rumania did not undertake to resist.

Titulescu, a skilled craftsman in Byzantine-style politics, preferred treacherous Soviet dialectics to Hungarian plain talk about revision. Less aggressive, however, than Mr. Benes, he did not completely identify revision with terrorism, but with a curious twist accused it of being "the father of terrorism." "The idea of revision " he warned, "troubles the peoples' minds regarding the fair settlement of


their fate, so their hands grab for arms to carry out the commands of an exasperated spirit." Soon, history was to flatten Titulescu's logic. Preceding Stalin's attack on Rumania in 1940, Joseph Kristoffy, the Hungarian Minister to Moscow, was unexpectedly invited to the Kremlin. Stalin asked him sneeringly, whether Hungary had given up her demand for the restitution of her territory annexed by Rumania. "Now is the time to take back Transylvania," he advised bluntly. Revisionist Hungary, however, refrained from resorting to violent methods, and chose arbitration. She accepted the Vienna Award (August 30, 1940) which restored only a part of her territory lost to Rumania. In relations among nations, injustice is the basic evil. It will be countered by revisionism with peaceful means, or by terrorism and war, should the former fail. It was on the rock of injustice that all the Paris Peace Treaties foundered, and the talent of Titulescu did not suffice to stop that elementary reaction.

Titulescu had been hard on Hungarian policy in his speech. This assured him wide publicity in the Rumanian papers. But he knew that Hungary could not be humiliated, so in conclusion he assured the Hungarian nation that he did not put its honor in doubt. "To convince Hungary of this, I offer her my hand, and ask her to cooperate with us in order to give the Yugoslav nation the reasonable satisfaction which it asks. Let us all help, thereby, the cause of peace." Outside of the conference room, in private negotiations, a formula was being worked out for settling the conflict. So Titulescu ended his bellicose speech by waving an olive branch at the Council table.

Two-faced Mr. Titulescu had predicted "rupture or rapprochement" with Hungary, but expressed his preference for the second solution. Not so Mr. Benes, the "Apostle of Peace," who proved unable to control his frustration. He became aware by then that his scheme to shackle the revisionist policy of Hungary was crumbling. But he still tried to argue cynically that this was "no time for legal justice" but for political decisions by the Council. The accusation of Hungary's complicity in the Marseille crime having failed, Benes threatened: "If the Council has not the courage to tell the truth politically, we will go away from here and there will be danger that the conflict will continue to develop still more." Among the Yugoslavs, Benes preferred to play ball with the adventurer, General Zhifkovitch, rather than with the reasonable Yeftitch. Three days earlier, Benes had tried to rouse the


Council with the allegation that Czechoslovakia was directly threatened by plots brewed in Hungary. But he again forgot to submit to the Council any evidence whatsoever to prove his accusation. He also rejected the Italian thesis about the possibility of "revision through legal forms" and repeated that he was unable to separate revision from terrorism. The only point of view he accepted was the one expressed by Laval: that any attempt to change a frontier meant war. Flushed with anger, he turned on Hungary and addressed to me the threat: "Give up revision or I will lead you to hell!"

Mr. Yeftitch, the only Delegate who had the right to demand satisfaction from the Council for the loss which his nation had suffered, was the most moderate of the Little Entente ministers. He read his speech softly and rapidly, almost eager to end it. Essentially, it was a point-by-point reiteration of what, in speech and in writing, the Yugoslavs had stated previously. But Yeftitch added that "there has never been in the mind of the Yugoslav Government the idea of confusing the actions of certain Hungarian authorities with the sentiments of justice and honor of the Hungarian people." And later in a passage of his speech, Yeftitch alluded to activities in Italy and even in Belgium which showed that the Ustashis outside of Hungary had been deeply engaged in the murder plot against King Alexander. "The Council learned with horror," he complained, "that the death sentence against King Alexander had been pronounced in Belgium. It is true that this so-called resoluion was read in some centers of the Yugoslav emigration on direct instructions of Ante Pavelitch. . . . This resolution charged the said Pavelitch, as chief of the terrorist organization, to execute the sentence. . . . I shall add, as a comment, . . that the chief of the terrorist organization charged with the execution is beyond the reach of justice." Italy had refused to extradite Pavelitch and this much, Yeftitch felt, he had to divulge. "The Yugoslav Government," he said modestly, "has fulfilled to the end its duty of maintaining peace and waits now for the Council to carry out its duty in this respect."

On the first day of the debate in the Council (December 7), the Polish Delegate, Mr. Kornarnicki, had alluded to aid given by Czechoslovakia to Ukrainian political refugees engaged in subversive activities against Poland. On this final day of the debate, eager to remove from the discussion in the Council this most embarrassing


complaint, Mr. Benes offered to Poland bilateral negotiations. But he had also threatened Hungary to take her to hell and the Polish Delegate had strict instructions not to tolerate any overbearing behavior by Benes toward Hungary. So, Mr. Komarnicki rose after Yeftitch to remind Benes of the murder of the Polish Minister, Pieracki, contrived last summer by Ukrainian refugees in Czechoslovakia. He laid down the essential conditions which would have to be satisfied by Czechoslovakia before relations between their countries could be improved. Benes, the champion against terrorism, could not avoid then giving his assent to measures against terrorism to be taken by himself in Czechoslovakia And these were the last words pronounced by the embarrassed Dr. Benes in the unholy Marseille affair.

Dispassionately I had been watching Mr. Benes during the discussion, with the feeling that he was consistently digging his nation's grave. For more than thirty years he had been piling up too many mistakes, which I have to recall to avoid the appearance of condemning a one-time respected Central-European leader without proper evidence. Right then, he was committing a fraud by accusing Hungary of a crime, which, he knew, she had not committed. He had badly overplayed his hand and made it obvious that even at the cost of a preventive war he would attempt to deprive encircled Hungary of all hope of a betterment of her fate. His radical thinking was purely negative and since his youth was based on a single idea: "Destroy Austria-Hungary!" This negative slogan became the title of his book written in France before the World War. Whatever it did to Europe, it proved most useful for Benes in furthering his personal career in the years while France and Britain maintained close ties with Tsarist Russia, the main antagonist of Austria-Hungary. Jointly, these Great Powers incited and aided the national aspirations of the Slavs within the Dual Monarchy. For twenty years, Benes had been sailing with favorable winds. Still a young man, he was sitting triumphantly in 1919 among the Allies at the Paris Peace Conference and assumed there the role of an arbiter in Central European questions. He provided the Allies with false data, crowded his fragile State with indigestible national minorities and provoked the lasting hostility of all his neighbors whom he had wronged.

It needs greatness for men and nations alike to discard outdated policies which had once brought them much success. Benes' career


was based on the breaking up of Austria-Hungary; so his opposition to anything resembling that Empire remained adamant, even after it became obvious that only by the restoration of Danubian unity could the intrusion of Hitler into the Middle Danube valley be prevented. Benes perpetrated and perpetuated the division of the vital Danubian area through his Little Entente Alliance which kept down Austria as a paltry German state of no consequence and threatened Hungary with obliteration by a ring of Allied states unless she acquiesced in her mutilation. At a time when Great Power imperialism was on the decline, Benes started off on an imperialistic tangent and imagined that the Czechs would inherit the position of which the World War had deprived Austria. Intoxicated with his newly won power, he built up a rapaciously imperialistic state bending alien peoples under its yoke without regard for their desires or their interests. With storm clouds gathering in the sky, he continued his feuds with every neighbor. His tactics made him blind to the strategic realities of the European situation which were to destroy him without mercy.

Central European nations, like the Poles and the Hungarians, had for centuries been shedding their blood in torrents for their independence, while the Czechs enjoyed political security and a high level of bourgeois prosperity under the protective umbrella of the Habsburgs. The Czechs gained a reputation for the sensible way in which they adapted themselves to any given situation and avoided thereby unnecessary hardships. Hussite audacity of the Middle Ages had invariably resulted in disaster for the Czechs, so after the Battle of the White Mountain (1620) they reverted to the more realistic teachings of St. Wenceslas, whose policy of compromise proved more efficacious. It provided, within the framework of the Habsburg Empire, peaceful coexistence for Czechs and Sudeten Germans in Bohemia: their common, ancient Fatherland versed in the arts and refinements of Western life. It secured for the Czechs the continuity of their national life in harmony with the Sudeten Germans. In the early twenties, Mr. Beran, the political leader of the Sudeten Germans, repeatedly assured me that they were loyal citizens of Bohemia but insisted on retaining equal rights with the Czechs and not being downgraded to the status of a minority. They cherished Bohemia, the land which their ancestors had built up during many centuries together with the Czechs. But when small-bourgeois conceit and chauvinism, personified


by Benes, broke their traditional ties, one by one, with their homeland, they turned away from Prague and sought support in Berlin. Among the grave mistakes committed by Mr. Benes, his Sudeten German policy constitutes probably the stupidest offense.

Anthony Eden, a good diplomat with poor judgement, saw Edward Benes in April, 1935, in a different light. Eden resented "the impatience of the vanquished" with the peace treaties as a nuisance and he liked Benes "very much," for his rigid adherence to the status quo in Central Europe could be fitted well into the British over-all policy of immobilism. He also approved of Benes' efforts to bring Soviet influence into Europe and was glad to see Russia emerge as a European great power. Benes, according to Eden,1 "was eager and dexterous perhaps a little too dextrous. His active mind was forever scheming new plans and projects; they were so numerous that they could not all be good" - a truly merciful characterization of Benes the President, who led his country repeatedly into an abyss. But, of course, Eden had approved - in fact he was the first one among the Big Three to approve the deplorable action proposed by Benes to expel Czechoslovak citizens by the millions from their ancient homelands, simply because they belonged to a different race with which Benes refused to co-exist. Partnership in crime creates a lasting bond.

For Benes was walking ah the time on a tight rope. His heterogenous state composed of 6.5 million Czechs and 7.1 million minorities2 could have been dissolved democratically by its own Parliament. To forestall such calamities, he caused a law to be passed on April 30, 1937, "for the protection of the State" which practically made him a dictator. Thomas Masaryk, the founder of the Czechoslovak Republic, had taught that "States are being maintained by the same ideas on which they have been established." The centrifugal forces in Czechoslovakia growing because of the denial of self-determination to the subjected people, might have destroyed that state even without Hitler's interference.

On this last day of the debate, Benes' intensified threats against Hungary did not permit me to delay my answer, as was kindly suggested by Mr. Vasconcellos, the President of the Council, who wished to give me time to prepare my closing speech. My retort (in French) had to

1 Memoirs. p. 192.

2 3.3 million Germans, 2.5 million Slovaks, 0.8 million Hungarians, 0.4 million Ruthenians, and 0.1 million Poles. Statesman's Year Book, 1926, p.768.


be improvised in order to have it published in the press along with the attacks against Hungary. I certainly had to put an end to the accusation that Hungary was pursuing a policy of terrorism. I therefore declared that "independent of the planned international convention against terrorism, Hungary was ready to negotiate with her neighbors an agreement on police measures which would prevent all hostile agitation by political refugees." Then, accepting without reservation the declaration of Italy's Delegate, I noted that Mr. Laval had stated that France stood with Yugoslavia but hoped for a reconciliation between Yugoslavia and Hungary. I referred to this sentence because it allowed me to take a bow toward France: "Hungary willingly joins her efforts to those of France toward this end." During the entire Council debate, I had avoided all polemics with the Great Powers, including France, the leader of the hostile coalition.

I hoped sincerely for reconciliation with Yugoslavia and refrained from pouring oil on the smoldering embers. Mr. Yeftitch had not presented any new facts, so I could restrict myself to merely referring to my speech and the memoranda addressed to the Council. But I kept the record open concerning the expulsions from Yugoslavia, which by then totaled over 3,000 Hungarians, and stated that without resorting to reprisals Hungary was still awaiting satisfaction. Deliberately, I skipped Titulescu's speech. As a publicity stunt, he had tried to start a personal feud, so I deflated his vanity by completely disregarding his talk. I wished to concentrate my attention on Mr. Benes, who with his threats had given me the opportunity to bring before the highest international authority the problem of treaty revision and the lawfulness of that policy.

I made it crystal clear that the Covenant of the League of Nations, in its Article XIX, did provide for the possibility of peaceful revision of the Peace Treaties and that this rule could not be disregarded, unless the validity of the entire Covenant was placed in doubt, including Article X, on which the observance of the status quo was based. "If you ask me why," I apprised Mr. Benes, "sixteen years after the war that threatened to ruin all mankind, the Danube Valley still knows no veritable peace when I am convinced that all peoples desire it - I can answer recalling just one fact:

"A great Ambassador of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire left for the guidance of his successors this dictum: 'For the victor in war


or on the diplomatic battlefield the first essential is sincere reconciliation with the adversary. What has Hungary seen in sixteen years? Has there been a single act of reconciliation?"

I then paid tribute to the "eminent services Mr. Benes has rendered the League when a disinterested party," but I regretted that he could not remain objective where Hungary was concerned. Yet, the Danubian States depended so much on one another that misfortune for one was misfortune for all. I warned Mr. Benes: "You have threatened to lead us to hell. But if you do so, Mr. Benes, you will have to come along with us!" This prediction soon became a reality, for leading the peoples of Austria-Hungary to perdition Benes reached hell in 1938, six years before Hungary was taken over by Hitler. Aware of his mistake, Benes became visibly perturbed, so I reached out in conclusion for the hand which the Little Entente had extended:

"Hungary is ready to respond to, and associate herself with, any sincere effort tending to improve the present situation and she will not be stopped in doing this by the bad treatment she has just received from the Little Entente governments."

The journalistic mind of our age learns fast and forgets even quicker. The principles of President Wilson which were to bring lasting peace to earth were hailed in the early twenties and forgotten by the beginning of the thirties. Reference to Article XIX of the Covenant could therefore be misconstrued as warmongering in the press and even in the League of Nations! This balloon inflated with lies was, however, punctured during the debate. The New York Times noted next day that there was in the Council one small constructive item that might grow. With genuine surprise the paper revealed: "It happens there is a peaceful way to revise treaties. It is contained partly in the Covenant's Article XIX, but neither Germany nor Hungary has ever turned to it, possibly because it seemed altogether hopeless. Mr. Titulescu himself reminded Hungary yesterday that Article XIX existed as a safety valve. . . . Mr. Eckhardt then noted not only this Article's existence but also the fact that it had originally been meant by Wilson to be part of Article X and to form a safety valve for that Article's territorial guarantees. If it was a choice between rupture and rapprochement yesterday, then this may point the way for the rapprochement that was chosen." The New York Times had recognized


at last that treaty revision might lead the way to more peaceful conditions.

The political campaign in the League of Nations, intended to humiliate Hungary and stamp out her policy for treaty revision, thus came to an end with the opposite result achieved. The lawfulness of Hungarian revisionism could no longer be denied, even by its opponents. Standing firmly by her just cause, Hungary had strengthened her position in the face of Little Entente threats and pressures. The liquidation of the Marseille affair was now reduced to a technicality within the League. The case could be wound up the same night, since the private negotiations conducted outside of the meeting by Mr. de Kanya had, meanwhile, also been concluded. At the proposal of the Council's President, Mr. Eden was unanimously elected the rapporteur of the Marseille affair. A few hours passed in expectation before the Hungarian Government's approval of the proposed resolution was received from Budapest. It was almost midnight when, to the relief of the tired Delegates, Mr. Eden made his brief report and then read the text of the resolution (see Appendix), submitting it to the Council for approval.

"The resolution," according to the New York Times, "like all Council resolutions, was a compromise. Without declaring that the Hungarian Government was responsible for terrorism in any way, as Yugoslavia had originally demanded. . . it expressed the opinion that 'certain Hungarian authorities may have assumed, at any rate through negligence, certain responsibilities relative to acts having connection with the preparation of the Marseille crime. Two important modifications had been gained by our Delegation in the resolution: no blame whatsoever was placed on the Hungarian Government; and it was incumbent upon the Hungarian Government - not on any international authority - to take "appropriate punitive action in the case of any of its authorities whose culpability may have been established." The resolution stated that the Council was "convinced of the good will of the Hungarian Government to perform this duty" and requested it "to communicate to the Council the measures it takes to this effect." All foreign interference in this procedure was thus excluded.

3 December 11.

4 The italics are mine; they refer to the words which were inserted at the Hungarian Delegation's insistence in the final text.


The attack on Hungarian revisionism had also fallen short of its purpose. In full agreement with Hungarian views, the Council ruled in its resolution that the Covenant made it especially incumbent on the League members not to tolerate or encourage, but to repress and help repress political terrorism. But revisionism was not reproved and Article X of the Covenant was not cited as the Little Entente had demanded, since Hungary had insisted that in this event equal weight be placed on Article XIX, which admits the revision of treaties by peaceful means. The danger of political terrorism was handled properly by establishing a "Committee of Ten" to study proposals for international legislation against terrorism with a view to negotiating a League convention regarding this menace. A few hours earlier, Laval had submitted to the Council the draft of a pact to end terrorism and suggested the creation of a "Permanent World Penal Court." Before ending its meeting the Council proceeded to designate the ten nations whose Delegates would constitute the Committee of Ten. By this time, Benes had left the meeting; he was no longer interested in the Marseille regicide. So, in a rather unexpected reversal of roles, Czechoslovakia was omitted from this Committee and Hungary appointed a member - her reputation obviously had remained unimpaired.

At the end of the historic meeting of December 10, 1934, the Council unanimously approved the resolution submitted by Mr. Eden. Only Laval for France and Aloisi for Italy spoke after the rapporteur, both in praise of the resolution and with thanks to the Portuguese President, Augusto de Vasconcellos. Modestly, the President gave all the credit to the League which had won a great victory and "deserved well of peace." On leaving the meeting, unexpectedly Laval stopped me with his hand outstretched: "Accept my congratulations. You have defended your country very well!" There was nothing political in Laval's gesture; it was the acknowledgment of a professional fighter after the bout. "Thank you, Mr. President," I bowed, shaking hands with the man who had never even looked at me before. "My job was easy, I was defending the right cause."

In the darkness on Quai Wilson little men stepped out from under the tall trees. They swarmed around me, shaking hands joyfully. Titulescu had called the Hungarians "Asiatics," so these Chinese diplomats wished to express their happiness with the success of their Hungarian kinsman.

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