[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] Wartime American Plans for a New Hungary

DOCUMENTS - Part Two: Frontiers of Hungary - Chapter I. : Minutes of the Subcommittee on Territorial Problems

Document 3

Minutes of the Subcommittee on Political Problems


Strictly Confidential Minutes P - 17

Meeting of June 27, 1942


Mr. Welles, presiding

Mr. Hamilton Fish Armstrong
Mr. Adolf A. Berle
Mr. Isaiah Bowman
Mr. Benjamin V. Cohen
Mr. Green H. Hackworth
Mr. John V. A. MacMurray
Mrs. Anne O'Hare McCormick
Mr. Leo Pasvolsky
Mr. James T. Shotwell
Mr. Myron C. Taylor
Mr. Paul C. Daniels
Mr. Harley Notter, research secretary
Mr. Paul B. Taylor, secretary

(...) The more he had thought over the question, particularly during the past week, the more difficult it seemed to have a complete East European Union covering the entire area we had thought of. He wondered if success would not be more likely if were to have a Northern East European Group and a Balkan Group. Our whole objective was the inducement of peace by removing the possibility of war or exploitation by big powers, such as Germany, Russia, and Great Britain, against the small states of the region; and by making the people of the region as prosperous and contented as possible. We had thought the best way to achieve this was by creating a buffer, not subservient to Germany, the Soviet Union, or to Great Britain. The question thus arose whether a division of the area into two parts would diminish the possibility of accomplishing that objective.

Mrs. McCormick thought it would be necessary to define the boundaries of the two groups and to determine what liaison there should be between them. It would, she thought, be extremely hard to get the antagonistic peoples together at the beginning. She thought Austria offered a possibility as a sort of liaison country--a meeting ground. Turning to Mr. Welles, she said that she did not know what conversa- tions he and other officials had had on such questions. Mr. Welles said that so far as he could determine, it would be an appallingly difficult job. The bitter feeling of Yugoslavia and Greece toward Bulgaria--the justifiably bitter feeling--was one which he, personally, had rarely seen equaled. Mrs. McCormick referred also to the bitterness between Hungary and Rumania. Mr. Welles added the hatred of Czechoslovakia and Hungary: and of Yugoslavia and Hungary. There would be question whether the danger would diminish by having all of these countries together. Mr. Pasvolsky asked whether we could draw a line between the groups which would minimize the effects of these antago- nisms. Mr. Welles said that one group would be Lithuania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia (and Austria?). The Balkan Group would consist of Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Rumania.

Mr. Armstrong raised the question as to what power would try to exploit the area and under what conditions it could succeed. Mrs. McCormick thought that Russia would be likely to dominate the Northern Group while Germany would dominate the Southern. Mr. Welles said, "Or vice versa." Mr. Armstrong thought it would be more likely to be vice versa. The question would arise as to the social policy maintained by Soviet Russia after the war. This could, he pointed out, over-ride all other considerations. He felt that the appeal of Pan- Slavism was the strongest in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. He thought there was some possibility of improvement of the relations between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia if there were very radical Bulgarian and Yugoslav régimes. This possibility had been indicated by the Stambul- sky régime* in Bulgaria; if, however, the Bulgarian dynasty** were to hold, he thought there Bulgarian-Greek antagonism was worse than the Bulgarian-Yugoslav. Mr. Armstrong thought, however, that even this might be better in a successful organization.

Mrs. McCormick said there had been a movement at one time toward a rapprochement between Venizelos and a Bulgarian leader whose name she had forgotten (Stambulsky?). Mr. Armstrong concurred that there had been such a movement between the two countries in


* I.e., Alexandur Stambolisky, who was prime minister of Bulgaria between 1919 and 1923. He created a dictatorship of the peasantry against the urban and well-to-do population,the like of which was unprecedented in Europe at the time. He was shot "while trying to escape" during the rightist takeover in 1923.

** From 1886, Bulgaria's sovereigns were descendants of the Saxe-Coburg ducal family: from 1887 to 1918 Ferdinand I, from 1918 to 1943, Boris III. 1925 and 1926. The Bulgarian Dynasty had been the chief obstacle to it, while the Greek Church had been a great assistance.

Mr. Shotwell said that it had been very surprising in 1912 when the two countries had got together in an alliance.* They could do things. He thought that if they were to get rid of the nationalists, the peasants would not cherish hatreds as in the past. The secretary of Stambulisky, who had worked for him, had been convinced that the peasants were kept from friendly relations with the Greeks by their nationalist leaders. Mr. Armstrong said that they were kept from it by being killed.

Mr. Armstrong, continuing the earlier discussion, said that half of the area would be very likely to come under Russian influence.

Mr. Bowman said that in studying this question, we would have to ask what were the minimum conditions of success. What were natural affiliations? On top of that, explorations would be made in the direction of Mr. Berle's five points. It would be necessary to investigate what natural affiliations had taken place in the past; in what directions they had been capable of extension of others had seen the need of it. He asked whether that would be a good direction in which to go. He asked whether the economic experts could not give us in a short paragraph a statement of these natural developments during the past twenty or twenty-five years.

Mr. Welles said it was clear that an association of Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria would have historical background to it, provided that the "bogy" of a Habsburg restoration were removed. He would assume that in a new world situation, some old objections would be in part removed. Then we would have the problem of Hungary. From every standpoint of expediency, Hungary would have to be part of the Northern Union. If we took the historical background, Yugosla- via would form part of this group; but if we were to go further back, Yugoslavia should be a member of the Balkan Group in case there were to be two groups. So far as he was concerned, he was not "wedded to the view that just because Slovenia and Croatia had been part of Serbia in the past, they should always be."

Mr. Armstrong said he wished to refer again to Hungary--the character of the regime, to the need for changes of agricultural tenure, and to the feudal set-up which existed in Hungary. These had been of extreme importance in Hungary's politics. Count Apponyi had, he


* The reference is to the First Balkan War of 1912, when Bulgaria joined forces with the armies of Greece, Montenegro and Serbia against Turkey. recalled, made the claim to the Crown of Bohemia through Archduke Otto in 1926. Mr. Welles asked whether this claim had been made at the League of Nations. Mr. Armstrong said that Count Apponyi always went to the League of Nations; at the same time, malking such individual arrangements with state as he could.* In that atmosphere it had been no use to ask Masaryk to talk about frontier adjustments in Slovakia. He thought, therefore, that the character of the régimes in Hungary, Poland, and Bulgaria--these three, he thought, were the most backward socially, especially Hungary in the matter of land tenure -- was a factor of great importance.

Mr. Berle said it appeared that there were really only two possibili- ties as to the division between the North and South Group. The question concerned only whether Austria and Hungary were to go with the Northern Group or with the Southern Group. He wished to suggest, as a new possibility for consideration, that we turn them south. The east-west line might be at the southern Czechoslovak boundary, running from there to the northern part of the Black Sea.

Mr. Welles asked Mr. Berle whether he meant that the Northern Group would consist of Lithuania, Poland, and Czechos1ovakia. Mr. Berle said that was what he had meant. Mr. Cohen said unless one did that, there would not be a cohesive force to hold the Balkan Group together. Mr. Berle said that had been the reason for his suggestion.

Mr. Cohen said one reason that had induced us before, to limit the functions of the union was that of making possible the inclusion of all the states of the region. He wondered, accordingly, whether if we were envisaging smaller unions, more powers might not be given to such unions. Moreover, the territorial division suggested by Mr. Berle enabled us to use the Northern Group to help hold the Southern Group together while leaving also the possibility that Austria and Hungary could go either way.

Mr. Welles thought that, from the standpoint of our objectives, it was clear that the larger group was the better of the solutions. However, having in mind the point which Dr. Bowman had made as to insurance against difficulties, he was puzzled as to whether the disruptive forces of such a union would not be so great as to defeat our purposes.


* We have no knowledge of Count Albert Apponyi's ever having made any demand at the League of Nations for the Crown of Bohemia, either in his own name, or on behalf of Archduke Otto. Apponyi was Hungary'c representative to the League of Nations from 1923 to 1933. His activities as such focused on protecting the rights of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries. Mr. Shotwell said that at the last Peace Conference maps like those presented to the committee, representing a possible East European Federation, had been prepared and presented by Masaryk. It had turned out, however, that Masaryk could not even overcome the nationalism in his own country. It had been a great tragedy. He thought there was a danger of our deluding ourselves as to the realities. The intellectual leaders of the area in the nineteenth century had become the nationalist leaders of the twentieth. Until recently there had been few political contacts and only limited social ones. The peasants were not, he thought, nationalists, but their intellectual leaders had adhered to the disruptive forces. This was the most difficult problem of federation. There was no place where people understood the American principle of federation. For example, the fact that Count Apponyi's estates had been in Slovakia had dominated his thinking. He did not think we could place our hopes too high unless the movement were not to be dominated by the intellectuals of the past generation.

He thought something could be done along these economic lines. He was glad that Mr. Berle had mentioned communications first. He could remember the time when it took three days to travel from Skoplje to Monastir. That time had later been out from breakfast to tea. He wished that he knew more about what the Germans had done to smash these old ideas. He thought, however, that the strongest pull which there could be toward union would be something outside the region-- some international influence or activity.

Mr. Welles asked Mr. MacMurray for his opinions. Mr. MacMurray said he was completely puzzled. He had to contend with the idea that the easiest way would be the largest organization. However, this would involve so many disparates and irreconcilables that he was afraid that we were proposing something too big to be put together. Accordingly, not on any definite grounds, but merely on an instinctive feeling, he thought that there should be at least two of these groups. In this case, he thought that Turkey should be included in the Southern Group. It had, in recent years, been a most useful factor in the Balkan meetings. It had no territorial ambitions and had been a very useful means of communication between the other governments. Mr. Welles said that this was a very interesting suggestion.

Mrs. McCormick referred to another difficulty which had been faced in the post-war period and which was embodied by Count Apponyi. Apponyi and others had maintained a policy of grievances. Their whole feeling had been dominated by their grievances. She thought that this time we should not think too much of victors and vanquished. She recalled an experience she had had when visiting the American College at Sofia. The students had just discussed the death of John Buchan.* It was a very international meeting. At the end, the President of the college had asked them to sing. They had then broken immediately out into their "Dobrudja', song. There was, she said, an amazing underlying feeling for Dobrudja in Bulgaria,** Mr. Welles said that this was very interesting.

Mr. Armstrong said that there were two factors; first, the Bulgarian claim to Dobrudja; and second, the Apponyi attitude-- "something natural plus". At one time when he was visiting Count Apponyi at his home, the latter had said, "I don't need to talk to you about the Rumanian problem. You have a negro problem in your own country and so you understand it." He said that both of these things existed in different countries.***

Mrs. McCormick said that the Bulgarians had always felt that the Balkan Entente was aimed against them. Mr. Shotwell said that even in their own meetings of the Bulgarian Entente, the old Macedonian question**** had come to the fore. He thought that mediation by a present-day of Turkey would be very useful.

Mr. Welles agreed that this was a very interesting suggestion indeed. He wondered whether the inclusion of Turkey would not mean the very determined opposition of Russia. Mr. Armstrong asked whether Mr. Welles meant the opposition of Turkey's "own ally."

Mr. Welles: "Their ally?" He said that the position in this respect had materially changed. This would raise, moreover, the old question of the straits again.

Mr. Shotwell said that the adoption of the Stalin or Curzon Line the boundary of Poland might affect the problem.***** Mr. Bowman


* American novelist John Buchan was born in 1875, and died in 1940.

** The reference is to Southern Dobrudja which Bulgaria, in accordance with the terms of the 1913 Peace Treaty of Bucharest, ending the Second Balkan War, had to cede to Romania.

*** Armstrong visited Apponyi in Budapest in 1922. For Armstrong's report on the visit and on the topics of the meeting, see: Peace and Counterpeace. Memoirs of Hamilton Fish Armstrong (New York, London, 1971), 173.

**** The so-called "Balkan Entente" was established on February 9, 1934, by Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The regional security organization was formed to maintain the status quo in the Balkans, and to discourage Bulgarian revisionist attempts at the annexation of the Macedonian-inhabited territories belonging to Greece and Yugoslavia.

***** The "Curzon Line" was the Polish-Russian frontier, or rather, the demarcation line proposed by the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. It was named after George Nathaniel Curzon of Kedleston, the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary from 1914 to 1924. In the Polish-Russian war of 1920, Poland Plan of an East European Union and Hungary 83

said that the territorial committee would give the committee "an earful" on the Curzon Line two weeks hence.

Mr. Welles said he wished to go back to what Mr. Bowman had suggested in regard to the terms of reference to the economic subcom- mittee. Taking the entire area as now indicated, where should the line be drawn? He asked whether the members agreed to Mr. Berle's suggestion that Austria and Hungary be included in the Southern Group. There was, in addition, a third possibility--that Austria remain outside. Mr. Armstrong thought there were great disadvantages of "leaving Austria hanging." It would make a sort of football out of Austria.

Mr. Bowman thought there was a partial answer to the Polish dynamite which Mr. Shotwell had referred to. His own mind ran back over to what mathematicians would call an "inescapable series," the difficulties mentioned by Dr. Shotwell and further difficulties. We could then say that we saw no hope. We would then have individual states, at least eight. We could wipe the slate clean and start again. If we should do this, what combination could be indicated? What loose arrangements of states could we envisage? This empirical, ad hoc method was realistic, "but never had a solution in it." When he got through his own thinking, he still felt that somewhere, even in the distance, there was a goal. He was forced back to some more general- ized picture of the East European problem. He would place great emphasis on the identification of mutual advantages and working arrangements of the last twenty years; what advantages had they? What could have been done? That seemed fundamentally a job for an economic specialist to go into--a history of the attempts which had been made. He thought we would be aided if we knew factually what the experience had been. He asked whether anyone was prepared to bring forward experience on this.

Mr. Shotwell said it should not be forgotten that the Habsburg Monarchy had rested on prestige--the prestige of its army, the church, and the intellectual cooperation of the United Nations? In the League of Nations, Austria had asked that the intellectual cooperation work be centered there. This had been refused. Could there be something of this alongside the economic factor?

Mr. Bowman said that Dr. Shotwell's colleague, John Dewey, had written an article in the first volume of Foreign Affairs on "Ethics and


established a border much farther to the eaet (cf. Map 1). The Soviet-Polish border drawn after World War II more or lees coincides with the 1919 Curzon Line. International Relations".* It had dealt with the terrible problem which confronts a world in a time of territorial fragmentation and confusion in developing common bases of ethics. Each nation favored its own ethic, sought to aggrandize it and looked at everything in terms of it. The thought of the writer had run forward to the point that the greatest consideration was flexibility. His only concrete suggestion was the outlawry of war. (Mr. Shotwell noted that the outlawry of war had been taken as an example of flexibility). Continuing, Mr. Bowman said that these conclusions had left him flat. This was, he said, nearly always true of writings on international affairs. It was also true of the discus- sions of this committee.

Mr. Welles said he wished to go back and insist on claiming for this Government a "guaranteed position."

He was still worried (although physically and for other reasons it seemed most reasonable) about the approach to our Southern Union through the inclusion in it of Austria and Hungary. Mr. Berle said he was not sure of this himself; he had merely thought it worth consider- ation. Mr. Welles thought that Austria, finding herself in that position, would assume a certain prestige. This would be entirely justified, as we all knew, that from the standpoint of culture Austria would assume a leadership. Mr. Shotwell said that it would naturally assume a leadership in economic matters as well.

Mr. Welles then said we should then make our terms of reference to the economic committee on that line, with an alternative to include Austria (and Hungary?) in the Northern Group.

Mr. Taylor observed that our approach now seemed to be that of "diving up the trouble between the Northern an Southern Groups and of segregating most of the trouble in the Southern." He wondered whether we could handle the matter better in that way. Mr. Welles said his own feeling was that the better solution was the whole union, but he wondered whether we could still achieve our major objectives and lessen the objections if we had two groups.

The question was asked whether Mr. Welles and Mr. Berle had talked with representatives of these countries on this matter. Mr. Berle said that no one of that group had the concept of a single union. Mr. Welles said he had never found one who had the conception of one union, most favoring three unions; some, two. Mr. Berle said that the


* John Dewey, "Ethics and International Relations," Foreign Affairs, (March

1923), 85-89. Czechs were the only ones who had offered any support for a single union.

Mr. Pasvolsky said that the new Russian frontier on the map (pointing to Map V) was most significant. It put the Russians next to Czechoslovakia. He thought that a balance of power in the region was of great importance.

Mr. Welles asked whether Mr. Pasvolsky had meant an internal balance of power. He agreed that this was of great importance. Mr. Pasvolsky said it might be useful to have a memorandum on the political history of the region.

As to the internal balance in the union as a whole, taking the three possibilities: (1) in the north, a reduced Poland would be about equal to Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia would have much friendlier relations with Russia. The Poles wanted to bring Hungary into the group as an offset to Czechoslovakia. Poland plus Hungary would be difficult for Czechoslovakia to handle even with Rumanian influence; (2) in the Southern Group the line of development would be in the direction of close relationship between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. That would be the dominant factor. It was not clear what the Russian policy would be. He thought that Russia was not nearly so close to these countries as to Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Welles said that if the lines were to exist as shown on that map, there would be a fairly good balance. Russian influence would be preponderant in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia while anti- Russian influence would be preponderant in Hungary, Poland, Austria, and Rumania. He thought this would make a fairly equal balance. If the region were divided into two groups, and the Northern were left intact. Poland, Lithuania and Czechoslovakia would have a balance; in the South there would also be an internal balance in sentiment regarding Russia.

Someone asked whether Rumania was anti-Russian. Mr. Welles said that if anything could bring Rumania and Hungary together, it would be hatred of Russia. Mr. Armstrong thought, on the contrary, that Rumania might conceivably be in good terms with Russia. Mrs. McCormick said that Davila, who was working closely with the Czechs, was certainly not on good terms with the Russians. Mr. Armstrong said that Maniu had not been particularly anti-Russian. Mr. Welles said, however, that when one considered the Bessarabian massacres and a whole series of other incidents,* one saw that all of these would have the effect of creating hatreds between the Russians and Rumanians. Mrs. McCormick mentioned the problem of Transylvania. Mr. Pasvol- sky referred to the antagonism between Carol and Antonescu.**

Mr. Armstrong said that in some countries the idea of not bringing Austria and Hungary into the Southern Union would be very agreeable. Since the last war they had tried to break the old ties; for example, in trade and banking.

Mr. Welles said that he had asked the committee to take so much time for the discussion of this matter -- and the discussion had confirmed him in his own judgment--because all the views tended, in case there were to be a separation, to show that there would have to be a three-way division and not a two-way. Mr. Armstrong asked what the third division would be. Mr. Welles answered that it would be Austria, either with one or two other states or alone.

Mr. Armstrong asked whether the economic subcommittee was working on projects of actual help regarding the Balkan area. Such projects would, he said, constitute the bait which we could offer. Mr. Welles said that we had crystallized just this.

Mr. Taylor said that the first problem was to discover the needs of the area and the particular economic facts; and that when this was done, we might pass on to the question of the means of assistance.

Mr. Welles said that he was clear in his own mind that if we could reach a decision as to what was politically desirable, then the economic subcommittee should see what it could do to carry out this decision-- to bolster up the system envisaged.

One thing similar to what Mr. Armstrong had referred to, which we had done in this hemisphere, might be mentioned. It was the so-called development corporations. We might make the same kind of gift to the East European Group. It gave a great leverage power to us. Mrs. McCormick thought the most important thing was to try to convince the people of the area of the advantages of a union. Mr. Taylor asked whether these groups had to do with the operations of business. Mr.


* The reference is to the mass murders and atrocities committed in Bessarabia and in other Russian territories by the Romanian armies of occupation.

** On September 6, 1940, immediately after the Second Vienna Award dividing Transylvania, the Romanian extreme right, headed by General Ion Antoneocu, declared King Carol II weak and impotent,and forced him to abdicate and leave the country. He was succeeded by the 19 year old Michael I, who, until 1944, did little but assist as Marshal Antonescu, calling himself Conducator (leader of the nation), established a fascist dictatorship. Welles said that the projects went on ostensibly under the guise of local operation and control; ostensibly with American consultants and advisers. Really, he said, these American advisers "run the show".

Mr. Shotwell said that another alternative would be American interest in the Balkans through the period of relief into the period of reconstruction. This raised the question whether the Department of Agriculture would help on problems of soil erosion and the like. Theoretically, we could stimulate an interest in the common peasant in this way which might over-ride nationalism. Mr. Welles said that was really the idea he had had in mind.

Mrs. McCormick said we might consider again the problem of the three groupings. We could, she said, easily see two. The question then concerned the disposition of Austria and Hungary. The other two seemed fairly logical. Mr. Cohen said that in regard to Austria and Hungary, he felt somewhat as Mr. Armstrong had. He would rather view it as having the possibility of going either North or South than as being a third group. It seemed cut off from markets. Mr. Armstrong said that Austria and Hungary cut the Northern Group off from the Southern. Mr. Berle said that we must pre-suppose that Austria would have Trieste. This would canalize the German trade in that direction and would also absorb a lot of that which went through Czechoslovakia. Mr. Armstrong said that if joined, the Czechs could use it too. Mrs. McCormick thought that Austria and Hungary should be with the Northern Group.

Mr. Welles again said that the entire union was a desirable objective. However, from the standpoint of economic arrangements, we would consider two units as a possible alternative; whether Austria and Hungary should go North or South to be determined by the economic advantages which the economic subcommittee would show us. This was, he said, the reference to the economic subcommittee. This reference would, in turn, be broken up into the six or seven points stated earlier in the meeting.

Mr. Cohen said that, in this connection, the three alternatives might be considered.

Mr. Taylor asked whether when the report on the entire group were revised, it should be distributed to the members of this committee for their consideration. Mr. Welles said we would need this as soon as available. We would, however, return in two weeks to the Germanic problem, especially as regards East Prussia, and other problems affecting the Polish frontier.

Mr. Armstrong referred to certain questions connected with this problem which had been referred to the Council group. Studies of the88 Ignác Romsics

Eastern and Western industrial regions had been worked out in terms of alternatives and would be supp1ied to Mr. Pasvolsky before the next meeting. One study dealt with territorial problems while one dealt with financial and economic ones.

Mr. Welles said he gathered that the Council on Foreign Relations had done a considerable amount of work which would be of value to us. Mr. Armstrong said the Council had not done anything specifically on an East European union. Mr. Welles said that he had meant that they had worked on economic aspects of these problems.

Mr. Pasvolsky noted that there might also be a report from the security subcommittee on the military aspects of partition.

Mr. Welles said he wished to say one more thing before the meeting adjourned. In order to save time, it seemed to him that some helpful preliminary work could be done on a problem which would come to this committee in time--that was the problem of an international organiza- tion which had been made the last point in the chart. At the rate at which the committee was now moving, a long time would elapse before this matter could be considered. He thought it might be desirable for a subcommittee of this committee to consider this question and to draft something in concrete terms for the full committee. If agreeable, he would ask a small subcommittee to sit on that question during coming weeks. Mr. Pasvolsky said that that subcommittee might offer projects for research on this problem. Mrs. McCormick said it would be more important to have ideas than research. Mr. Welles stressed that what was desired was something definite and concrete for the whole commit- tee to work on. Mrs. McCormick said that she had constantly felt it necessary in our discussions of particular questions to have some definite ideas of the over-all organization. Mr. Welles said that if it was agreeable, he would ask a small subcommittee to work with him on that and perhaps to get one or two outside consultants. He said that the committee would meet again two weeks from today.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.

Paul B. Taylor, secretary

Box 55

 [Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] Wartime American Plans for a New Hungary