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DOCUMENTS - Part Two: Frontiers of Hungary - Chapter II. Proposals and Remarks to the Subcommittee on Territorial Problems

Document 6

T Document 64

September 4, 1942


We have been asked to express our individual views as to the best solution of the problems presented in Mr. Mosely's detailed memoran- dum on the Hungarian-Slovak Frontier (T-48, August 24, 1942). My response is conditioned by one general consideration which seems to me of considerable significance.

Like other members of the Subcommittee, I am anxious to see some adjustments made after the war in border areas where the population is overwhelmingly of a different race from that of the nation in which it is included. Such adjustments would facilitate the consolidation of national states; lessen the need for prolonged international measures to protect minority rights; and remove causes of international friction.

The prospects are, however, that we shall encounter great difficulties in securing any adjustments whatsoever which involve transfers of territory from our allies, the victims of aggression, to neighboring states which have recently despoiled them. I do not raise this here as an issue of morals, but of practical politics. It seems most unlikely that our Government would attempt to coerce our recent allies, or that the American public would support it if it did.

In these circumstances, the best chance of our securing any territorial adjustments of this sort at all will probably be for us to pick out a small number of areas of limited size where the ethnic situation is beyond dispute; and to attempt to bring about adjustment there through direct negotiations between the two interested parties. This course might succeed if: (a) the sacrifice suggested to any one state did not involve more a single area; (b) we were able to offer that state economic and financial advantages on the side; (c) the state gaining territory offered some face-saving quid pro quo, to the state making the cession. If any other course is adopted, I should think it highly unlikely that, in most cases, any readjustments of territory whatsoever will be effected.

Applying the above considerations to the problem under discussion, I suggest that we concentrate our attention on the six administrative districts of the Southern Tier described in Section II of Mr. Mosely's memorandum; and that we limit our attempt to bring about changes in this whole area to an effort to persuade the Czechoslovak Government to negotiate the cession of these six districts to Hungary as part of a general settlement of all outstanding Czechoslovak-Hungarian differenc- es.

Specifically, this course would have the following advantages:

1) These six districts, by the Czechoslovak census of 1930, contain about 219,000 Magyars to about 40,000 Czechoslovaks. The ethnic argument for the transfer therefore is overwhelming.

2) They compose most of the Grosse Schuett, which figured particularly prominently in discussions at the last peace conference and since, as well as more than half of the so-called Little Hungarian Plain. Thus their return to Hungary would represent a great psychological as well as racial gain for that country, and should go far towards mending Czechoslovak-Magyar relations from the Magyar and (especially as such a transfer would be an act of unexampled generosity from one state in this area towards a defeated enemy).

3) The transfer of these six districts would leave the main-line railway from Bratislava to Levice intact in Czechoslovak hands.

4) Arguments have been advanced in our discussions in favor of transfers of whole administrative districts. The transfer suggested would meet that requirement (except as a small enclave might have to be left to Czechoslovakia, opposite Bratislava, in order not to cut off a suburban area from the city).

5) Finally, if no other alterations in the 1937 status of Czechoslova- kia were suggested (she might, of course, wish voluntarily to make slight changes in the Erzgebirge), the transfer of these six districts might successfully be presented to the Czechoslovak public as the solution of a long-time "problem area" rather than as a part of a general frontier change in favor of the Hungarian state which only recently had been able, through Nazi help, to seize many preponderantly Czechoslo- vak areas.

The transfers of these six districts to Hungary would mean that 40,000 Czechoslovaks might wish to be repatriated to Czechoslovakia. And the maintenance intact of other parts of the pre-1938 frontier would mean that 265,000 Magyars might wish to be repatriated to Hungary. In practice, the numbers doubtless would be much smaller. In any case,204 Ignác Romsics

they are not too great for transfer under humans conditions with the proper international assistance.


Box 60


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