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DOCUMENTS - Part Two: Frontiers of Hungary - Chapter III. Summaries and Recommendations

Document 2

Secret H Document 26

August 6, 1943



The problem is the determination of the boundary between Yugosla- via and Hungary.

The problem arises from the claim of the Yugoslavia government for the restoration of the pre-war boundary and from the Hungarian claim for the retention of the territory acquired in 1941 and for acquisition of the Yugoslav Banat.

The territories in dispute, ceded to Yugoslavia by Hungary in the Treaty of Trianon (1920),are Prekomurje (363 sq. mi.), Medjumurje (307 sq. mi.), and the Baranja, the Baka and the Banat (7,421 sq. mi.), with a total population of approximately 1.5 million. All these areas were occupied by Hungary in 1941 with the exception of the Banat, which came under German military administration.

In the two western provinces of Prekomurje and Medjumurje, with populations of 92,300 and 96,900 respectively in 1921, the Slavic-speak- ing inhabitants are in an overwhelming majority.

The complexity of the ethnic problem arises from the mixture of national groups in the Baranja, the Baka and the Banat. The following table illustrates the proportions of the leading language groups in the three eastern provinces in 1921:

             Baranja    Baka        Banat       Total      
Yugoslavia      15,604  246,598     240,213     502,415    
Magyars         16,638  260,998     98,471      376,107    
Germans         16,253  173,796     126,530     316,579    
Others             957  53,725      96,744      151,426    
Total           49,452  735,117     561,958     1,346,527  

Out of a total of 304 communes in these three territories, the Yugoslavs were in the majority in 100, the Germans in 74, the Magyars in 59, the Rumanians in 24 and the Slovaks in 11, while in 36 com- munes no language group was in a majority (1921). Of the 24 adminis- trative districts in the three provinces, 6 were predominantly Yugoslav, 3 Magyar and 2 German, while in 13 no language group had a majority. This situation renders impossible the drawing of any clear ethnic line.

These regions, the richest grain-producing lands in Yugoslavia, are of greater economic value to it than to Hungary. Hungary's claim is primarily historical and only secondarily ethnic or economic in character.


(Yugoslav Series, Map 3)

A. Restoration of the Disputed Areas to Yugoslavia

This solution was preferred by the Territorial Subcommittee. This solution would reestablish the Yugoslav-Hungarian frontier of 1940. The Yugoslav ethnic claim is more valid than the Hungarian, since the Yugoslavs have a clear numerical superiority over the Magyars in Prekomurje, Medjumurje and the Banat, and roughly equal their numbers in Baranja and Baka.

The agricultural production in the disputed area has held an important place in the Yugoslav economy, providing a substantial surplus of foodstuffs for export and for supplying the cereal-deficient areas of the country. Its processing industries have also been of considerable importance to Yugoslavia.

1. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee believed that the claims of Yugoslavia were sufficiently strong to give it title to the entire disputed zone. It was agreed that the Yugoslav ethnic claim was decidedly stronger than that of Hungary, and that the region was more important to the former's economy. The fact was stressed that after a United Nations victory Yugoslavia will have a strong political claim to recover its pre- war frontier. The view was generally accepted that whatever possibili- ties of a compromise settlement may had been destroyed by Hungarian participation in the attack on Yugoslavia in 1941 and by subsequent Hungarian mistreatment of the Yugoslavs in the disputed areas.

B. Cession of the Disputed Areas to Hungary

The Magyar minority constitutes only 26 percent of the population of the disputed provinces. However, Magyars and Germans together have a strong numerical preponderance in the Baranja and the Baka, and the claim has often been advanced that in a free plebiscite the Germans would vote for Hungarian rather than Yugoslav rule. From the economic point of view, these areas contain none of the minera1s and industries which Hungary chiefly needs.

1. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

It was the consensus of the subcommittee that the ethnic claims of Hungary in the disputed zone were not such as to warrant the cession to it of these areas. Little weight was given to the historical arguments advanced by Hungarian leaders. Hungary's violation of its Treaty of Friendship with Yugoslavia and subsequent adherence to the Axis were cited as further reasons for rejecting the Hungarian claims. C. A Compromise Line

This solution has not been discussed by any of the subcommittee.

This solution would attempt to separate the two leading ethnic groups by a line which would leave under Hungarian sovereignty a number of Yugoslavs approximately equal to the number of Magyars remaining in Yugoslavia. In Prekomurje 25 communes on the eastern frontier, with a Magyar population of some 12,400 and a Yugoslav population of only 2,4550, might be ceded to Hungary. Since this frontier is of no strategic importance, the cession of these communes would constitute no economic or military loss to Yugoslavia. Owing to the small number and dispersed character of the Magyar minority in Medjumurje, no cession is recommended in that province.

Apart from this alteration, the chief concern of a compromise line would be the separation of the Yugoslav and Magyar minorities in the three eastern provinces. In the Baranja Hungary would acquire the greater part of the district of Batina, with a population of some 20,000 including 8,000 Yugoslavs, 7,500 Magyars and 4,600 Germans. In the Baka, the districts of Senta and Topola and the towns of Subotica, Stara Kanjia and Senta, and part of the district of Sombor would be transferred to Hungary. This part of the Baka has a population (1921) of some 307,000, including 172,000 Magyars, 90,000 Yugoslavs and 42,000 Germans. This line would leave in Yugoslavia the town of Sombor, with the Sombor-Stari Beej railroad and the Danube-Tisza canal system. In the Banat Hungary would receive the districts of Nova Kanjia and Velika Kikinda and part of the district, but not the town, of Jaa Tomi. Thus in the Banat Hungary would acquire a population of some 108,000, including 49,700 Yugoslavs, 35,900 Magyars and 19,300 Germans. In the three eastern provinces as a whole, approxi- mately one-third of the area and one-third of the population (435,000 inhabitants out of a total of 1,346,500), would be ceded to Hungary by the compromise line. Some 148,000 Yugoslavs would be left on the Hungarian side, and some 160,000 Magyars on the Yugoslav side, of the frontier. The solution of the nationality problem could then be approached either by an exchange of populations or by a reciprocal guarantee of minority rights.

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