Magyar-British Relations in the Era of The Two World Wars, 1914-44: Part Six (cont.), June-December 1944   Leave a comment

Documents and Debates, with extracts from;

001

The Fateful Year, 1944: II: June-December

A. On the Plans of MFM (The Hungarian Independence Movement), June 1944:

The general political and military situation as reviewed by MFM in March-April 1944 was as follows:

–         The War was as good as won by the Allies…..

–         By “arresting” the Head of State, a great number of Cabinet Ministers, including the Premier… members of both Houses of Parliament.. generals and many other people… the Germans themselves had absolved Hungary from all her moral and legal obligations to Germany.

–         Constitutionally, the Regent was authorised to conclude an armistice without the previous agreement of the Cabinet… Thus full confidentiality could be safeguarded and not even Premier Lakatos (who became PM at the end of August) had any idea about the armistice preparations until the very last moment, when General Faragho informed him about what was going on.

–         The Regent was alive and was active, although much restricted. His person was absolutely necessary for the success of… Attempt Three.

–         The second main prerequisite… consisted in keeping the Hungarian armed forces under the influence of the MFM. This aim was fully achieved by August when the 1st Army, the 2nd Army, the united Gendarmerie and Police Forces, the Transylvanian Division, etc. All had come under the control of MFM members… or Transylvanians.

–         The final aim of MFM consisted in securing Hungary’s independence and sovereignty and in breaking away from the Germans. It was also planned to dissolve MFM as soon as these objectives had been reached.

… MFM had started, as early as January 1944, to prepare General Faragho as the Regent’s candidate to conduct armistice negotiations with Soviet Russia… given his command of Slavic languages and his contacts in Moscow… Armed resistance to the Germans would be futile. The proximity of the Allied forces to Hungary therefore became a very important factor in the planning of the MFM… the allied forces needed to be close enough to ensure military success.

003 (2)B. International Political and Military Events, July-October:

20 July – Attempt on Hitler’s life (Stauffenberg)

18 August – Landing of Allied troops in the South of France

21 August – 7 October – Dumbarton Oaks Conference (USSR, USA, Great Britain, China)

23 August – Fall of Antonescu’s regime. Romania asks for armistice

29 August – Lakatos Cabinet formed

2 September Finland sues for peace

7 September – Crown Council, Budapest

8 September – Council of Ministers, Budapest

10 September – Council of Privy Councillors, Budapest

11 September – Council of Ministers; Russian units cross the Carpathians

12 September – Romanian armistice registered with United Nations

18 September – Hitler-Vörös entrevue

23 September – Red Army crosses the Hungarian frontier

28 September – Hungarian Armistice Delegation leaves for Moscow

11 October – Preliminary Armistice Treaty signed by Hungary, Moscow

15 October – Nicky Horthy kidnapped by Skorzeny. Crown Council and Council of Ministers, Budapest. Mission of Veesenmayer and Rahn. Ultimatum of General Guderian. German military intervention. Abdication of Regent Horthy.

28 October – Armistice Treaty signed by Bulgaria, Moscow; Leyte Sea Battle, Japanese sea-power destroyed.

C. On the Formation of the Lakatos Government, June-August:

… In June the Regent had finally arrived at the conclusion that without… a Lakatos Cabinet… a breakaway from the Germans would be impossible. He therefore ordered Lakatos to come to Budapest to report… Lakatos had had plenty of time to think things over since he had relinquished his post as Commander of the First Army as early as 27 May… Horthy immediately informed Lakatos at their meeting in June that he was his candidate for the post of Premier. On 10 July, Horthy bluntly informed Lakatos that his first duty would be to take steps to leave the Axis. This, however, Lakatos considered impossible, and as there was strong German opposition to any plan replacing Sztójay with someone less docile and less pro-German… Lakatos’ appointment was, for the time being, dropped. In the meantime, however, the Jewish question became once more one of the most burning issues… and Horthy again concentrated on the problem of replacing Sztójay, who proved insufficiently resistant to German demands. The final decision then came when the news of Romania’s defection from the Axis became known in Budapest on 23 August. The Regent found himself in a rather difficult position.

Macartney:

… the First Army was still outside the frontiers and the German troops inside the country still numerically stronger than the Hungarian. Moreover, the civilian Government was still of Sztójay, and he could hardly hope to carry through a surrender policy until he had a Prime Minister who would obey his orders…

… on the 24th, he told Veesenmayer… that he proposed to continue the ’defensive struggle against the Soviets’… in the afternoon he sent… Bárczy to Sztójay… to present the surprised general with a typed letter of resignation… Then he sent again for Lakatos and told him that this time he really must take on the Premiership, with the following programme: firstly, to restore Hungary’s sovereignty, as far as possible, in the face of German occupation; secondly, to put an immediate stop to the persecution of the Jews;… thirdly, to prepare Hungary’s exit from the war and carry through the operation at the appropriate moment…”

But once Lakatos had been accepted… by the Germans, they were not prepared to accept all the candidates of Horthy and Lakatos… it took three days before the Lakatos Cabinet could be sworn in… made public on 29 August…

… As to the foreign contacts with the Western Democracies… after the Romanian ’vote-face compléte’ all Hungarian informants… reported to Budapest that, according to the attitude of the Allies, Hungary could not possibly negotiate with the the Western Allies alone… that Hungary should enter into direct negotiations with the Soviet Union and that the conditions for an armistice were unconditional surrender.

D. On General Guderian in Budapest, 30 August – 1 September:

Of course, the changes occurring in Hungarian public opinion as well as the creation of the Lakatos Cabinet in spite of German opposition alarmed the German leaders. As the military question overshadowed the political problems at this moment, the new chief of the German General Staff, General Guderian was dispatched to Budapest… Guderian… promised everything that the Germans thought necessary to keep back the Regent and his Cabinet from any inconsiderate and thoughtless action, i.e. from taking steps in the direction of a complete breakaway… The… result of Guderian’s talks in Budapest consisted of the Hungarians postponing their planned break from the Axis… After Guderian’s visit, I had a long conversation with Bárczy who… informed me about the events and declared that the conduct of State leadership was proving inadequate in the present extremely grave situation; the policy of wishful thinking and hoping for a miracle dragged on.

E. On the Effect of the Russian Armies entering Transylvania, 31 August – 7 Sept:

Macartney:

To the Left the position seemed quite clear… he (Horthy) should immediately follow King Michael’s example… this view was not altogether confined to the Left. General Náday, whom Horthy saw on the morning of the 24th, gave him similar advice. And several of the ’dissident diplomats’ who were in touch with the Western Allies telegraphed to the same effect through the Hungarian Legations in the countries in which they were living, where the Ministers allowed them the use of their codes (these included Apor and Barcza). Even the non-dissident Vörnle chimed in, transmitting a message from the British Ambassador in Ankara.

… The Romanians  in publishing the terms of their surrender, skilfully avoided the small saving reservation which the Western Allies inserted, under which, although the Second Vienna Award had indeed been cancelled, Romania had been promised the restoration only of ’the whole of the greater part’ of Transylvania, and represented the Transylvanian issue as definitely settled in their favour. The Germans and their partisans in Hungary could, and did, argue from this that if there had ever been a time when it was worth while competing with Romania for the Allies’ favour, that time was past now; whereas if if Hungary remained faithful to Germany, she would receive her reward when Germany won (as… she could still do). Furthermore, the German Press launched a story that Roumania’s instrument of surrender contained a clause obliging her to send 150,000 men to Siberia or Russia for forced labour. Hungary, they said, had simply no choice but to fight on, if she would escape the same fate.

… he could not make up his mind to proclaim Hungary’s immediate surrender. He could not regard it as consistent with Hungary’s honour… to desert an ally – even a hated one – without warning. Secondly, the practical difficulties… to proclaim immediate surrender would be (not so much) a leap in the dark, but… much more likely, a jump down a visible precipice…

But the overwhelming consideration was, no doubt, his still unconquered repugnance to the idea of throwing Hungary’s frontiers open to the Russian Army alone. His belief was unshaken that Hungary’s true salvation lay in Kállay’s policy of holding out defensively in the east and opening the frontiers the west; and he had not yet abandoned hope that this might be achieved…”

By this time the Regent was ready to take decisive steps. As to the forming of his decision, I am quoting Bárczy:

“The Regent received me in audience on 31 August 1944 which lasted over ninety minutes. He told me how difficult his position was in connection with forming the Lakatos Cabinet due to the attitude of Veesenmayer… The Regent informed me of his plans for leaving the Axis Camp. He asked my opinion as to how he should carry out the action. I decidedly asked him to send immediately a general and a diplomat to both the Anglo-Saxons in Rome and the Russians in Moscow. ’How would the Russians receive my asking for an armistice?’ asked the Regent. ’I am sure that Stalin will receive this step well’ was my answer… The Regent then took the decision to send a personal letter in English to the Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, greeting him as ’Dear Marshal Stalin’:

“In the name and for the sake of my people in their extreme danger I address myself to you… For a thousand years and particularly during this last decade, the fate of our people has been influenced by the neighbouring German Colossus – It was again under this influence that we were carried into this unfortunate war with the Soviet Union… I have now come to the knowledge that after the air-attack upon Kassa and Munkács, Foreign Minister Molotov – during a conversation with the Hungarian Minister – emphasised the peaceful aims of the Soviet Union towards Hungary. If this was really so, it is fatal, for it did not reach me at the time.

When sending with full authorisation my delegates to the negotiations of armistice, I beg you to spare this unfortunate country which has its own historic merits… Kindly exercise your great influence upon your allies that you may make conditions compatible with our people’s interests and honour who would really deserve… a safe future. Horthy.”

The letter bore no date, but it was signed on 26 September… The appearance of Soviet armoured divisions inside Transylvania, i.e. inside the Carpatho-Danubian Basin, however, (had) forced Horthy to give up his plan based on the former policy of Premier Kállay. Urgent dispositions were needed and the Regent, accordingly, convened a conference composed of generals Lakatos, Csatay, Henyey, Vörös and Vattay, as well as the Head of his Cabinet, Ambrózy.

F. On The Third Attempt (Secret Negotiations for an Armistice):

In August and September the preparations of MFM reached their final stage, everybody feverishly working in order to be ready when the moment for the „Third Attempt” would arrive. Our main efforts were concentrated as follows:

… trying to establish contact with the Anglo-Saxon Powers; this work had been started and continued through the Summer… to September by Assistant Bishop of the Unitarian Church, Sándor Szent-Iványi, through Col. Howie and Price Sapieha… in particular by means of… the small radio transmitter set… The Regent, around 18 September… decided to send a mission to Itlay since Howie, as a British-South African military officer, had links with Field Marshals Smuts and Wilson, the latter commanding in Italy. The mission was composed of Howie and General Náday… The airplane which took the two military men to Foggia… was piloted by Flying Officer János Majoros… (22 September).

At the conference, held in the Palace on 7 September, the Regent informed the persons attending that he had taken the decision to sue for an armistice. As to the conditions, under the given circumstances all those present concurred in accepting the principle of unconditional surrender… The decision of the Regent and of the Conference seemed final and irrevocable and, accordingly, Foreign Minister Henyey sent a wire to Bakách-Bessenyey with the following text:

“… Most urgent. We are about to take steps tomorrow, the 8th, to conclude an armistice…”

In the evening, however, at another Conference in the Palace, with the same individuals in attendance, the Regent accepted the idea of Csatay’s to send an unacceptable ultimatum to the Germans… to ask them immediately to send five armoured divisions to Hungary to stop the Soviet advance. If these forces did not arrive within 24 hours, Hungary should be obliged to sue for an armistice.

To the surprise of the members of the Conference, however, the next day, the 8th, the Lakatos Government was informed by the Germans that four divisions were already on their way towards Hungary and that further forces were going to follow shortly.

Under the changed circumstances, Henyey informed Bessenyey that the Hungarian Government had postponed its break-away action. At the same time Bakách-Bessenyey’s last report arrived stating once more that the request of the Hungarian Government that the country be occupied by Western troops was quite unacceptable, not to say impossible, to the Allies.

It was under such circumstances that the fateful Conference of the Privy Councillors took place on 10 September at 6 p.m. The Conference was attended by three ex-Premiers,… Móric Eszterházy, Gyula Károlyi, István Bethlen… in hiding, by ex-Foreign Minister Kálmán Kánya…three retired Generals… as well as by Dániel Bánffy and Béla Teleki, representing… all political parties and denominations in Transylvania. As to the Government, it was represented by three Generals, Premier Lakatos, Foreign Minister Henyey and Minister for National Defence, Csatay. The chiefof Staff, Gen. Vörös also attended.

In the name of Transylvania, Bánffy and Teleki stated in broad lines… that … Hungary must ask immediately for an armistice with the Allies; Transylvania was not to be defended and not to be made a place of armed hostilities; in consequence, it should be allowed to be occupied by forces of the Red Army without any resistance; an amiable settlement with the Romanians; no reprisals against or arrest of democratic elements taking part in the action…. The Regent … declared his decision to sue for an immediate armistice with the Allied Powers, including the Soviet Union, and insisted that, ethically, he was no longer bound by his “agreement” with Hitler in consequence of the Germans repeatedly breaking their promises; thus there was   practically no opposition to the standpoint of the Regent, of Bethlen, Kánya and the others to sue for an immediate unconditional surrender…

Lakatos was instructed to convene a Council of Ministers for the next day, the eleventh, to discuss the matter on a constitutional basis… The old story repeated itself once more: before the question of leaving the Axis the Cabinet was unable to gather the necessary strength for such a decisive step… the Minister of Supply, Béla Jurcsek… opened the debate with a strongly pro-German speech which, according to Bárczy, “carried the day.” … Csatay came forward with… the view that if the proposed action was to be taken, another Cabinet, not one that was morally bound by having a few days previously presented an ultimatum and having seen it accepted, should take it… Premier Lakatos informed the Regent about the position taken up by the Cabinet which greatly surprised Horthy. Yet, he complied with the Cabinet’s decision and declared his willingness to postpone the action of leaving the war. Lakatos tendered the resignation of the Cabinet which was, however, not accepted by the Regent.  

So the tug-of-war went on… While the Government and Horthy were continuing their vacillating and irresolute policy, wavering between hope and fear, the Left and Right were busy redoubling their activities… Under such circumstances confidentiality could not be maintained, and even secret… discussions, like those in the Crown Councils and councils of the Privy Councillors… became subject to close examination by the Germans and the Russians not soon after they had taken place. Thus, right after the Crown Council on 10 September and the Council of Ministers of 11 September, Hitler commented on the behaviour of the Cabinet members and the participants of the Crown Council. The latter individuals were called by Hitler on this occasion “the Old Gentlemen” in a very contemptuous way.

Macartney:

On 12th September, an American paper from London gave an accurate account, with names and details, of Hungary’s negotiations in Switzerland. For that matter, the London ’Obsever’ of 15 October, some hours before Horthy’s proclamation, carried the armistice terms given to Hungary as ’approved by the Allied leaders in Moscow’. The ’Economist’ of the previous day had forecast them accurately enough.”

At this point, something unexpected occurred: Hitler sent a message to Budapest to the effect that he wanted to have a talk with the Hungarian Chief of the General Staff… Vörös left on the 12th for the Führer’s HQ in a special plane sent by Hitler. The general took with him another letter from the Regent… As to the Vörös-Hitler entrevue, I am herewith quoting Macartney:

“… Vörös, according to his own account, had a very rough passage. Hitler, who knew exactly what had happened at the Privy Council, and also at the Ministerial Council of the 11th, ranted at him for two hours, while Himmler, Keitel and Guderian listened in silence. Germany, said Hitler, would be defended to the last drop of blood. ’He who jumps overboard – man or nation – will assuredly drown’. Bárczy’s account of Vörös’ subsequent report concludes with the the charming epitome: ’Vörös deduced from Hitler’s words that he was mistrustful of the whole leadership of the Hungarian State.’ …”

Under such circumstances,… it helped me a great deal… to be able to have a long and detailed talk with ex-Premier Bethlen… As to the negotiations with the Russians, I brought up the name of General Faragho, whom he did not know very well. I then hinted at a very important mission, i.e…. England and the USA, and I added that, as far as England was concerned, he himself should go. He did not say a word.

… all efforts attempting to extract Hungary from the Second World War which were not led either by the Transylvanians or the MFM were, without one single exception, doomed from the beginning to failure… The failures of the “First Attempt” (1942-43, Ullein and the Conservatives), the “Second Attempt” (Kállay…1943), as well as… the refusal of the Regent to go to the Second Army in Transylvania can all be seen as symptomatic of these shortcomings. Also added to these disappointments could be the independent, hasty action of Nicky in connection with Tito which was to follow not only a failure, but a real catastrophe; by kidnapping Nicky the Germans were able to force the Regent to do things he otherwise would not have done.

G. Effects of the Allied Air Raids:

The constant air raids over Hungary in August and September had a considerable effect on lives, moods, public opinion, communication, etc. Blackouts and alarms occurred practically any time every day.

Macartney:

“It was the hinterland which suffered most severely during this period. Between 13th and 23rd September all three Allied Air Forces (the Russians joining in the operations almost for the first time) made heavy and repeated raids on the industrial centres and communications of the country. During a whole week the population of Budapest was reported to have spent an average of six hours daily in shelters. Munitions works, marshaling yards, etc., in several country towns were also heavily attacked. The bombing was reported to be on the whole accurate, being directed chiefly against genuine military objectives, and the civilian population suffered relatively little from it; but it produced great  disorganisation in the country’s economic life.

“The bridges over the Danube in Budapest still stood, although one of them (the Horthy Miklós Bridge) was closed to traffic, but outside Budapest many of the bridges over the Danube and the Tisza were reported out of action, and many railway stations and yards rendered unserviceable…”

002H. On the Negotiations with the Allies in Moscow, 1-11 October 1944.

“Britain and the US did their best not to lose Russian military support which meant saving the lives of many thousands of Americans and Englishmen and, consequently, the Hungarian attitude, presented by Kállay, etc. to fight the Soviets could not be accepted by Washington and London. The attitude of the Hungarian Press was just as childish, trying to persuade the West that Hungary was an essentially pro-Western country. The result was that… Germany and Russia, were constantly irritated by the foolish media policy of Ullein… and others.

And what was worse, it was exactly because of that foolish foreign policy of the Hungarian Government from the summer of 1942 to March 1944 (and even after) that the anti-Hungarian propaganda in the Western Democracies as well as in the Soviet Union was able to gain, once more, considerable influence on the question of settling the affairs of East Central Europe. Maybe even after 1938 it was still possible to retain an anti-Soviet stance, but after Stalingrad, Tehran and Yalta, the only logical way to follow was that of Russia.

After this starting point my problem was how to tackle the problem of establishing a foundation for closer cooperation with Moscow, and here past events bolstered my argument; the case of returning the Hungarian Army flags of 1849, Teleki’s tragic death and the latter’s strong bond with Russia… Such were my ideas on the basis of which I then delivered my first long and opening speech, on 1 October… I started with a summary of the historical background of the Hungarian-Russian relationship (Andrew I, King of Hungary and his relationship with Kiev – Anastasia and the Crown of Constantinos Monomachos, 1046…)

My second goal was to try and bring the two other Allied Powers, Britain and the USA, into the negotiations somehow. To this effect some longer notes were composed in English and given to the Soviet Government with the request to send copies… to the Allied Powers… I felt sure that the Russians would not retain our notes since such an action might have caused difficulties with her allies. Such a situation would have been detrimental to Russian interests as she was forced by circumstances to lean heavily on the financial and material help that was constantly pouring into the Soviet Union from her Allies…

… Molotov… wanted to hurry the negotiations as much as possible. His reasons for this were simple: to occupy the whole territory of Hungary before the intervention of the Allies, thus creating a ’fait accomplit’… to speed up the advance of the Red Army in order to gain as much territory in Europe which would then greatly aid Moscow in obtaining concessions from the Western Allies come the final settlement.

In October 1944, it was clear to me that it would be the Soviet Union that would play the decisive role as far as the East Central European states were concerned. Sooner or later we would have to accept the conditions laid down by the Soviet Union and it seemed… better to arrive at a friendly settlement while we could still “negotiate” with a Moscow which was still dependent on Anglo-American financial and military aid.

At the fifth session of our negotiations, Molotov handed over to us the Preliminaries prepared by the three Great Allied Powers. The authentic text was in Russian and had attached to it a translation in French:

The governments Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States believe it necessary that Regent Horthy and the Hungarian Government accept the preliminary conditions as follows:

Hungary should withdraw from all the territories of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania occupied by her behind the frontiers that existed before 31 December 1937, including all Hungarian troops and functionaries. This withdrawal should start immediately, and should be finished on the tenth day after receipt by the Hungarian Government of this declaration. In order to observe and supervise this withdrawal the three Allied Governments will send to Hungary their representatives who will act there in their quality of Allied United Mission, under the chairmanship of the Soviet representative.

Hungary should terminate all her relations with Germany and immediately declare a war on Germany…

8 October 1944”.

While we were transmitting, by means of code, the preliminary conditions to Budapest we learned by reading ’Pravda’… the news of the arrival of Churchill and Eden, and as we walked around and along the Moskova River our attention was drawn by the sight of an enormously tall man walking in the street. It was, of course, “le Grand Charlie”, the French leader, whose presence in Moscow we had read of in the newspapers… we… asked the Soviet Government to transmit our note to her allies, the USA and Great Britain… to call the attention of the British and Americans to the controversies… whether or not the Russian attitude and statements were a premeditated trap… The Russians wanted a preliminary armistice treaty drawn up and signed but we needed but we needed authority from Budapest and so negotiations broke down. On the 10th, at 0.20 a.m. we received word from Budapest that Major Nemes was leaving Budapest for Moscow with the requested authority.

On 11 October, at around 03.00 we had our sixth conference with the Russians… Molotov rose and declared the conference suspended for about ten minutes. He went into the adjoining room, and while he was passing the door, we could glimpse the two people in that room… I could not make out the faces, but Fargho later insisted on his having seen Churchill and Eden there. Molotov returned after ten minutes or so and made the following declaration: ’We shall negotiate on the above basis and you will be advised tomorrow accordingly. Thus, Hungary will be out of the war’. Faragho replied, ’We consider ourselves as already out of it.’          

We had practically no rest… on that memorable day… At 7.18 Molotov opened our seventh conference…

Molotov: ’… the three Allied Powers are ready to accept the demands of Hungary, the necessary demands can be carried out immediately. They also accept the demand to have the advance of Russian forces suspended for one or two days… since it is of great importance that the two, Russian and Hungarian, armies should arrive at cooperation in order to make the withdrawal of the Hungarian forces in the direction of Budapest possible… Is it possible that the Germans would attack the revels (i.e. the retreating troops)?’

Faragho: ’Certainly! Why, they have already deported over 400,000 Jews to Germany. The Germans wanted to deport the Budapest Jewry, too. But we intervened.’

… While a table was being prepared for signing the documents, Molotov came up to me and said: ’My congratulations, Mr Minister. This is the first time since 1526 that Hungary has won a great war.’

I was particularly satisfied with the success of our delaying tactics, thus making possible an Anglo-Saxon participation in the negotiations, which had contributed to ultimately accelerating the entire process as well as gaining some advantages, like stopping the Allied aerial bombing of Hungary for a while and the cessation of fighting in order to make the retreat of the Hungarian forces possible. It was on 11 October, at 7.58 p.m. that we three Delegates signed the Armistice Treaty in the Kremlin.

I. On the Events in Budapest – German Military Intervention and the Szálasi Putsch, 12-17 October:

We were informed by Major Nemes that General Baky, the Commander of the Royal Forces in and around Budapest, had been kidnapped by the Germans on 12 October. That was another heavy blow to our efforts and the success of “Attempt Three”. While we were still in Kuznietzov’s office we received the Regent’s radiogram no. 16; its text was short and dramatic:

“Regent’s son captured this morning by Arrow/Cross and Germans. Building in which he… stayed destroyed by gunfire; we have no further news. City surrounded by strong forces of ’Reichswehr’. We have received German ultimatum.”

On the basis of the last radiograms we sent two notes… to ’the three allied powers’ informing them about the events in Budapest and suggesting steps to be taken in the new situation.

Regent Horthy and his family left Hungary on 17 October in a special German escorted train for Germany. When discussing the new situation with the Russians, I declared that even the Regent’s disappearance should not stop our cooperation since the Regent had appointed General Veress, the Commandant of the 2nd Army, to replace him should he be killed or arrested by the Germans. Unfortunately, General Veress was also arrested by the Germans and so all our plans were frustrated.

J. On the Negotiations in the Carpathians, with General Miklós, 18 –23 October:

004

 

At the conference on 17 October, at 1.30 a.m. General Kuznietzkov informed us that General Miklós was at the HQ of General Petrov, who was Commander of the Russian Army Group on this section of the Front. Miklós had told the Russians that he was instructed by the Regent to report to the Hungarian Delegation in Moscow and to ask instructions regarding cooperation between the Hungarian and Russian armed forces… I told my two colleagues and Kuznietzov that the best thing to do was to get in contact with Miklós, and… one of the delegates should fly at once to the Front… it was the decision of Marshal Stalin that I should fly to Lesko, the HQ of General Petrov, where General Miklós had already arrived… I told Kuznietzkov that I wanted to be escorted by Major Nemes and Major Skriagin on my trip and the General consented. On 18 October we took off… at 5.30 a.m. in Marshal Stalin’s own private plane… The Russians wanted swift, decisive action from the Hungarian military. They wanted to build up a force from the Hungarian POWs they held and attack the Szálasi forces with Hungarian troops under the command of Miklós. In order to give a political foundation to such a military action the Russians wanted to quickly create some kind of a temporary Government-in-exile…

K. Reflections on the Western Powers and Hungary:

As to my main principles and basic ideas I want to say the following: Hungary had been sacrificed by the West: during her role defending Western Civilisation as well as in both world wars. The dismemberment of Central, and in particular, East Central Europe, made possible the extension of Nazi and later of Soviet domination in Europe… While the Russians seemingly understood and accepted my attitude and views, a great many Hungarians could not understand what I was doing. Such people began looking at me as a failure,. As most people are prone to judge people by appearances, the fact that I was the only person of the five Hungarian negotiators in the Kremlin (the three members of the Hungarian Delegation and generals Miklós and Vörös) who returned to Hungary ’empty-handed’ was considered as sufficient proof of my failure… and when I arrived in Debrecen in January 1945, I soon got the feeling that… I was a very dangerous man, looked at with suspicion by the Russians and that it was better for everybody to avoid my company as much as possible.

But the Russians had quite different views… They saw that I did not want a high position or job, that I was not the usual opportunist politician with whom they met continuously, and, as a result, arrived at the conclusion that I was a true friend of the Russian people. So it came that in April 1945 it was the Russians themselves who came forward with my name… for the post of Foreign Minister and later for that of Premier… And so it came that one day I was taken to General Kuznietzov who informed me that both Governments i.e. the Russian and the Provisional Hungarian government in Debrecen, had come to the conclusion that my presence was needed in Debrecen and therefore I should return at once to Hungary. I left Moscow on the 13th and arrived in Debrecen on 18 January.    

 

Epilogue – A Review of Szent-Iványi’s book by John Lukács, in ‘The Hungarian Review’, March 2014:

 

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Posted April 28, 2014 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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